Tag Archives: Angela Markel

Germany warns of consequences over diplomat expulsions in Russia.

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Merkel said however that Berlin’s stance on the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia remained “unaffected”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday condemned as “unjustified” Russia’s expulsion of European diplomats for participating in unauthorised demonstrations in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

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“We consider these expulsions to be unjustified. We believe it is yet another aspect that can be observed right now of Russia being quite far from the rule of law,” she said.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said earlier that the move would “not go unanswered”.

Merkel said however that Berlin’s stance on the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia remained “unaffected”.

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Nord Stream 2 is a 10-billion-euro ($11-billion) pipeline that will run beneath the Baltic Sea and is set to double Russian natural-gas shipments to Germany, Europe’s largest economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a press conference following talks via video conference with Germany’s state premiers on coronavirus restrictions at the Chancellery in Berlin on December 2, 2020. (Photo by Markus Schreiber / POOL / AFP)

The United States and several European countries such as Poland have criticised the project, saying it will increase German and EU dependence on Russia for critical gas supplies.

France recently joined in a call for Berlin to abandon the project in protest over Navalny’s detention in Moscow.

At a joint video news conference after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron, Merkel acknowledged that the pipeline was a “controversial project” but “solutions can be found together” on the issue.

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The German leader also stressed that it was important to keep a channel open for discussions with Russia, given that it was a key player on many geopolitical issues.

“Despite deep-reaching differences, it is nevertheless strategically advisable to stay in talks with Russia,” said the German leader, noting that cooperation was required on many issues including Libya, Syria and Belarus.

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#Newsworthy

Angela Merkel’s party appoints her ally as next leader.

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Another contender could be Laschet’s deputy, Health Minister Jens Spahn, who has reportedly been sounding out his chances behind the scenes.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative CDU party picked her ally Armin Laschet as its next leader on Saturday, in a vote for “continuity” as Europe’s biggest economy heads into a key election year with the deadly coronavirus pandemic still raging.

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In the close race, Laschet, the state premier of Germany’s most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, triumphed over old Merkel nemesis Friedrich Merz, after a first-round that saw Merz leading by just five votes.

A third hopeful, foreign affairs expert Norbert Roettgen, was knocked out of the race.

Merz had campaigned on a promise to shift away from Merkel’s centrist path and steer right, writing in a column for Der Spiegel that a “happy ‘carry on like this’ is just as inappropriate as the vague claim to occupy the centre at all times”.

But delegates at the congress pushed online because of the pandemic were not swayed by the 65-year-old corporate lawyer.

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Instead, they gave a late victory to Laschet, who pledged to continue with Merkel’s more moderate course.

In a speech minutes before the vote on Saturday, Laschet called for “continuity” and highlighted the challenge of retaining CDU voters without Merkel at the top.

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‘Continuity of success’
“What we need is continuity of success,” he said, in a direct rejection of Merz’s vision.

“I keep hearing the phrase, ‘You have to be prepared to polarise’. I say, no, you don’t have to. Polarising is easy, anyone can do it,” he said, adding that he wants to “integrate, hold society together”.

Laschet had been trailing in surveys in the run-up to the vote, but his promise to stay the course has struck a cord with a party keen not to rock the boat further in a year already filled with ructions like the pandemic.

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At the opening on Friday of the two-day congress, Merkel had signalled her opposition to Merz as she urged delegates to stay the centrist course.

Undeterred by the loss, Merz tweeted that he had extended an offer to Laschet to enter the current government as finance minister.

But he immediately earned a new rebuff from Merkel, with a government spokesman telling AFP there were “no plans for a reshuffle”.

While popular with the most conservative faction of the CDU, Merz has been struggling to shed his image as an out-of-touch traditionalist.

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He was panned on social media on Saturday for an attempt to address his low levels of support among women in the party by highlighting Saturday his good relationship with his wife and daughter.

“Sure, every heterosexual husband and father is virtually a women’s rights movement in their own right,” one Twitter user wrote.

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Merkel backs ‘team’
Laschet’s win on Saturday puts him pole position to lead the CDU and its Bavarian CSU sister party into a general election as their chancellor candidate, meaning he is in with a good chance of securing Merkel’s job.

Merkel, who is planning to stand down after four terms and 16 years in the job, had previously said that Laschet “has the tools” to be chancellor.

But the pandemic has reshuffled the cards, and questions are swirling on whether someone other than the CDU chief could lead the conservative alliance into the vote, particularly since Laschet currently polls nowhere close to the top in popularity surveys.

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Topping the polls at the moment is CSU leader and Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder, whose robust response to the pandemic has won him widespread praise and given him a national spotlight.

But Laschet should not be written off either, according to Der Spiegel weekly, which praised his ability to “sit out his opponents”.

After being an early favourite in the leadership race, Laschet saw his support plummet thanks to various gaffes in his handling of the pandemic in North Rhine-Westphalia.

But Der Spiegel described him as a “grinder” who “wears down his opponents slowly, continuously, with great endurance”.

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While a platform of “continue somewhat like this” is usually a handicap in election campaigns… after a world pandemic, after a President Trump, after a hectic, nervous, sometimes crazy time, the majority of Germans could well long for” that.

“This could be Armin Laschet’s year,” it said.

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#Newsworthy

Angela Merkel devastated amid Shinzo Abe resignation.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Friday she “regrets” the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on health grounds, hailing his “fight for multilateralism”.

Merkel said she and her fellow veteran leader in the Group of Seven industrialised nations had a “shared foundation of values”.

“I, of course, regret his resignation and wish him all the best for his health,” she told reporters. “We always worked very, very well together… He was always someone who committed himself to the fight for multilateralism.”


#Newsworthy…

EU Summit: Angela Merkel disagree on COVID-19 recovery fund

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Talks on rescue package could fail, says German Chancellor as bickering leaders meet for a third day.


European Union leaders may not reach a deal on a coronavirus stimulus plan on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned as marathon negotiations ran into a third day and acrimony mounted over the demands of rich but thrifty countries.

“There is a lot of goodwill, but also many positions. I will make every effort but, it is possible that there is no result,” Merkel said in Brussels as she arrived for a third day of talks on Sunday.

Germany and France, the EU’s powerbrokers, are seeking a deal on a 1.8 trillion-euro ($2.06 trillion) economic recovery package to rescue the bloc’s economies, which are facing their worst recession since World War II.

After two exhausting days of negotiations, a “frugal” group of richer, northern states led by the Netherlands appeared no longer willing to back down from demands for cuts to the package, underscoring the depth of the EU’s north-south split.

Meanwhile, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said there were four broad divisive themes in the talks on the recovery package but that the gathering was determined to seal a deal on Sunday.

“We are aware that we have to make a deal, we are negotiating under the pressure that a deal is a must,” Orban told reporters.

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He listed the contentious issues as: the size of the new recovery fund; the proportion between grants and repayable loans as part of that; the scale of rebates on the core EU budget for rich net payers; and the rule-of-law strings attached to handouts from the bloc.

Late on Saturday, Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron left the day’s final stretch of informal talks early, refusing to accept that the level of grants to ailing economies be lowered to less than 400 billion euros.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had earlier accused the Netherlands and its allies Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Finland of “blackmail”. Stockholm proposes to cut grants to 155 billion euros.

‘Make-or-break’ moment
In their first face-to-face summit since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Europe, leaders wearing face masks have framed the summit as a “make-or-break” moment for nearly 70 years of European integration.

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Failure to come together amid an unprecedented health and economic crisis would raise serious questions about the continued viability of the bloc, officials and experts say.

Germany and France are seeking a deal on a 1.8 trillion-euro ($2.06 trillion) economic recovery package to rescue the bloc’s economies [Francisco Sec/AFP]

Macron said there was a willingness to compromise, but that it should not deter “from the legitimate ambition that we need to have,” referring to the money available in the planned 750 billion-euro recovery fund, which is to be funded by money raised on capital markets.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who faces parliamentary elections by March 2021, was frank about the divisions with France and Germany on Saturday night.

“They walked away annoyed,” Rutte said of Merkel and Macron. “Large differences still remain,” he said.

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While the Netherlands and its allies held out, other obstacles remained, not least because Britain’s departure from the EU means others have to pay more to cover the gap in the bloc’s coffers.

Hungary, backed by its eurosceptic ally Poland, has threatened to veto the package over a newly proposed mechanism, supported by the Dutch and most other EU countries, to freeze out countries flouting democratic principles.

“There are very different positions,” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters. “The Netherlands insists that rule of law must be one of the conditionalities to provide funds.”


#Newsworthy…