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Tags: Gerrmany | crisis | president | quits

Germany in Crisis as President Quits

Tuesday, 01 June 2010 07:25 AM EDT

Germany has been plunged into a political crisis by the surprise resignation of President Köhler.

The move — the first time that a modern German head of state has stepped down before the end of his term — will further sap the leadership of Chancellor Merkel and ignite a debate about the country’s involvement in the Afghan war.

With tears in his eyes, the President read a short televised statement announcing that he was going immediately because he had been so misunderstood over military operations abroad. On a trip last week to meet German troops in Afghanistan he had declared that a country such as Germany, dependent on exports and free trade, must be prepared to use military force.

The country, he said, had to act “to protect our interests, for example, free-trade routes, or to prevent regional instability which might certainly have a negative effect on our trade, jobs and earnings”.

The comments were, however, interpreted as a commitment to gunboat diplomacy.

“Köhler has said something openly that has been obvious from the beginning,” said Klaus Ernst, head of the Left party. “German soldiers are risking life and limb in Afghanistan to defend the [exports] of big economic interests.”

The President tried to correct his statements but it was clear that he had opened a debate about Afghanistan which could embarrass the Government.

“The criticism [of me] has gone so far that people are accusing me of supporting unconstitutional army operations,” Mr Köhler, 67, said. “There is absolutely no basis for such criticism.”

Jens Böhrnsen, the present head of the Upper House, the Bundesrat, will become the temporary Head of State. Germany then has 30 days to find a new President.

It will require effort out of all proportion to the real weight of the office at a time when the Chancellor is under criticism across Europe for her hesitant leadership in the eurozone crisis. “Everything is falling apart,” said the former head of the Greens, Joschka Fischer.

To read full Times of London story — Go Here Now.

© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Germany has been plunged into a political crisis by the surprise resignation of President Köhler.
Tuesday, 01 June 2010 07:25 AM
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