Questions about Angela Merkel’s health come up at G20
After a few severe shaking spells recently, the German Chancellor looked fine on arrival, but refused to answer questions about her well-being
Osaka — A day after German Chancellor Angela Merkel suffered another brief spell of shaking during a ceremony in Berlin, nothing appeared amiss as she walked down the gangway of her plane when it arrived in Japan for the Group of 20 summit.
But questions about her health came up during her first bilateral meeting in Osaka — with US President Donald Trump, who called her a “fantastic woman”. “Chancellor, how are you feeling,” one reporter shouted. Merkel didn’t respond, but just looked straight into the cameras.
Later, during a “family photo” with all leaders attending the gathering, Merkel stood with her fingers touching in triangle shape — a gesture she often adopts — while other leaders waved to the camera. Merkel’s health was the main front page story today in Bild, Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper.
After the first two working sessions at the summit, Merkel gave a five-minute statement in which she spoke about trade and the digital economy. Questions were not allowed, though Merkel joked to reporters, who were forced to sit on tiny chairs with tables, that they “look like a school class”. She did not comment on her health.
A German official said her latest shaking episode occurred because Merkel felt reminded of the first incident last week, and it was part of a psychological process of dealing with the incident.
On June 18, Merkel shook uncontrollably for minutes during a ceremony with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Berlin. She said it was the result of not drinking enough water. Then on Thursday, Merkel was again seen trembling and clasping her hands as she stood alongside German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier during a swearing-in ceremony for the new justice minister.
Merkel will have a tight schedule in the next few days. After her return from Osaka late on Saturday she’s scheduled to fly to Brussels on Sunday in another attempt to solve the wrangling between EU leaders over top jobs that has descended into messy horse trading.
EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier is emerging as a compromise candidate to become president of the European Commission despite not publicly saying that he wants it. Barnier belongs to the pan-European political group allied to Merkel’s Christian Democrats, a party which won the most votes in May’s EU elections and is acknowledged as having the first claim on the job.