A conversation with the new CDU chairman Armin Laschet about the integration of the losing competitor, the candidacy for chancellor, the fight against Corona, his relationship with Russia, the Silk Road – and via Twitter.
Since the end of August, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has sent Germany requests for the results of Navalny’s examination, on the basis of which the German side argued that he had been poisoned by Novichok. For a long time, the demands remained unanswered, and on January 16, the German Ministry of Justice announced that it had sent a response to four Russian requests on the Navalny incident.
According to the department, the Russian side received samples of Navalny’s blood, tissue and clothes, as well as the protocols of his interrogation by the Berlin prosecutor’s office. The Ministry of Justice stressed that they did not provide any medical data of the founder of the FBK, since he himself did not agree to this.
The next day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the responses of the German authorities to Russian inquiries did not contain information in essence. Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov said that Russia had not received any information from Germany that would help investigate the incident with Navalny, and called it a “formal reply.” Today the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office sent another request to Germany.
The nationwide lockdown in Germany will last until at least February 14th. This decision was announced on Tuesday evening by German Chancellor Angela Merkel following negotiations with the prime ministers of the federal states. Despite the decrease in the number of new cases of coronavirus infection, the danger of the spread of the “British” strain forced the meeting participants to take a number of preventive measures. In particular, it was decided that social contacts in the country should be minimized – meetings with only one person from another household should be allowed.
Initially, the negotiations were planned to be held on January 25, but at the end of last week it became known that the video conference of Mrs. Merkel with the heads of the federal states would be postponed to an earlier date. This is due to fears caused by the spread of the “British” strain of coronavirus in Germany. Such haste gave rise to speculations about the further tightening of the lockdown – there was no doubt about its extension. The German media periodically appeared to speculate about what other restrictions would apply in the country.
Various options were discussed: from the mandatory wearing of FFP2 masks and the introduction of a curfew to a complete stop of public transport and the closure of borders.
If tightening the mask regime seemed almost a foregone conclusion, then the decision to restrict the movement of buses and the metro seemed too radical a measure. Nevertheless, a survey by the RND portal showed that 39% of respondents would support this innovation, and another 10% would support a complete stop of public transport. Curfew was approved by 56% of respondents, and 60% favored wearing FFP2 masks. However, none of these measures were implemented.
The Chancellor’s talks with the heads of the federal states began on Tuesday afternoon and continued almost until nightfall. It took the participants of the meeting eight hours to agree on a common document.
The most heated debates were about whether to keep schools and kindergartens closed.
The German newspaper Bild, citing its own sources, reported that Mrs. Merkel even interrupted the meeting for a while to discuss the problem in a narrower format. Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Berlin Mayor Michael Müller and Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder were invited to the conversation.
Shortly thereafter, the German Chancellor announced the results of the talks to reporters. Ms Merkel immediately indicated that the tough lockdown that has been in effect since mid-December – only grocery stores, pharmacies and banks are open in the country – has begun to bring results. The number of new cases of coronavirus has decreased, and the workload on intensive care units has also decreased. However, a new “British” strain of the virus could nullify these gains.
“We are in grave danger. We are talking about a mutation of the virus, – Angela Merkel told reporters following the talks. And she added: “So far, the epidemiological data collected has said this virus is much more contagious.”
«Now is the time to take preventive action. It’s hard that we have to put people through this again, but the principle of prevention is our priority, we must take this into account, and we take it into account today, ”said the German chancellor.
The document, adopted after the talks, states that the lockdown in Germany will last until February 14:
Ms Merkel called the decision to leave schools and kindergartens “sensitive”, but necessary, since the “British” strain of the coronavirus may be more dangerous not only for adults, but also for children.
The benchmark for lifting restrictions in the country is still the mark of 50 infections per 100 thousand people.
If in any federal state this figure exceeds 200 people, then additional measures are introduced. Among them, a ban on travel further than 15 km from the city limits, including flights. The rules do not apply to those who move around work or are sent for treatment. The prime ministers of the federal states have the right to impose other restrictions. Bavaria already has a curfew, and from January 25, its residents will be required to wear FFP2 masks. Shops, restaurants, museums and theaters will remain closed across the country. The revision of existing measures will take place no earlier than early February.
The chancellor attended this Monday the special commission of the Assembly that investigates the handling of the pandemic. In the afternoon, they received the Minister of Tourism and the director of the ISSS, who were also summoned under pressure.
For Monday, January 18, the special commission of the Assembly that investigates the handling of the pandemic by the government cited the following officials with urgency: Morena Valdez, Minister of Tourism; Chancellor Alexandra Hill Tinoco; and the director of Social Security, Mónica Ayala Guerrero.
This time the three officials heeded the commission’s call and introduced themselves. First, Chancellor Hill Tinoco did it and then, in the afternoon, the heads of Tourism and Social Security entered at the same time.
According to the president of said commission and ARENA deputy, Emilio Corea, the civil servants were summoned out of pressure for their disrespect not to attend the multiple calls made by the special commission.
SEE: Chancellor, Minister of Tourism and Director of the ISSS are called upon by pressure to the Assembly
During her appearance, Foreign Minister Alexandra Hill Tinoco reported that, between March and September of last year, 7,289 Salvadorans who were stranded in 47 countries due to the pandemic have already been returned with the help of the Foreign Ministry to El Salvador.
However, for the deputy Korea there is a contradiction between the number of people that Migration informed them that they returned to the country. According to Korea, Migration manages that there are more than 46,000 compatriots.
Tinoco argued that the Foreign Ministry has different processes. “7,289 was the number of people whose return was facilitated by the Foreign Ministry. Migration and Foreigners facilitate another type of entry into the country, of which we have no legal competence ”, justified the official.
He added that the repatriations were made from 47 countries, through 68 flights, 17 processes were by land, 85 took place between April and September.
The repatriations occurred from countries in Central America, the United States, Mexico, Canada, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
“We were facing a global crisis where we had to speak with the leaders of the countries and airline representatives, it was a complex process that not only depended on us,” said the Chancellor.
On the other hand, Hill Tinoco reported that only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spent $ 274,343 on the purchase of food, accommodation and medicines for stranded abroad due to the pandemic.
As he said, he is not aware that there are more Salvadorans who have not been able to return, since in September the Comalapa International Airport opened its borders.
Regarding the plan that the Constitutional Chamber ordered him to present for the return of the stranded, he assured that it was presented and approved by the Supreme Court of Justice, however, the deputies reminded him that they did not have it. The official explained that she did not remember having made a commitment to the deputies to give them to them.
Later, Korea read a letter from the police director stating that he did not comply with taking the officers with urgency because they arrived voluntarily.
In the case of the chancellor, the official had already absent the mandate of the special commission 4 times. According to the law, this type of legislative commissions are empowered to order ministers or other public officials to appear before the Assembly.
The Tourism official, for her part, had to answer for the expenses made with public funds to hire hotels to which the people who tested positive for COVID were taken and those who entered the country after the closure of the airport and borders due to the pandemic.
The director of Social Security had to explain how the government will pay back the funds it has lent to the new Hospital El Salvador, among other issues, such as the availability of COVID tests for ISSS personnel and beneficiaries.
SEE: Deputies summon the Minister of Economy and Mario Durán to report on the use of funds in the pandemic
What do you need to become chancellor? If you take the 15 years under Angela Merkel as a yardstick, then it occasionally helps to hover over things and to remain approximate. Your potential successor, Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU), is still in the process of empathizing with this role. In the Bundestag, he sells the bumpy vaccination start in Germany in statesmanlike manner as a European success – but with far-reaching commitments he likes to leave a back door open.
It was the same with the latest edition of “Maischberger: die Woche”. The moderator wants to know whether the promise of vaccinations will still apply to everyone in the summer. Yes, says Spahn, but only “as of today” because the approval for the vaccines from Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson is still pending. “As of today” was also the formulation on Deutschlandfunk, with which Spahn half-heartedly ruled out his candidacy for chancellor. Traumatized Eintracht Frankfurt fans will be reminded of Coach Niko Kovac’s “Stand now” before he switched to FC Bayern.
But there is one thing that Spahn is clear about. “I gave my word in the Bundestag: In this pandemic there will be no compulsory vaccination.” He is a great fan of debates, but doubts that “acceptance will grow if we resort to such a means.” against the demand of CSU boss Markus Söder, who can show similar popularity ratings as Spahn and could become his fiercest competitor for the Union’s candidacy for chancellor in the next few months.
And Armin Laschet, Friedrich Merz and Norbert Röttgen? Nobody trusts the three candidates for the CDU party chairmanship as a chancellor, not even Maischberger’s guests. “None of the three really convince me,” says cabaret artist Urban Priol, whereby Merz is “a lot of fun from a cabaret point of view”, “preferably with Christian Lindner”. With Röttgen as CDU leader, Priol would probably not have had this fun, as the former Federal Environment Minister has expressed clear reservations about a coalition with the FDP. The deputy “Welt” editor-in-chief Robin Alexander considers this approach to be a “huge mistake”, even if Röttgen gets “applause from left-wing cabaret” for it.
But away from party political skirmishes and towards the big questions. Did the EU and Germany not order enough vaccine? Did you order from the wrong manufacturers? Why are the UK, Israel and Bahrain vaccinating faster than Germany? And who is responsible for the chaos? Melanie Amann, head of the “Spiegel” capital office, takes Spahn to duty. As Minister of Health, he was politically responsible: “If something goes wrong at Deutsche Bahn, I also complain to the conductor.”
She compares Spahn with “changing drug advertising”, you have to read the small print first for risks and side effects. He understands full-bodied promises, but remains vague about the details, such as the question of how the two billion for the EU should be distributed among the member states. Amann receives support from his journalist colleague Alexander, who is outraged by Spahn’s appearance in the Bundestag: The health minister had “built a huge cardboard comrade there and, annoyingly, got through to parliament.”
Spahn had a long day: a night conference with the Chancellor, an early telephone interview with Deutschlandfunk, at noon the government declaration in the Bundestag. After extra time and a penalty shoot-out in the DFB Cup, it is midnight until Spahn sits with Maischberger and has to grapple with well-known allegations. Germany has secured enough vaccine, including the first approved by Biontech, he assures. The early start of vaccination in Great Britain and Bahrain was only possible due to an emergency approval. The EU deliberately decided against this step, also to ensure confidence in the vaccine.
But if you could not have saved lives with an earlier vaccination, Maischberger asks. Spahn does not agree to that, because “the death toll that we are complaining about today has to do with the situation 14 days ago.” Vaccination is “the way out” of the pandemic, but one would not have the restrictions even with more vaccine can do without. “Israel and Great Britain are in full lockdown, even though they vaccinated more than we did.”
Spahn does not dare to make a prognosis regarding the question of what these gloomy prospects mean for the corona rules in Germany, but it does not need them either. In view of the high number of infections and deaths and the incalculable risk of an even more contagious virus mutation, it should be clear to everyone that tightening rather than easing is pending. Right from the start, people were in the mood for “that winter will be hard. And winter lasts until March. ”On the question of company closures, Spahn initially said succinctly“ We are discussing with employers and unions ”and then, in response to Maischberger’s repeated inquiries, tellingly:“ I have given up one thing: excluding things. ”
Apropos exclude and “as of today”: Maischberger still wants to know what it would mean for his own career plans if he didn’t get vaccinated by the summer. “We are in a pandemic of the century”, that is his focus and he is “not about me”. The dispute over the direction of the CDU is “still there under the pandemic” and he has a good memory of how people treated each other before the pandemic. For the future of the party, Spahn believes it is essential “that we not only appoint the chancellor, but also that a chancellorship grows out of it.” If that is not stated in a statesmanlike way.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s New Year’s greetings were eagerly awaited on Thursday, December 31, across the Rhine. If it was indeed a speech to invite his fellow citizens to welcome the New Year, they also had the color of twilight for the current Chancellor, still young – she is 66 years old – but who will step down in the fall of 2021, at the end of her third term (she became Chancellor in 2005).
The “Historical crisis” of the coronavirus is expected to continue in 2021, even if the vaccine provides“Hope”, wished to warn Angela Merkel from the outset, dressed for the occasion in a bronze blouse, the German and European flags on her left, an image of the night front of the Bundestag behind her. “These days and weeks (…) are difficult times for our country. And it will last a long time ”, said the Chancellor in her speech in the dark tone, referring to “Something that happens once every hundred years”. “Winter remains difficult”, she added.
→ REPORT. Covid-19: Germany between hope of vaccination and call for patience
Unlike what happened in the spring, in fact, Germany is hit first and foremost, and for the time being more than its European neighbors, by the second wave of the coronavirus, so that the government had to decree a new partial confinement at least until January 10.
In total, 33,791 people succumbed to the virus in Germany in 2020, or just over half of France (64,632), but these figures are currently soaring, according to the latest figures from the Robert health watch institute. Koch (RKI). And Germany, for the first time on Tuesday, December 29, crossed the symbolic threshold of a thousand deaths recorded in a single day (1,122), although with, no doubt, a catch-up effect, the regional health authorities having previously sent incomplete data due to Christmas holidays.
“The challenges posed to us by the pandemic remain immense”, nonetheless insisted Angela Merkel, thanking the vast majority of Germans for having respected the instructions for reducing contacts aimed at combating the spread of the virus, and the front-line staff, who “Surpassed” since the beginning of the crisis.
The Chancellor castigated the movement of “corona-skeptics” in the country, which stood out in 2020 by several major demonstrations, partly accompanied by violence. “I can only imagine the bitterness felt by those who mourn a loved one because of the coronavirus, or those who continue to suffer from after-effects, when the existence of the virus is contested or denied by some”, she said, denouncing in passing the ” conspiracy theories “ : “Not only false and dangerous, they are also cynical and cruel towards these people”.
Angela Merkel still wanted to give hope to her fellow citizens, by evoking the start of vaccinations in the country and in Europe, in retirement homes and nursing staff. “We have never, despite the concerns, been so eager to enter a new year”, she judged.
A year which, for itself, will end with a goodbye tune. Angela Merkel will step aside after the legislative elections on September 26, in circumstances which, for the time being, resemble an immense fog: no one, at this stage, can say who will deliver this speech in her place, on December 31, 2021 Nor what will be the color of this speech …
FIGAROVOX / TRIBUNE – The investment agreement announced on December 30, 2020 between the European Union and China should not be considered only from its commercial aspect, analyzes Yves Perez. According to the economist, this agreement unfortunately commits us more than it commits China, and will primarily benefit the Germans.
Yves Perez is professor emeritus and former dean of the law faculty of the Catholic University of the West in Angers, author of Virtues of protectionism (The Gunner, January 2020).
The investment agreement concluded on December 30, 2020 between the European Union and China is only a preliminary step. It will only be ratified by both parties after a period of two years. However, it has already been hailed as historic by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen. What should we think of this agreement and its real scope?
I propose to answer this question by analyzing it from three different angles of view. The first is that any agreement signed between a Western country and China is inherently asymmetrical. In other words, it commits us more than it commits China. This asymmetry is due to the very nature of the Chinese political and economic system.
The second is that this agreement should not be considered only under its commercial and purely bilateral aspect between the European Union and China, but within a broader, geopolitical and triangular framework between the United States, the European Union and the United States. China. The third is that on the European side this agreement will mainly benefit Germany, which has also put all its weight in the balance to obtain it.
China is used to signing a lot of international agreements, but then it applies them as it sees fit. Thus, when it was admitted to the WTO, it undertook to respect its rules. But, twenty years later, it is clear that it has not often done so. When it organized the Olympic Games at home, China promised, heart in hand, to respect press freedom.
Several flagships of European industry have passed under the Chinese flag
However, in 2020, it was again the country in the world that imprisoned the largest number of journalists. Finally, in Hong Kong, when the United Kingdom retired, it had agreed to apply the legislation in force. However, after the student revolt, she decided to implement her own national security legislation in order to restore order and crush the democratic movement.
But back to our agreement. Its stated aim is for the two parties to open their respective markets more widely to the other’s investments. Economic and trade relations between the European Union and China are already very important. China is the second trading partner of the European Union behind the United States. It represents 20.2% of Union imports of goods and absorbs 10.5% of its exports. On the investment side, the European Union has invested around 150 billion euros in the Middle Kingdom and the latter has placed on the old continent an amount at least equivalent.
Several flagships of European industry have passed under the Chinese flag: we can cite the cases of Volvo in Sweden, Pirelli in Italy, Club Med and Lanvin in France, and Kuka and Krauss Maffei, two German SMEs specializing in machinery. tool and industrial robotics. On the other hand, in China, European companies have to deal with a double constraint: create joint ventures with local companies and agree to transfer their technology to them.
China has also invested heavily in recent years on the development of bilateral relations with the countries of the European Union. Italy has thus integrated the Silk Roads project, making its ports of Genoa and Trieste available to Chinese companies wishing to set up in Europe. Athens has ceded the port of Piraeus to the Chinese carrier Cosco, which also took control of the container ports of Bilbao and Valencia in Spain.
Portugal, which received 6MM euros in loans from China, accepted in exchange the takeover by a Chinese bank of Felidade, the country’s first private bank. In addition, China Three Gorges secured its grip on EDP (Energias do Portugal), the country’s leading electricity group, despite repeated warnings from Washington. Finally, the countries of Central and Eastern Europe now hold an annual summit with China.
It is therefore also to regain control and avoid maneuvers bypassing China that the Brussels Commission has embarked on negotiating this agreement. Under the new arrangement, China will benefit from greater access to several energy and manufacturing sectors in Europe. For its part, China is committed to facilitating the arrival of companies from the old continent in new promising markets such as clean vehicles, health, finance and “cloud“. In addition, China promises to join the International Labor Organization (ILO) and apply its rules.
This agreement is a masterstroke for China in its trade war with the United States. Subject to economic sanctions decided by the Trump administration, China wanted to get closer to the European Union and take the United States from the rear. In Beijing, it is hoped that the Silk Roads project will allow the reconfiguration of trade networks on a global scale and end the hegemony of the United States. Before the Biden administration took hold, the agreement between Beijing and Brussels was already a failure for the transatlantic cooperation projects that Washington was sure to offer to its allies.
China will thus make it more difficult to pursue the trade war strategy launched by the United States. Beijing places itself in a position to fight or negotiate with the Biden administration depending on the posture that it chooses to adopt. In this sense, this agreement is indeed a masterstroke of China against the United States in the struggle between them for world hegemony.
Germany wanted this agreement and it got it. Thanks to him, Berlin is repositioning itself as a key player between Washington and Beijing. German car companies (Daimler, Mercedes, Volkswagen) supported the conclusion of this agreement. The reason is simple. These companies now achieve a higher turnover in the Chinese market than they do in the American market.
In addition, the Chinese market, especially with the transition to hybrid and electric engines, offers them much more promising prospects. France, for its part, will be satisfied with more modest ambitions such as, for example, investment in Chinese retirement homes. This agreement also says a lot about the state of the balance of power between Berlin and Paris.
We are trailing Germany and, given the gaps that have widened as a result of the health crisis between our two countries, things are likely to worsen against us in the coming years.
Not monasteries and Upper Bavarian mountains, but concrete and dirty Berlin weather. The start of the year for the CSU is a little different this year. The retreat of the CSU members in the Bundestag, the so-called state group, has always served to generate media attention. Thereby brisk papers are adopted and illustrious guests are invited. This is also the case this year, but under strict corona conditions – with distance, quick tests and mostly remotely connected guests. Host Alexander Dobrindt, the head of the regional group, speaks of a year of transformation, because of the pandemic, but also because of the general election next fall.
It is standard for the aggressive CSU man that Dobrindt gives the coalition partner SPD a slap in matters of corona policy. His accusation that the SPD was guided by election tactical motives in its criticism of the federal government’s vaccine strategy is not entirely new. Dobrindt, however, inflicts another humiliation on the comrades by negating their success from last year without having chosen their candidate for Chancellor Olaf Scholz without a noticeable dispute. “Just because they nominated a candidate for chancellor too early shouldn’t the SPD enter the election campaign prematurely,” says Dobrindt. And is statesmanlike: the federal government must remain in working mode in the election year in order to cope with the corona crisis. The SPD lacks “discipline”.
However, CSU boss Markus Söder had also criticized the EU’s vaccine order three days earlier. She “ordered too little and relied on the wrong manufacturers”. Dobrindt initially takes a different stance. He is against the word “vaccination nationalism”, which is thrown at those who attribute too little vaccine in Germany to the needs of other EU countries. This term is “completely wrong”. It is correct that the EU ordered the vaccine together. But there should also be national efforts to move forward with vaccination as quickly as possible.
Then it’s about the election campaign. Dobrindt distances himself very clearly from the Greens. In autumn the decision will be made as to whether there will be a government led by the Union or “a left majority against the Union”. In the last few months he had “developed no romantic feelings towards the Greens”, says Dobrindt, who has earned the reputation of “Green eater” over many years. The Greens, who confused “unconditionally open borders with openness to the world”, are “not a political partner, but a political competitor”. Its chairman Robert Habeck made it clear that he would like a coalition with the SPD and the Left Party. Anyone striving for a left-of-center coalition is “a natural opponent of the Union”.
The content is not to be taken really seriously. The CSU is also assuming a high probability of a black-green federal government after the upcoming election. Söder had presented this prospect as positive in December. “I think that black and green would be very attractive because both political forces have their eyes on the big issues of our time, such as the reconciliation of ecology and economy,” he told the “Spiegel”. Such an alliance is “currently the most interesting political offer”. Strategically, however, Alexander Dobrindt’s statement should be taken seriously. The CSU sees a polarizing camp election campaign as the only promising chance for the Union to be well ahead of the Greens in the federal election.
This strategy appears necessary because Angela Merkel is no longer running for Chancellor. The CSU now has “a close relationship of trust” with Merkel, who wants to attend the exam on Thursday. But at the end of the election campaign, it will not be Merkel’s popularity that will be in the foreground, but rather the “outlook on the new federal government and the new Federal Chancellor”. Dobrindt says nothing about who this chancellor should be, but a lot. When deciding on the Union candidate, the CSU will not simply accept the new CDU chairman in this role. The decision of the CDU party congress in the coming week has nothing to do with the question of the candidate for chancellor. It will be decided “regardless of” who will then be “the new CDU chairman”.
The man who seems to be in the running for the candidacy for chancellor appears in the afternoon after 3 p.m. in the bbc congress center on Alexanderplatz, where the CSU meets. Markus Söder appears statesmanlike, praises Merkel, “which we will still miss a lot”, speaks about the corona crisis, from which Germany and Europe should get out of it better and faster than others, about the challenge of climate change, “against which there is no vaccine “.
Söder praises his old rival Dobrindt, with whom he gets along blindly. But as a warning, he also says that one must not “get the old concepts out of the bin” and “not operate with old slogans”. And then he says that the “black and green idea can be an interesting one”. You could be “an inspiration in German politics”. It is true that the party convention resolutions of the Greens are “not yet ready for a coalition”, and of course there are Greens who want an alliance with the SPD and the Left. The “honeymoon behavior” of the Greens, who are open to everything, does not go in the long run. Many citizens wanted black and green, says Söder. “But with the Union in first place.”