Since leaving the chancellery, Angela Merkel has let around six months go by without making any public appearances. Now the former chancellor wants to speak again. The start is a question and answer session in Berlin. What comes after that is still open. She only knows exactly what she doesn't want.
In the evening (8 p.m.), ex-Chancellor Angela Merkel will be answering questions from a journalist for the first time since the end of her chancellorship. Among other things, it is eagerly awaited how she will comment on her Russia policy and her relationship with President Vladimir Putin against the background of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. According to the invitation, the 67-year-old wants to talk to the "Spiegel" reporter Alexander Osang about "the challenging questions of our time". The event is organized by the Aufbau publishing house and the theater "Berliner Ensemble". Osang has portrayed Merkel several times.
After handing over office to her successor in the Federal Chancellery, Olaf Scholz, Merkel announced a rest period of several months and a public break. She had only made a few written statements about the Russian attack on Ukraine in the past few months.
Last Wednesday, Merkel ended her public reluctance and gave the eulogy when the long-time DGB boss Reiner Hoffmann said goodbye. As Chancellor off duty, she did not want to make any assessments from the sidelines, she said. But Russia's invasion marked too much a blatant breach of international law in the history of Europe after the end of the Second World War. She supports all efforts by the federal government, the EU, the USA, NATO, the G7 and the UN to "stop this barbaric war of aggression by Russia".
During her term in office, Merkel always made it a point not to let the thread of talks with Putin break. She wanted to keep a window open for diplomatic crisis solutions. In the small circle she had left no doubt about her assessment of Putin as a cold, calculating tactician who she knew also had to reckon with lies.
In view of Germany's dependence on Russian energy supplies, Merkel's handling of the Russian-German Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline has been criticized. In the meantime, SPD Chancellor Olaf Scholz has stopped the project.
Merkel had been Chancellor since 2005 and did not stand again in the federal elections on September 26. According to information from those around her, the ex-chancellor relaxed in the first few weeks after leaving office near Templin in the Uckermark, where she has a house, or on long walks on the Baltic Sea. She has developed into a fan of audio books and enjoys classics such as "Macbeth", the tragedy by William Shakespeare. During a holiday in Italy with close confidants, Merkel had to realize how much she is still in the public interest and cannot go unnoticed.
It is said that Merkel wants to choose her post-office appointments in a targeted manner in order to give one or the other impetus. But she will not make life difficult for the new federal government from the sidelines with smart-ass comments. Anyone who wants her advice can get it, but internally. Merkel has received many inquiries from the scientific community for guest professorships, but has so far turned them down. A planned book project with her memoirs is also likely to take several more years.
The appearance in the "Berliner Ensemble" is part of Merkel's plan for a smooth return to public life. The background to the conversation is a book entitled "So what is my country?", published in 2021 by Aufbau Verlag. It contains three of Merkel's speeches: her speech on the Day of German Unity in 2021, the speech to the Israeli Knesset in 2008 and statements about her decision in 2015 to keep the German borders open in the refugee situation at the time.
According to reports, Merkel wants to avoid the impression that she feels like a side or shadow chancellor. She wanted to show how one could act as a former chancellor who, unlike her predecessors Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schröder, had not been voted out of office, but left office voluntarily. According to this information, Merkel does not want to take on supervisory board mandates like Schröder, for example, with Russian gas companies. However, it is quite possible that there will soon be further public appearances in talks with journalists and also interviews again.