German challenger Schulz slams Merkel as aloof as campaign heats up

TAHA JAWASHI  AFP  Getty Images

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that sanctions against Russian Federation will be lifted when there is no reason for them.

"France and Germany unfortunately have to acknowledge that the security situation in the East of Ukraine has not significantly improved", French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a joint statement.

Merkel, whose conservatives have a double-digit lead over the center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in polls ahead of the September 24 elections, also ruled out a coalition with Germany's far-left Left party.

With less than a month until the German elections, Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her Open Borders Policy for illegal migrants on German television over the weekend.

Merkel said Tuesday that it was "important and right" that Germany took in refugees and other migrants in an "exceptional situation" two years ago but it's also important to have "long-term sustainable structures".

"I think we have a very interesting campaign", she said.

"More and more people are noticing how removed Mrs Merkel has become", Mr Schulz, 61, told broadcaster ARD in an interview on Sunday, saying he wants to spare Germany "years of stagnation and political agony".

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"I've already mentioned Martin Schulz at least once so that you wouldn't say that", Merkel responded, when asked about her reticence.

Merkel, 63, has governed with the Social Democrats in a "grand coalition" for eight of her 12 years in office, including the last four. Independent journalism is a basic pillar of democracy that can "never be questioned, even when it is uncomfortable", she had said.

It was only the second campaign appearance by Merkel in formerly communist eastern Germany, where anti-foreigner sentiment is especially pronounced.

He homed in on a report in news magazine Der Spiegel at the weekend which claimed that Merkel was using police and army helicopters on the campaign trail but that her party was only paying a fraction of market rates.

"The economic coherence [in the eurozone] in terms of research and development, sovereign debt and many other things leave something to be desired", Merkel said, adding that the EU's banking union and digital single market remained works in progress.

It has not gone unnoticed that Merkel tends to ignore her SPD challenger, rarely referring to him by name.

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