Cablegate: Uproar Follows Plan to Relocate German Crime Bureau

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Uproar Follows Plan to Relocate German Crime Bureau

1. SUMMARY. Protests against the German government's
surprise proposal to relocate to Berlin much of the BKA
(Bundeskriminalamt - German equivalent of the FBI) have
prompted the Interior Ministry to back down for the moment.
Interior Minister Otto Schily (SPD/Social Democrat)
announced in early January that the terrorism and
transnational crime offices of the BKA would move to Berlin
in order to better coordinate the German response on these
issues. Under the plan, the BKA would move 2500 jobs from
Wiesbaden to Berlin and close its subsidiary in Bonn-
Meckenheim (1000 employees). Critics (some within Schily's
own party) argue that the move to Berlin would damage the
BKA as an organization, cost at least EUR 500 million (USD
625 million), and threaten German federalism. END SUMMARY.

2. On January 8, Interior Minister Otto Schily announced a
plan to relocate the BKA's terrorism and transnational crime
units from Wiesbaden (Hesse) and Meckenheim (North Rhine-
Westphalia - NRW) to Berlin over the next four years.
Schily asserted that the move would facilitate cooperation
between the BKA and other German law enforcement agencies,
citing difficulties last year coordinating the response to
the kidnapping of German tourists in northern Africa.

Opposition Loud and Wide

3. Reaction to Schily's announcement was immediate and
overwhelmingly negative. Hesse Minister-President (M-P)
Roland Koch (CDU/Christian Democrat) blasted Schily for not
informing him beforehand and called the move "outrageous"
and politically motivated. Critics from within Schily's own
party, including NRW Minister-President Peer Steinbrueck,
have been almost as vocal. Steinbrueck wrote a letter to
Chancellor Schroeder on the matter calling for
reconsideration of the relocation plans. In an unusual
move, federal Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-
Zeul (SPD) spoke to 6000 protesters at a rally in Wiesbaden
on January 24, criticizing Schily for not consulting the
cabinet and demanding that Schily withdraw the relocation
plan. Many BKA employees have vigorously opposed the move,
claiming that they were "hoodwinked" by BKA leadership.

4. In a letter to minister-presidents in the other fifteen
German states, Koch argued that the BKA move would call into
question Germany's strong tradition of federalism and
potentially jeopardize other federal agencies around
Germany, including the German Supreme Court (Karlsruhe),
Federal Labor Office (Nuremberg), and Office for the
Protection of the Constitution (Cologne). Koch has received
support from other minister-presidents, notably Rheinland-
Pfalz M-P Kurt Beck (a locally popular SPD figure with
strong party connections) and Bavarian M-P Edmund Stoiber.

5. Media critics point to the high cost of the relocation
(at least 500 million euros) and question whether the move
would make the BKA more effective. Schily took hits from
all around, as Schroeder hesitated to back the plan and news
media obtained a videotape of a high-level BKA meeting,
casting BKA leadership in a negative light. Schily has
committed to reconsider the proposal "from the ground up";
political observers expect BKA president Kersten to lose his
job over the controversy.

6. COMMENT: Schily's failure to seek cabinet approval or
consult state politicians before announcing the plan has
left him isolated against a strong and bipartisan tide of
opposition. A strong BKA is a critical component of German
cooperation in the war on terror, and the ongoing debate
over the proposed move to Berlin could hamper the agency's
operational effectiveness, whatever the merits of Schily's
plans to bring all terrorism-fighting agencies together in
one city. Schily's announcement follows a decision last
year to move the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND - Germany's
equivalent of the CIA) from Pullach (near Munich) to Berlin.
Concerns over upheaval within the BKA, the high cost of
relocation, and political fallout in the important states of
North Rhine-Westphalia and Hesse may sink the idea for good.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Myanmar: UN Condemns Escalating Violence In Deadliest Day Of Protests So Far

In response to the killing of at least 18 protesters demonstrating against Myanmar’s military coup, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) on Sunday together with the UN chief, strongly condemned the “escalating violence” and called for an immediate end to the use of force... More>>

Syria: Economic Decline, Rising Hunger And Surging Humanitarian Needs

Syria’s fragile economy has “suffered multiple shocks” over the past 18 months, with its currency plummeting and joblessness swelling as people struggle to cover their basic needs, the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council ... More>>

OECD: Final Quarter Of 2020 Shows Continued Recovery In G20 International Merchandise Trade

G20 international merchandise trade continued to rebound in the fourth quarter of 2020 ( exports up 7.2% and imports up 6.8%), following the sharp falls seen in the first half of 2020, as lockdown measures affected trade globally. Although growth ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

UNFCCC: Greater Climate Ambition Urged As Initial NDC Synthesis Report Is Published

UN Climate Change today published the Initial NDC Synthesis Report, showing nations must redouble efforts and submit stronger, more ambitious national climate action plans in 2021 if they’re to achieve the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise by 2°C—ideally 1.5°C—by the end of the century... More>>

2021: Critical Year To ‘reset Our Relationship With Nature’ – UN Chief

During this time of “crisis and fragility”, the UN chief told the United Nations Environment Assembly on Monday that human well-being and prosperity can be vastly improved by prioritizing nature-based solutions. Painting a picture of the turmoil ... More>>

Paris Agreement: UN Secretary-General António Guterres To Mark U.S. Reentry With Envoy For Climate John Kerry

Watch live at UN Secretary-General António Guterres will join U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry at an event marking the United States’ reentry into the Paris Agreement this Friday. The discussion with the Secretary-General ... More>>