In her acceptance speech, Merkel said she owed her stay in politics to her good family, friends and colleagues. She noted that many refer to politics as a snake pit.
Steinmeier said during the ceremony that Merkel deserves it as an exceptional politician who has successfully led Germany through many crises. “For your exceptionally long tenure and your extraordinary political journey, in which you convincingly used the experience of dictatorship to promote democracy,” he said.
The president thus referred to the origins of Merkel, who was born in the West in Hamburg, but spent a large part of her life in the East in the former German Democratic Republic. Merkel belongs to the family of an evangelical pastor who moved to the German Democratic Republic due to church commitments. Although born in Hamburg, Merkel was seen as the first East German politician to head the federal government.
Steinmeier stated that thanks to Merkel, Germany has weathered all serious crises, from financial to migration to the COVID-19 pandemic, much better than other countries. The president also cited her government’s actions in 2014 after Russia annexed the Ukrainian autonomous peninsula of Crimea and supported the pro-Russian uprising in Donbass.
According to Steinmeier, who held the post of foreign minister at the time, it was right that Germany at that time called for a cease-fire at Ukraine’s request. He added that today, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany is acting differently, and that the country is one of the biggest supporters of the invasion of Ukraine.
Schultz and von der Leyen arrived
Merkel, of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), led Germany as chancellor to four terms, and in December 2021 handed over the leadership of the federal government to Social Democrat Olaf Scholz after 16 years in office.
Schulz was one of the guests who attended the ceremony on Monday. At Bellevue Castle, which is the residence of the Federal President in Berlin and where the handover took place, were, among others, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and Merkel’s husband Joachim Sauer, deputy and former head of the chancellor’s office. Helge Brown. German media reported that the former chancellor was able to invite about twenty guests and none of the current leadership of the CDU was among them. Merkel had tense relations with the current head of the CDU, Friedrich Merz.
Many commentators and politicians criticized the fact that Steinmeier chose the highest possible form of government for Merkel, including from the CDU. Critics of the former chancellor blame, among other things, over-reliance on gas from Russia, giving way to Moscow or the decision to end nuclear power.
The Federal Republic of Germany’s Order of Merit of various degrees has also been awarded to several Czechs in the past, including dissident and president Vaclav Havel, former president Milos Zeman, Cardinal Miloslav Falck, former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg, and writer Jaroslav Rudic. .
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