By Ayhan Simsek
BERLIN (AA) – Chancellor Angela Merkel’s coalition partners reached an agreement on Sunday evening, ending days of wrangling over the controversial promotion of the former spy chief.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters, after crisis talks at the Chancellory, that the former spy chief Hans-Georg Maassen would not be promoted to an undersecretary post as he proposed last week, but instead would work as a “special advisor” at the ministry.
“He would serve as a department head and would be responsible for European and international affairs,” he said, adding that Maassen's responsibilities would include negotiating international agreements with European and African countries on the repatriation of illegal migrants.
The contentious spy chief was removed from his post by the government last week, after his controversial remarks on anti-immigrant violence in eastern Germany, and his alleged contacts with senior right-wing politicians.
Merkel’s coalition partner the Social Democratic Party had insisted that he could no longer stay head of the domestic intelligence agency BfV.
But Seehofer, who also leads the Christian Social Union (CSU), a sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), had praised Maassen's achievements, and announced that he would be promoted to an undersecretary post at the ministry.
The SPD heavily criticized the planned promotion and demanded new talks within the coalition government.
Maassen, who headed the BfV for six years, has been an outspoken critic of Merkel’s open-door policy for refugees.
In recent weeks he came under fire from the Social Democrats for his alleged contacts with senior politicians from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which touts an anti-immigration, anti-Islam platform.
The AfD and far-right groups had held anti-immigration rallies in eastern cities in recent weeks, following reports of murder and other crimes allegedly perpetrated by refugees.
During the protests, several mobs hunted down people deemed "foreign looking" and attacked restaurants owned by Jews or migrants.