Jürgen Trittin

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Jürgen Trittin
File:Trittin, Jürgen-0126.jpg
Trittin in January 2013
Chairman of Parliamentary Group of Alliance '90/The Greens
with Renate Künast
In office
6 October 2009 – 8 October 2013
President Horst Köhler
Christian Wulff
Joachim Gauck
Chancellor Angela Merkel
Preceded by Fritz Kuhn
Succeeded by Anton Hofreiter
Federal Minister of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany
In office
27 October 1998 – 22 November 2005
President Roman Herzog
Johannes Rau
Horst Köhler
Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Preceded by Angela Merkel
Succeeded by Sigmar Gabriel
Minister for Federal and European Affairs, Lower Saxony, Germany
In office
Prime Minister Gerhard Schröder
Preceded by Heinrich Jürgens
Succeeded by vacant
Personal details
Born (1954-07-25) 25 July 1954 (age 67)
Bremen, West Germany
Nationality German
Political party Bündnis 90/Die Grünen
Alma mater University of Göttingen
Signature Jürgen Trittin's signature
Website www.juergentrittin.de

Jürgen Trittin (born 25 July 1954) is a German Green politician.[1][2] He was Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety from 1998 to 2005 in Germany.

Early life and education

Trittin was born in Bremen. He earned a university degree in social economy in Göttingen and worked as journalist.

Political career

Early beginnings

Trittin's political career started in 1982 as Secretary of the Alternative-Greens-Initiative List (AGIL) Group in the Göttingen City Council (until 1984). From 1984 to 1985, he worked as Press Spokesman for the Greens Group in the Lower Saxony State Assembly, which he joined in 1985 as member of the state parliament.

From 1990 to 1994, Jürgen Trittin was the Lower Saxony Minister for Federal and European Affairs and the Head of the Lower Saxony State Mission to the Federal Government in a coalition cabinet with the SPD, led by then minister president of Lower Saxony Gerhard Schröder (SPD).

After Schröder's SPD won an absolute majority in the state elections in 1994, the coalition with the Greens was ended. Trittin now worked as Member of the Lower Saxony State Assembly and as Deputy Chairman of the Alliance 90/The Greens group in that parliament. In 1994, he became Spokesman (Chairman) of the national Green Party.

Federal politics

In 1998, Trittin was elected as Member of the federal parliament (Bundestag). At the same time he discontinued his work as Spokesman, because party statutes do not allow concurrently being a member of parliament and a member of the party executive.

In the federal red–green coalition cabinet, he was appointed Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety under Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a role which he held from October 1998 until the Grand coalition under Chancellor Angela Merkel took power in 2005. In this position he was responsible for the decision to abandon the use of nuclear power by 2020, called the nuclear power phase-out (see Nuclear power in Germany).

Between 2005 and 2009 Trittin was vice-chairman of the Green Party’s parliamentary group, in charge of foreign, security and European policy.[3]

For the 2013 elections, the Greens under lead candidates Trittin and Katrin Göring-Eckardt centered their campaign on a call for tax increases for the wealthy, a strategy that many in the party later blamed for its losses in the polls.[4] As part of the campaign, Trittin strengthened his profile as foreign policy expert by making a five-day trip to the United States in May 2013, including meetings with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and officials from the International Monetary Fund.[5]

Following his party’s defeat in the elections, Trittin became a member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and of the German delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly. In late 2015, he was named co-chairman (alongside Ole von Beust and Matthias Platzeck) of a government-appointed commission tasked with recommending by early 2016 how to safeguard the funding of fulfilling Germany’s exit from nuclear energy.[6]

Political positions

Human rights

In August 2012, Trittin was one of 124 members of the Bundestag to sign a letter that was sent to the Russian ambassador to Germany, Vladimir Grinin, expressing concern over the trial against the three members of Pussy Riot. "Being held in detention for months and the threat of lengthy punishment are draconian and disproportionate," the lawmakers said in the letter. "In a secular and pluralist state, peaceful artistic acts -- even if they can be seen as provocative -- must not lead to the accusation of serious criminal acts that lead to lengthy prison terms."[7][8]

Environment policy

At the time of Hurricane Katrina in August/September 2005, Trittin wrote an opinion piece in the newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau associating the US failure to sign the Kyoto protocol with the hurricane and its devastation.

In August 2005, Trittin responded to a question on how best to react to the 2005 petrol prices crisis with "leave the car at home from time to time." The media, in particular Bild, attacked these comments.


Already by 1999, shortly after Gerhard Schröder’s coaltion government, Trittin told Stern magazine that "Red-Green as a reform project is dead," adding that he saw the Social Democrats as virtually indistinguishable now from the Christian Democrats of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He added that the Greens might even consider future political alliances with the Christian Democrats.[9]

In 2001, Trittin compared a prominent Christian Democrat, Laurenz Meyer, to a "skinhead" for declaring that he was proud to be a German. A vigorous debate on the legitimacy of German patriotism has ensued, with most Germans appearing sharply critical of Trittin. The minister justified his remark by noting that extreme-right parties in Germany often use the badge, "I am proud to be a German." However, Trittin came under considerable pressure to quit after making the remark and was openly reprimanded by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder. The Greens' voting results subsequently fell significantly -- to 7.8 percent, from 12.1 percent in the 1996 state election, in Baden-Württemberg, and to 5.3 percent, from 6.9 percent, in Rhineland-Palatinate.[10]

In 2010 Trittin attended an event to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Free Republic of Wendland in Hannover where someone threw a pie at him during a panel discussion.[11]

Other activities

  • Foundation for Reusable Systems (SIM), Member of the Board of Trustees
  • Weltfriedensdienst (WFD), Member of the Board of Trustees
  • German Energy Agency (DENA), Member of the Supervisory Board (1998-2005)
  • KfW, ex-officio Member of the Board of Supervisory Directors (1998-2005)


External links