Kohl announces Cabinet

By MARY CAFFREY

 

BONN, Germany (AP) – Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced his Cabinet Thursday, leaving most posts with veteran ministers, but naming a 28-year-old east German woman as the youngest minister ever to serve in a German government.

 

Two of the most influential jobs, foreign affairs and finance, were retained by Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel of the centrist Free Democrats (FDP) and Finance Minister Theo Waigel of the Christian Social Union (CSU).

 

The government’s economic advisers, meanwhile, outlined a major problem for Kohl’s new term: Though the economy is growing, “unemployment remains on a shockingly high and unacceptable level” and is expected to grow, averaging 3.6 million people in 1995 compared with 3.45 million in October.

 

The advisers, dubbed the “five wise men,” said in their assessment for 1994-95 it was unlikely that growth could be fostered by lowering Germany’s interest rates, partly because the U.S. Federal Reserve’s policy of raising rates left Germany’s central bank no room to lower its interest rates.

 

In a move to signal Kohl’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) wants support of groups the party has been accused of ignoring, the chancellor named Claudia Nolte, 28, to head the newly combined Ministry for Women, Youth, Families and the Elderly.

 

Nolte is from Thuringia state in east Germany, and has held a CDU seat in parliament since unification in October 1990. Kohl is said to have been especially pleased with her hard work for the party during the election campaign.

 

Kohl said he had decided that the head of the ministry “should be someone who personally knows the situation of women in the East.”

 

The birthrate in the East has fallen 60 percent since 1989. Since unification, there has been a sharp reduction in the number of day care centers set up by the former communist government, and many young couples fear they can’t make ends meet unless both have jobs.

 

The number of ministries for the FDP, the junior coalition partner, fell to three from five in the last government. The party had suffered major losses at federal, state and European polls this year.

 

The CSU, Kohl’s conservative Bavarian sister-party, retained the three Cabinet posts held previously.

 

“There are always people whose fates are influenced and of course always problems,” Kohl said, “but I’m glad the coalition of CDU, CSU and FDP has the opportunity to work together again.”

 

Economics Minister Guenter Rexrodt of the FDP retained his post, despite strong criticism from some conservatives. Klaus Bregger, chairman of an association of small businessmen in the CDU-CSU, accused Rexrodt of ignoring the needs of mid-sized companies and not correctly dealing with the issues of business tax reforms.

 

Kohl reduced the Cabinet from 19 posts to 17, and said he would trim it by another two posts before the end of the four-year legislative period.

 

In addition to combining the former Ministry for Women and Youth with the Ministry for Families and the Elderly, Kohl fused the former Education and Science Ministry with the Research and Technology Ministry.

 

In making his announcement, Kohl also emphasized his plans to move government operations to the capital of Berlin in four to six years.

 

November 18, 1994

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