WORLD: Mr. Madsen, you swore your oath of office as Schleswig-Holstein Economics Minister on Wednesday – what went through your head?

Claus Ruhe Madsen: At that moment? The people of Rostock, whose mayor I was allowed to be for three years. It was very difficult for me to say goodbye there. But of course also the beginning of the whole story. I came to Germany for a year in 1992 with a suitcase, basketball shoes and a couple of T-shirts. And now I’m suddenly standing here in Kiel as Minister. It’s quite a crazy journey.

WORLD: How did you come to move to Kiel?

Madsen: Daniel Günther asked me if I could imagine that. And the ministry he offered me was a perfect fit. So I accepted this unique opportunity. The people of Rostock actually placed their trust in me for seven years, but I couldn’t really ask the prime minister to wait another four years before I was appointed.

WORLD: What have you planned for the new office?

Madsen: I think the first thing to do is to pick up the ministry employees and talk to the associations, to the members of the state parliamentary groups. I need to know what the priorities are and where the shoe pinches. Maybe also where things are going optimally.

The country must be brought forward as a green industrial country. A lot will be about getting settlements with a promising future. Tourism will also be an important issue, currently the lack of skilled workers in particular.

And then we have important transport projects, including the tunnel to Denmark. But also motorways and roads that we want to build. Projects on which the Ukraine war is already having an impact. There are significant material bottlenecks.

WORLD: Another problem related to the Ukraine war is the short-term energy supply, the possible gas emergency. Do you already have an idea how to solve the associated problems?

Madsen: In the long term, Schleswig-Holstein naturally has very good prospects with its great potential for generating sustainable energy. The LNG terminals will probably also make a contribution. But not immediately.

Which means that at the moment everyone is of course called upon to save energy. And we probably won’t be able to avoid debating where we can turn off the power in an emergency.

WORLD: Which places are you thinking of?

Madsen: In Denmark, for example, there is a list of 47 companies whose gas is cut off in an emergency in order to reduce gas consumption by 40 percent. That is the task of the Federal Network Agency, but such a measure would of course have to be closely coordinated with the federal states and the municipalities. We would certainly quickly form a crisis management team to face this special situation with open eyes – and not wait until it gets cold.

WORLD: What does your appointment as minister mean for German-Danish relations?

Madsen: At least the Danish media see it as a good chance to significantly expand relations again, especially to improve relations with Schleswig-Holstein again. Denmark is a very green, sustainable country, also very far in digitalization. If we are willing to be curious and learn from each other, then it could certainly help both sides. I would like to do my part in that.

WORLD: You became a non-party member of a black-green state government. Advisedly? Or would you have joined a red-green cabinet if you had gotten the offer?

Madsen: In any case, I would not have joined any possible government at any price. The talks with Daniel Günther convinced me. I think he is a very charismatic personality and also very good at politics.

WORLD: Will you join the CDU?

Madsen: I haven’t decided that yet. To do this, the Schleswig-Holstein CDU and Claus Madsen must first get to know each other.

“Kick-off Politics” is WELT’s daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.