Merkel sits through anthems after shaking spells

Nellie Chapman
July 13, 2019

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she knows she must look after her health, offering reassurance on Thursday after three bouts of shaking on previous public occasions raised questions about her condition.

In an unprecedented arrangement for a state visit, Merkel and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen remained seated during the playing of both countries' national anthems at reception outside the chancellery in Berlin on Thursday.

The first time she was seen trembling was during the welcoming ceremony organised for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy who arrived in Berlin with an official visit on June 18.

"We are working for Mrs von der Leyen to be elected", Merkel, also a conservative, told a news conference after meeting Denmark's prime minister in Berlin. "I said recently that I am in a phase of processing the last military honours with President Zelenskiy".

"I will have to live with it for a while now, but I am very well and people don't have to be anxious", she added.

Frederiksen, who has just assumed office but had met Merkel at last week's European Union summit, told Thursday's news conference: "When you ask me that directly about how I experienced the chancellor, I'd say just as strong and competent as my impression was before I came to Berlin today".

On Wednesday, she gave no details of any medical advice or treatment she has been given.

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Merkel, who has no history of serious health issues, is also facing growing pressure to be more open about her ailment. Her office has given no explanation for the shaking episodes.

German media continued to speculate over possible causes of the shaking, which ranged from low sugar levels to early-stage diabetes and neurological problems such as Alzheimer's. On Sunday, she is due to attend France's annual national day military parade. After the meeting on Wednesday, she said she was "working through" a bout of shaking that first occurred in mid-June, but insisted she was fine and that "just as it happened one day, so it will disappear".

At Wednesday's news conference, Merkel was asked twice about her health.

"Let me just say this on the question of health".

A second shaking attack took place nine days later when she met the new Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Bellevue Castle.

Merkel made a decision to seek a fourth term in office only after long reflection, and said in November 2016 she was seeking to stay on "if health allows". This need not be Vice Chancellor Olaf Scholz, a member of the Social Democrats - junior partner in Merkel's ruling grand coalition.

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