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Former German foreign minister returns in new govt

December 15, 2013
Associated Press

BERLIN (AP) — Chancellor Angela Merkel's new coalition partners are bringing back a former foreign minister and pledging to make Germany's transition from nuclear to renewable energy a success as they enter government.

The center-left Social Democrats also said Sunday that a deputy party leader with Turkish roots will become the government official responsible for immigrant issues, one rung below Cabinet rank.

The Social Democrats will have six ministers in the conservative Merkel's 16-member Cabinet.

They include Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a well-respected foreign minister from 2005 to 2009 who returns as Germany's top diplomat. Party leader Sigmar Gabriel described him as "perhaps Germany's most distinguished foreign policy expert."

Gabriel will become vice chancellor and head a beefed-up Economy Ministry. He will have full oversight of Germany's transition from nuclear to renewable energy, marred by bickering between ministries since Merkel's 2011 move to accelerate the exit from nuclear power.

"We have to make the energy switchover a success," Gabriel said, stressing that it "brings great opportunities for extra jobs, but it must ensure that Germany remains reliable and ... robust as an industrial location."

Left-winger Andrea Nahles becomes labor minister, responsible for launching a national minimum wage that was part of the party's price for going into government. Joerg Asmussen, currently a member of the European Central Bank's executive board, will be one of her deputies, Gabriel told ARD television.

Aydan Ozoguz, who was born in Germany but has Turkish roots, will be responsible for immigrant issues. In a change championed by her party, people born in Germany who also hold a non-European Union passport will no longer have to choose one citizenship, largely benefiting children of Turkish immigrants.

Gabriel said Ozoguz' appointment will send "a clear signal" to immigrants and their children "that we are at the beginning of even greater steps toward integration."

Merkel's conservatives were to present their ministers later Sunday. Parliament is expected to elect Merkel for a third term Tuesday, nearly three months after German elections.



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