Out of sight, out of mind – this is how you can describe the phenomenon of Angela Merkel. Days, weeks, months: as if she had never been there. How diffused. Puff. Is that a strategy? She had every reason to.
Merkel, who was chancellor for 16 years and chairwoman of the CDU for 18 years, has thus evaded any suspicion. Or at least she will think so.
Maybe that was the case. In the near future it could suddenly be over.
Ever since Olaf Scholz moved into the Chancellery, after her departure on December 8, Merkel has had a message from her office distributed on Ukraine. Content: That she stands by all her decisions and otherwise supports the current government. That was able to be inevitable. In addition, interviews, explanations? None.
Almost private in Bellevue
The only thing that was public and yet largely unnoticed was her participation in the award ceremony for Ulrich Matthes at Bellevue Palace in early May. Matthes is a self-confessed Merkel, and vice versa. Which makes their visit more of a private thing. Incidentally, Merkel said nothing.
Now she is gradually creeping back. Starting with feel-good dates in June. First, a farewell speech by Reiner Hoffmann, the long-standing head of the DGB, who was often her welcome conversation partner. Then an encounter with Alexander Osang, Spiegel journalist, author, who has known Merkel for a long time and who came very close to her with his descriptions of the Berliner Ensemble, practically within walking distance of her apartment.
Feel-good appointments – only with them Merkel becomes visible and perceptible again; there can be other appointments afterwards. And this is made clear by someone of all people who was once considered “mum’s smartest” before he fell out of favor due to a failed election campaign in North Rhine-Westphalia and became the only minister that the former chancellor ever dismissed of her own accord: Norbert Röttgen.
He holds up the “mirror” to Merkel. With regard to Russia and Nord Stream, Röttgen says that the CDU in the government gave in to industry pressure for available, cheap gas “all too easily”, while “completely ignoring the geopolitical risks”. And that the CDU gave in to strong pressure from its coalition partner, the SPD, for a kind of appeasement towards Russia. “The coalition peace and the peace with the economy were given too much weight and the associated dangers for the country’s independence were underestimated,” says Röttgen.
Now it’s Merkel’s turn
Who he means by the “man” is crystal clear: Merkel. He doesn’t even have to give her name for that. Not even for this, well, threat: “During the war it’s certainly good to focus on the current situation. When it’s over, mistakes should be dealt with. From everyone involved.” Criticism of Schröder and Steinmeier was yesterday. Now it’s Merkel’s turn. Because she was involved.
An examination of the Russia policy of her years seems possible in the Bundestag; to the “serious failure” that it was “simply assumed” that Vladimir Putin shared the German view of the world and would not invade, “although 180,000 soldiers were already standing at the border”. Röttgen finds this “simply naive”.
The former Chancellor is not only targeting the opposition: Röttgen – and Friedrich Merz as CDU leader will not stop him. The saying “friend, enemy, party friend” comes to mind. That can go awry for Merkel.