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Angela Merkel says she will ‘miss Emmanuel Macron’
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Angela Merkel announced her intention to step down as Germany’s chancellor after 16 years prior to the federal election in September. The election was won by Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party – ousting the Christian Democrats from their long hold on Europe’s largest economy. The election resulted in another hung parliament for Germany, with a coalition of parties making up the next government – which is likely to be formed at Christmas or in the New Year.
Ms Merkel has spent 16 years at the helm of Germany, having overseen some of its biggest wins, and biggest crises, in her time as chancellor.
Speaking about her exit from the role with Deutsche Welle, she said: “I will no longer be involved in politics.”
Ms Merkel vowed that she wouldn’t be on hand for current politicians to help them with running the country – signalling she will also do the same for the European Union.
She added: “I won’t be a troubleshooter for political conflicts.
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“I’ve done that for many years, 16 years as federal chancellor.”
Ms Merkel was clear about her intentions for post-political life, saying her plans for life after office will be to “sleep and read”.
She continued: “It’s simply the case that I was, for many years, very much preoccupied with the agenda that was set for me and I always had to be on standby.
“You have to do that as head of government, if something happens, so that you can always respond to it immediately.
“Now I’m going to look at what I’d like to do by choice.
“But that will become clear only in a few months from now.”
However, the outgoing leader said she would miss her European counterparts Emmanual Macron and other leaders – but made, perhaps unsurprisingly, no mention of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Elsewhere in the interview with Deutsche Welle, she reflected on the political world she is leaving in the hands of her successor, Mr Scholz.
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She expressed her regret over the outcome of the West’s intervention in Afghanistan.
She said: “We are of course very sad about the fact that we simply did not manage to achieve what we wanted to do, namely find a self-sustaining political order in Afghanistan, one in which girls can go to school, women can fulfil their wishes, and with lasting peace.”
Ms Merkel also outlined the two events she found the most challenging during her time in office.
The Chancellor oversaw the large number of refugees arriving in Germany during the Syrian crisis in 2015.
She said: “The two events I personally found most challenging were, for one, the large number of refugees arriving here [in 2015], which I actually do not like to call a ‘crisis’ – because people are people.”
Ms Merkel also appeared to criticise the EU for its handling of refugees.
She said the EU still needs to be able to find “a common system for addressing asylum and migration” and create “a self-regulating balance between the countries of origin and those where refugees first arrive”.
The Chancellor also said the coronavirus pandemic was one of the biggest struggles of her tenure.
Ms Merkel said: “Maybe these were the crises where we clearly saw how people are being directly affected, where human lives hang in the balance.
“For me, those were the biggest challenges.”
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