German chancellor Angela Merkel gave a short speech on Monday morning to congratulate president-elect Joe Biden “from the heart.”
“The whole world follows the US presidential election with great attention every four years, now the American people have made their choice again,” Merkel said.
“Joe Biden brings decades of experience with him, both in internal and foreign politics. He knows Germany and Europe well. I remember well good meetings and talks with him,” she added.
Merkel, the first female chancellor of Germany, extended her warmest congratulations to vice-president elect Kamala Harris, saying: “As the first woman to hold the [VP’s] office, and as a child of two immigrants, she is an inspiration for many, an example of the possibility of America. I look forward to meeting her.”
Merkel also noted the significance of today’s date in German history. 9 November marks the terrible pogrom of the “Night of Broken Glass” in 1938 when Nazis smashed and destroyed Jewish businesses and sent some 30,000 Jewish men to concentration camps.
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“Today, on the 9th of November 2020, we Germans think, as on every 9th of November, on the worst and the best in our history,” she said.
It also marks the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Merkel said that the reunification of German “would not have been possible without the trust of the Americans, and I will always be grateful for that.” She described the US-German friendship as “common treasure.”
She stressed the great importance that the transatlantic relationship has for Germany, and what an important role the US plays for global democracy and freedom in the world.
Merkel’s wholehearted congratulations of Biden is a contrast to how she congratulated Donald Trump, when he won the US election in 2016. Her message back then was markedly less enthusiastic.
“Germany and America are bound by common values – democracy, freedom, as well as respect for the rule of law and the dignity of each and every person regardless of their origin, skin colour, creed, gender, sexual orientation, or political views. It is based on these values that I wish to offer close cooperation,” Merkel said in her congratulatory speech in November 2016.
Trump has had a bruising relationship with many EU countries since taking office in 2017, but the bulk of his criticism has targeted Germany and Merkel. He has slammed the chancellor for everything from her open-door refugee policy, to Germany’s insufficient NATO contributions. He threatened to curtail intelligence sharing over Germany’s refusal to ban Chinese telecoms company Huawei from its 5G network auctions, and started slapping sanctions on companies working on the controversial Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
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