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Viewing cable 09BERLIN1393, GERMANY'S NEW INTERIOR MINISTER FACES STEEP

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BERLIN1393 2009-11-04 12:12 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Berlin
VZCZCXYZ0005
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRL #1393/01 3081215
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
R 041215Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY BERLIN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5677
INFO RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
RUCNFRG/FRG COLLECTIVE
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/FBI WASHINGTON DC
RHEFHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/HQ USEUCOM LO WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUCXONI/ONI WASHINGTON DC
RUKAAKA/USAREUR ACE DARMSTADT GE
RUEHRL/USDAO BERLIN GE
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
S E C R E T BERLIN 001393 
 
NOFORN 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR, S/CT, L 
DHS FOR OIA SCARDAVILLE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/04/2019 
TAGS: PGOV PTER PREL KHLS KJUS GM
SUBJECT: GERMANY'S NEW INTERIOR MINISTER FACES STEEP 
LEARNING CURVE 
 
REF: A. BERLIN 1377 
     B. BERLIN 1167 
     C. BERLIN 988 
     D. 2008 BERLIN 1455 
     E. 2008 BERLIN 504 
 
Classified By: Robert A. Pollard, Minister-Counselor for Economic Affai 
rs for Reasons 1.4(b) and (d). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: Germany's new federal interior minister, 
Thomas de Maiziere, is known for being a competent 
administrator who performed effectively over the past four 
years as the Chancellery Chief of Staff.  De Maiziere is a 
close confidant of Chancellor Merkel, their professional 
relationship dates back to 1990, and he developed a 
reputation as a reliable crisis manager and interagency 
master over the past four years.  Although de Maiziere 
previously served as a state interior minister in Saxony, he 
has less direct experience dealing with the international 
security issues - most prominently counterterrorism - that he 
will face as federal interior minister.  Furthermore, de 
Maiziere is not known for being ideological or outspoken.  In 
this respect, de Maiziere represents a marked change from his 
predecessor, powerhouse Wolfgang Schaeuble, who had strong 
views on security policy and was willing to endure 
considerable criticism to achieve his policy goals.  We do 
not expect de Maiziere to push for further expanding law 
enforcement powers of police and/or security services.  De 
Maiziere indicates that he intends to focus on integration of 
foreigners into German society and will continue the 
Ministry's Islam Conference, a controversial Schaeuble 
initiative that had advanced the country's discussion on 
immigration and discrimination issues.  He also intends to 
promote the further integration of former east and west 
Germany.  END SUMMARY 
 
 
An Aristocratic Westerner Makes His Name in the East 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
 
 
2. (U) De Maiziere, 55, is a lawyer by training who was born 
and raised in Bonn, but has spent nearly the last two decades 
in the eastern states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Saxony. 
He is a descendent of the noble Maiziere-les-Metz family who, 
as Huguenots, fled France for asylum in Prussia in the late 
seventeenth century.  De Maiziere's father, Ulrich, was 
Inspector General of the German Armed Forces.  His cousin, 
Lothar, was the last, and only democratically elected, 
Premier of the German Democratic Republic, who later served 
as a minister in the Kohl government.  As a staffer in the 
offices of Berlin Governing Mayor Richard von Weizsacker, and 
later Eberhard Diepgen, de Maiziere participated in the 
negotiations on German reunification.  After 1990, de 
Maiziere worked to re-establish democratic structures in 
eastern states starting first in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. 
From 1998 through 2005, de Maiziere served in Saxony as head 
of the State Chancery, and as Finance, Justice and Interior 
Minister.  De Maiziere joined the Christian Democratic Union 
(CDU) as a student in 1972.  De Maiziere won a direct mandate 
in the September 27 national parliamentary election and is 
now a member of the Bundestag representing the district of 
Meissen in Saxony. 
 
 
3. (C) De Maiziere first met Angela Merkel in 1990 and his 
recommendation of her to his cousin Lothar de Maiziere is 
said to have facilitated her entry into CDU politics. 
Chancellor Merkel and de Maiziere are known to have a very 
close professional relationship and to share a similar sober 
and analytical approach to governing.  De Maiziere is 
reported to have performed well throughout his tenure as 
Merkel's Chancellery Chief and Minister for Special Duties. 
As Chancellery Chief of Staff, de Maiziere was known as a 
consensus builder who understands and effectively works the 
 
interagency process, sometimes requiring competing ministers 
to resolve disputes among themselves.  The Chancellor no 
doubt appreciated de Maiziere's efforts to shield her from 
these policy battles given her general propensity to stay 
above the fray and to express an opinion on an issue only 
when consensus has been reached at the cabinet level. 
 
 
De Maiziere Faces a Steep Learning Curve 
---------------------------------------- 
 
 
4. (C) De Maiziere's experience in eastern Germany helped him 
gain new responsibilities for the Federal Interior Ministry: 
the entire Department of Eastern German affairs has been 
moved from the Transportation and Urban Affairs Ministry to 
the Interior Ministry.  In his remarks to ministry employees 
on his first day in office, de Maiziere said that with this 
move the interior ministry is now responsible for not only 
immigrant integration, but also the integration of Eastern 
and Western Germany and the cohesion of German society.  De 
Maiziere will continue the German Islam Conference, an 
initiative started by his predecessor, which seeks to improve 
the integration of Germany's Muslim population and open a 
dialogue between the government and Germany's Muslim 
community.  The Islam Conference has met with some 
controversy and came under scrutiny earlier this year when it 
was discovered that some Muslim representatives were alleged 
to have links with extremist groups. 
 
 
5. (S/NF) De Maiziere has some familiarity with security 
issues given that his duties in the Chancellery included 
overall coordination of Germany's intelligence services.  De 
Maiziere was helpful in promoting cooperation between German 
ministries and security services with USG counterparts both 
during the 2007 Sauerland Islamic Jihad Union terrorist cell 
case and following extremist threats surrounding the recent 
national elections.  De Maiziere's predecessor Wolfgang 
Schaeuble spent considerable time dealing with the issue of 
terrorism and working to update Germany's legal frameworks 
and expand the mandates of law enforcement agencies to ensure 
they had the capabilities to address the phenomena.  In 
contrast, de Maiziere said virtually nothing in public on the 
issue of terrorism during his time in the Chancellery, and he 
has not emphasized the topic since moving to Interior. 
Therefore, there is some question concerning the depth of his 
knowledge of the transnational character of terrorism, 
radicalization pathways, and terrorists' increasing use of 
the Internet and related technology to recruit, train and 
organize, aspects of the issue that most affect Germany today. 
 
 
6. (C) During his first day remarks to employees, de Maiziere 
made the peculiar statement that "the Interior Ministry is 
responsible for internal matters, and the Foreign Ministry is 
responsible for issues external to Germany."  This 
characterization of the MoI's tasks contrasts sharply with EU 
law enforcement integration initiatives under Schaeuble such 
as the Pruem data sharing agreement.  Observers are concerned 
that de Maiziere's limited perspective could result in 
diminished bilateral cooperation and mark a significant 
departure from former minister Schaeuble, who placed a heavy 
emphasis throughout his tenure on increasing security 
cooperation with European and other international partners. 
De Maiziere would benefit from learning about the benefits of 
international cooperation first hand from his counterparts at 
the G6 meeting in London this week, which DHS Secretary 
Napolitano and senior DoJ representatives will attend. 
(Note: The G6 is an informal grouping of the interior 
ministers of Germany, Italy, Spain, France, Poland and the 
UK.  Schaeuble made a point of inviting the USG to G6 
meetings that he hosted, a custom that UK Minister Jacqui 
Smith is following for this week's London meeting.  Ref D.) 
 
 
Will de Maiziere be a Strong Security Partner? 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
 
7. (C) We do not expect de Maiziere to be aggressive in 
pushing for expanded security powers.  However, there is less 
need for this as two recent legislative packages have already 
strengthened Germany's counterterrorism legal framework (Refs 
C and E).  More relevant is whether de Maiziere will build on 
Schaeuble's record of deepening U.S.-German security 
cooperation, such as the successful negotiations of a 
bilateral "Pruem-like" agreement to exchange information on 
terrorism and serious crime suspects, as well as establish an 
automated fingerprint checking system.  Final implementation 
of our agreement is awaiting resolution of some concerns 
raised by a Green Party Justice Senator from Hamburg.  We 
will likely need support from de Maiziere to break this 
impasse, but it is unclear whether de Maiziere is willing to 
make the effort on an initiative that his predecessor 
initiated and for which he received heavy criticism due to 
data privacy concerns.  On the issue of resettlement of 
Guantanamo detainees, de Maiziere has yet to express a 
viewpoint one way or the other. 
 
 
8. (C) We anticipate that data protection and domestic 
security issues will be a continuing theme that the new 
coalition government of the Christian Democrats (CDU and CSU) 
and Free Democrats (FDP) will struggle with.  During the 
previous administration, the FDP regularly criticized former 
interior minister Schaeuble for policies which the FDP 
believed trampled on citizens' privacy rights (Ref B). 
Germany's new Justice Minister Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger 
(FDP) believes that Schaeuble went too far in giving police 
new powers of investigation, and she was successful in 
committing the new government to modify a number of these 
powers and introducing added data protection measures in the 
recently completed coalition agreement (Ref A).  The FDP has 
found it politically expedient to cast personal freedoms and 
security policy as mutually exclusive.  In this debate, de 
Maiziere's greatest advantage is that he is not Schaeuble. 
As Interior Minister, de Maiziere is expected to support 
existing laws and practices initiated by his predecessor, and 
his reputation for reasonableness and consensus-building 
should serve him well in these discussions. 
MURPHY