Merkel looks forward to ‘new chapter’ with Biden

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday congratulated new US President Joe Biden, saying she looked forward to a "new chapter" in German-US relations.

Merkel looks forward to 'new chapter' with Biden
Merkel speaking following the US Presidential elections in November. Photo: DPA

“Warmest congratulations on your inauguration, @POTUS Joe Biden and @VP Kamala Harris – a true celebration of American democracy,” Merkel was quoted as saying in a tweet posted by her spokesman Steffen Seibert.

“I look forward to a new chapter of German-American friendship and cooperation,” she added.

Merkel and Biden have previously met in person a few times when he was Vice President from 2008 to 2016, including at the 2009 Munich Security Conference and at a bilateral visit in 2013. 

READ ALSO: What could Joe Biden as US President look like for Germany?

What other German politicians said

Earlier on Wednesday German President Steinmeier said the transfer of power to Biden brought with it “the hope that the international community can work together more closely and better in future to solve the great problems of our time”.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas of the Social Democrats (SPD) also expressed relief on Wednesday at the change of power in the White House after four years of Trump plunging German-American relations into the worst crisis of the post-war era.

“In the last four years, we have seen what 'America first' has meant: no coordination whatsoever, no consultations whatsoever,” Maas told public broadcaster ZDF.

Joe Biden now wants to change that, he said. “I am very happy that it is finally happening again. Because we need the United States to really get a grip again on major challenges, on the crises of this time.”

Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer held out for the prospect of greater German security cooperation with the new US president.

“We and our European partners, allies of America, must take confident steps to strengthen transatlantic security,” the CDU politician said.

Markus Söder, Bavarian state premiere and leader of Merkel's CSU sister party, tweeted, “The transatlantic bridge is being rebuilt. We must push aside the rubble caused by Trump.”

German-American relations had sunk to a low point during the Trump era. Many felt that the former US president, who left office on Wednesday after four years, had not treated Germany not as an ally but as an adversary.

The main points of contention included defence spending, the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline between Russia and Germany and Germany's trade surplus.

These issues are not likely to disappear under the Biden administration but there are hopes in the German government that there will be a significant change in the way the two countries work together.

READ ALSO: German-US alliance on 'life support' after four years of Trump

Member comments

  1. I write to congratulations to our world, for the election of President Biden. I send good wishes to all our allies and blessing them all, your governments will see that Americans are NOT Donald Trump and the people of America are friendly and loving people.

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Sleep, seaside, potato soup: What will Merkel do next?

 After 16 years in charge of Europe's biggest economy, the first thing Angela Merkel wants to do when she retires from politics is take "a little nap". But what about after that?

Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes and smiles at a 2018 press conference in Berlin.
Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefly closes her eyes at a 2018 press conference in Berlin. Aside from plans to take "a little nap" after retiring this week, she hasn't given much away about what she might do next. Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP

The veteran chancellor has been tight-lipped about what she will do after handing over the reins to her successor Olaf Scholz on December 8th.

During her four terms in office, 67-year-old Merkel was often described as the most powerful woman in the world — but she hinted recently that she will not miss being in charge.

“I will understand very quickly that all this is now someone else’s responsibility. And I think I’m going to like that situation a lot,” she said during a trip to Washington this summer.

Famous for her stamina and her ability to remain fresh after all-night meetings, Merkel once said she can store sleep like a camel stores water.

But when asked about her retirement in Washington, she replied: “Maybe I’ll try to read something, then my eyes will start to close because I’m tired, so I’ll take a little nap, and then we’ll see where I show up.”

READ ALSO: ‘Eternal’ chancellor: Germany’s Merkel to hand over power
READ ALSO: The Merkel-Raute: How a hand gesture became a brand

‘See what happens’
First elected as an MP in 1990, just after German reunification, Merkel recently suggested she had never had time to stop and reflect on what else she might like to do.

“I have never had a normal working day and… I have naturally stopped asking myself what interests me most outside politics,” she told an audience during a joint interview with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“As I have reached the age of 67, I don’t have an infinite amount of time left. This means that I want to think carefully about what I want to do in the next phase of my life,” she said.

“Do I want to write, do I want to speak, do I want to go hiking, do I want to stay at home, do I want to see the world? I’ve decided to just do nothing to begin with and see what happens.”

Merkel’s predecessors have not stayed quiet for long. Helmut Schmidt, who left the chancellery in 1982, became co-editor of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit and a popular commentator on political life.

Helmut Kohl set up his own consultancy firm and Gerhard Schroeder became a lobbyist, taking a controversial position as chairman of the board of the Russian oil giant Rosneft.

German writer David Safier has imagined a more eccentric future for Merkel, penning a crime novel called Miss Merkel: Mord in der Uckermark  that sees her tempted out of retirement to investigate a mysterious murder.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel forms her trademark hand gesture, the so-called “Merkel-Raute” (known in English as the Merkel rhombus, Merkel diamond or Triangle of Power). (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ / AFP)

Planting vegetables
Merkel may wish to spend more time with her husband Joachim Sauer in Hohenwalde, near Templin in the former East Germany where she grew up, and where she has a holiday home that she retreats to when she’s weary.

Among the leisure activities she may undertake there is vegetable, and especially, potato planting, something that she once told Bunte magazine in an interview in 2013 that she enjoyed doing.

She is also known to be a fan of the volcanic island of D’Ischia, especially the remote seaside village of Sant’Angelo.

Merkel was captured on a smartphone video this week browsing the footwear in a Berlin sportswear store, leading to speculation that she may be planning something active.

Or the former scientist could embark on a speaking tour of the countless universities from Seoul to Tel Aviv that have awarded her honorary doctorates.

Merkel is set to receive a monthly pension of around 15,000 euros ($16,900) in her retirement, according to a calculation by the German Taxpayers’ Association.

But she has never been one for lavish spending, living in a fourth-floor apartment in Berlin and often doing her own grocery shopping.

In 2014, she even took Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to her favourite supermarket in Berlin after a bilateral meeting.

So perhaps she will simply spend some quiet nights in sipping her beloved white wine and whipping up the dish she once declared as her favourite, a “really good potato soup”.