Angela Merkel admits mistakes in row over spy chief | News | DW | 24.09.2018

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Angela Merkel admits mistakes in row over spy chief

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has apologized for mistakes in the handling of the controversy over ex-intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen. She says the coalition will now focus on "solving people's problems."

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Merkel statement on Maassen compromise

Angela Merkel conceded that the coalition's decision to remove ex-intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen from his post only to reward him with a higher-paid job, and effectively, a promotion to a post in the Interior Ministry "could not convince people."

In an unprecedented move, she admitted that she had been too focused on the "proceedings in the Interior Ministry" and had not paid enough attention to "what people are rightly preoccupied with when they hear about a promotion."

"I'm sorry that we allowed that to happen," she said at a news conference. 

She stressed that the solution the coalition found for Maassen, who is now going to be a consultant to the Interior Ministry, was "appropriate" and was more likely to be seen as reasonable by the public "precisely because it is not a promotion."

DW political correspondent Simon Young said the admission "should help calm things down, as it is not very often that the chancellor comes out to make a public apology."

Back to work 

Merkel also said the coalition needed to focus on "solving people's problems" as "we have been too preoccupied with ourselves in many areas." 

"That has got to change," she added, citing Brexit, digitalization, the care sector and diesel regulations as some of the issues that need to be tackled.

Maassen made headlines earlier this month when he called into question the veracity of footage showing far-right sympathizers chasing people in the eastern city of Chemnitz. Shortly thereafter, he was criticized over reports that he had passed sensitive information about Islamic extremism to the populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Despite this, his boss, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer stood behind him, marking the latest in a series of conflicts between the Bavarian conservative and Merkel.

ng/rt (dpa, AFP)

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