Defence minister slammed over trip with son in army helicopter

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht listens to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic during talks in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 5, 2022.
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht listens to Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic during talks in Belgrade, Serbia, Thursday, May 5, 2022. Copyright AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic
Copyright AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic
By AFP & Euronews
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Germany's defence minister has been criticised for travelling with her son in a military helicopter.


Germany's defence minister is under fire after a report emerged that she took a military helicopter with her son.

Christine Lambrecht and her 21-year-old son Alexander Lambrecht flew to the island of Sylt in Schleswig-Holstein in mid-April for a private trip, Business Insider reported on Tuesday, after she had visited a battalion in northern Germany.

In a photo that was reportedly posted to her son's Instagram, he was pictured in the helicopter.

Germany's defence ministry said they travelled together but denied that it was for a private trip.

A ministry spokesman said that Lambrecht "was accompanied by her son during a flight to an official troop-visit in her function as minster, using a Cougar helicopter from the German Armed Executive Transport Wing".

Germany's defence ministry said that Lambrecht paid the bill for her son's flight, which was estimated by Business Insider to cost more than €5,000 per hour.

"The accompaniment by a family member was planned and conducted in full compliance with our regulations. The flight of the son and the respective private cost share were communicated orderly in advance," the spokesman said.

"The regulations allow to be accompanied by a family member during these duty travel flights."

The Social Democratic minister drew heavy criticism over the helicopter flight, especially from opposition politicians.

"Using the Bundeswehr for private and partisan purposes is inelegant," the first secretary of the CDU-CSU group in the Bundestag, Thorsten Frei, said.

"The defence minister should be more tactful and not confuse the Luftwaffe (air force) with Lufthansa, Germany's main airline," he told the daily Bild.

Reinhard Brandl, who is in charge of defence issues in the conservative Bavarian CSU party, said that the timing of the trip was already "borderline" due to the war in Ukraine.

Brandl added that the fact her son was "boasting on Instagram that he was able to fly in the government helicopter to Sylt is the last straw".

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chairwoman of the Bundestag's defence committee and a member of the liberal FDP, one of the parties in the current majority coalition, described the procedure as "rather unusual" and called for "clarification".

The affair comes at a tough time for the minister, who has already come under fire in recent weeks for the German government's hesitation in providing Ukraine with military aid, which Kyiv considers insufficient.

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