Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 24 August 2019

Angela Merkel dismisses health concerns and wants to lead Germany until 2021

The chancellor condemned US President Donald Trump's recent comments that four minority Democratic congresswomen should “go back” to where they came from

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends her annual press conference on July 19, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Omer Messinger/Getty Images
German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends her annual press conference on July 19, 2019 in Berlin, Germany. Omer Messinger/Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel laid to rest doubts about her health and said that she intended to carry on ruling the European country through her fourth and final term to 2021.

"I can carry out this role ... As a person, I have a strong personal interest in my health and, as I said, 2021 is the conclusion of my political work," she told a news conference in Berlin on Friday, adding with a smile: "But then I hope there will be another life (after politics)."

Concerns about the chancellor's health have arose in recent months after she was seen shaking in public three times. The chancellor, who turned 65 this week, trembled as she watched a military ceremony welcoming the Finnish prime minister Antti Rinne. Her first shaking episode on June 18, where she met with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and was blamed on dehydration, went away after she drank some water.

However at the press conference, Mrs Merkel said that she was feeling in good health.

During the conference, the chancellor also distanced herself from US President Donald Trump’s comment this week that four minority Democratic congresswomen should “go back” to where they came from.

Mr Trump told four politicians - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan - to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.

All four of them are US citizens and three of them were born in the United States.

“I decisively distance myself from that and I feel solidarity with the ... attacked women,” Mrs Merkel told a news conference.

Speaking on climate change, she said that she favoured pricing carbon to incentive savings in climate-damaging emissions. Many of the European states are struggling to meet their 2030 EU environmental targets.

“I believe that is right. But that also means that on the other hand we need to keep a social balance,” Mrs Merkel told a news conference, adding: “Innovation can be incentivised through pricing.”

She said her cabinet aimed to agree a package of measures to meet its environmental targets in September.

The German leader was also asked about Brexit. She said that the Irish backstop will be "overwritten" if a solution can be found to get to a departure deal.

The backstop is a measure designed to maintain a seamless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the event that Britain leaves the EU without securing an all-encompassing deal.

Mrs Merkel reaffirmed her commitment to the UK post-Brexit, saying that Germany would always remain a partner with the country after its departure from the bloc.

But she warned that the work of the next British prime minister - who will be appointed next week - will depend on how they engage with the European Commission.

The chancellor said that the UK could be given more time for Brexit if needed, irking hard Brexiters in the UK who do not wish to extend the 31 October departure deadline.

She remained optimistic that Britain would "find its way" through Brexit under a new prime minister, but refused to comment on whether she supports a further delay to the deadline or a second referendum.

"I trust very firmly that Britain will find its way. It is a proud, great nation and it will remain our partner even if Britain is no longer a member of the European Union," she said.

Updated: July 20, 2019 09:45 AM

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