Merkel answers public’s questions on YouTube

Chancellor Angela Merkel took to the virtual airwaves of YouTube on Friday in her first question and answer session with the public – with the most popular question being about cannabis legalisation.

Merkel answers public's questions on YouTube

But viewers keen to see what Merkel had to say about making joints legal will have to wait – she is answering the ten most popular questions in reverse order, over three sessions.

Thus in Friday’s eight-minute broadcast she tackled the topics of MPs wages, pensions, healthcare options for high-earners and politicians’ motivations. The questions were posed in a semi-formal setting, by a young man in a suit, although no tie.

The first question about why politicians and civil servants were not included in the statutory health care system, although they are responsible for it, she answered with details of how the system works, although did not directly respond to the query.

The second question was why MPs set their own wages. She said that MPs think carefully about their wages, but decided to set their pay at the same level as mayors of mid-sized towns.

When asked about the other activities of MPs, with the suggestion that they were little more than lobbyists, she said there were some advantages to having MPs with different experiences and that they were transparent about who was doing what.

A question about whether the question and answer process was a waste of time and whether the questions would go in one ear and out the other, provoked Merkel to call that a “bold statement”.

“I became a politician from passion, and find the questions interesting. That is why I always make an effort to answer truthfully and give the level of answer users are expecting.”

More than 1,700 questions were submitted by the public after it was announced that Merkel was going to offer videoed answers. YouTube users then voted for which questions they most urgently wanted her to address – with the matter of cannabis legalisation taking the top spot.

Episodes two and three, set for broadcast on Monday and November 31, the questions will broaden out into topics such as the legalization of cannabis and political bribery.

The video had been viewed more than 19,000 times by Saturday afternoon.

The Local/jcw/hc

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Germany’s defence minister visits Ukraine: ministry

Germany's Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht made a surprise visit to Ukraine on Saturday, her first since Russia's invasion in February, as Kyiv urges Berlin to send it battle tanks.

Germany's defence minister visits Ukraine: ministry

Lambrecht visited the southern port city of Odessa, the German defence ministry said in a statement, without saying how long the trip had lasted. It added on Twitter that she had met her Ukrainian counterpart Oleksii Reznikov.

So far, no NATO country has supplied Western battle tanks to Kyiv.

Ukraine has repeatedly sought Leopard battle tanks from Germany to aid in its counter-attack against Russia, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government has refused.

Scholz has said he doesn’t want to go it alone on arms supplies and will only take decisions in consultation with his Western allies.

Lambrecht reiterated this stance in Odessa: “We will always confer with our partners about what Ukraine needs,” she said.

“From my impressions today, air defence and artillery are currently at the forefront,” she told public broadcaster ARD.

She added that she had seen how the “populations were tormented by drones”.

Lambrecht’s visit came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the annexation of the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson.

These annexations have been unanimously condemned by Ukraine’s allies.

“Germany will never recognise the results of the sham referendums” in the four regions, Scholz told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone on Wednesday, according to the chancellor’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit.

Scholz travelled to Ukraine in June, and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has visited Kyiv twice.