May 31st, 2010
09:33 AM ET

German President Koehler resigns

German President Horst Koehler resigned suddenly Monday over what he said was heavy criticism about comments he made on Germany's military involvement in Afghanistan, which he said had been misinterpreted.

Koehler said May 22 upon his return from Afghanistan that "in emergencies military intervention is necessary to uphold our interests, like for example free trade routes, for example to prevent regional instabilities which could have a negative impact on our chances in terms of trade, jobs and income."

He later said he meant the protection of shipping routes along the Gulf of Aden against piracy, for example, and not any reference to Germany's role in Afghanistan. But his comments came in for widespread criticism.

Koehler said the criticism showed a lack of respect for the president's office.

The president's office is largely ceremonial. Chancellor Angela Merkel heads the government and holds the real power.

Germany has more than 4,000 troops in Afghanistan.

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soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Goga

    I think, Köhler actually said the truth, but nobody wants to accept this truth: The western countries that fight in Afghanistan are achieving profit through more influence in this region. And of course this cannot be the official doctrine of these countries. That's why Köhler had to resign.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • SockPuppet

      But that's exactly the interpretation of his critics and why he resigned. The german basic law prohibits such deployments of the Bundeswehr. Even the first deployment abroad in Yugoslavia was heavily criticized and is not – if read strictly – covered by the german basic law.

      His remarks were more than unfortunate, returning from a visit to the german troops in afghanistan, of course everyone thought he was talking about the war at the hindukush and not in the gulf of arden. If you ask me, he should have clarified his remarks more clearly, maybe even in a public address and let the criticism die down.

      May 31, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tariru

    @Goga: He didn't want to be interpreted the way you do! Thus whether the essence of your interpretation is right or not is irrelevant. And thus you fiercely misrepresent his own reasons for resignation.

    May 31, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
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    May 31, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Muzaffar Husain

    His comments were wronly critisized. He did NOT mean the way his speech was taken into stupid criticism. He should be asked by the German people to take the resignation back and assume the office of the prsidency.

    May 31, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Gudrun

      I think you are right, Muzaffar. We as Germans should ask him to come back as our president. But I think Koehler is a consequent man. he won`t come back.

      June 1, 2010 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
  5. Wenzel M.

    Wether he had to pretend to be misunderstood or he really was misunderstood is less important than the fact that this "misinterpretation" was the truth. We are fighting to protect our economical interests, all of us western countries in the EU and NAFTA.
    I believe he made the statement because he knew he hadn't much time left. His support in politics was non-existend and for a german President this is the most important thing. The german President is elected by politicians, not by the people. Our support continued to be strong as far as the media coverage tells.
    If the Euro collapses he'd been forced to sign a monetary reform, I believe he wasn't up for that. He had not enough power to lead germany into a new monetary system as we'd all like to see it. He wouldn't stand a chance against the banks. This doesn't mean his decision was the right one, because if a monetary reform is to be realized within the next 30 days, germany has no "head" and will probably get into trouble big time.

    June 1, 2010 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
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    October 2, 2010 at 9:31 pm | Report abuse |