For Angela Merkel, hang-up sounded – Mir – Kommersant

For 16 years, Angela Merkel has been the guarantor of the stability of Germany as an economic locomotive and political heavyweight of the EU. Only Helmut Kohl, the first chancellor of a united Germany until 1998, remained in power for the Germans. In recent years, this locomotive has begun to slow down, and the demand for change in Germany outweighed the need for stability. As a result, the Merkel era came to an end. On Thursday evening, she took part in the farewell ceremony, which took place on the parade ground in the courtyard of the Ministry of Defense. And next week the post of chancellor will have to pass to the social democrat Olaf Scholz.

To church songs and punk rock

On Wednesday, December 8, the Bundestag will vote on the candidacy of Social Democrat Olaf Scholz for the post of German Chancellor. He will take the place of Angela Merkel, who on Thursday evening turned out to be the main character of the ceremony on the parade ground in the courtyard of the Ministry of Defense. The ceremony was attended by soldiers and an orchestra of the Bundeswehr, as well as about 200 guests – in particular, ministers from all parts of the Merkel government (about 50 people), future members of the cabinet headed by Olaf Scholz, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, husband of Mrs. Merkel Joachim Sauer.

In the Federal Republic of Germany, leading politicians are seen off to their retirement with an old military ceremony of the evening lights out. Its name can be translated as “Great Evening Dawn”.

According to army protocol, this is the highest honorific ceremony for an outgoing civilian, which can be claimed by the president, chancellor, or the head of the Ministry of Defense.

A few hours before the ceremony, after a meeting of the operational headquarters on coronavirus, Angela Merkel called mandatory vaccination for everyone necessary to combat the pandemic. The Bundeswehr forces are also fighting the coronavirus in Germany: soldiers are helping to transport seriously ill patients or accompanying a vaccination campaign. In her speech to guests and the military, Angela Merkel noted how important it is to maintain public confidence in politics and science in the current crisis. And how difficult it is to do. She also said that democracy should remain open to critical dialogue based on facts, but forget about tolerance when “scientific evidence is denied for the sake of conspiracy theories and bullying.”

However, the numerous challenges of the German society did not start with a pandemic, noted the Chancellor, who was unison called “crisis” by the German media. In her speech, Angela Merkel recalled both the 2008 financial crisis and the migration flows of 2015, which split society and strengthened the position of the right-wing populists from the Alternative for Germany, and with them the right-wing extremists.

Wishing future Chancellor Scholz and his government success, Angela Merkel called on “to create the future without despondency, without hostility, without pessimism, and to start working with joy of heart.” According to this principle, as Mrs. Merkel admits, she lived in the GDR and later (already “in freedom”) in the united Germany. She wished this “joy in her heart” to “the whole country”.

After that, the Bundeswehr orchestra began to play – as is customary according to the protocol, songs ordered by the protagonist of the ceremony. The pastor’s daughter and long-term leader of Christian Democrats wished to hear the 18th century psalm “Holy God, we praise your name.” An experienced woman – the ballad of the singer Hildegard Knef “It should rain for me from red roses” (that happiness should be quiet, and fate should be ruled by love). And a former student from the GDR – the song of the German punk rock diva Nina Hagen about trips to the lake and a girl reproaching her lover for a forgotten color film – “otherwise no one will believe us how good we were.”

After the execution of Mrs. Merkel’s list, the military part of this mini-parade continued: with torchbearers, Beethoven’s “March of the York Regiment” and the final chord – “musical prayer” to the chorale of the Russian composer Dmitry Bortnyansky and the verses of the German writer Gerhard Terstegen “I pray for the power of love “.

After Merkel

Throughout her tenure as chancellor, Angela Merkel has been committed to a pragmatic policy centered on defending the country’s interests. For example, while some of the German politicians consider direct contact with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko above their dignity, Angela Merkel called him twice to discuss migrants on the border with Poland. And nothing that the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, among others, subjected such a step to harsh criticism.

As a NATO member Germany, under Angela Merkel, of course, could not but show solidarity with Western partners on key foreign policy issues. However, for example, Germany was in no hurry to bring the “membership” contribution to NATO to the desired 2% of the country’s GDP by former and current US presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden – in contrast to Poland and the Baltic countries. In 2020, Germany’s deductions amounted to only 1.57%.

After a farewell meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in August in Moscow, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper wrote that Angela Merkel’s departure would turn into a big challenge and problem for Moscow, because she “turned a blind eye to provocations” – for example, hacker attacks on the Bundestag, the murder of Georgian citizen Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in the Tiergarten or the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

“When I saw Putin and Merkel together in January last year, they sat like an elderly couple who divorced many years ago, but knows very well that they have to pay child support. You know each other well, you communicate on you. You know how the other works and how he reacts, ”- German TV journalist Hubert Seipel, author of the book“ Putin. The Logic of Power ”and the documentary“ I, Putin. Portrait”.

The future Chancellor Scholz, as Mr. Seipel says, does not have much experience in foreign policy, and his points of contact with Vladimir Putin will be completely different.

But in the end, he notes, this dialogue will be dictated by the interests of the countries.

According to Hubert Seipel, in politics towards Russia, Olaf Scholz may turn to the tradition of the Social Democrats of the time not of Gerhard Schroeder (chancellor in 1998-2005), but Willy Brandt (chancellor in 1969-1974). We are talking about the tradition of the so-called new Eastern policy, which was supported by Chancellor Brandt through the rapprochement of the FRG with the GDR and the countries of Eastern Europe.

In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published on Friday, one of the key prospective members of the new cabinet – the leader of the Free Democratic Party of Germany, Christian Lindner, who may head the Ministry of Finance – said: Germany wants to trade and cooperate with Russia, but the security issues of partners in Eastern Europe are more important. “We are watching with concern the actions of Russia, including on the border with Ukraine. Everyone should know that we want cooperation and trade with Russia, but in case of doubt, the security interests of our partners and friends in Eastern Europe and respect for international law are more important to us, ”he said.

Angela Merkel will no longer have to deal with these issues. When asked by the media about what the veteran of German politics will do in retirement, she still replied in a charmingly simple way: sleep, do nothing and see what happens, wonder about your interests. Over the past 16 years, there has been very little time for this.

Lyudmila Kotlyarova, Berlin



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