German Head of Government Angela Merkel has made an outlook over the upcoming year in her traditional New Year speech. In the address released by the chancellor’s office, she called to “stand up for, argue and fight more strongly for our convictions” that one can resolve all the challenges best if “we consider the interests of others”.
“That is the lesson from the two world wars of the last century. But this conviction is no longer shared today by everyone, and certainties of international cooperation are coming under pressure…We must take on more responsibility in our own interests”, Merkel, who has persistently advocated for a multilateral approach in contrast to Donald Trump’s “America First” concept.
The problems that Merkel mentioned specifically are the "fateful question of climate change" as well as migration and international terrorism. Ahead of the German term in the UN Security Council, due to begin on 1 January, Merkel pledged to push for “global solutions” there, as well as spending more on humanitarian and development aid, in addition to defence, which has long caused a rift between Berlin and Washington over NATO budget targets.
Merkel, who has been one of most vocal advocates for creating a joint European army, didn’t overlook the EU’s challenges, either. She stated that Germany wants to make the bloc “more robust and able to make decisions”.
As for domestic affairs, the German chancellor called 2018 “an extremely difficult political year”. It began amid unprecedentedly long coalition talks and was marked by a row over migration legislation with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who protested against the current refugee policy and ended with her stepping down as the Christian Democratic Union’s leader.
She acknowledged that Germans have “struggled very much” with her government and been divided by disagreements, but she said that she would remain chancellor until the end of her term in parliament amid speculation that she could step down before 2021, when the next parliamentary elections are slated to be held. Merkel also said that she would have not done otherwise "regardless of how unsatisfactory the past year was", at the same time pointing out that "democracy thrives on change".
She concluded by saying that establishing "equal living conditions" for all is the goal for her government. According to Merkel, Germany needs to find the "best solutions" by ensuring that "everyone has good access to education, housing and health care". She also addressed the atmosphere in German society.
"More and more, however, it is also about the style of our interaction, about our values: openness, tolerance and respect. When we believe in our values and implement our ideas with vigour, something new and good can emerge", she stated.
Her speech received mixed responses on Twitter. Some did not seem to appreciate her preaching of tolerance.
Merkel says Germany must fight for its convictions, which don’t include free speech. Her government polices the internet like a communist dictatorship to silence Germans who object to their country being flooded with third world rapists. https://t.co/RU1CNTfvwL— Pat Condell (@patcondell) 31 декабря 2018 г.
Others mocked her stance on assuming more global responsibility.
Why would a leader that can't look after its own people suggest it can take on the problems of others.— Adrock (@adrockaka) 31 декабря 2018 г.
Didn’t Germany attempt to take on a greater global responsibility in 1936?— Fred Fredburger (@KaBucchi) 31 декабря 2018 г.
We remember the last time they tried! pic.twitter.com/jqO30w5bnX— Zeed (@Zeed_m_o) 31 декабря 2018 г.
Some felt sorry for German taxpayers who have to pay for humanitarian aid and defence.
Right Angela You go save the World. 👍keep raising taxes on your citizens so u can pay for it.— Trisha (@studiolittle_T) 31 декабря 2018 г.
RIP German taxpayers.— theDudecZech ❎ (@dsz74) 31 декабря 2018 г.
However, others welcomed her call.
We are watching you Germany,hope you won't be too late,for the Asian tiger is consolidating its position in the world at a terribly interesting speed.— John K. Wasikye (@jkwasikye) 31 декабря 2018 г.
And yet others recalled her previous 13 addresses over 4 terms.