Germany’s defence minister has rejected calls from the oppositon for him to resign over the cancelation of the Euro Hawk project. This came after Thomas de Maiziere's second appearance before a parliamentary committee.
Defense Minister de Maiziere emerged after four hours of questioning by members of the Bundestag's defense committee on Monday determined to remain in his post.
"A correct decision reached in a flawed process is not reason for a resignation but reason and motivation to avoid such mistakes in future," the minister told reporters in Berlin.
He also defended his decision to wait until May 15 to pull the plug on the Euro Hawk military drone project, which had already cost the government around 500 million euros ($660 million).
"An earlier decision would have caused more damage rather than reducing it," he said.
That de Maiziere described the process of decision-making that led up to the decision as “flawed” wasn't new, but he did concede more clearly than at last week's committee meeting that he personally had made mistakes.
While he again insisted that he only found out for sure that the project would have to be cancelled two days before making the announcement, he conceded that he had received documents outlining the project's problems as far back as December. He also conceded that having heard that there were problems at an earlier point in time, he should have looked into it.
"I should have asked questions," the minister said. "Technically we didn't do our work carefully enough."
Opposition demand resignation
While parliamentarians on the government side continued to express their backing for the Christian Democrat minister, the opposition repeated calls for him to step down over the affair.
The opposition Social Democrats defense spokesman, Rainer Arnold, accused De Maiziere of deliberately misleading parliament.
"I am very sure that behind this whole series of events is not just stupidity, but also structure and a plan to make things foggy," Arnold said.
The Greens' parliamentary party leader, Jürgen Trittin, said De Maiziere had "squandered trust" in his ability to lead the defense ministry.
Dissatisfied with the answers it received on Monday, the committee elected to call De Maiziere back for a third hearing on Wednesday.
The opposition Greens, Social Democrats and the Left party also decided to call for a special parliamentary committee to be formed to look into the affair. This is all but certain to happen, as combined they have well over the one quarter of Bundestag members needed to create such a committee.
The development project itself, adapting and improving a high-altitude US RQ-4B Global Hawk surveillance drone made by Northrop Grumman, had been running largely according to plan and according to budget. However, the prospect of as much as 500 million euros in further costs to secure flight clearance inside European Union airspace prompted authorities to abandon the plans last month.
pfd/dr (AFP, dpa)