Michael Naumann, the German culture minister who oversaw the controversial departure of Berlin International Film Festival chief Moritz de Hadeln, has stepped down after just two years in the job.

Julian Nida-Ruemelin, the City of Munich's Arts Officer, is to succeed him. Naumann, a former publishing executive in Germany and the US, is to become a co-publisher of the highbrow weekly newspaper Die Zeit.

His departure comes after the film and TV forum that he announced at Berlin last year began to lose steam. The so-called Alliance for Film was to discuss such issues as the reform of the Export-Union of German Cinema and revisions of the film subsidy laws. But such key industry figures as German Federal Film Board (FFA) president Eberhard Junkersdorf and Filmstiftung NRW head Dieter Kosslick were conspicuous by their absence at the last meeting.

Naumann, Germany's first post-war state culture minister, was criticised for his supposedly heavy-handed handling of de Hadeln's departure. The long-serving festival chief leaves under the proviso that he head one more edition of the festival in February 2001.

Naumann is to appear with Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder at a press conference in Berlin on Thursday to officially announce his departure from his duties as Federal Government Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and the Media. He was appointed in October 1998 by the Schroeder administration to coordinate Germany's cultural policy on a national level. In February 1999, he was elevated to the status of a Minister of State.