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Dutch journalist unsettles Merkel with questioning

The Local · 27 Oct 2009, 11:21

Published: 27 Oct 2009 11:21 GMT+01:00

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The video, already viewed a quarter of million times on YouTube, shows Rob Savelberg, Berlin correspondent for daily newspaper De Telegraaf, at a press conference this weekend where Merkel presented the details of the coalition agreement between her conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).

After Merkel confirmed that Wolfgang Schäuble would switch from the Interior Ministry to the Finance Ministry, Savelberg had an uncomfortable question for her: how could he be trusted to handle the finances of 82 million Germans if he once misplaced an illegal cash donation now worth €50,000 from the disgraced and imprisoned arms dealer Karlheinz Schreiber?

Visibly unsettled, Merkel manages at first to mumble only that she has faith in Schäuble, who was forced to step down as the leader of the CDU ten years ago because of his role in a massive political slush-fund scandal surrounding former Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

But Savelberg refuses to be placated by her answer and to widespread laughter asks: “How can he handle money if he forgets about 100,000 in cash in his desk?”

The chancellor then replies she won’t say anymore on the matter before nodding with a thin-lipped smile in the Dutch reporter’s direction while Merkel’s coalition partners, FDP leader Guido Westerwelle and Horst Seehofer from the CDU’s Bavarian CSU allies, look on in bemusement.

Story continues below…

Ironically, Merkel and everyone at the press conference was aware that she owes her present position to Schäuble’s downfall a decade ago – possibly one reason he was politically rehabilitated four years ago, when he became her interior minister.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:28 October 27, 2009 by berlinski
If I forget to pay my taxes, can I simply brush it aside like Merkel does? All jokes aside though, on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall, we have the new government obviously keeping secrets from us. Do we get an answer to this awkward question or do we simply shut up and not ask awkward questions like she wants us to?
17:17 October 27, 2009 by delvek
Comrades, Comrades ... whats a few hundred thousand between friends?
19:16 October 27, 2009 by abolish
Great job, lame chancellor doesn't know how to react! Finally somebody who's not afraid of systematic discrimination has dared to step up & use his freedom of free expression. And of course it can't be the case that a German guy asks the very same question? The day every individual confidently learns to questions these crappiest German administrations, Germany would be a really free country where government, laws & public workers will be serving citizens whose taxes are their sources of income & not the other way around which is unfortunately the case right now....
19:43 October 27, 2009 by jillesvangurp
The real question is why it takes a Dutch journalist to ask this kind of thing? I mean, it's a fair question given the man's past. You don't just step over it and pretend nothing happened. You'd expect German parliament members to ask similar questions, maybe stimulated by a German press that does its homework.
21:43 October 27, 2009 by Wim van Couveren
The real question is why someone from the TELEGRAAF, = BZ or the worst/wurst paper in the Netherlands would even dare to ask any serious question in the first place. Never mind this same paper notoriusly supported the Dutch nazis during the war.

Plus are there not enough scandals in Holland for this errant journalist to chase. Don't misunderstand me, the question was perhaps a good one, seeing as how all the German journalists tried to look away or were embarrassed. However it would have been better coming from serious newspaper.
01:34 October 28, 2009 by nilweiss
I wish more "journalists" would ask the right questions.
12:02 October 29, 2009 by abolish
@Nilweiss: It's a very optimistic wish that every German citizen should make & in fact practice himself to bring the real exercise of freedom of free expression in society & replace lack of confidence & literal bureaucratic laws with it!
08:42 October 30, 2009 by derExDeutsche
this type of behavior is nothing new to politics.

However, it seems to be a VERY common theme these days. almost everyone on Obama's financial team is a major tax crook and market de-regulator turned regulator.

You Euros would be impressed. Europe's President Obama is looking more European every day.

All he needs now is a sex scandal to gloss over the real issues, and he is ready for deifecation. Why don't you make him the EU President? He'll be looking for a new job in 3 years.
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