Angela Merkel, as seen by her fellow leaders
Publish | 16 Sep 2021, 12:53
After 16 years in power, Angela Merkel has won the admiration of many of her peers, as well as a few bitter rivals.
Here are some quotes from friends and foes alike:
- Russian President Vladimir Putin -
"I trust her, she is a very open person," adding that the chancellor "really makes an honest effort towards resolving crises. We have a business- like relationship." - interview with German daily Bild, 2016
- Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte -
"She brings reason and decency to politics. When she starts to speak at the European Council, a lot of people are often still looking at their iPhones. But then they all put their iPhones away. Pens are put down. And we listen to her. She has enormous authority." - at a forum marking the 76th anniversary of the Netherlands' liberation from the Nazis in May 2021
- Former US president Barack Obama -
"Her stolid appearance reflected her no-nonsense analytical sensibility. She was famously suspicious of emotional outbursts or overblown rhetoric, and her team would later confess that she'd been initially sceptical of me precisely because of my oratorical skills. I took no offence, figuring that in a German leader, an aversion to possible demagoguery was probably a healthy thing." - in his 2020 political memoir "A Promised Land"
- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen -
"She can always put things in the context of the many years in Europe she helped to shape. In simple sentences, she reminds people of what's important. And often, when we've hit an impasse, she'll throw out an idea and then we're moving again. We'll miss that." - told a European politics forum in May 2021
- Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban -
"The most important thing is that there should be no moral imperialism. I don't doubt Germany's right to define its moral obligations for itself. They can decide if they accept every refugee or not, but that should only be compulsory for them." - on Merkel's welcoming stance toward asylum seekers, during a visit to Bavaria at the height of the 2015 influx
- Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis -
"Merkel buried the idea of eurobonds and closed the coffin. Now countries like Italy, Spain and Greece will be forced to pile up new debts on the markets or with the European Stability Mechanism. So Frau Merkel has stayed true to herself but in a way that is extraordinarily negative and destructive for the EU." - interview with German public broadcaster ZDF, June 2020
- Former EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker -
"During the pandemic, she reacted well. If she had not said yes to the 750-billion-euro (EU recovery) plan, it would have never come about. Did she have a choice? No. She resigned herself to going all-in for Europe, something she long refused to do during the Greek crisis." - interview with Belgian newspaper Le Soir, August 2021
- French President Emmanuel Macron -
"Everything that the Franco-German relationship is owes a debt to your commitment, your willingness to take action, sometimes your patience with us, and your ability to listen. And so thank you very much for that" - after a meeting with Merkel in May 2021
- European Central Bank President and former International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde -
"Merkel has an extraordinary drive and staying power and incredible inner strength that allows her to stay at the table and push the negotiations over the line. Her objective is always to reach that all-important compromise which by definition is going to leave everyone a little bit frustrated and a little bit unhappy and that spirit has helped her reshape our world." - presenting Merkel with an honorary degree in Leipzig, September 2019.