BERLIN (AP) — Former Chancellor Angela Merkel was awarded Germany’s highest honor on Monday, recognizing her near-record 16 years at the helm of the country.
President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will award the four-term Chancellor the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit. Two of his others were West Germany’s first leader, Konrad Adenauer, and Helmut Kohl, who led Germany to reunification.
Merkel, 68, was the first woman to lead Germany and the first chancellor to grow up behind the Iron Curtain in communist East Germany.
She stepped down in December 2021, leaving behind a reputation for leading Europe’s largest economy through a string of crises, including the global financial crisis, the eurozone debt crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. She did not seek her fifth term, ending her tenure as her second-longest-serving leader in post-World War II Germany. This was 10 days shorter than her former mentor Cole’s record.
Merkel’s legacy has come under increasing critical scrutiny since her resignation, largely due to Russia’s all-out aggression into Ukraine. He said a much-criticized peace deal in eastern Ukraine in 2017 bought Kiev precious time.
She also made no apologies for the government’s decision to purchase large amounts of natural gas from Russia, Germany’s main gas supplier, when she resigned, saying last year that these decisions made sense “from the point of view of the time”. said.
Since her resignation, Merkel has stayed relatively low profile and out of the current political fray. Her successor, Olaf Scholz, is expected to attend the ceremony on Monday.
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