Ka question: This moment is a silent satisfaction for Angela Merkel. Joe Biden stands next to her in the East Room of the White House and bows – in rhetorical terms – to the guest from Germany: Merkel’s chancellorship has “historical character”, he says. You have “groundbreaking services” to Germany and the world. She always stood up for what was right and defended human dignity.
Since the visit on Thursday was presumably the Chancellor’s last visit to the White House, Biden adds: Although he knows that the partnership between the two countries will be even stronger on the foundation that Merkel helped to build. But personally he had to say: that he will miss her. “I really will.”
Merkel actually avoids talking about her approaching farewell, taking stock and talking about the time afterwards. But she obviously likes to put up with this praise – after the four years under Biden’s predecessor, in which she had to serve as a western whipping boy, so to speak.
“Today it was a very friendly exchange”
Biden had joked that she had faced four presidents and that she knew the White House as well as he did. When an American journalist later picks up the President’s comment and asks her to compare her experiences with the different incumbents, Merkel certainly does not jump over the stick that is held out to her. It is not her style to follow suit. Merkel does not take advantage of the fact that she is still there, but Donald Trump is now a pensioner on his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey. She leaves it at the suggestion that there have been press conferences with all four presidents and added: Everyone can check for themselves how to perceive the appearances. Then: “Today it was a very friendly exchange.” Merkel uses subtle punchlines. It wasn’t quite the end of a long day. A festive dinner followed to pay tribute to Merkel, the first European head of government who received Biden.
The conversations before had the character of a working visit: Both sides are aware that a long time has passed: Biden has already been in office for six months. In Germany now follows the federal election, then the formation of a coalition. When a new government is installed in Berlin, the election campaign for the “midterms”, the congressional elections in autumn 2022, will begin in Washington. For the period up to then, one of the aims was to repair transatlantic relations.
The list of topics is long – despite the mutual assurance of a partnership based on common values. One of the topics that was not in the foreground in preparation for the visit was given additional importance by the current situation. Biden had used the joint appearance in the East Room to express his condolences to Merkel for the victims of the storm disaster. The Chancellor also took the opportunity to express her dismay again and to announce help, as she had already done that morning. Now she adds: Extraordinary weather events – be it fires that struck America, dramatically high temperatures or extreme rainfall – have increased in recent years. You have to react to that. The fact that she and Biden have now decided to enter into an energy and climate partnership is “a sign”. It is about the expansion of future-proof technologies such as green hydrogen.