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She is there at last

Posted by Helen Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Naturally, I am delighted that Germany has finally managed to follow in Britain's footsteps and elect a woman Chancellor and I hope that she will be as successful as our first woman Prime Minister was. Somehow, I do not think so at the moment but I may yet be pleasantly surprised.

After much agitation Angela Merkel was elected to be Chancellor by the Bundestag on Tuesday and spent yesterday travelling, first to Paris, then to Brussels. In Paris she came across her first difficulty: President Chirac, who insisted on kissing her hand. Merkel must have been wondering whether that was not too high a price to pay.

Anyhow, she had lunch in Paris and an afternoon snack in Brussels, we are reliably informed by Deutsche Welle. The fact that she visited Paris first of all is seen as a sign that she is keen to affirm that the Franco-German axis is at the heart of the European project.

In Brussels, Chancellor Merkel visited NATO Headquarters and reiterated her desire to see closer relations between Germany and the United States, soured as they were by her predecessor’s rather flamboyant anti-Americanism. Germany will not, she repeated, train Iraqi military personnel within that country but will do so in neighbouring states.

She voiced her strong support for NATO:

“NATO should be, I believe, the place where people turn first, where member states turn first, to discuss political issues of common concern. First and foremost we should try to pursue the approach that NATO is the place for such discussions. I believe that is very necessary ... only that way can we see to it that NATO continues to be a political alliance.”
Interesting phraseology. NATO is not just a political alliance but a military one; its purpose may be discussion in the first place but ultimately it is action. Does Chancellor Merkel not believe that? And has she asked her new best friend, l’escroc Chirac, what he thinks about it all? How exactly does Chancellor Merkel see the future defence architecture of Europe?

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