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POLITICS

‘I’m a feminist’, says Germany’s Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday described herself as a feminist, saying her position on equality between men and women had developed over the years.

'I'm a feminist', says Germany's Merkel
Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa Pool | Kay Nietfeld

“Essentially, it’s about the fact that men and women are equal, in the sense of participation in society and in life in general. And in that sense I can say, ‘yes, I’m a feminist’,” Merkel told reporters after a meeting with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

“For me, the word ‘feminism’ is linked to a specific movement which has fought a great deal to put these issues on society’s agenda,” said Germany’s first woman leader.

It is the first time that the 67-year-old – who is scheduled to step down following a general election later this month after 16 years in power – has spoken so overtly about an issue that in the past she has been more cagey about.

In the past, “I was a bit shyer when I said it. But it’s more thought-out now. And in that sense, I can say that we should all be feminists,” she said.

“I must say, however, that something has changed in our country, well, in Germany it has,” she continued.

“I wouldn’t have noticed 20 years ago if a panel discussion had been all men. I no longer think that’s OK. There’s something missing,” Merkel said.

On Tuesday, Merkel lauded her CDU party’s candidate Armin Laschet as the best choice to succeed her, as polls showed the gaffe-prone Rhinelander still trailing badly ahead of this month’s election.

Laschet, the chancellor candidate for Merkel’s conservative CDU/CSU bloc, was long the favourite to be the next German leader, but his ratings have plummeted following a series of missteps.

READ ALSO: Merkel backs Laschet as CDU lags behind in polls 

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POLITICS

‘Russia must not win this war,’ says Germany’s Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged once again to stand with Ukraine against Russia - but said Ukraine's bid to join the EU cannot be sped up.

'Russia must not win this war,' says Germany's Scholz

Scholz said the war in Ukraine was the greatest crisis facing the EU in its history, but that solidarity was strong. 

“We are all united by one goal: Russia must not win this war, Ukraine must prevail,” Scholz said in the speech to the Bundestag on Thursday.

Putin thinks he can use bombs to dictate the terms for peace, the SPD politician said. 

“He’s wrong. He was wrong in judging the unity of Ukrainians, and the determination of our alliances. Russia will not dictate peace because the Ukrainians won’t accept it and we won’t accept it.”

Scholz said it was only when Putin understands that he cannot break Ukraine’s defence capability that he would “be prepared to seriously negotiate peace”.

For this, he said, it is important to strengthen Ukraine’s defences. 

Scholz also pledged to help cut Europe free from its reliance on Russian energy. 

The Chancellor welcomed the accession of Finland and Sweden to Nato. “With you at our side, Nato, Europe will become stronger and safer,” he said.

However, Scholz dampened expectations for Ukraine’s quick accession to the EU.

“There are no shortcuts on the way to the EU,” Scholz said, adding that an exception for Ukraine would be unfair to the Western Balkan countries also seeking membership.

“The accession process is not a matter of a few months or years,” he said.

Scholz had in April called for Western Balkan countries’ efforts to join the EU to be accelerated amid a “new era” in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Last October, EU leaders at a summit in Slovenia only reiterated their “commitment to the enlargement process” in a statement that disappointed the six candidates for EU membership — Albania, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Kosovo – who had hoped for a concrete timetable.

“For years, they have been undertaking intensive reforms and preparing for accession,” Scholz said on Thursday.

“It is not only a question of our credibility that we keep our promises to them. Today more than ever, their integration is also in our strategic interest,” he said.

The chancellor said he would be attending the EU summit at the end of May “with the clear message that the Western Balkans belong in the European Union”.

Scholz also called for other ways to help Ukraine in the short term, saying the priority was to “concentrate on supporting Ukraine quickly and pragmatically”.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron has also said it will take “decades” for a candidate like Ukraine to join the EU, and suggested building a broader political club beyond the bloc that could also include Britain.

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