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New German ministers appointed in wake of plagiarism scandal

The German president has officially appointed new ministers of defense and interior in a ceremony in Berlin. The appointments come after a cabinet shake-up caused by the resignation of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

President Wulff making new appointments

Guttenberg hands off his defense duties to de Maziere

German President Christian Wulff on Thursday officially swore in new ministers of defense and interior after the resignation of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg created a shake-up in Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet earlier in the week.

Wulff accepted Thomas de Maiziere as successor to Guttenberg as defense minister, while Hans-Peter Friedrich assumed de Maiziere's previous post as interior minister after stepping aside as Christian Social Union (CSU) committee chief. The CSU is the sister party to Merkel's center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

The ceremony took place at the official presidential residence, Berlin's Schloss Bellevue.

Wulff, who is responsible for sanctioning ministerial appointees according to the German constitution, laid out the challenges de Maiziere will face in his new position.

"You are the commander of our armed forces and are responsible for our soldiers who are currently deployed abroad," the president said. "You will also have many other important tasks, including carrying out the reform of the military."

De Maiziere assumes office at a time when the military is simultaneously transforming itself into an all-volunteer force and winding down a deadly NATO mission in the north of Afghanistan.

'Utmost respect' for Guttenberg

Wulff officially relieved Guttenberg of his responsibilities as defense minister, wishing him "new success."

"I thank you for your exceedingly engaged service to our country and give you the utmost respect," Wulff said.

Guttenberg has also resigned from his post in the German parliament. His departure comes in the wake of accusations of extensive plagiarism in his doctoral thesis.

In his second appointment, Wulff wished Friedrich "all the best" in his new post as head of the Interior Ministry, which is responsible for often controversial matters such as domestic security and the integration of immigrants.

Author: Spencer Kimball (dpa, Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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