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 ‘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

Merkel To Arrive Late For G20 Summit After Plane Malfunctions

German Chancelor Angela Merkel gets off her plane as she aChancellor Yerevan as part of her three day visit to South Caucasus former Soviet States – Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Merkel will not attend the opening of the G20 summit after an emergency landing on November 29, 2018 in Cologne. Karen MINASYAN / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is due to arrive in Buenos Aires on Friday evening, far later than planned but still in time to attend a G20 dinner after “serious” technical problems forced her plane to make an emergency landing.

The government Airbus A340-300 made an unscheduled landing in Cologne shortly after leaving Berlin on Thursday, causing a delay that means Merkel will miss the start of the two-day G20 summit in the Argentine capital.

“It was a serious malfunction,” Merkel, who had to spend the night in a hotel in nearby Bonn because no replacement plane was immediately available, told reporters.

German media reports said the plane suffered a complete breakdown of the on-board communication system, a problem described as extremely rare.

The German air force ruled out sabotage, with a spokesman saying “there is absolutely no indication of a criminal act.”

Merkel will now travel to the G20 with a vastly slimmed-down delegation.

The group flew to Madrid in a German air force plane in the early morning, a government spokeswoman told DPA.

From there, the delegation is set to board a regular commercial flight to Buenos Aires.

Merkel was due to hold bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and US leader Donald Trump on the sidelines of the summit on Friday, but her delayed arrival has thrown her schedule into disarray.

She will also miss the traditional G20 “family photo” of attending heads of state and government, according to DPA.

AFP

Buhari, Merkel Address Press Conference in Abuja

LIVE: Buhari, Merkel Address Press Conference in Abuja

 

President Muhammadu Buhari and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are addressing a press conference in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Both leaders are addressing reporters shortly after Merkel arrived in the country in company with a German business delegation on Friday.

Watch the video below;

German Chancellor Angela Merkel To Visit Nigeria On Friday

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel (file)

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to visit Nigeria on Friday.

The Personal Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, revealed this on Monday through his Twitter handle.

READ ALSOBritish PM, Theresa May To Visit Nigeria

President Buhari’s meeting with the German Chancellor is to take place two days after he hosts British Prime Minister, Theresa May, who is making her first official visit to Nigeria.

Merkel and May will also visit some African countries to discuss trade and investment, as well as foreign policy, among other issues.

German Leader, Merkel Faces Ultimatum From Ally Over Migrants

German Chancellor Angela Merkel passes by an EU flag as she leaves a press conference with NATO General Secretary in the Chancellery in Berlin on June 15, 2018, ahead of the alliance’s summit, overshadowed by tensions between Europeans and US. Michael Kappeler / dpa / AFP

 

Hardliners of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative bloc are poised Monday to give the German leader an ultimatum to tighten asylum rules or risk pitching the country into a political crisis, as tensions over migration reignite across the EU.

Three years after her decision to open Germany’s borders to migrants fleeing war in Syria and Iraq and misery elsewhere, Merkel is still struggling to find a sustainable response to the complaints from her Bavarian allies CSU over her refugee policy.

Monday is “destiny day for Angela Merkel. For the government,” wrote the mass-circulation newspaper Bild on Sunday.

European Union countries are once again at loggerheads over migration, triggered by Italy’s recent refusal to allow a rescue ship carrying 630 migrants to dock.

Malta also turned the vessel away, sparking a major EU row until Spain agreed to take in the migrants.

In Germany, Interior Minister Horst Seehofer of the CSU has been one of the fiercest critics of Merkel’s liberal stance, under which a million asylum seekers have been admitted into Germany since 2015.

He now wants to turn away at the border new arrivals who have previously been registered in another EU country — often their first port of call, Italy or Greece.

But Merkel says that would leave countries at the EU’s geographic southern periphery alone to deal with the migrant influx.

Instead, she wants to find a common European solution at the June 28-29 EU summit.

Top brass from Merkel’s CDU and Seehofer’s CSU party are huddling for separate talks in Berlin and Munich.

Both party leaders are expected to address the media on Monday afternoon.

Ahead of the meetings, CSU secretary general Markus Blume said Seehofer’s “masterplan” on migration had the party’s “full support”.

Anti-immigrant boost 

Popular misgivings over the massive migrant influx have given populist and anti-immigration forces a boost across several European nations, including Italy and Austria where far-right parties are now sharing power.

In Germany, voters in September’s elections handed Merkel her poorest score ever, giving seats for the first time to the far-right anti-Islam AfD.

Several high profile crimes by migrants have also fuelled anger. They include a 2016 Christmas market attack by a failed Tunisian asylum seeker and the recent rape-murder of a teenage girl allegedly by an Iraqi.

With an eye on October’s Bavaria state election, the CSU is anxious to assure voters that it has a roadmap to curb the migrant influx.

Seehofer struck a more conciliatory tone when he told Bild on Sunday that “it is not in the CSU’s interest to topple the chancellor, to dissolve the CDU-CSU union or to break up the coalition.

“We just want to finally have a sustainable solution to send refugees back to the borders.”

He has the nuclear option of seeking approval from his party to shut Germany’s borders immediately in defiance of Merkel, or the less aggressive choice of giving her an ultimatum of two weeks to sort out a deal with other EU nations.

Signalling that he is leaning towards the latter option, Seehofer wrote in a column in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that “it is essential that the EU summit takes a decision at the end of June.

“The situation is serious but still solvable,” he wrote.

 ‘Almost a miracle’ 

An act of rebellion from Seehofer could force Merkel to sack him, which “would be the end of the government and the alliance between CDU and CSU,” an unnamed CDU source told Bild.

If Merkel is given a two-week ultimatum, she would still face the challenge of persuading EU governments to sign up to a common plan on the migrants.

Central and eastern EU nations such as Hungary and Poland have either refused outright or resisted taking in refugees under an EU quota system.

A populist-far right government in Italy, as well as the conservative-far right cabinet in neighbouring Austria, have also taken an uncompromising stance on immigration.

Merkel’s talks on Monday evening with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte could prove crucial if she is to have any chance of forging an agreement in Brussels.

On Tuesday, she will huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Berlin is also reportedly preparing to call a meeting between Merkel and the leaders of several EU frontline nations in the migrant crisis ahead of the Brussels summit.

Welt daily said “it would be almost a miracle if she emerges a winner from the next EU summit.”

AFP

Buhari Congratulates German Chancellor Merkel On Re-Election

FILE PHOTO: President Muhammadu Buhari and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated German Chancellor, Angela Merkel on her re-election for another term.

President Buhari in a letter to the German leader said he was “most delighted to learn of the successful conclusion of the inter-Party negotiations to form a new Government after the last election in Germany.”

Special Adviser to Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina in a statement on Tuesday said Buhari attributed Merkel’s victory to her hard work.

READ ALSO: Former VP Sambo Keeps Mum After Meeting With Buhari

“It is a testimony of your hard-work, competence and trust of the German people, qualities which are much admired in many parts of the world especially here in Africa.

“We greatly value your humanity and concern for refugees,’’ Buhari said.

On behalf of the Government and people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Buhari wished his German counterpart and her new Cabinet a successful new term of office.

According to President Buhari, Nigeria looks forward to greater cooperation with Germany.

Merkel Elected To Fourth Term As German Chancellor

BREAKING: Merkel Narrowly Elected To Fourth Term As German Chancellor
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is sworn in by the President of the German lower house of Parliament Bundestag Wolfgang Schaeuble during the government’s swearing-in ceremony at the Bundestag in Berlin on March 14, 2018, in Berlin. John MACDOUGALL / AFP

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, bruised by half a year of post-election coalition haggling, was Wednesday narrowly confirmed by parliament to her fourth and likely final term at the helm of Europe’s biggest economy.

Lawmakers in Berlin’s glass-domed Reichstag voted 364-315 with nine abstentions for Merkel, who was then formally appointed by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier before taking the oath of office.

The outcome of the secret ballot suggested 35 lawmakers of her new right-left coalition bloc voted against Merkel, giving her a thin nine-vote margin that opposition parties were quick to label a “rocky start” for a spent and joyless governing alliance.

Merkel, wearing a necklace in the national colours black-red-gold, nevertheless beamed with joy and relief as applause filled the Bundestag chamber, where her scientist husband Joachim Sauer and her 89-year-old mother Herlind Kasner were among the well-wishers.

For the veteran leader, the ceremony marked the end of a painful stretch of post-election paralysis, the deepest crisis of her 12-year career.

A right-wing populist rise in September elections weakened all mainstream parties and deprived Merkel of a majority, forcing her into another unhappy alliance with the centre-left Social Democratic Party (SPD).

The grand coalition, mockingly dubbed a “GroKo” in German, didn’t start as a “love marriage”, her designated vice chancellor and finance minister, the SPD’s Olaf Scholz, drily observed this week.

All coalition partners have nonetheless sought to allay fears that their marriage of convenience could break up mid-term, insisting they plan to jointly govern until 2021.

– Trip to Paris –

From 1600 GMT, Merkel sits down with her new cabinet, in which the SPD has wrested both the trophy posts of finance and foreign affairs to the dismay of a growing band of critics within her Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

To quieten the dissent, Merkel has named a sometimes outspoken critic, Jens Spahn, 37, as her new health minister and recently tapped a potential successor, new CDU general secretary Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

“The chancellor was, from time to time, written off in the past six months,” Marianne Kneuer of Hildesheim University told Phoenix TV.

“Many in the party started thinking about the future after Angela Merkel… but at the same time Merkel has strengthened her position again.”

On Friday Merkel will head to Paris to discuss EU reform plans with French President Emmanuel Macron ahead of a March 22-23 summit, after a lengthy stretch in which Berlin was hamstrung on the European and world stage.

Macron warned in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily that, without Germany on board, “part of my project would be doomed to failure”.

“We are completely dependent on each other. I do not believe for one second that a European project without or against Germany could succeed.”

Merkel’s incoming coalition has broadly welcomed Macron’s bold reform plans, meant to reinvigorate the bloc and counter extremists and populists who have made major gains in Western democracies.

She has argued that the EU must increasingly look after its own interests in the era of US President Donald Trump, who has questioned long-standing transatlantic defence ties and threatened a trade war.

Berlin advocates closer EU cooperation on defence, immigration and plans for a European Monetary Fund. But it is lukewarm on the idea of a joint eurozone finance minister and rejects any pooling of debt.

– ‘Zero tolerance’ –

The rise of populist fringe parties is also the central domestic threat for Merkel’s new coalition, which faces the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) as the biggest opposition party.

The AfD scored almost 13 percent in the election, capitalising on public fears over a mass influx of more than one million refugees and migrants since 2015 and angrily demanding that “Merkel must go”.

The shock rise of the AfD has come at the expense of the CDU, its Bavarian CSU allies and especially the SPD, all of which suffered their worst results in decades in September.

While Merkel’s last GroKo had a crushing 80 percent parliamentary majority, the margin has shrunk to 56 percent.

To answer the new right-wing threat, designated interior minister Horst Seehofer has pledged a “zero tolerance” law-and-order drive and faster deportations of failed asylum-seekers.

His new interior super-ministry also covers “Heimat” or homeland affairs, a term much derided for evoking Alpine vistas, beer and bratwurst but intended to recapture claims to patriotism from the AfD.

Scholz has meanwhile promised to tackle another fear exploited by populists, of vanishing jobs in the age of globalisation and rapid technological change.

“When we look at the Trump election, Brexit and the success of right-wing populist parties in many European countries,” Scholz said, “we see there is a clear need to find new answers to the challenges of the 21st century.”

AFP

German Parties In Final Push For New Merkel Government

(FILE PHOTO) German Chancellor, Angela Merkel              Photo Credit: AFP

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats embark on a final round of talks Tuesday to seal a coalition deal and end months of political limbo in Europe’s top economy.

After marathon talks Monday, negotiators from Merkel’s CDU party, her Bavarian CSU ally and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) are to reconvene in Berlin at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) for one last push to clinch an agreement on a renewed “grand coalition”.

Despite the protracted haggling — the talks were initially supposed to end at the weekend — the parties sounded upbeat on meeting Tuesday’s self-imposed deadline.

“I remain optimistic,” said Daniel Guenther, the CDU premier of the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein.

Party sources said the main sticking points were disagreements over healthcare, labour policy and defence spending.

Julia Kloeckner, deputy of Merkel’s CDU party, said she expected talks to once again run into the night Tuesday , meaning it could take until Wednesday for a coalition treaty to be formally presented.

Merkel, in power for over 12 years, has pinned her hopes for a fourth term on a repeat alliance with the SPD after September’s inconclusive election left her without a ruling majority.

But commentators have already dubbed the tie-up a “coalition of losers” after both parties slumped to their worst results in decades in the polls, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) took nearly 13 percent of the vote.

 SPD to have final say 

Merkel initially sought to form a three-way alliance with the Greens and the liberals, but those talks broke down in acrimony in November.

Faced with the option of snap polls that could further boost the AfD or the prospect of heading an unstable minority government, Merkel opted to woo back the SPD — her junior partner for two of her three terms since 2005.

After at first ruling out another four years in Merkel’s shadow, SPD leader Martin Schulz backtracked — a U-turn that angered many grassroots SPD supporters who hoped to reinvent the party from the opposition benches.

At a special congress in January, SPD delegates narrowly voted to pursue coalition talks.

But even if both sides end up signing a coalition agreement that lays out the next government’s policies, a new Merkel-led government is not yet guaranteed.

Schulz has promised to put any coalition accord to a yes-or-no referendum by the SPD’s 440,000 rank-and-file members.

Observers expect the vote to be tight, with the SPD’s left and youth wings fiercely opposed to another “GroKo”, as the grand coalition is known in German.

The SPD referendum result is expected in early March. If all goes well for Merkel, a new government could be in place by the end of next month.

Stumbling blocks 

Often described as Europe’s most powerful woman, Merkel’s struggles to form a government have harmed her political standing at home and abroad.

Germany’s European partners in particular are eager for an end to the gridlock in Berlin that has held up decision-making at a time when French President Emmanuel Macron is pushing for major EU reforms.

Although Merkel and the SPD are open to the French plans for deeper eurozone integration, the SPD is more enthusiastic about some of Macron’s more ambitious proposals such as a joint eurozone budget and finance minister.

In a message to party members Monday, Schulz said the would-be coalition partners had successfully finished the European chapter of their talks.

While details remained vague, the former European Parliament chief said they had agreed to invest more in the eurozone, support a eurozone investment budget and end “the austerity diktat”.

But they are still at loggerheads about the SPD’s demands to ban short-term work contracts and overhaul Germany’s two-tier healthcare system.

They also remain at odds on boosting defence spending, party sources told DPA news agency.

While Merkel’s conservatives want to increase spending to bring it closer to NATO targets, as demanded by US President Donald Trump, the SPD is known to be sceptical.

A new survey for Bild newspaper Tuesday found that the lengthy coalition wrangling has hurt both mainstream parties.

Support for the CDU/CSU fell from 33 to 30.5 percent in the Insa poll, while the SPD slumped from September’s historic low of 20.5 percent to 17 percent — leaving the “GroKo” hopefuls without a combined majority.

The AfD meanwhile scored a record 15 percent.

AFP

German Ex-Leader Schroeder To Remarry For 5th Time

Former chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroeder (R) poses with his South Korean partner Kim So-Yeon as they attend a press conference at the Korea Press Centre in Seoul on January 25, 2018. YONHAP / AFP

 

Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will marry a South Korean translator 26 years his junior after his fourth marriage fell apart, he said Thursday.

The 73-year-old former German leader – whose colourful private life and multiple marriages earned him the nickname “Audi man”, a reference to the German carmaker’s four-ring symbol – said that he would wed Kim So-Yeon this year.

“I’ve already met her family,” he told a press conference in Seoul where the smiling couple stood arm-in-arm in front of the cameras.

“The wedding will probably be held in the fall and the exact venue and timing will be decided later.”

Kim, 47, is a Seoul representative of the Economic Development Agency of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia and has worked as a Korean translator for Schroeder.

Their relationship emerged last September when Doris Schroeder Kopf, Schroeder’s fourth wife, said in the process of divorcing him that Kim had played a part in the breakup.

Schroeder insisted Thursday that Kim had nothing to do with the breakup but said he would spend the rest of his life travelling back and forth between Germany and the South.

“I have tremendous interest in South Korea’s history, culture and arts and… would like to have more opportunities to learn more about South Koreans and the country’s heritage,” he said.

Social Democrat Schroeder served as German chancellor from 1998 to 2005 and instituted labour market and welfare reforms which angered the Left of his party.

Dangote’s Worth Drops By 32%

Dangote's Worth Drops By 32%Nigerian born Africa’s richest man, Mr Aliko Dangote, has lost 32% of his wealth.

Bloomberg reports that the president of the Dangote Group, lost 4.9 billion dollars in June, representing one-third of his wealth.

The decline resulted from the effect of falling oil prices and the devaluation of the naira, dragging the magnate’s ranking to 112 on world’s billionaires’ list.

With a total value of 10.4 billion dollars, Mr Dangote was the world’s 46th-richest person as at June 2016.

Aliko Dangote was also recently named as the second most powerful person on the African continent.

In the latest edition of its 74 world most powerful people, Forbes Magazine named billionaire Dangote along with 70 others including Russian President, Vladimir Putin; US President-Elect, Donald Trump; and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Mr Dangote is listed as number 71 ahead of Trump, and the 68th most powerful in the world for this year.

The business mogul has constantly featured on the list since 2013 when he was listed as the only black African among 100 most powerful persons on the planet.

As of 2013, Dangote was the only African listed among the most powerful people in the world before the Egyptian president, Abdel El-Sisi recently featured on the list.

Aliko Dangote Among Forbes World’s Most Powerful

Dangote Among Forbes World’s Most PowerfulAfrica’s richest man and Nigerian-born head of the Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, has been named as the second most powerful person on the continent.

In the latest edition of its 74 world most powerful people, Forbes Magazine named billionaire Dangote along with 70 others including Russian President, Vladimir Putin; US President-Elect, Donald Trump; and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Mr Dangote is listed as number 71 ahead of Trump, and the 68th most powerful in the world for this year.

The business mogul has constantly featured on the list since 2013 when he was listed as the only black African among 100 most powerful persons on the planet.

As of 2013, Dangote was the only African listed among the most powerful people in the world before the Egyptian president, Abdel El-Sisi recently featured on the list.