Merkel Pledges ‘Close Partnership’ With Boris Johnson

Angela Merkel 
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel gives a press conference during a European Union Summit at the Europa building in Brussels on December 13, 2019.  PHOTO: ARIS OIKONOMOU / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday offered Britain’s Boris Johnson close cooperation and friendship, after the Tory leader scooped a decisive general election victory.

“Congratulations, Boris Johnson, for this clear election win. I look forward to our further cooperation towards the friendship and close partnership of our countries,” said Merkel in a statement posted by her spokesman on Twitter.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas noted that the UK poll result showed that the British prime minister now “has a clear mandate to bring about Brexit.”

“It is now very possible that an orderly exit will happen at the end of January,” Maas told the Funke newspaper group.

Maas underlined however that Britain could still return to the EU if it wishes to one day.

“The doors of the EU remain obviously open to Britain,” he said.

AFP

Merkel Attends Berlin Synagogue Vigil After Halle Shooting

File Photo: German Chancellor Angela Merkel/Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attended an evening vigil at a historic synagogue in central Berlin in honour of the victims of a Yom Kippur attack in the city of Halle Wednesday.

An AFP reporter saw the German leader at the event, which was called in solidarity with the Jewish community following the suspected anti-Semitic, far-right shooting which left two dead.

Merkel Hails ‘Big Step Forward’ In Talks With Iran

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel disembarks from an aeroplane upon landing at the Biarritz Pays Basque Airport in Biarritz, south-west France on August 24, 2019. Bertrand GUAY / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday that the G7 group had made a “big step forward” in talks with Iran at a summit in southwestern France.

“It’s a big step forward. Now there is an atmosphere in which talks are welcomed,” she said on the last day of the summit in Biarritz, adding that the talks a day earlier had taken place “in coordination with the United States, which is big.”

READ ALSO: China Losing Millions Of Jobs Over Trade War, Says Trump

Merkel Warns UK Of No Brexit Deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel/AFP

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Wednesday of the economic impact of a chaotic no-deal Brexit, hours before she was to receive British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his first foreign visit.

“The economic sky is not cloudless”, and global tensions and Britain’s impending departure from the European Union “are already causing us headaches”, Merkel told an aviation industry conference.

“That’s why I will talk with the British prime minister, who is visiting me today, about how we can avoid friction as much as possible as Britain exits the EU because we have to struggle to achieve economic growth,” the leader of the bloc’s biggest economy added.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert stressed that an orderly Brexit would be “in every respect preferable” to a disorderly withdrawal of Britain, but that Germany was also preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Johnson, in a “do-or-die” gamble, has insisted Britain will leave the EU on October 31, no matter whether it has ironed out remaining differences with the bloc or not, at the risk of economic turmoil.

He is seeking to convince Merkel, and then French President Emmanuel Macron, to renegotiate elements of the UK’s impending divorce from the bloc, including the so-called Ireland backstop plan — something the EU leaders have already ruled out.

He hopes that the other 27 EU members will blink and make concessions to avoid a no-deal Brexit that would hurt people and companies on both sides of the Channel.

Ahead of his Berlin visit, Johnson reaffirmed in a tweet that “we’re going to leave the EU on October 31st and make this country the best in the world to live in”, the message adorned with a Union Jack flag.

 ‘Practical arrangement’ 

In Berlin, Johnson will be received with military honours at 1600 GMT before his talks with Merkel, then head to France for a meeting with Macron on Thursday.

At the weekend, all three will meet US President Donald Trump, a vocal supporter of Brexit and its champion Johnson, and the leaders of Canada, Italy and Japan at a G7 summit in the French seaside resort of Biarritz.

Johnson’s tough stance has put him on a collision course with EU leaders who have insisted the withdrawal deal agreed under his predecessor Theresa May is final and stressed the need for unity among the other 27 nations.

EU Council President Donald Tusk and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the bloc would not cave into Johnson’s demand to scrap the backstop plan, which would keep Britain in the European customs union if no trade deal is signed.

Johnson has slammed the backstop as “undemocratic” and charged it would prevent Britain from pursuing a trade policy independent of EU rules.

Berenberg Bank senior economist Kallum Pickering predicted that “if Johnson hopes to persuade Merkel and Macron to sweet-talk Varadkar into changing his tune, he will likely be disappointed”.

“All of the EU’s actions so far since the Brexit vote demonstrate that the EU’s priority is the cohesion of the 27.”

Merkel struck a cautiously hopeful note on Tuesday, declaring that the EU was open to “a practical arrangement” for the Irish border if it ensured trade and peace under the Good Friday Agreement.

 ‘Hot air’ 

Given the shock and dismay Brexit has sparked in continental Europe, its vocal champion, the flamboyant former London mayor and ex-foreign minister Johnson, is sure to meet political headwinds.

German media regularly characterises Johnson as a reckless political showman with Trump-style populist tendencies.

News magazine Der Spiegel recently caricatured him as the tooth-gapped cover boy Alfred E. Neuman of the American humour magazine Mad, with the headline “Mad in England”.

Tabloid-style Bild daily nominated Johnson as its “loser of the day” Wednesday after he “hit a brick wall” in his attempts to convince Merkel and Tusk to renegotiate parts of the withdrawal agreement.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung judged that “Johnson knows that the other 27 EU members will not throw Ireland under a bus, nor will they do anything to harm the integrity of the single market.

“His ‘alternative arrangements’ are just hot air. May spent the last three years looking for alternatives. There are none!”

AFP

Germany Makes Measles Vaccination Compulsory For Children

Germany will make childhood measles vaccinations mandatory from March 2020, aiming to wipe out the resurgent and potentially deadly disease, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cabinet decided on Wednesday.

Children will only be admitted to kindergarten or school if they have had the jabs, and vaccinations will also be compulsory for staff in day-care centres, educational institutions, medical facilities, and refugee shelters.

“We want to protect as many children as possible from measles infection,” said Health Minister Jens Spahn, who is aiming for at least 95 percent coverage.

Violations will lead to fines of up to 2,500 euros ($2,800) under the bill that is expected to pass easily through the Bundestag lower house of parliament.

Germany’s paediatricians’ association has long demanded mandatory childhood vaccinations against measles and a range of other diseases.

The UN World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that global efforts to increase immunisation coverage against deadly diseases are stagnating.

Last year, 350,000 cases of measles were reported worldwide, more than double the number for 2017.

And they increased fourfold globally in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the same period last year, according to WHO.

Germany recorded 543 cases last year, and hundreds so far this year.

The resurgence of the disease in some countries has been blamed on the so-called “anti-vax” movement, which is largely based on a 1998 publication linking the measles vaccine and autism that has since been debunked.

AFP

Merkel Congratulates ‘Committed European’ Von Der Leyen

 

 

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday congratulated her outgoing defence minister Ursula von der Leyen for being elected the first woman and the first German in more than half a century to run the European Commission.

Merkel praised her long-time ally as a “committed and convincing European” who would “tackle with great vigour the challenges facing us as the European Union”.

She would be “the first female President of the European Commission and the first German in more than 50 years at the head of the European executive”, Merkel said in a statement.

“Even if I lose a long-standing minister today, I win a new partner in Brussels. I am therefore looking forward to good cooperation.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of the Social Democrats, reacting on Twitter, praised the fact von der Leyen had “promoted a united & strong EU, on which we now want to work together with her”.

“Time to look ahead, because the world is not waiting for Europe.”

Top-selling Bild daily’s website cheered her appointment with the simple and enthusiastic headline “Ja! Ja! Ja! Ursula!”

Merkel Sits Through Anthems After Shaking Spells

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen sit as they listen to the national anthems during a welcoming ceremony with military honours on July 11, 2019 in the courtyard of the Chancellery in Berlin. TOBIAS SCHWARZ / AFP

 

Angela Merkel remained seated during national anthems at an official ceremony on Thursday, as the German chancellor apparently sought to prevent a repeat of uncontrollable shaking with a rare change of protocol.

With questions swirling about Merkel’s health after she suffered three episodes of shaking in public in less than a month, the veteran leader opted to play safe.

After greeting Denmark’s new Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the portico of the chancellery, a smiling Merkel walked her over to a podium where both leaders took their seats.

The unusual move came a day after a similar ceremony when the German chancellor was seen shaking involuntarily for the third time.

On Wednesday, Merkel began trembling as national anthems were being played at the reception of Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne.

Just over an hour later, she attended a press conference as planned and told journalists that her health was no cause for concern.

READ ALSO: There Is No Need To Worry, Merkel Says After Health Scare

She explained that she was simply still in a phase of “processing” a previous shaking spell, but that “there has been progress”.

“I will have to live with it for a while,” added Merkel, who turns 65 next week.

“Just like how it has come, one day it will go away too,” she said.

More transparency?

The shaking on Wednesday was visible although less severe than during the first episode in June.

On that occasion she appeared unsteady and shook as she stood in the midday sun next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom she was welcoming with military honours.

That first bout of shaking was blamed on dehydration. But a second episode struck a week later at the end of June, just hours before she was due to board a plane for a G20 summit in Japan.

Officials have sought to play down the repeated shaking, insisting that Merkel is well while refusing to address detailed questions about her medical condition.

But several media outlets said Merkel would need to provide more transparency if she wanted the speculation to go away.

The daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Merkel’s explanation belies “her fear that the public could doubt her strength and ability, especially if she admitted that she has allowed herself to be examined. Meaning: she herself has doubts”.

It said she should state clearly whether she has undergone medical tests to get to the bottom of the mysterious trembling spells.

“It’s about sending a signal that she is taking her own health seriously.”

Merkel has been leader of Europe’s biggest economy for almost 14 years.

Frequently called the European Union’s most influential leader and the most powerful woman in the world, Merkel has said she will leave politics at the end of her term, in 2021.

AFP

There Is No Need To Worry, Merkel Says After Health Scare

German Chancellor Angela Merkel.                                                                  Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted she was “very well”, despite suffering her third trembling spell in less than a month on Wednesday that revived questions about her health.

Merkel began shaking involuntarily as national anthems were being played at the reception of Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne.

But she attended a press conference as planned just around an hour later, telling journalists that her health was no cause for concern.

“I feel very well, there is no need to worry,” she said, adding that she was simply still in a phase of “processing” a previous shaking spell, but that “there has been progressing”.

“I must now keep going with that,” added Merkel, who turns 65 next week.

A source close to the government had said the cause of the repeated shaking was now psychological, with memories of the first incident provoking renewed trembling at events with similar settings.

The shaking on Wednesday was visible although less severe than during the first episode in June.

On that occasion, she appeared unsteady and shook as she stood in the midday sun next to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, whom she was welcomed with military honours.

That first bout of shaking was blamed on dehydration, but a second episode struck a week later at the end of June, just hours before she was due to board a plane for a G20 summit in Japan.

Officials had sought to play down fears over her health then, saying that she was fine and that she would not be cancelling any planned engagements.

 Robust health 

Merkel, who has been the leader of Europe’s biggest economy for almost 14 years, has always enjoyed relatively robust health.

Frequently called the European Union’s most influential leader and the most powerful woman in the world, Merkel has said she will leave politics at the end of her term, in 2021.

But she has struggled to stamp out repeated speculation that she may leave the political stage earlier than planned.

The coalition that she had forged with the centre-left Social Democratic Party was fragile from the start, and has lurched from crisis to crisis.

The latest health scares have prompted additional questions over the length of her reign.

There were brief concerns about her well-being in 2014 when she was taken ill during a television interview. The broadcast was interrupted when she experienced a drop in blood pressure.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert explained at the time that the leader did not feel well for a moment, then ate and drank something and continued the interview.

Earlier that same year, she had fractured her pelvis while cross-country skiing in Switzerland and was ordered to cut back her schedule dramatically and stay in bed as much as possible for three weeks.

A keen hiker too, Merkel herself once revealed that she has a “camel-like” ability to store energy for sleepless all-night summits.

In case of emergency, Merkel would be replaced by Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who would carry out her duties until parliament elected a new leader.

Fresh Concerns Over Merkel’s Health In New Trembling Spell

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a ceremony where the country’s new Justice Minister was given her certificate of appointment by the German President at the presidential Bellevue Palace in Berlin on June 27, 2019.  Kay Nietfeld / dpa / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered another episode of uncontrolled trembling on Thursday, a week after a similar incident sparked questions about her health.

It came hours before Merkel was due to board a plane for the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.

The German leader began to tremble as she stood next to President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was addressing a ceremony to formally appoint a new justice minister.

The shaking went on for about two minutes, according to a DPA photographer who was present.

Merkel folded her arms in a bid to stop the trembling, which finally subsided after she took a few steps.

The chancellor was offered a glass of water but turned it down.

A previous bout of shaking last Tuesday was blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day.

A German government spokesman said Merkel would not cancel any appointments on Thursday or Friday.

“The chancellor is well,” he said.

Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert later tweeted she was on the way to Osaka for the G20 summit, and that “numerous bilateral talks with other leaders and government are planned”.

Meanwhile, to head off a repeat of an aircraft failure that forced Merkel to arrive late to the previous G20 summit in Buenos Aires, German media reported that a second A340 is flying to Osaka on standby.

The second plane was due for a training flight to Tokyo.

Merkel frequently called the European Union’s most influential leader and the most powerful woman in the world, turns 65 next month.

She has said she will leave politics at the end of her term, in 2021.

There were brief concerns about her health in 2014 when she was taken ill during a television interview. The broadcast was interrupted when she experienced a drop in blood pressure.

Seibert explained at the time the leader did not feel well for a moment, then ate and drank something and continued the interview.

AFP

‘I Feel Well’, Says Merkel After Health Scare

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel
JOHN THYS / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to assure journalists and citizens on Wednesday she was well, a day after sparking concern by visibly trembling at an official ceremony.

“I feel well,” she told school students during a visit to Goslar in the Harz mountains after Tuesday’s health scare blamed on dehydration on a hot summer’s day.

Merkel, 64, had a glass of water nearby and said that, with scorching temperatures, one “should not drink too much coffee but lots of water,” national news agency DPA reported.

READ ALSO: Egypt Accuses UN Of Trying To Politicise Morsi’s Death

A day earlier, the chancellor appeared unsteady and shook as she stood in the midday sun next to visiting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, whom she was welcoming to her office building with military honours.

Asked by a reporter about her wellbeing at a news conference about 90 minutes later, Merkel smiled: “I’ve drunk at least three glasses of water and so I’m doing fine.”

Zelensky, 41, made light of Merkel’s uneasy spell, joking that he would have come to her rescue if necessary.

“She was standing next to me and completely safe,” he said.

Merkel, frequently called the European Union’s most influential leader and the most powerful woman in the world, turns 65 next month.

She has said she will leave politics at the end of her term, in 2021.

There were brief concerns about her health in 2014 when she was taken ill during a television interview. The broadcast was briefly interrupted when she experienced a drop in blood pressure.

Her spokesman Steffen Seibert explained at the time the leader did not feel well for a moment, then ate and drank something and continued the interview.

Climate Protesters Chain Themselves To Merkel’s Chancellery

Climate activists of the “Extinction rebellion” (XR) Berlin group hold placards after they chained themselves to a fence of the Chancellery during a protest to urge the government to declare a climate emergency on June 11, 2019, in Berlin. XR uses non-violent civil disobedience to put pressure on media and governments worldwide to address the multiple ecological crises. PHOTO: Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

 

 

Dozens of German “extinction rebellion” protesters Tuesday chained themselves to the fence of Angela Merkel’s chancellery, demanding she declare a “climate emergency”.

The activists sent the keys to unlock them to all 13 government ministries along with letters formulating their demands, including to effectively cut greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025.

“The current climate policy puts our future at risk,” said one 17-year-old demonstrator who asked not to be named. “We will have to bear the physical cost of today’s inaction.”

Another, who gave her name as Natalie, told AFP: “The goal today is to raise awareness about the climate catastrophe.”

“We want the press and politicians to tell the truth about the climate crisis, and a state of climate emergency to be declared.”

Together with some 50 supporters, the chained-up protesters chanted a slogan from the Fridays for Future rallies: “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? Now!”

Extinction Rebellion describes itself as an international movement using non-violent civil disobedience “to achieve radical change in order tominimisethe risk of human extinction and ecological collapse”.

Merkel ‘Respects’ May’s Decision To Resign

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May announces her resignation outside 10 Downing Street in central London on May 24, 2019. PHOTO: Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday took note of the decision by British Prime Minister Theresa May to resign “with respect”, saying that they shared a “good and trusting” working relationship.

Pledging to keep working with May in the same spirit as long as she is in office, Merkel noted that Berlin “wishes to maintain close cooperation and a close relationship with the British government,” the German leader’s spokeswoman Martina Fietz said.

Fietz declined to comment on how May’s decision could affect Brexit, as “the development depends essentially on domestic political developments in Britain.

AFP