President Horst Köhler of Germany resigned on Monday amid a barrage of criticism for remarks he made a week ago during a surprise visit to Afghanistan.
It is the first time that a German president has ever resigned.[...]
Mr. Köhler, a former director of the International Monetary Fund and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, shocked Germans earlier this month when he said that the country’s soldiers serving in Afghanistan or other peacekeeping missions were deployed to protect German economic interests.
Usually, German leaders justify their soldiers’ presence in the American-led coalition by saying they are needed to thwart would-be terrorists who might use Afghanistan as a base for attacks in Europe.
But, in his contentious remarks, Mr. Köhler said: “A country of our size, with its focus on exports and thus reliance on foreign trade, must be aware that military deployments are necessary in an emergency to protect our interests, for example, when it comes to trade routes, for example, when it comes to preventing regional instabilities that could negatively influence our trade, jobs and incomes.”