BERLIN (Reuters) – Light is at the end of the tunnel and “we will beat this virus”, Chancellor Angela Merkel told Germany on Thursday, just a day after she called on the country to forgive its U-turns on circuit breakers. lockdown during Easter.
Merkel’s decision on Wednesday to cancel plans for an extended Easter holiday to try to break the third wave of COVID-19, approved two days earlier during talks with the governors of Germany’s 16 states, raised fears that she had lost her grip on the crisis.
In his 27-minute speech to lawmakers on Thursday, he acknowledged how difficult life is for many but encouraged them to think positively, arguing that vaccinations offer a way out of the crisis.
“It will take a few more months, but the light at the end of the tunnel is already visible. We will beat this virus! “he told lawmakers in the lower house of the Bundestag parliament.
“Now it is a matter of gathering strength and moving forward in a positive way, despite the difficult situation at the moment. That’s what I want from everyone in this country, ”said Merkel to a standing ovation.
Germany reported another 22,657 infections on Thursday, while the death toll rose by 228 to 75,440. Mortality has fallen from the start of the year when vaccination had not started, but admission to the intensive care unit has continued to increase and the incidence of cases seven days is now 113 compared with 90 last week.
Merkel addressed the Bundestag ahead of a summit of EU leaders on Thursday evening, where she said they would discuss how to ensure more vaccines were made on European soil.
The European Commission has threatened to ban exports to countries such as the UK which have higher vaccination rates but do not export injections to the EU. The aim is to maintain supplies for the residents of the bloc themselves as they face the third wave of the pandemic.
“UK production sites are manufacturing for the UK and the United States doesn’t export, so we depend on what we can make in Europe,” Merkel said.
“We have to assume that the virus, with its mutations, will probably occupy us for a long time so the questions go far beyond this year,” he added.
The UK and the European Commission said on Wednesday that they were discussing how they could work together to create a “win-win” situation on a COVID-19 vaccine after the bloc threatened to take tougher action to curb the export of injection shipments.
In the run-up to the EU summit, Bavarian state Prime Minister Markus Soeder backed calls to control European vaccine exports.
“There needs to be a ban on the export of European vaccines to countries that produce vaccines themselves and do not supply anything to Europe,” he tweeted.
Reporting by Paul Carrel; Edited by Riham Alkousaa and Catherine Evans
Turkey is a “very reliable partner” of the EU in dealing with the refugee crisis, said Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government on Wednesday.
Deputy government spokesman Ulrike Demmer spoke at a press conference in Berlin and expressed Germany’s commitment to the 2016 EU-Turkey refugee deal which effectively stopped the flow of Syrian refugees to Europe.
“The EU-Turkey statement on 18 March 2016 is our mutual success, and it is in the common interest of the EU and Turkey,” said Demmer, who said the EU and Turkey were determined to continue implementing it.
He praised Turkey for hosting nearly 4 million refugees fleeing civil war in neighboring Syria – providing essential services, housing, health and educational support.
“What Turkey has done deserves high recognition,” he said.
Demmer said the European Union’s financial support for Syrian refugees has improved their living conditions, and the agreement has succeeded in stemming irregular migration in the Aegean Sea, saving the lives of refugees.
Merkel is championing the refugee agreement, hoping to stop the influx of refugees after nearly 1 million refugees arrive in Germany.
The agreement has succeeded in significantly reducing the number of crossings in the Aegean Sea, and preventing the loss of life. But EU bureaucratic hurdles and delays in mobilizing promised funds led to sharp criticism by Turkish officials.
The European Union pledged to send € 6 billion ($ 7.1 billion) in 2016 through the end of 2018 to help Turkey care for nearly 2.6 million refugees.
After a delay of nearly two years, the EU completed the final contract under the € 6 billion package in December 2020. But the amount the bloc issued to Syrian refugees remained under € 4.5 billion in March, according to EU figures.
The remaining amount is expected to be disbursed in the coming months, as part of a recently contracted project.
Turkey currently hosts nearly 4 million Syrians, making it the country that hosts the top refuge in the world. Ankara also provides protection and humanitarian assistance to nearly 6 million Syrians in northern Syria.
Turkey has spent more than $ 40 billion of its resources on refugees, and officials underlined that the EU must do more to share the burden fairly.
After nine hours of bickering behind closed doors, Germany’s federal and state governments reached an agreement last Wednesday that aims to systematically dismantle remaining restrictions on COVID-19, despite rising infection rates and the pandemic continues to rage across Europe. Plans drawn up by the chancellor and the president’s minister opened the floodgates for another round of catastrophic mass deaths.
Already weeks before the meeting, repeated outbreaks of the more contagious variant of the coronavirus occurred across Germany due to continued operation of workplaces and reopening of schools and child care facilities. The terms of the deal finalized last week allow states and cities to remove lockdown restrictions on retail, leisure and restaurants.
Over the next four weeks, retail outlets, museums, zoos and outdoor sports facilities will open first with restrictions, followed two weeks later by outdoor restaurants, theaters, cinemas and fitness centers. Two weeks later, “outdoor recreational events” and “contact sports” will be permitted, allowing the “events, travel and hotel” area to be discussed at the next presidential ministerial meeting on March 22.
The agreement explicitly states that reopening of clothing stores, cosmetics shops, gyms and beer gardens will be allowed up to 100 infections per 100,000 population per week – that is, under hundreds or even thousands of deaths per day. The paper states that there is “an opportunity to create additional openings possible in combination with a significant expansion of testing and a test program associated with better contact traceability … even with a higher seven-day incidence of over 50 per 100,000 population”.
Only if the incidence increases above 100 “for three consecutive days” will the so-called “emergency brake” take effect. But this only means returning to the restrictions in place before last week’s decision, which have proven inadequate to prevent the spread of the B117 and B135 variants.
Immunologist Michael Meyer-Hermann tells us daily News on Wednesday that the prerequisite for a “sensible opening strategy” was that “a truly fully traceable and comprehensive cluster of contacts”. At the moment, we are far from that goal, he added. Meyer-Hermann is co-author of a “no COVID” strategy paper, whose signatories have warned of hundreds of thousands of deaths if widespread reopening was implemented in Germany.
The government knows full well that the decisions taken will lead within weeks to a new wave of infections and thousands of deaths. Social Democratic parliamentary deputy Karl Lauterbach, who welcomed the reopening of the business, bluntly stated on Twitter, “By early April, the incidents will be in the top 100.” When incidents rose above 100 in Germany for the first time between November and January, around 1,000 people died each day.
But the loss of human life played almost no role in the inhuman reckoning of heads of government. Instead, bitter conflict between political representatives of financial aristocrats rages over how policies of mass infection, cuts in social spending, and increased corporate profits can be carried out in the face of an increasingly shocked and combat-ready working class.
Daily finances Handelsblatt reported a sharp verbal disagreement between Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) and Bavarian Presidential Minister Markus Söder (Christian Social Union, CSU) over the question of whether “crisis funding” for businesses should be financed by the federal or state governments. Economy Minister Peter Altmeier (CDU) finally expressed satisfaction with the “good results” of the meeting and said happily, “Many demands from a business point of view are being carried out responsibly.”
The profit-making machine will be driven by what the agreement describes as a “four-pronged strategy of vaccine, testing, contact tracing and exposure.” To this end, they aim to double the “actual number of vaccines given per week” and “further develop physician engagement.” The deal also refers to providing “a very large number of rapid tests and self-administered tests.”
In fact, the wide availability of rapid testing and self-testing, which the government cites to justify its reopening agenda, is expected only in early April. Coupled with a shortage of test equipment, the infrastructure and testing plans are also lacking. Chancellor Angela Merkel stated earlier last week at a meeting of the CDU / CSU parliamentary group that we will “definitely need March to establish a comprehensive testing strategy.”
The purchase of private self-testing kits, which are much less reliable than PCR and blood tests, will pose a huge financial burden for low-income workers in particular. Discount supermarket Aldi told public broadcaster ARD that a self-test package would sell for € 25. Health Minister Spahn declined to comment on whether the federal government would cover the cost of the test.
Cologne-based pharmacist Thomas Preis, chairman of the North Rhine Pharmacists Association, told the WDR he estimated the cost of the tests at € 10 each. Store-Manager, writing last week about “great business with coronavirus self-testing,” ran the headline, “Pharmaceutical and biotech companies from around the world can’t wait to join the great business opportunity.”
The German vaccine campaign, which Merkel says is the “second pillar” of its reopening plans, is caught in a vortex of capitalist greed and geopolitical calculations, with the result that 10 weeks after the official launch of the vaccine driver, only 10 percent of those over 70 have been immunized. .
As the text of the agreement acknowledges, “The rapid increase in viral variants as a share of total infections in Germany is causing the number of new infections to start increasing once again.” The experiences of other countries show how dangerous various variants of COVID-19 are.
The death policy was supported by all the major parties. The president of the minister of Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow of the Left Party, who has consistently rejected the regional lockdown and praised the so-called herd immunity policy, told the media last Wednesday, “I am pleased that we are no longer chained to number 35.” This refers to neglect. politicians against a previously agreed rule that no openings will take place unless a seven-day incident drops below 35 per 100,000 population.
Earlier, Ramelow praised the “helping soldiers” for the best-ever peacetime mission. “Referring to the total number of those infected and those who have received the vaccine, Ramelow added that it takes” bold steps “to” make immunization possible for the population. ” It means “accepting the use of the word herd immunity.”
Ahead of the talks planned for next month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked the Greek Cypriot government to show “a willingness to compromise” for the settlement of the Cyprus dispute.
At a press conference in Berlin on Friday, Merkel’s spokesperson said the chancellor spoke with Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday to discuss developments in the Eastern Mediterranean and recent UN invitations to Turkish Greek and Cypriot leaders.
“The Chancellor has expressed his full support for UN efforts,” said Steffen Seibert, adding that the UN-sponsored talks in April will aim to find common ground for negotiations on a solution to the Cyprus problem.
“The Chancellor has underlined that to achieve this, to achieve progress, we need to look at the openness, willingness to compromise and courage on both sides,” he added.
The United Nations has invited the leaders of Turkey and Greek Cypriots, as well as guarantor, of the Turkish, Greek and British states, for informal talks in Geneva from April 27 to April 29.
The Cyprus problem remains unresolved despite a series of attempts in the past two decades, including a failed 2017 UN initiative with the participation of guarantor states.
The island has been divided since 1964 when ethnic attacks forced Turkish Cypriots to retreat to enclaves for their safety.
In 1974, the Greek Cypriot coup aimed at annexing Greece led to the intervention of the Turkish military as a guarantor force to protect. Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded in 1983.
Greek Cypriots in the south entered the EU in 2004, the same year Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN bid – the Annan Plan – to end decades of strife in a referendum.
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany is in the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic, Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers in her conservative party, two sources at the meeting told Reuters on Tuesday.
“We are now in the third wave,” they quoted him as saying and said he warned that the easing of the lockdown measures introduced late last year and extended to March 7 must be carried out carefully and gradually.
The closure of all non-essential businesses and border controls with Austria and the Czech Republic, where there are outbreaks linked to more infectious variants of the virus, have helped Germany bring down new daily COVID-19 infections.
But the slow rollout of vaccinations and the risk of a large outbreak of a fast-spreading variant already identified in Germany could make loosening restrictions more difficult.
“We cannot accept the ups and downs,” Merkel told participants, suggesting she wants to return to normal life with care to avoid having to re-apply lockdown measures if infections start to escalate again.
He added that making rapid tests more available and increasing testing capacity could make returning to normality more durable, the source said.
Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Written by Joseph Nasr; Edited by Madeline Chambers