Merkel to attend G20 summit with likely successor Olaf Scholz

BERLIN — German Chancellor Angela Merkel will bring her likely successor Olaf Scholz to the G20 summit in Rome this weekend, various German media outlets reported.

Scholz’s Social Democrats won the general election on September 26 and are in talks with both the Free Democrats (FDP) and the Greens to build a coalition government by the end of this year. Scholz currently serves as finance minister.

“Quite a historic thing,” the joint appearances by Merkel and Scholz will “signal a great deal of continuity in the G20 process,” newspaper FAZ quoted government sources as saying.

In addition to a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden at the upcoming summit, bilateral talks from the German side are scheduled with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as well as leaders from other G20 nations.

This is the first in-person gathering of G20 leaders since 2019, with last year’s version held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The summit in Rome is expected to focus on the management of pandemic consequences across different countries as well as the global effort to halt climate change.

Ahead of the summit, pressure on politicians has been mounting to be more ambitious when tackling various issues — most notably man-made climate change, but also hunger and inequality.

“Meeting in Rome at such a time of public health and economic turmoil amid a worsening climate crisis, G20 leaders have a choice — either take urgent action against COVID-19, hunger, and climate change, or continue doing what they have been doing, talking some of the talk but walking none of the walk,” Jörn Kalinski, a senior adviser at NGO Oxfam, said in a press release Thursday.

The summit, which coincides with the onset of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, won’t be Scholz’s first appearance on the international stage. He has had to attend international events in his role as finance minister, including a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington earlier this month, where he made headlines in Germany, further boosting his personal approval rating in the wake of his party’s election victory.

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