“The more of us are vaccinated, the more freedom we will regain!”
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke of the terrible devastation left behind by the floods. “We mourn the loss of 170 people, and there are still many missing, too”. The damage to property was immense, she said, and repairing it all would take a lot of perseverance.
The Federal Government has already provided 200 million euros in emergency aid. This amount would be increased if necessary, Merkel said, adding that a recovery fund for long-term reconstruction would be set up in collaboration with state premiers in the coming weeks.
“Every vaccination takes us one step further towards normality”
In view of rising infection figures, Merkel spoke out in favour of the coronavirus vaccination: “The more of us are vaccinated, the more freedom we will regain.” Only by pulling together would it possible to overcome the pandemic, she said: this was why people should encourage their family, friends and colleagues to get vaccinated. “I say to all those of you who are still unsure: a vaccination doesn’t just protect you, it protects the people you care about, the people who mean a lot to you, your loved ones.”
The RKI reported a 7-day incidence of 12.2 today. Merkel said that this was an exponential increase, adding that the Institute was expecting another sharp increase in infections in the autumn. This meant protective measures were still needed, said the Chancellor: face coverings, social distancing, ventilation and regular testing, too.
Higher vaccination rates now make it possible to handle higher numbers of infections. “The underlying principle of our actions is to prevent the health system from being overwhelmed,” said Merkel.
“I have invested a lot of effort in climate protection”
“It has been fundamental to my entire life in politics,” Merkel replied when asked whether she had done enough to combat climate change as Federal Chancellor.
She said the aim was to reduce carbon emissions to at least 65 percent by 2030 and achieve climate neutrality in Germany by 2045. These ambitious targets meant bringing about “huge change” within society as a whole, said Merkel: given the aim of limiting the global temperature increase to two degrees, it was vital to step up the pace of the fight against climate change.
Speaking with a single voice in East and West
Merkel said that her East German origins had been a formative influence in her life. As Federal Chancellor, she said, she had always sought to speak with a single voice in East and West. It was important for her successor to be empathetic towards the life experiences of East Germans and the particular sensitivities involved, she said. Where there were still differences in terms of opportunity, she said, she would like to see more East Germans in leadership positions. She said she believed this would change over time when younger generations moved into positions of responsibility, since they will only have known Germany as a united country.
More women at the top
It was difficult to attribute specific characteristics to women and men in politics, said Merkel. But “women do tend to exhibit a certain desire for efficiency”, she noted. In terms of seeing women in leadership positions, progress in Germany had unfortunately been slow, she said, which is why she too had recently lent her support to mandatory quotas. “When I first went into politics in 1990, this was something I thought would be easier.”
The Federal Press Conference is a non-governmental association of journalists which invites politicians such as the Federal Chancellor to answer questions from the media. The Federal Press Conference was founded in 1949 as a lesson from the Nazi era. It is the only institution of its kind in the world.