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POLITICS

Chavez launches new attack on Merkel

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez launched a fresh attack on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying she was "throwing stones" without any provocation.

Chavez launches new attack on Merkel
Chávez and Sócrates visit an oil field on May 14. Photo: DPA

Visiting an oil field in the central state of Guaricó with Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates, Chávez said he had discussed Merkel over the telephone on Wednesday with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

“He told me he was about to receive the German chancellor. And I said, ‘Please give her my regards.’ She comes here and throws stones; I don’t know why some European heads of state come here to meet with us but start throwing stones before they even arrive,” Chávez said.

The spat between the populist Venezuelan leader and the German chancellor began over the weekend after Merkel said leftist Chávez does not speak for all of Latin America. Chávez, known for his incendiary commentary on state leaders, fired back on Sunday by calling Merkel a political descendent of Adolf Hitler.

Chávez said that Merkel, a Christian Democrat, is part of the political right wing, “the same right that supported Hitler and fascism.”

Merkel largely brushed off the comment before beginning her first state visit to Latin America on Wednesday. A spokesman said on Monday that Chávez’s remarks spoke for themselves.

The Venezuelan foreign ministry in Caracas said in a communique that the German government’s commentary was “unfriendly” and that Berlin should accord Caracas more respect and refrain from getting involved in its internal affairs.

Reuters reported that Merkel continued to avoid responding directly to Chávez on Wednesday.

“President Lula can relax; I can look after myself,” Merkel said, according to Reuters, after reporters asked whether she would ask the Brazilian president to intervene.

POLITICS

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

Germany will reinstate its so-called debt brake in 2023 after suspending it for three years to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The government will borrow 17.2 billion euros ($18.1 million) next year, adhering to the rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits

Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output, despite new spending as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new borrowing set out in a draft budget to be presented to the cabinet on Friday is almost 10 billion euros higher than a previous figure for 2023 announced in April.

However, “despite a considerable increase in costs, the debt brake will be respected,” one of the sources said.

Although Germany is traditionally a frugal nation, the government broke its own debt rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and unleashed vast financial aid to steer the economy through the crisis.

READ ALSO: Debt-averse Germany to take on new borrowings to soften pandemic blow

The government has this year unveiled a multi-billion-euro support package to help companies in Europe’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia.

Berlin has also spent billions to diversify its energy supply to reduce its dependence on Russia, as well as investing heavily in plans to tackle climate change and push digital technology.

But despite the additional spending, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has maintained the aim to reinstate the debt brake in 2023.

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