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German SPD Leader Turns Down Foreign Minister Post in New Cabinet

© REUTERS / Morris Mac MatzenMartin Schulz, top candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) for the upcoming federal election, gives a speech during an election rally in Hamburg, Germany, August 31, 2017
Martin Schulz, top candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) for the upcoming federal election, gives a speech during an election rally in Hamburg, Germany, August 31, 2017 - Sputnik International
Martin Schulz, the leader of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), had previously decided he would accept the post of foreign minister in the country's new cabinet, counter to still earlier claims that he wouldn't do so, after the coalition talks with Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance succeeded.

Schulz has turned down the post of the foreign minister under increasing pressure from his own party, because of his earlier pledge that he will not become part of the cabinet headed by Angela Merkel.

"I hereby renounce joining the federal government and at the same time implore that this should be an end to debates about personalities" within the SPD, Schulz said in a statement.

He added that his personal ambitions "must be placed behind the interests of the party."

READ MORE: German Coalition Gov't Deal to Speed Up 'Downfall' of CDU/CSU, SPD Parties — AfD

Earlier in the day, acting German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel harshly criticized Schulz for failing to deliver on his promise, saying that "what's left is regret at how little respect there is in the Social Democratic Party in our dealings with one another, and how little someone's word counts."

The shadow of German Chancellor Angela Merkel photographed as she addresses the media after a meeting with German parliament floor leaders about the European Union bail-out in Berlin, Monday, May 10, 2010. - Sputnik International
Germany Takes the Lead in Breaking EU Rules
In January 2017, the then SPD head Sigmar Gabriel stepped aside in favor of Martin Schulz, who was then, as the party's leader, also nominated as a candidate for the post of German chancellor. Gabriel in his turn got the post of the foreign minister, which provoked rumours in the media that Schulz promised him that in the case of a coalition government from the SPD and the CDU/CSU alliance Gabriel would be allowed to retain the Foreign Ministry.

However, on Wednesday, after the deal on the coalition treaty was achieved, Martin Schulz announced his decision to quit the post of the SPD leader to become the foreign minister in the country's new cabinet himself, leaving Gabriel aside.

READ MORE: 'Hijabs on the Brain': Activist Lashes Out Against Germany's Migration Policy

This file photo taken on May 29, 2016 shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and the President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz during a remembrance ceremony to mark the centenary of the battle of Verdun, at the Douaumont Ossuary (Ossuaire de Douaumont), northeastern France. - Sputnik International
Germany's Coalition-Forming Marathon Enters Final Stretch
The coalition talks between Schulz's SPD and Merkel's CDU/CSU alliance, which lasted since December, were hard and demanded great concessions to the Social Democrats, among them six ministries including finance and foreign affairs, as the failure to form the government this time was believed to result in new general election. Before the negotiations, Schulz stated that the SPD was not ready to join the coalition talks after the September 24 election breakdown.

Merkel's first attempt to form the coalition government that would include Merkel's CDU/CSU, the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) collapsed as the Free Democrats pulled out from the negotiations in November after four weeks of fruitless efforts to find a consensus between the parties. Disagreements over issues such as migration and climate change were reportedly behind the breakdown of the talks.

Merkel had to form the coalition government after in September 2017 election her CDU/CSU alliance obtained 33 percent of votes and failed to secure an absolute majority. The SPD came second with 20.5 percent of the vote, while third place went to the FDP, which got 10.7 percent.

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