BERLIN, May 16 (Xinhua) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized that she felt an increased sense of responsibility for Europe during an interview with the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung on Thursday.
“Many people, including myself, are worried about Europe. This gives me an even greater sense of responsibility to take care of the fate of this Europe of ours together with others,” said Merkel.
Merkel’s comments fueled speculation about a possible move for the German Chancellor to an important post in the European Union (EU) in the near future.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently made it clear that he thought it conceivable that Merkel could assume a role at European level after her time as Chancellor.
“I cannot imagine at all that Angela Merkel would disappear into oblivion,” Juncker told the Funke Media Group at the end of April. With a view to a possible EU office for Merkel, Juncker added that “she would be highly qualified.”
On Thursday, the German Chancellor also discussed her good relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron.
Although Merkel admitted differences of opinion with Macron during the interview, she felt that their relationship was unchanged.
“Of course, we are wrestling with each other. There are differences in mentality between us and differences in our understanding of roles,” she noted.
Similarly, on Wednesday evening, the French President said with regard to Germany that he believed “in fruitful confrontation, in other words, proposing to test one’s partner.”
Speaking in Paris, Macron said “we must be able to accept momentary differences of opinion, not be in complete agreement on everything.”
In her interview with the German newspaper Thursday, Merkel emphasized that Germany and France nonetheless “naturally” agreed on the broader lines and always found compromises.
“In this way we are doing a lot for Europe, even today,” the German Chancellor said about her relationship with Macron.
Merkel rejected the accusation that, in comparison to Macron, she provided less impetus for European policy, saying that together, they “always find a middle ground.”
As an example, Merkel cited the “enormous progress” in Germany’s and France’s common defense policy.
Back in November, France and Germany announced they would develop a fighter plane and a tank together.
“It is a great mutual compliment and a sign of trust if one relies more on each other in defense policy,” Merkel said.
Looking back at the past five years, she described “Britain’s decision to withdraw from the EU” as the most important turning point for Europe.
Merkel also referred to the euro crisis and refugee crisis as major challenges but defended her response to them.
“If we had not acted or had acted completely differently in the euro crisis and the refugee crisis, I think the consequences would have been much worse than some problems today,” Merkel said.
These decisions were not made on the drawing board, but were “answers to real life”. In particular, “when almost 70 million people worldwide are fleeing, it was understandable that Europe had to deal with at least a million of them,” stressed Merkel.
The German Chancellor said she understood that this could lead to “social controversies” but that they needed to be dealt with.
Overall, Merkel emphasized that there was “no doubt that Europe must reposition itself in a changed world.”
Looking ahead, she warned that “if Europe could no longer be founded on a future-oriented foundation, the work for peace would also be in danger more quickly than one would think.”
For Merkel, the “material foundations” of Germany and Europe are essential because without them, “we will neither be able to meet our social nor our ecological demands, nor will we be able to help other states.”