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Parties: Merz announces reception for Merkel’s 70th birthday

Parties: Merz announces reception for Merkel’s 70th birthday

The relationship between CDU chairman Friedrich Merz and former Chancellor Angela Merkel has long been considered strained. Now Merz is making a statement with an announcement.

The CDU leadership wants to honor former party leader and Chancellor Angela Merkel with a reception on her 70th birthday. At the ceremony in the Academy of Sciences in Berlin on September 25, art historian Horst Bredekamp will give a lecture, party leader Friedrich Merz announced at a board meeting of his party in Berlin, according to information from participants provided to the German Press Agency. The ceremony, which is part of the CDU’s “Berlin Talks” series, was agreed with Merkel. The former Chancellor turns 70 on July 17.

Merz subsequently told the German Press Agency that he had informed the CDU committees “that we will celebrate the 70th birthday of our former chairwoman and Chancellor Angela Merkel on September 25. We are looking forward to it.”

Merkel ousted Merz from the chairmanship of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in 2002. Since then, the relationship between the current party and CDU/CSU parliamentary group leader and the former chancellor has been severely strained. As in previous years, Merkel did not accept an invitation to the CDU party conference in May. Some in the CDU accuse her of becoming increasingly distant from her party. Last December, Merkel withdrew from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which is close to the CDU.

Signal of reconciliation?

Merz is being criticized by critics within his own ranks for making the CDU more conservative than it was under Merkel. The fact that the party leader is now announcing the birthday party himself could also be seen as a concession to Merkel supporters within his own ranks. Since taking office, Merz has made a strong effort to bring the party back together after the Union’s disaster in the 2021 federal election and going into opposition after 16 years of Merkel’s government.

The celebration, which is part of the CDU’s “Berlin Talks” series, is to take place in the Leibniz Hall of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences – a place with symbolic significance for Merkel, who holds a doctorate in physics. A good 200 guests are said to be invited, including former ministers of the Merkel governments, companions and friends.

Art historian gives speech for Merkel

Bredekamp is Professor of Medieval and Modern Art History at Humboldt University in Berlin. In 2023 he published under the title “Berlin on the Mediterranean – A Short Architectural History of Longing for the South”. His research focuses on iconoclasm – the deliberate destruction of images for political or religious reasons, Romanesque sculpture, Renaissance and Mannerist art, political iconography, art and technology, and new media. Merkel has known Bredekamp for a long time – for example, the professor accompanied the former chancellor on a visit to Florence in 2022, as a spokeswoman for Merkel confirmed.

Similar celebrations for the 60th and 50th birthdays

The event is part of a series of similar events that have already been held to honor Merkel on her 60th and 50th birthdays. For example, the then Chancellor had requested a lecture by the Konstanz historian Jürgen Osterhammel for her 60th birthday in 2014. The topic at the time was “Pasts: On the time horizons of history.” One of Osterhammel’s theses at the time was that the social upheavals of the past decades in the world had not been predicted in time or correctly by historians or “think tanks.”

In 2004, Frankfurt-based brain researcher Wolf Singer gave the keynote speech for Merkel’s 50th birthday – also as part of a special edition of the CDU discussion forum “Berliner Gespräche”. The topic: “The brain: an example of the self-organization of complex systems.”

Source: Stern

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