Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel completed her Cabinet lineup Monday, naming a team of conservative ministers that combined former members of Germany's last center-right government with newcomers and confidants with critics. Merkel is to lead a coalition with outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats, who have secured equal representation at the Cabinet table. That left the Christian Democratic leader, whose own party is rich in ambitious rivals, with seven posts to fill.
She proposed former Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who under former conservative Chancellor Helmut Kohl guided the negotiation of the treaty that reunited Germany, to return to the ministry.
As the country's top security official, he will have a leading role in efforts to crack down on supporters of terrorism and Islamic radicals within Germany.
Schaeuble "will certainly be able to handle with great experience and capability the truly great challenges in the area of internal security, in fighting terrorism and crime, but also in the organization of the (2006) soccer World Cup," Merkel said.
Schaeuble became his party's chairman after Kohl's 1998 election defeat, but was replaced with Merkel in 2000 amid fallout from a party financing scandal surrounding Kohl. He has used a wheelchair since being paralyzed from the waist down when a mentally disturbed man shot him at a rally in 1990.
The Defense Ministry will go to Franz Josef Jung, a close associate of a leading Merkel rival within the Christian Democrats, Hesse state Gov. Roland Koch.
Annette Schavan, a former state education minister who pioneered efforts by some German states to bar Muslim teachers from wearing head scarves in the classroom, will get the education portfolio. She is seen as close to Merkel, according to the AP.
Another state minister and rising star in the Christian Democrats, Ursula von der Leyen, will become minister for families. Von der Leyen, a physician who has seven children, "stands for the ability to combine career and family," Merkel said.
Merkel's chief of staff, a Cabinet-level post, will be Thomas de Maiziere, currently the interior minister of eastern Saxony state. He is a cousin of the former East Germany's first and only democratically elected leader, Lothar de Maiziere, whom Merkel served as a spokeswoman in 1990.
Merkel described de Maiziere as "one of my oldest political friends." Another close Merkel aide, Volker Kauder, is to take over the conservatives' parliamentary leadership.
Merkel's conservative bloc also includes the Bavaria-only Christian Social Union, which got two Cabinet seats under the preliminary deal last week that cleared the way for Merkel to become Germany's first female leader.
The Ilyushin 20 (Il-20) military electronic reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force with 14 servicemen on board that went off radar screens off the coast of Syria was shot down by Syrian air defense systems over the Mediterranean Sea