New German FM to 'pursue more active foreign policy'
Germany's new Foreign Minister Heiko Maas vowed to pursue a more active foreign policy as he took office on Wednesday replacing outgoing Sigmar Gabriel.
"Nobody wants a German foreign policy which overestimates itself. But likewise it would be wrong, and maybe more dangerous in today's world, if we adopt a foreign policy which side-steps itself," the Social Democrat politician said at a handover ceremony held in Berlin.
The 51-year-old politician, who served as the justice minister in the previous coalition government, underlined that he attached great importance to Germany's relations with its EU partners and Israel.
"I would like to make my first visit to Paris tonight, and later to Warsaw on Friday. And if it becomes possible soon to Israel," he said.
Maas said for him Israel was important not only because of Germany's "historical responsibility" for the Jews.
"I have entered politics because of Auschwitz," he said, referring to the death camp where Nazis killed around 1.1 million people, mostly Jews from across Europe, between 1940 and 1945.
On Wednesday, Germany's parliament reelected Angela Merkel to a fourth term as the country's chancellor, heading a "grand coalition" of conservative and center-left parties.
Merkel's Christian Democratic bloc (CDU/CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) reached an agreement last month to form a coalition government, after a months-long post-election stalemate.