Angela Merkel: 'Chancellor of the free world'

By Updated at 2015-12-09 20:56:43 +0000

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It's time we build bridges instead of walls. In late August, when tens of thousands of migrants fleeing war in the Middle East streamed into Hungary, threatening a humanitarian crisis, Merkel agreed to suspend the European Union’s asylum rules and allow them to continue into Germany. She declared to skeptical countrymen: “Wir schaffen das,” which translates as, "We can do this."

Time magazine named German Chancellor Angela Merkel its 2015 "Person of the Year" on Wednesday, noting her resilience and leadership when faced with the refugee crisis and turmoil in the European Union over its currency this year.

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TIME Person of the Year 2015: Angela Merkel

In a statement explaining the magazine's choice, managing editor Nancy Gibbs said despite crises in the region that caused "reason to wonder whether Europe could continue to exist," Merkel, 61, emerged as an "indispensable player."

"For asking more of her country than most politicians would dare, for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience and for providing steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply, Angela Merkel is TIME’s Person of the Year," Gibbs wrote.

In response to the news, Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert told a government news conference: "I am sure the chancellor will cherish this as an incentive in her job."

Merkel celebrated her 10-year anniversary as chancellor last month, making her the European Union’s longest-serving leader.

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Pack Leader Merkel, here hosting heads of G-7 nations ahead of a June meeting in southern Germany, has marshaled international consensus on crises in Ukraine and Syria

For years she was seen as a cautious, risk-averse leader who paid close attention to public opinion in formulating policy. But her leadership in the Ukraine crisis last year, her clinching of a deal this summer to keep Greece in the euro zone and her stance in the refugee crisis have changed that view.

Time also noted her leadership this year in leading the West's response to Vladimir Putin's "creeping theft of Ukraine" and welcoming refugees to Germany despite "the reflex to slam doors, build walls and trust no one."

She is the first individual woman to hold the title since Corazon Aquino in 1986, though women have been honored as part of a group. Last year, a group of Ebola doctors and survivors won the title.


TIME Person of the Year 2015: Angela Merkel

By Karl Vick / Berlin with Simon Shuster

Germany heads for 1m refugees in 2015 as the U.S. lags far behind

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