Germany’s center-left Social Democrats (SPD) have won the federal election over outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party.
SPD leader Olaf Scholz said he had a clear mandate to form a government, while his conservative rival Armin Laschet remains determined to fight on.
The two parties have governed together for years.
However, Olaf Scholz says it is time for a new coalition with the Greens and liberals.
Preliminary results gave SPD a narrow election win over the conservatives who suffered their worst-ever performance.
The Greens and pro-business FDP attracted the most support from the under-30s, in an election dominated by climate change and by differing proposals on how to tackle it. The Greens made history with almost 15% of the vote, even though it was well short of their ambitions.
It was the tightest race in years, bringing an end to the post-war domination of the two big parties – Olaf Scholz’s SPD and his rival’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Exit polls predicted a dead heat, but this election was unpredictable from the start, and the result was never going to be the end of the story. For one thing, the outgoing chancellor is going nowhere until the coalition is formed – and that may have to wait until Christmas.
The main parties want a new government in place by the time Germany takes over the leadership of the G7 group of nations in January.
The next chancellor’s task is to lead Europe’s foremost economy over the next four years, with climate change at the top of voters’ agenda.
Olaf Scholz’s SPD supporters greeted him in raptures, but it was only later when his party edged into the lead that he told a TV audience the voters had given him the job of forming a “good, pragmatic government for Germany”.
His conservative rival has dug in, arguing it was about forging a coalition, not about getting “an arithmetic majority”. Winner doesn’t take all, in other words.
CDU General Secretary Paul Ziemiak did not gloss over the defeat but said that was not the point: “In the end the question is going to be can you create a genuine project for the future?”
“Two maybe-chancellors and two kingmakers” – was one of the headlines summing up Sunday night’s rather scrappy result, but that is what it looked like.
Because it’s not just the Social Democrat and conservative leaders fighting for power. The two kingmakers are open to offers and planning to talk to each other to explore common ground.
Together the liberals and the Greens make up over quarter of the vote and would carry both of the big parties over the line.
They may be more popular with younger voters than any other parties, but it would take some skill to bring them under the same roof.
On September 27, a Greens spokesman said it was no big secret that they were not close to the liberals.
Greens leader Annalena Baerbock wants to loosen Germany’s debt brake that stops a big jump in public debt. FDP leader Christian Lindner has little time for her party’s “ideas of tax hikes, or softening the debt brake”.
So of all the possible coalitions, the Greens and the liberals feature in the two that are most likely to form.
One is the so-called traffic-light coalition, made up of the parties’ colors – red (SPD), yellow (FDP) and the Greens – or there’s the Jamaica alternative, black (CDU), yellow (FDP) and the Greens.
It is the first time that Germany is facing a three-way coalition, but this country has entered a new political era and the talking is yet to begin.
Beyond the four mainstream parties, it was a bad night for the radical left and a patchy night for the far right.
Left-wing Die Linke fell below the 5% threshold required to get into parliament but survived because it secured three direct mandates.
Although the far-right AfD’s share of the vote appears to have slipped nationally, it’s set be the largest party in the eastern states of Saxony and Thuringia.
According to new reports, the US and Denmark worked together to spy on top European politicians, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Danish broadcaster DR said Denmark’s Defense Intelligence Service (FE) collaborated with the US National Security Agency (NSA) to gather information from 2012 to 2014.
Both FE and the NSA are yet to comment.
Denmark’s Defense Minister, Trine Bramsen, did not confirm or deny the report but told AFP that “systemic eavesdropping of close allies is unacceptable”. She was not in charge of the ministry during the alleged spying.
“This is not acceptable between allies, and even less between allies and European partners,” said French President Emmanuel Macron, after speaking with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Angela Merkel said she agreed with President Macron’s comments, but that she was also reassured by the Danish defense minister’s condemnation.
Intelligence was allegedly collected on other officials from Germany, France, Sweden and Norway. Those nations have also called for explanations.
Norwegian PM Erna Solberg told public broadcaster NRK: “It’s unacceptable if countries which have close allied co-operation feel the need to spy on one another.”
The NSA is said to have accessed text messages and the phone conversations of a number of prominent individuals by tapping into Danish internet cables in co-operation with the FE.
The alleged set-up, said in the report to have been codenamed “Operation Dunhammer”, allowed the NSA to obtain data using the telephone numbers of politicians as search parameters, according to DR.
DR interviewed nine sources, all of whom are said to have had access to classified information held by the FE.
Along with Chancellor Merkel, then-German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the opposition leader at the time, Peer Steinbrück, are also said to have been targeted.
Similar allegations emerged in 2013.
Then, secrets leaked by American whistleblower Edward Snowden alleged tapping of Angela Merkel’s phone by the NSA.
When those allegations were made, the White House gave no outright denial but said Angela Merkel’s phone was not being bugged at the time and would not be in future.
Following the new report, Edward Snowden accused President Joe Biden of being “deeply involved in this scandal the first time around”. Joe Biden was vice-president at the time the reported surveillance took place.
A broad but limited German lockdown will now start on Monday, November 2, under terms agreed during a video conference involving Chancellor Merkel and the 16 state premiers:
Schools and kindergartens will remain open
Social contacts will be limited to two households with a maximum of 10 people and tourism will be halted
Bars will close and restaurants will be limited to takeaways
Tattoo and massage parlors will shut
Smaller companies badly hit by the lockdown will be reimbursed with up to 75% of their November 2019 takings
Chancellor Merkel and the state premiers are expected to reconvene on November 11 to reassess the situation
“We have to act now,” she explained, to avoid a national emergency.
In France, the defense council and cabinet were deciding the extent of the planned four-week lockdown on October 28, but reports suggest schools will stay open and online study will be encouraged for older children and universities.
The changes could kick in from October 30.
France recorded 523 deaths on October 27, including 235 in residential homes, and the hospital federation has appealed for as broad a lockdown as possible.
Germany is to reopen all shops as lockdown restrictions are eased.
Meanwhile, Bundesliga soccer has been given the green light to resume and schools will gradually reopen in the summer term.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Germany’s goal of slowing the spread of coronavirus has been achieved.
Germany’s 16 federal states, under an agreement with the government, will take control of timing the reopening.
They will operate an “emergency brake” if there is a new surge in infections.
General contact rules involving will continue for another month. A limited resumption has already begun, but this easing of restrictions is far broader.
Two households will be able to meet and eat together, and elderly people in nursing homes and facilities for the disabled will be able to have visits from one specific person.
Chancellor Merkel said: “I think we can safely state that the very first phase of the pandemic is behind us. But we need to be very much aware we are still in the early phases and we’ll be in it for the long haul.”
Germany has seen fewer than 7,000 deaths in the coronavirus pandemic – a much lower figure than in other Western European countries including the UK, Italy, France and Spain.
On May 6, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), a federal public health body, reported 165 deaths in the past 24 hours and some 947 new infections.
The rate of infection has been consistently low for some time, and Angela Merkel said she was very pleased that the number of new, daily infections was into three digits. She praised the responsibility of German citizens in sticking to lockdown measures to protect the lives of others as well as themselves.
Shops of up to 800 square meters (8,600ft) in size have already been allowed to open. All restrictions on shops will now be lifted, although masks must be worn and social distancing maintained.
Schools have already begun opening for older children; all pupils will be allowed to return to class gradually during the summer term.
Germany, in common with other countries, is wary of a second surge in infections. If new infections rise to above 50 people in every 100,000 in a district over a seven-day period, then it will be up to the local authority in the affected area to re-impose restrictions.
A number of the 16 lands have been less affected by the crisis, so some are more eager to ease restrictions than others.
Bavaria in the south plans to reopen restaurants on May 18 while Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in the north plans to do that on May 9.
Reopening restaurants and hotels is seen as a particular risk because it will heighten the number of people travelling across Germany and raising infection rates. Large public events will remain banned.
The German soccer league, the Bundesliga, has been given the green light to kick off for the first time since March.
So-called ghost games without spectators could start again as early as May 15 or 21 as long as a two-week quarantine is put in place for the players, in the form of a type of training camp. A decision on the date will be made by the football authorities on May 7.
The Bundesliga will be the first major football league in Europe to resume after the pandemic. However, it is not without risk. Ten positive cases were revealed this week by the German football league out of 1,724 tests across the top two divisions.
Meanwhile, tourism commissioner Thomas Bareiss has held out the hope that Germans will be able to go on holiday this summer.
If the outbreak remained under control, he suggested they could go away in Germany and in neighboring countries that had seen a similar drop in infections.
Germany has announced plans to make face masks compulsory to combat the spread of coronavirus.
Bremen became the final federal region to back the measures, with its senate set to confirm the decision on April 24.
Face mask use will be compulsory on public transport throughout Germany, and nearly all states will also make face coverings mandatory when shopping.
Last week, when she announced the ease of lockdown measures, German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly recommended the use of face masks.
Different European countries have issued different guidance on the use of face masks.
Austria made them compulsory when shopping at the start of this month.
On April 22, Switzerland confirmed it would not make its citizens wear masks as it loosened its restrictions.
Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) has confirmed 145,694 cases and recorded 4,879 deaths in total.
April 22 data showed a second consecutive day that new infections rose, with 281 deaths compared with 194 reported on April 21. Johns Hopkins University in the US puts the number of German deaths at 5,117.
Germany’s federal vaccines institute approved clinical trials for a possible vaccine involving humans on April 22. About 200 healthy volunteers aged between 18 and 55 will be tested with variants of the drug, developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German company BioNTech.
Scientists at the University of Oxford are set to start trials on humans on April 23, the UK government says. Separate trials are also taking place in Seattle.
The new rules come into force in most German lands from April 27, once they pass in local legislatures. However, where face masks will be required differs from state.
All 16 lands will make facial coverings a necessity on public transport. However, in Berlin, it will not be compulsory to wear a mask when shopping.
This is also the case in the northern land of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania: that land has announced a fine of €25 ($27) for anyone caught without one on public transport. Other states have yet to specify punishments.
Rhineland-Palatinate in the south-west says pupils will be given reusable masks as they slowly start to return to school at the beginning of May, while in Bavaria masks are mandatory for everyone aged seven and over from April 27.
Even the type of mask is not consistently specified. PM Winfried Kretschmann of Baden-Württemberg has said medical masks should be reserved for health workers, while scarves or cloth covers would be sufficient for people on the street.
Many land leaders had previously questioned the need to impose the measures on residents.
Thuringia’s premier, Bodo Ramelow, said that as neighboring lands Bavaria and Saxony had announced measures, his eastern state had decided to follow suit.
Since the outbreak began, the World Health Organization (WHO) has consistently said only the ill and those caring for the ill need to wear masks.
Research suggests face masks are not as effective as frequent hand washing with soap and water, and can give users false confidence.
A number of European countries are starting to make masks compulsory on public transport and in shops, including Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Germany has extended its restrictions
on social interactions to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak, banning
public gatherings of more than two people.
People will not be allowed to form
groups of three or more in public unless they live together in the same
household, or the gathering is work-related. Police will monitor and punish
anyone infringing the new rules.
In a TV address, German Chancellor
Angela Merkel said “our own behavior” was the “most effective
way” of slowing the rate of infection.
The measures included closing hair,
beauty and massage studios. Other non-essential shops had already been shut.
Restaurants will now only be allowed
to open for takeaway service. All restrictions apply to every German state, and
will be in place for at least the next two weeks.
According to the prosecutor, the investigation into the
deadly gun attack in Hanau is focusing on whether others knew about or helped
Peter Frank said six people had also been injured in the attack, one of them
Shortly after the attacks the suspect and his 72-year-old mother were found
in his apartment, both also shot. A gun was found next to the suspect’s body.
The prosecutor said investigators wanted to establish any links the suspect
may have had in Germany or potentially also abroad.
The shootings took place around 22:00 on February 19, and the first target
was the Midnight shisha bar in the city centre of Hanau. Witnesses reported
hearing about a dozen gunshots.
The suspect then traveled by car to the Kesselstadt neighborhood, some 1.5
miles away, and opened fire at the Arena Bar & Cafe.
Shisha bars are places where people gather to smoke a pipe known as shisha
or hookah. Traditionally found in Middle Eastern and Asian countries, they are
also popular in many other parts of the world.
The shootings sparked a manhunt. Police identified the gunman through
information from witnesses and surveillance cameras. On February 20, they
stormed the suspect’s home, near the scene of the second shooting.
Hanau, in Hesse state, is a city of 100,000 residents about 15 miles east of
The victims included German citizens and foreigners aged between 21 and 44,
Germany’s federal prosecutor said.
Among the dead were “several victims of Kurdish origin”, the
Kon-Med association of Kurds in Germany said. It said it was
“furious” that authorities were not doing more to fight extremism.
Tobias R had posted videos and a kind of manifesto on his website, Peter
In the manifesto he wrote that people from more than 20 countries including
Turkey and Israel should be “destroyed”, AFP reported.
In her statement, Chancellor Merkel said there were “many indications
at the moment that the perpetrator acted on right-wing extremist, racist
motives, out of hatred towards people of other origins, religion or
Hesse state Interior Minister Peter Beuth said the suspect had not
previously been known to the authorities.
The Bild tabloid reports the
suspect had a firearms license, and that ammunition and gun magazines were
found in his car.
Gun laws in Germany are among the most stringent in the world, and were tightened further in recent years after other mass shootings.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered
two shaking attacks in eight days, but she says she is “fine” after
the two public episodes have sparked concerns about her health.
Speaking at the G20 summit in Osaka,
Angela Merkel said she was convinced that “this reaction will disappear
just as it has arisen”, German news agency DPA said.
Asked what lay behind it and whether
she had seen a doctor, Angela Merkel said she had “nothing in particular
On June 27, the German chancellor was
seen shaking for two minutes at a ceremony in Berlin.
Angela Merkel, who turns 65 next
month, gripped her arms until she became steadier. She was offered a glass of
water but did not drink it.
The previous incident – which she
later blamed on dehydration – saw her shaking while standing next to Ukraine’s
President Volodymyr Zelensky in hot sunshine.
In 2017, Angela Merkel had an earlier bout of shaking in hot weather on a
visit to Mexico as she was attending a military honors ceremony.
Reports said that subsequent medical checks had found nothing to be wrong.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted a video of the
chancellor making a speech covering topics such as extremism, women’s
empowerment and climate change. It showed her standing and speaking in a
Angela Merkel is now in her fourth term as chancellor, a role she began in
November 2005. She has said she will leave politics when her current term ends
She has a reputation for remarkable stamina – during intensive late-night
discussions at EU summits, for example.
Angela has been in good health while in office, and even worked from home
after a knee operation in 2011. She suffered a fall while skiing in 2014. Her
absences were only brief on those occasions. Her mother died earlier this year.
Following June 30 vote, Angela Merkel said that for her marriage was between a man and a woman. But she said she hoped the passing of the bill would lead to more “social cohesion and peace”.
Image source Getty
During her 2013 election campaign, Angela Merkel argued against gay marriage on the grounds of “children’s welfare,” and admitted that she had a “hard time” with the issue.
However, in an on-stage interview with the women’s magazine Brigitte on June 26, Angela Merkel shocked the German media by saying, in response to an audience member’s question, that she had noted other parties’ support for gay marriage, and would allow a free vote at an unspecified time in the future.
Donald Trump has said German Chancellor Angela Merkel made “one very catastrophic mistake” by admitting more than 1 million refugees.
The president-elect said Angela Merkel was by far Europe’s most important leader, and that the EU had become a vehicle for Germany.
Donald Trump was giving details of his foreign policy goals in an interview with British and German newspapers, Times and Bild.
He told the publications his priority was to create fairer trade deals for the US and have strong borders.
Donald Trump said the United States had to address its trade deficit with the rest of the world, particularly with China.
The emphasis for his administration should be smart trade, rather than free trade, the president-elect said.
The interview was conducted for the Times by UK’s lawmaker Michael Gove, who played a key role in the Vote Leave campaign that led to Brexit, and who also has a column in the newspaper.
An image of Michael Gove and Donald Trump giving a thumbs-up at New York’s Trump Tower, where they met, was shared on Twitter.
Image source Flickr
Asked about a possible deal with Russia, Donald Trump said nuclear weapons should be part of it and “reduced very substantially”, in return for lifting US sanctions.
Turning to the Middle East, Donald Trump condemned the 2003 invasion of Iraq as possibly the worst decision ever made in the history of the country, and said safe zones should have been created within Syria and paid for by the United States’ Gulf allies.
In a separate interview with the Washington Post, Donald Trump said he was close to finalizing a replacement for President Barack Obama’s healthcare program, the Affordable Care Act.
Donald Trump gave few details, other than saying there would be healthcare for everybody and that costs would be lower.
The president-elect said he was waiting for his nominee for health secretary, Tom Price, to be confirmed, before unveiling the plan.
Donald Trump also spoke about the UK and Brexit, saying he thought the UK was “so smart in getting out” of the EU.
“Countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity,” he said.
“I think you’re doing great, I think it’s going great.”
Donald Trump predicted that more countries would follow the same path.
“I think people want . . . their own identity, so if you ask me … I believe others will leave.”
During the interview, Donald Trump said he thought Angela Merkel was the “by far the most important European leader”.
“If you look at the European Union, it’s Germany – it’s basically a vehicle for Germany,” he said.
“I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals.”
Donald Trump linked the migrant issue with the UK referendum vote to leave the EU.
“I do believe this, if they [EU countries] hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it . . . entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.
“It probably could have worked out but this was the final straw, this was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Donald Trump repeated his vow to be tough on immigration into the US.
“People don’t want to have other people coming in and destroying their country. In this country we are going to go very strong borders from the day I get in,” he said.
The president-elect also stressed that he would “start off trusting both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mrs. Merkel” on taking office, but would “see how long that lasts”.
Talking about international security, Donald Trump argued that he had said “a long time ago that NATO had problems”.
“One: that it was obsolete because it was designed many many years ago, and number two: that the countries weren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay.”
He said that only five countries were paying what they should into the NATO budget.
“Five. It’s not much… With that being said, NATO is very important to me.”
Donald Trump was also asked if he would continue to use Twitter after his inauguration, and said he would keep up his habit of publishing streams of messages on the social network.
“It’s working – and the tweeting, I thought I’d do less of it, but I’m covered so dishonestly by the press, so dishonestly,” he said.
“I can go bing bing bing . . . and they put it on and as soon as I tweet it out. This morning on television Fox: <<Donald Trump, we have breaking news>>.”
Angela Merkel has admitted migrant policy mistakes are linked to her CDU party’s defeat in Berlin state elections.
The German Chancellor voiced regret over mistakes that contributed to last summer’s refugee crisis in Germany. More than a million migrants reached Germany – a record.
“If I could, I would turn back time for many, many years, to prepare better,” Angela Merkel told reporters.
The center-right CDU can no longer run Berlin with the Social Democrats (SPD).
Angela Merkel’s party won 17.6% of the vote – its worst-ever result in Berlin.
The chancellor conceded that her open-door policy towards refugees – embodied in her phrase “wir schaffen das” (we can manage it) – was a factor in the election. She has now distanced herself from that phrase, calling it “a sort of simplified motto”.
Angela Merkel has been widely criticized in Germany for the policy, which was a humanitarian gesture faced with the desperate plight of migrants, many of them refugees from the war in Syria.
The right-wing, anti-migrant party Alternative for Germany (AfD) will enter the Berlin state parliament for the first time with 14% of the vote.
The AfD is now represented in 10 of Germany’s 16 regional parliaments. Earlier this month it pushed the CDU into third place in the northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Looking back at the migrant crisis, Angela Merkel defended her policy as “absolutely correct on balance, but ultimately it meant that for a long time we did not have enough control”.
“Nobody wants a repeat of that situation – including me.”
Angela Merkel said she needed to work harder to explain her refugee policies.
The SPD emerged as the strongest party with about 22%, in spite of losing almost 7% of its voters, and said it would hold talks on forming a coalition with all parties except AfD. It is expected to drop the CDU as a coalition partner in favor of the left-wing Die Linke and the Greens.
September 18 election in Berlin, a city-state of 3.5 million people, was dominated by local issues including poor public services, crumbling school buildings, late trains and a housing shortage, as well as problems in coping with the migrant influx.
AfD co-chairman Joerg Meuthen said the party was strongly positioned for 2017 national elections and colleague Beatrix von Storch predicted that it would become the third largest political force in Germany next year.
“We’re witnessing in 2017 Angela Merkel’s battle for survival,” Beatrix von Storch said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling CDU party has been beaten into third place by anti-immigrant and anti-Islam the Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) in regional elections in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, partial results have shown.
The AfD party took about 21% of the vote behind the centre-left SPD’s 30%.
Angela Merkel’s CDU was backed by only about 19% of those who voted, according to the partial results.
Today’s vote was seen as a key test before German parliamentary elections in 2017.
Before it, all of Germany’s other parties ruled out forming a governing coalition with the AfD.
However, the AfD’s strong showing could weaken Angela Merkel ahead of the national elections next year.
Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, in the former East Germany, is where the chancellor’s own constituency is located.
Under Angela Merkel’s leadership, Germany has been taking in large numbers of refugees and migrants – 1.1 million in 2015 – and anti-immigrant feeling has increased.
The AfD, initially an anti-euro party, has enjoyed a rapid rise as the party of choice for voters dismayed by Angela Merkel’s policy.
However, its political power is limited and critics accuse it of engaging in xenophobic scaremongering.
The CDU has been the junior coalition partner in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania since 2006 and is likely to remain in the governing coalition. However, its 19% in the election is its worst ever result in the state, German broadcasters said.
Addressing supporters, local AfD leader Leif-Erik Holm said: “Perhaps this is the beginning of the end of Angela Merkel’s chancellorship today.”
The US will send 250 additional military personnel to Syria to support local militias in the fight against ISIS, officials have said.
The goal, they say, is to encourage more Sunni Arabs to join Kurdish fighters in north-eastern Syria.
The new deployment will bring to 300 the number of US forces in non-combat roles in Syria.
Most of the additional personnel will be special operation forces, the AP reports. The group will also include medical and logistical troops, it adds.
A formal announcement is expected from President Barack Obama during his visit to Hannover on April 25, where he will discuss Syria and other foreign policy issues with leaders of the UK, Germany, France and Italy.
Barack Obama has resisted calls to send US troops into Syria, where a five-year-old conflict has killed more than 250,000 people and displaced some 11 million others.isis
Of those, four million have fled abroad, including growing numbers who are making the dangerous journey to Europe.
The crisis has put pressure on leaders there, who are struggling to halt a massive influx of migrants and refugees.
Speaking alongside Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 24 urged warring parties to set up safe zones in Syria where refugees would be protected within the country.
Angela Merkel expressed hope that such a plan might eventually be agreed at peace talks taking place in Geneva.
Barack Obama, however, said it would be “very difficult” for those zones to work without a large military commitment.
ISIS has lost parts of the territory it once controlled in Syria. Most recently, they were pushed back by Russian-backed Syrian forces from the strategic city of Palmyra.
The group has also had significant setbacks in Iraq, including the loss of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.
The US has led a coalition against the militant group in both Syria and Iraq.
Top EU delegates and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are due to visit the Turkish-Syrian border to promote a controversial month-old refugee deal.
The visit comes amid questions over the legality of the EU-Turkey pact, which deports back to Turkey refugees who do not qualify for asylum in Greece.
However, human rights groups say Turkey is not a safe place to return people.
Turkish officials have warned the deal could collapse if demands for visa-free EU travel for its citizens are not met.
The agreement says Turkey must meet 72 conditions by May 4 to earn the visa waiver, but diplomats say only half of those points have been met so far.
Angela Merkel is expected to visit a refugee camp in the southern city of Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, where she will meet Turkey’s PM Ahmet Davutoglu.
The German chancellor will travel with the European Council President, Donald Tusk, and the EU Commission Vice-President, Frans Timmermans.
Angela Merkel has faced opposition in Germany for her migration policies and has defended the deal with Turkey despite opposition from some European partners.
Her trip comes as she faces additional pressure for agreeing to the prosecution of German comedian Jan Boehmermann accused of insulting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Advocates of freedom of speech in both Turkey and Germany have called on Angela Merkel to send out a strong message on the issue during her visit.
The goal of the EU-Turkey deal is to deter refugees, mainly Syrians and Iraqis, from making the crossing between Turkey and Greece.
Under the agreement, refugees who have arrived illegally in Greece since March 20 are expected to be sent back to Turkey if they do not apply for asylum or if their claim is rejected.
For each Syrian migrant returned to Turkey, the EU is due to take in another Syrian who has made a legitimate request.
The scheme has reduced sharply the number of arrivals, from more than 56,000 in February to around 7,800 over the past 30 days, according to the European Commission.
However, the International Organization of Migration said unofficial data for arrivals in Greece in recent days suggested the numbers were picking up again.
The promised relocation to EU countries seems to be slow as nations are reluctant to take in more refugees – 103 Syrians have been resettled from Turkey to Europe, the commission said.
In March 2016, EU border agency Frontex requested 1,550 extra staff to help oversee the deal, but so far only 340 police officers and experts have been sent.
Rights organizations have attacked the scheme, with Amnesty International saying that Turkey has illegally returned Syrians to their country, a charge Ankara denies.
The EU has pledged up to $6.8 billion in aid to Turkey over the next four years.
Ankara, however, expects more, including visa liberalization, a point which faces opposition of some EU members.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month: “If the European Union does not take the steps it needs to take, if it does not fulfill its pledges, then Turkey won’t implement this agreement.”
Turkey already hosts some 2.7 million Syrian refugees, at a cost of over $10 billion, the government says.
German comedian Jan Boehmermann could be prosecuted for insulting Recep Tayyip Erdogan after the Turkish president filed a complaint.
Jan Boehmermann had recited a satirical poem on television which made sexual references to Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Under German law, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government had to approve a criminal inquiry.
Angela Merkel stressed that the courts would have the final word, and it was now up to prosecutors to decide whether to press charges.
The chancellor added that her government would move to repeal the controversial and little-used Article 103 of the penal code, which concerns insults against foreign heads of state, by 2018.
Jan Boehmermann is a satirist and TV presenter well-known for pushing the boundaries of German humor. He was given police protection earlier this week.
Some experts say the comedian has a strong defense against potential charges, because his poem could be seen as part of a wider piece of satire about free speech, rather than a deliberate insult.
An earlier remark by Angela Merkel that the poem was “deliberately offensive” had led to accusations in Germany that she was not standing up for free speech.
The poem was broadcast on ZDF TV two weeks ago. The public TV channel has decided not to broadcast Boehmermann’s weekly satire program this week because of the furor surrounding him.
Before announcing that Jan Boehmermann could be prosecuted, Angela Merkel stressed her government expected Turkey to comply with EU democratic norms in the areas of free speech and judicial independence.
“In a state under the rule of law, it is not a matter for the government but rather for state prosecutors and courts to weigh personal rights issues and other concerns affecting press and artistic freedom,” the chancellor said.
“The presumption of innocence applies,” Angela Merkel added, explaining that she was not making any prejudgement about Jan Boehmermann.
In her statement in Berlin, Angela Merkel said that the approval of the federal government was a legal precondition for the prosecution of this specific offence.
“The foreign office, the justice ministry, the interior ministry and the chancellery took part in this review,” she said.
“There were diverging opinions between the coalition partners… The result is that in the present case the federal government will grant its approval.”
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has drawn much criticism in Turkey and internationally for attacking opponents, including harassment of journalists. Many accuse him of authoritarian methods, stifling legitimate dissent and promoting an Islamist agenda.
Some Germans worry that Angela Merkel is compromising on freedom of expression in order to ensure Turkey’s continued co-operation to stem the influx of refugees into the EU.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced tougher refugee laws after the New Year’s Eve attacks on women in Cologne.
Angela Merkel has proposed changes to make it easier to deport asylum-seekers who commit crimes on German territory.
The attacks, which victims say were carried out by men of North African and Arab appearance, have called into question the German chancellor’s open-door migrant policy.
The police’s handling of the events has also been sharply criticized.
The anti-immigrant Pegida movement is due to protest in Cologne.
Angela Merkel, speaking after a meeting of her Christian Democrat party leadership in Mainz, proposed tightening the law on denying the right of asylum for those who have committed crimes.
Under the new plans, those on probation could be deported too.
“When crimes are committed, and people place themselves outside the law…there must be consequences,” Angela Merkel told reporters after the meeting.
Under current German laws, asylum seekers are only forcibly sent back if they have been sentenced to at least three years, and providing their lives are not at risk in their countries of origin.
The move, which will still need parliamentary approval, follows the New Year’s Eve attacks, which sparked outrage in Germany.
Victims described chaos as dozens of assaults and robberies were carried out with little apparent response from the authorities around the city’s main station.
Twenty-one people are being investigated for assault.
The identification of the attackers in Cologne as North African or Arab in appearance has caused alarm in Germany because of the influx of more than a million refugees in 2015.
Meanwhile German officials have warned that anti-immigrant groups have been trying to use the attacks to stir up hatred.
Similar attacks to those seen in Cologne were also reported in Hamburg and in Stuttgart on New Year’s Eve. In Bielefeld, hundreds of men tried to force their way into nightclubs Die Welt reports.
Police said several women had alleged assault.
As the investigation into the Cologne attacks continues, federal authorities say they have identified 18 asylum-seekers among 31 suspects. However, they are suspected of theft and violence, but not assault.
The suspects include nine Algerians, eight Moroccans, five Iranians, four Syrians, two Germans and one each from Iraq, Serbia and the United States.
Separately to the federal investigation focusing on what happened at the station itself, Cologne police are investigating 21 people in connection with the assaults. It is not known how many of these are asylum-seekers.
The North Rhine-Westphalia state police have recorded 170 complaints of crimes, 117 of which involve assault. There were two allegations of rape.
The interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Ralf Jaeger said on January 8 that he had suspended police chief Wolfgang Albers from his duties.
Wolfgang Albers has been accused of holding back information about the attacks, in particular about the origin of the suspects.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been named as Time’s Person of the Year for 2015.
Time Magazine cited Angela Merkel’s role in Europe’s crises over migration and Greek debt.
Angela Merkel had provided “steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply”, editor Nancy Gibbs wrote.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was named runner-up and third place went to US presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
Nancy Gibbs wrote of Angela Merkel: “For asking more of her country than most politicians would dare, for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience and for providing steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply, Angela Merkel is <<Time’s Person of the Year>>.”
Citing the refugee and Greek economic crises, along with the Paris terror attacks, Nancy Gibbs said: “Each time Merkel stepped in. Germany would bail Greece out, on her strict terms. It would welcome refugees as casualties of radical Islamist savagery, not carriers of it.
“And it would deploy troops abroad in the fight against ISIS [Islamic State]. You can agree with her or not, but she is not taking the easy road. Leaders are tested only when people don’t want to follow.”
Time also noted Angela Merkel’s leadership during what it called Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “creeping theft of Ukraine”.
Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said: “I am sure the chancellor will cherish this as an incentive in her job.”
After the award was announced Donald Trump tweeted: “I told you @TIME Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite. They picked person who is ruining Germany.”
While Time runs a poll for readers to vote, the decision on winners is made independently by the editors.
Angela Merkel, 61, joins an eclectic list of former winners, including Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mahatma Gandhi, Winston Churchill and Richard Nixon.
She is only the fourth woman since 1927 to be named an individual winner outright and the first in 29 years.
The other individual women to win were Wallis Simpson (1936), Queen Elizabeth II (1952) and Corazon Aquino (1986).
Soong Mei-ling won jointly with her husband Chiang Kai-shek in 1937, three women won as Whistleblowers in 2002 and the award went generically to American Women in 1975.
China has signed a $17 billion deal to buy 130 Airbus jets during German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Beijing.
Angela Merkel met Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in the capital.
The contract includes 30 wide-body A330s and 100 narrow-body A320s.
Earlier this year, Airbus agreed to build a new assembly facility in China’s northern port of Tianjin.
The European aerospace consortium is engaged in a battle with US-based Boeing for dominance in the growing Chinese market.
“We are grateful to CAS [China Aviation Supplies], one of our longest standing customers, for its continued confidence in Airbus and in the versatile A330 Family as well as the best-selling A320 Family,” said Airbus president Fabrice Bregier in a statement.
In August, Boeing said China was expected to add 6,330 new aircraft to its commercial fleet by 2034.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that all EU countries must be prepared to send security staff to the bloc’s external borders.
Speaking as she arrived at an EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Angela Merkel said it would be unfair to ask EU countries seeing the majority of initial refugee entries to secure borders as well.
The meeting aims to secure Turkey’s agreement to a plan to halt the flow of refugees trying to reach Europe.
Nearly 600,000 refugees have reached the EU by sea so far this year.
Describing the current situation as “very disorderly”, Angela Merkel said: “It’s quite obvious that only a few countries today take the majority of refugees and if these countries now are asked to secure the external borders on top of that, I don’t think it would be what we could call a fair distribution of effort.”
The summit aims to tackle the migration crisis by working with non-EU countries, protecting the EU’s external borders and ensuring some migrants are sent back.
Estonian PM Taavi Roivas said immediate action was needed to preserve the EU’s borderless Schengen area, which has come under increasing pressure, with some states reintroducing controls to prevent migrants from crossing borders.
Meanwhile Hungary’s PM Viktor Orban said his country would decide whether to close its border with Croatia by October 16.
Hungarian state TV reported Viktor Orban as saying he would prefer the EU to defend its external border in Greece but could seal its Croatian border “within an hour if necessary”.
There were also calls for member states to address the causes of migration by providing more money for Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey and for development in Africa.
“Member states need to put their money where their mouth is,” said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
Meanwhile, EU negotiators in Ankara are making “good progress” in talks with Turkish officials, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
Turkey is hosting some two million refugees, most of them fleeing the war in neighboring Syria.
It has also called for the establishment of an international “safe zone” for refugees inside northern Syria.
The 28 EU leaders meeting in Brussels are hoping the Turkish government will sign up to a joint action plan that includes: greater financial and procedural support for Turkey to deal with refugees; gaining permission from Turkey to help patrol its coastline; combating people smuggling; strengthening return operations.
Turkey is expected to press for progress towards visa-free travel for its citizens to European countries within the so-called Schengen area.
About two million people have fled to Turkey in more than four years of conflict in Syria. Every week thousands seek to enter the EU – typically via Greece – with many heading towards northern Europe.
Germany accepted the largest number of asylum claims in 2014 and expects to see as many as 800,000 in 2015. Sweden had the second-highest number of asylum seekers.
According to German media, the number of refugees seeking asylum in Germany this year will be as high as 1.5 million – almost double the previous estimate.
The German government has not confirmed the new estimate, which comes from an internal official report cited by popular daily Bild.
The report warns that services helping refugees will not be able to cope.
Separately, a centre-right regional minister put the expected total at 1.2-1.5 million for 2015.
The German government previously estimated the number of asylum claims this year to reach 800,000 to one million in total.
Many are refugees fleeing the wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, but there are also many economic migrants from the Balkans, Asia and Africa.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres has warned that Europe, in dealing with the migration crisis, is engaged in a “battle of compassion versus fear, and of tolerance versus xenophobia”.
Speaking in Geneva, Antonio Guterres said the world was facing the highest levels of forced displacement in recorded history and the principle of asylum must remain sacrosanct.
He urged Europe to defend “its founding values of tolerance and openness by welcoming refugees of all religions”.
The leaders of Hungary and Slovakia have said the influx of Muslims is a challenge to Europe’s “Christian” identity.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is to meet EU leaders in Brussels shortly to discuss the Syria crisis, which has fuelled an exodus of Syrians to the EU via Turkey.
Greek islands near the Turkish coast are overburdened with migrants, many of them Syrians determined to reach Germany. The crisis has strained EU relations with Turkey, a mainly Muslim country.
On October 4, several thousand Germans opposed to mass immigration demonstrated in two eastern towns – Plauen and Sebnitz – after a call to action by the anti-Islamic PEGIDA movement.
PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against Islamisation of the West) has staged regular anti-immigration marches across Germany.
The migrant influx is stretching resources in many German cities, including Hamburg, where empty commercial properties can now be seized in order to house migrants.
There is growing political pressure on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who continues to defend her open-door refugee policy. Germany can manage, the chancellor insisted at the weekend.
Many German politicians – including her conservative Bavarian CSU allies and various EU partners – have criticized the policy.
The Interior Minister of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania region, Lorenz Caffier, gave an estimate of 1.2-1.5 million asylum claims for this year.
However, federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said it was very hard to give accurate figures. Some refugees either avoided registration or moved elsewhere after being registered in one place, he said.
In 2014, the national total for asylum claims was 202,000.
German parliament has voted by a large majority to approve a third bailout deal for Greece.
In total 453 members of parliament voted in favor, while 113 rejected the bailout and 18 abstained.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble earlier warned parliament that it would be “irresponsible” to oppose the €86 billion ($95 billion) package.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right conservative bloc has been divided over the deal.
Prior to the vote nearly 60 of Angela Merkel’s members of parliament had indicated they would vote against the rescue package.
In total 47 members of parliament did not attend the session.
Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrat (CDU) party and its Bavarian CSU allies hold 311 seats in the 631-seat Bundestag. Angela Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democrats, supported the deal, as did the opposition Greens.
Last month, 65 CDU/CSU politicians refused to support even starting negotiations for a third bailout.
On August 18, the parliaments of Austria, Estonia and Spain backed the bailout.
The Dutch parliament also debated the bailout on August 19, after anti-EU Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders insisted members of parliament should be recalled from their summer recess.
The vote by German parliament was the final hurdle before the first installment of the package – €13 billion – could be released, in time for Greece to repay €3.2 billion on August 20 to the European Central Bank (ECB).
Doubts remain about the Greek government’s commitment to the bailout conditions because it previously pledged to oppose austerity.
In exchange for the bailout – and keeping Greece in the euro – PM Alexis Tsipras agreed to further painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms.
The new loans will be spread over the next three years. The first tranche of €26 billion will include €10 billion to recapitalize Greek banks.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been criticized for appearing to be unsympathetic when a 14-year-old Palestinian refugee described what her life was like under threat of deportation.
Angela Merkel had told Reem Sahwil that not all migrants can stay in Germany.
However, Reem Sahwil has defended the way Angela Merkel dealt with her after she burst into tears while talking about her future.
Angela Merkel “listened to me and she also told me what she thinks about it, and I think that’s OK,” Reem Sahwil told ARD TV.
The conversation took place during a government-organized forum for young people, which was filmed and then broadcast.
In the video, Reem Sahwil tells Angela Merkel that her family had been waiting four years to gain permanent residency in Germany.
They were told they would have to return to a camp in Lebanon imminently – only to receive a last-minute temporary German residency permit, she said.
“I would like to go to university,” said Reem Sahwil, in fluent German.
“It’s really very hard to watch how other people can enjoy life and you yourself can’t. I don’t know what my future will bring.”
Angela Merkel replied that “politics can be tough”, adding: “You are an extremely nice person but you also know that there are thousands and thousands of people in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.”
Germany could not manage if all of them wanted to move there, she said.
When Reem Sahwil began to cry, Angela Merkel went over to her and began stroking her on the back and telling her she had done well to highlight the difficulties facing refugees in Germany.
Within hours of the video being broadcast, the term #Merkelstreichelt (Merkel strokes) trended on Twitter.
Some social media users complained that Angela Merkel had “petted” the girl and failed to show enough sensitivity, although others defended the leader’s reaction.
Germany says it expects 400,000 asylum applications by the end of 2015 – more than double the amount it received in 2014.
The right-wing Pegida group has marched against what it calls the Islamization of Germany, and the country’s newest political party, Alternative for Germany (AfD), has called for tighter immigration control.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.