Angela Merkel has been Germany’s Chancellor for 16 years. In that time, she has steered the country through countless international crises, frequently crossing swords with other world leaders.
When Angela Merkel was sworn in as the first female Chancellor in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany on 22 November 2005, she could hardly have imagined how many international crises she would face during her 16 years in office. There was the financial crisis, the euro crisis, the Greek debt crisis. There was the Arab Spring, the war in Ukraine, war in Syria, IS terrorism, the refugee crisis. Populism was gaining ground in many countries, Britain left the European Union, and the USA under President Trump often chose to follow the path of confrontation instead of cooperation. Then, in 2020, the world was hit by a global pandemic, the coronavirus. And climate change continued apace.
How did Angela Merkel master these challenges as she traveled almost tirelessly from one state visit or international summit to the next? Where did she manage to persuade others, and where did she fail? Did she have a clear political course? Was she simply pragmatic, or was what we witnessed also the product of indecision? How did she position Germany in a world where the USA, Europe, Russia and China are vying for global clout? And how do the heads of state and government whom Angela Merkel has met over the years rate her and her policies? What do international politicians appreciate about her, and where do they find fault?
We put these questions to former U.S. President George W. Bush, former French President Francois Hollande, former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, and former EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, among others. Renowned historians such as Niall Ferguson also comment.
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