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Angela Merkel Awarded The Highest German Order

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Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel was awarded the Grand Cross of Merit, the country’s highest award, with praise for her discipline and passion as head of the German government for 16 years.

The order was presented by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin, in recognition of Merkel’s contribution to German political life at an event attended by her political allies and associates, including current Chancellor Olaf Scholz, former soccer player and coach Jürgen Klinsmann and award-winning Ulrich Mathes actor who helped her improve the way she gave speeches.

The Großkreuz, or Grand Cross, is the most important decoration of its kind, which has so far been awarded to two chancellors: Konrad Adenauer in 1954 and Helmut Kohl in 1998, both from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), which includes Angela Merkel.

Paying tribute to Merkel, Steinmeier, who served as foreign minister in her government, praised her “tremendous endurance and enormous amount of self-discipline” in governing Germany from 2005 to 2021, including the pandemic and refugee crisis, and referred to her attempts to prevent Russian aggression after the annexation of Crimea.

Steinmeier said Merkel stood out both as Germany’s first female chancellor and as a citizen of the former communist East Germany in a male-dominated party.

Merkel, however, could not avoid criticism surrounding the event, particularly those regarding her decision to withdraw Germany from nuclear energy and to try to establish a relationship with Moscow, including fostering energy dependence on Russia, which a certain percentage of Germans now see as a huge error.

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Accepting the award, Merkel thanked those she said had supported her during her tenure, singling out the dignitaries she had personally invited to the award ceremony, including Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Neil McGregor, the British art historian who she said he helped her expand her cultural horizons.

Merkel also thanked Klinsmann, who, as coach of the German national team, unexpectedly rekindled her interest in football.

She also acknowledged her husband, Joachim Sauer, a leading German quantum chemist.

Merkel has rarely been seen in public since her term ended in December 2021. Last year, she condemned the war in Ukraine and highlighted her diplomatic efforts to prevent the conflict.

She is currently writing a book about her time as chancellor, which should be published in the fall of 2024.

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