Steffen Seibert, from Merkel’s spokesperson to Germany’s new ambassador to Israel? | Germany | DW

At that time, his face was so familiar on the Berlin political scene that some people were surprised when they no longer saw him there. For eleven long years, Steffen Seibert, formerly a journalist and television presenter, was the spokesman for former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). From August 2010 to December 2021, Seibert explained the chancellor’s political moves to reporters in the German capital. Now, according to many German media outlets, Seibert has found a new job: he may become Germany’s ambassador to Israel.

The German government does not want to confirm it this Friday (04/01.2022), but also does not deny it. German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said: “I can only say that this appointment was decided by the cabinet. That means I cannot confirm anything about it at the moment.” But everyone named so far is a good fit for the position, according to Sasse.

At the start of their long eleven years as spokesperson: Merkel and Seibert in August 2010.

Assignment by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Officially, the appointment of ambassadors is the responsibility of the German Foreign Office: but the cabinet, that is, the group of all heads of the federal government, must agree. And, unlike in other countries, not all top positions in the German embassy are transferred when there is a change of government. As a general rule, ambassadors remain in their posts for about four years, and then move to another country or to another senior post at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. Apart from career diplomats, representatives from the political world are also appointed at the ministry. Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz (SPD), will convince his predecessor, Angela Merkel (CDU), that Seibert, with whom he has been very close for many years, will get a job in Israel. This transfer from politics to diplomatic service is said to be an exception, but it does happen quite often.

country representative

Among other duties, German ambassadors, like other countries, look after their compatriots abroad, maintain relations with the government of the country to which they are assigned, and explain the realities of the nation they represent. They also foster relations between Germany and the host country through various events.

Entrance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin.  Diplomatic training is considered very demanding.

Entrance to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Berlin. Diplomatic training is considered very demanding.

The classic training for the higher diplomatic service of the German Foreign Office is very demanding. The selection procedure requirements are: have German citizenship, have a solid knowledge of three languages, with fluency in English and French. A complete academic bachelor’s or master’s degree is also required. And after their training, high-level diplomats need great flexibility: they are expected to change residence frequently, even to completely different continents.

New ambassadors in China, Spain and Mexico

In addition to deployments in Israel, the UK and the US, there will soon be new German ambassadors in Poland, Spain, China, Mexico and India. There, in New Delhi, a top official looks set to move: Philipp Ackermann, currently head of the German Foreign Ministry department in Berlin, is in charge of relations with 110 states in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.


Elena Eland

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