Merkel talks Trump, Putin, and Europe—but not Brexit

Merkel’s summer holiday begins now—but she refused to disclose where she’s going.
Merkel’s summer holiday begins now—but she refused to disclose where she’s going.
Image: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch
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It’s been an arduous year for German chancellor Angela Merkel, so far. She has battled through coalition negotiations to form a government, chivvied the European Union into a loose agreement on migrants, weathered insults from US president Donald Trump, and headed off a revolt from her interior minister.

No wonder then one journalist at her summer news conference in Berlin today (July 20) asked if she was, honestly, just exhausted. “I can’t complain,” Merkel said, “I have a few days holiday now and am looking forward to sleeping a bit longer.”

Questions about Trump, Russia, and trade tariffs came up time and time again during the 90-minute Q&A session with domestic and foreign press. However, the burning issue of Brexit didn’t feature at all.

“Working together with the United States of America is central for us, and we want to maintain that,” Merkel said, but added that finding win-win situations is what’s important to her.

The example of the auto industry shows just how bound together the global economy really is, she said, pointing out that BMW’s biggest car plant is based in South Carolina, in the US. Tariffs on cars would be a real threat to prosperity around the world, Merkel added.

Asked why she thought Trump has been intensively targeting Germany, the chancellor said in her view Germany represents a prototype for the entire situation, in that it trades intensively with the US—and that it also had to do with the size of Germany’s economy.

Merkel believes it is a good thing that Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin met each other in Helsinki, and was “glad” that Trump invited Putin to visit Washington. “I think it should become normal again that Russian and American presidents meet with each other, since these two countries hold 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons,” she said.

“I think we live in a very interesting, exciting, and crucial time, when things are changing in the global order,” Merkel said. “When the generation that survived the war is no longer here, we’ll find out whether or not we learned from history.”

One question, however, remained unanswered: Where is Merkel going on vacation? The German media has been scratching its head after reports swirled that, for the first time in a decade, Merkel would not be lacing up her boots for her summer hiking holiday the Southern Tyrol with husband Joachim Sauer.

“I’m basically not going to talk about my holiday plans—but that’s nothing new,” the chancellor said.