Berlin (dpa) – Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) has prepared the population for a difficult time in view of a rising number of infections.
Germany is facing “a clear and, I think, worrying dynamics,” the chancellor said on Thursday at what will likely be her last summer press conference in Berlin. Given the increasing number of infections, she called for more vaccination efforts. “The more we are vaccinated, the freer we will be again.”
The flood disaster in several parts of Germany, climate protection and the agreement on the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline were also decisive topics at what was probably the chancellor’s last meeting of this kind with journalists from the capital. Merkel will no longer run in federal elections in September and will then retire from politics.
The chancellor again warned that the pandemic can only be overcome together. Therefore, people should also actively promote vaccinations in their private and work environments. Merkel judged the doubling of the incidence rates, recorded within 12 days, as dramatic. It is necessary to continue to observe protective measures: masks, distance, ventilation and also regular testing. This is also important in view of the opening of the schools in the autumn. There is as yet no vaccination offer for children up to the age of twelve.
“Preventing health system overload continues to guide our actions,” Merkel said. It is also not excluded that the pandemic will play a role at the next Prime Minister’s Conference on Disaster Management. “I’m open,” Merkel said.
OTHER TOPICS AT A GLANCE
FLOODING: The chancellor swore the country to a concerted effort to cope with the severe weather disaster in West Germany. “We will need patience to repair all this damage,” Merkel said. There was terrible devastation from the floods, Germany mourned 170 dead.
The goal is to jointly finance the flood damage, Merkel said. The federal government has made an amount of 200 million euros available for emergency aid. In the coming days and weeks, talks will be held with the Prime Ministers of the federal states about how to organize a joint development fund.
CLIMATE PROTECTION: Germany has done a lot against global warming, the chancellor assured. Her political life has been shaped by action against climate change. “A lot has happened.” Now it is time to pick up the pace and increase the expansion of renewable energy sources. Perhaps it was a mistake that she adhered to the Kyoto Protocol for a long time, Merkel said. It was a disappointing process, she had put a lot of effort into finding majorities on the international stage for more climate protection. That’s what climate policy is all about, Merkel said. “The scientific evidence calls for even more haste. We as politicians have to find majorities for that.”
The chancellor emphasized that the acceptance of wind energy in rural areas should also be increased in society. In retrospect, Merkel described the decision to withdraw from nuclear power as “correct”.
DIGITALIZATION: Merkel sees Germany facing major challenges in terms of modernization and future technologies. She referred to findings from the corona pandemic, but also to the enormous pace of development in the US in the field of chip technology. “We are a strong country,” Merkel said. Regarding digitization, she said: “But we have some real work to do in some areas to maintain the high standard we have.”
NORD STREAM 2: Merkel called the agreement with the US government on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline a good step. But she doesn’t overcome all differences, she said. It is an attempt to establish certain conditions between the US and Germany that must also be implemented. It is very important that Ukraine remains a gas transit country and that energy cannot be used to put Ukraine in a difficult situation.
However, the text was concluded with the US government and Congress was another institution. There are many critical voices in Congress about the pipeline that Ukraine must bypass to bring natural gas from Russia to Germany.
Merkel said Russia had made it clear that energy should not be used as a “weapon”. Take Russia at its word, but don’t be completely defenseless. Merkel pointed to the possibility of sanctions.
EU ASYLUM POLICY: The Chancellor sees the creation of a common EU asylum policy as a task that will continue to be a major concern of the community in the future. Merkel said it had not yet been possible to establish a common asylum policy for the EU. This is a heavy burden for the EU and must be resolved. A significant number of people smugglers and smugglers were still in action.