Former Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel was honoured with the country’s highest honour for her achievements in office. The Grand Cross award was handed to her in a ceremony in Berlin by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. The Order of Merit entails no financial reward.
Merkel, Germany’s first female Chancellor, led the country from 2005 to 2021. Notably, only two former chancellors of Germany, Konrad Adenauer and Helmut Kohl, have received the Grand Cross award earlier. All three former leaders belong to the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU).
Merkel led Germany from 2005 to 2021, serving four terms in office. She did not seek a fifth term. She was the first woman to take the post of chancellor and the first German head of government to have grown up in socialist East Germany. In his speech, Steinmeier praised Merkel for EU unity. “At a time when our continent threatened to break apart, you held together center and periphery, north and south, east and west,” he said, addressing the former chancellor.
Steinmeier said that Merkel had “contributed to the continued existence of the Eurozone” and helped ensure that no country was forced to drop the euro as its currency despite opposition from parts of the German public and even within her own party. He also praised her for “the art of negotiation and the ability to compromise.”