Tuesday 16 July 2019

'I'm working through it,' says Merkel over shaking

Health concerns: Angela Merkel has suffered three bouts of shaking. Photo: Reuters
Health concerns: Angela Merkel has suffered three bouts of shaking. Photo: Reuters

Jorg Luyken

Angela Merkel has blamed a psychosomatic trigger for her third shaking bout in as many weeks, as she insisted that she is fit to work.

The German Chancellor said she was still processing what had happened during the first such incident at a reception for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky last month.

"I'm doing very well. No one needs to worry," Ms Merkel said after she was once again filmed trying to stop her limbs from trembling. "I am completely convinced that I am still working at a high level.

"I am still in the process of dealing with what happened at the meeting with the Ukrainian president. I've made progress but it's not passed yet."

Ms Merkel, who turns 65 next week, had put the initial incident in mid-June down to dehydration, saying she had felt much better after drinking three cups of water.

A source close to the government said the cause of the repeated shaking was now psychological, with memories of the first incident provoking renewed trembling at events with similar settings.

Mrs Merkel is under pressure from several fronts, struggling to maintain a fragile coalition and protect her legacy in Europe before she steps down as planned in 2021.

She has resisted calls to leave her post early as doubts have been raised over the credibility of her named successor, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.

The latest attack occurred during the playing of the German national anthem at a reception for Antti Rinne, the Finnish prime minister. The trembling appeared less intense.

Media outlets around the world have raised concerns about Ms Merkel's health, but in Germany there has been a notable lack of interest.

This has been put down partly to the chancellor's legendary ability to work through a demanding schedule.

Hours after her second attack on June 28, she flew to Japan for two days of G20 talks before returning to Europe for all-night negotiations on appointments to top EU jobs.

After each incident Ms Merkel has appeared to recover quickly.

German privacy laws and a respect for the affairs of public figures mean there are very few leaks in national press. Previous German chancellors have successfully hidden health issues in the past.

Helmut Schmidt revealed in 2015 he had fallen unconscious at least a hundred times during his chancellorship in the late 70s and early 80 due to a heart condition.

His predecessor Willy Brandt hid serious episodes of depression from the public.

"We Germans don't know how healthy our previous chancellors were or how healthy Mrs Merkel is and we don't care either," Mr Schmidt remarked at the time. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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