Angela Merkel wastes no time. She kicks off her traditional summer press conference with an unsparing Corona inventory. "The virus is a democratic imposition." The pandemic had been "a deep cut for each of us", especially in the spring, and had dramatically changed working and private life. The next months with autumn and winter would still be difficult, Merkel warned.
On Thursday, Merkel and the prime ministers of the federal states had tried to agree on a unified but regionally adapted approach after months of much confusion. In the celebrations and family celebrations, which are important for many, it has succeeded only in part. It is still unclear when soccer matches with thousands of spectators can take place. More and more people are dissatisfied and take to the streets.
Corona: Merkel thanks Germans for being reasonable
Now she said over the summer many people could have been outdoors. Outside, he said, there is better protection against aerosols. Now, she says, it will be a matter of keeping those low as people move back indoors to workplaces, schools and homes.
On higher infection figures, Merkel said: 'That worries us'. It is serious, still serious. Continue to take it seriously!" Most people in Germany would have shown reason, a sense of responsibility and compassion. "I will always be grateful for this response of millions of people.
Merkel stressed, further Closures of schools and daycare centers should be avoided at all costs. She wants to do everything to ensure that children do not become losers: "The school must not leave anyone behind."Merkel was accused by the opposition and education experts of initially paying too little attention to the needs of children and families during the lockdown in the spring due to the school closures.
For Merkel, her famous phrase "We can do it" has taken on a life of its own
Merkel needs less than ten minutes for her opening statement, in which the chancellor also outlines her agenda for Germany's presidency of the EU Council until the end of the year. Then comes the first journalist's question – and it revolves around Merkel's most famous and controversial sentence, which she said almost to the day Five years ago in the same place in the Federal Press Conference said: "We have accomplished so much – we can do it!", Merkel declared on 31. August 2015 on refugee policy and its decision to keep borders open for Syrian refugees.
A reporter wants to know not only whether the refugee phrase can be applied to the pandemic, but also who or what Merkel has "accomplished" in the past five years? Merkel looks a little mocking. She always does this when a question amuses her a bit. "I'm still sitting here. Created me actually nothing, but demanded much." And to her headline of the refugee crisis, she said: "This sentence stands for itself, Sometimes it has almost taken on a life of its own, but it doesn't matter."Germany has achieved quite a bit in terms of integration. Many refugees had graduated from high school and were now studying. "It turns out that a lot has been done."
Merkel sees no reason for a correction of the Russia policy
Then the questions quickly turn to international politics. Has the German relationship with Russia deteriorated? Merkel had demanded extraordinarily clear clarification from Russian President Vladimir Putin in the case of the Russian government critic. Since Saturday, Nawalny has been lying in Berlin's Charite hospital. He was probably victim of poison attack, doctors believe. Is the Kremlin possibly behind this?? The relationship with Putin is strained anyway – partly because of the situation in Ukraine. Almost a year after the alleged Russian contract killing of a Georgian in Berlin, the German government is still waiting for Moscow to cooperate in the investigation.
It also bubbles in Belarus. Putin has announced it is ready to help its neighbor with emergency forces in the event of a further escalation of the situation. The chancellor is determined to avoid such a possibly bloody escalation in light of the ongoing protests against head of state Alexander Lukashenko. "I hope that such a force will not be used," Merkel said. The sovereignty of Belarus must be preserved, he said. People took to the streets to fight for democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of the press. This must happen independently, "without interference from outside". Conversely, she said, Germany wants to stay in talks with Russia. Moscow, he said, is a geostrategic player that cannot be bypassed in conflicts such as those in Syria or Libya. This does not sound like Merkel wants to seek an open confrontation with Putin.
Wave of bankruptcies and mass unemployment looming
Chancellor and coalition aim to prevent Europe's largest economy from crashing with 130-billion-euro stimulus package. Does the government need to step up on aid in the fall – and will there be enough money left then? Merkel stressed that the federal government had managed well in previous years and now had the necessary strength to get through the crisis. This would also benefit Europe. The reconstruction fund agreed at the EU summit was an important step, she said.
How does Merkel see the early nomination of Vice Chancellor Scholz to the SPD candidate for chancellor? What does this mean for the open succession at the top of the CDU and the Union's subsequent candidacy for chancellor?? Merkel gives a tight-lipped answer to a corresponding question. She is sticking to her line of staying out of the decision-making process for the CDU presidency, she said.
A few days ago, during a visit to NRW Minister President Armin Laschet, she was even more open about it. The is favorite for the CDU presidency, to be decided in December. Laschet has the "tools" for the job as chancellor, Merkel said in Dusseldorf. More praise is hardly possible. But there is Markus Soder. The CSU leader and Bavarian premier is more popular than Laschet.
Has Trump "charmed" Merkel? The chancellor was not aware of any of this
Things get funny when Merkel is asked about a statement made by former U.S. Ambassador to Berlin Richard Grenell. Grenell just said at Republican nominating party convention, "As U.S. ambassador to Germany, I had a front-row seat to Donald Trump's America First foreign policy. I wish every American could see President Trump negotiating on their behalf."He had witnessed Trump "charming" Chancellor Angela Merkel, while insisting that Germany meet its NATO commitments on defense spending.
You have to come up with the combination "Trump," "Merkel" and "enchanted" first – this is not how Merkel reacts at all for the time being. She has to ask – and reacts like this: She does not comment on such things. She would work with any elected U.S. president. She doesn't think much of Trump, that's no secret. She needed no words for that during joint meetings with the man at the White House. One look at her face told it all. There were differences of opinion "here and there," Merkel now says. The word would go to US voters in early November.
And what will the 66-year-old do when her political career as the world's most powerful woman ends after next fall's election? Merkel does not let himself look into the cards there: "I am fully busy with the actual time."She has not yet booked a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway. She had once mentioned this as a plan for the future. It will already find something for them after the policy: "I am optimistic."(tb/mun)