German Chancellor Olaf Scholz takes the oath from President of the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) Baerbel Bas during a session at the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) in Berlin on December 8, 2021. AFP
The German parliament elected Scholz as the country’s ninth post-World War II chancellor, replacing Angela Merkel, whose tenure lasted for 16 years.
French President Emmanuel Macron said in a welcoming tweet that “we will write the next chapter together. For the French, for the Germans, for the Europeans.”
Macron also thanked Merkel for her 16-year-tenure, saying that he will “never forget the lessons of history,” and thanked the former chancellor for doing so much for to move Europe forwards.
In response, Scholz stated that his first official trip will be to Paris on Friday, where he will hold talks with Macron before heading to Brussels.
Furthermore, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen posted a tweet saying “Congratulations, dear Olaf Scholz, on your election and appointment as federal chancellor. I wish you a good start and look forward to further trusting cooperation for a strong Europe.”
Von Der Leyen is a member of outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrat party and served in her cabinet before moving to Brussels, Scholz, on the other hand, hails from the rival Social Democrat party.
Additionally, European Council Chief Charles Michel congratulated Scholz on Wednesday and vowed to work with him for a stronger EU.
“Looking forward to working together for a strong and sovereign Europe,” Michel said on Twitter.
Michel also thanked Merkel for her “many years of trust and cooperation.”
The fourth to congratulate Scholz was Russian President Vladimir Putin, who expressed his keenness to foster constructive ties with Germany’s new leader and maintain relations between the two countries, the Kremlin said on Wednesday.
“We are counting on continuity, on the fact that constructive relations will develop between the president and the new chancellor, that the German side will continue to proceed from the understanding that there is no alternative to dialogue to resolve the most difficult differences,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
Scholz’ incoming government has pledged a tougher line with authoritarian states such as Russia after the business-driven pragmatism of the Merkel years.
Despite their bitter differences, Merkel and Putin, who spoke each other’s languages, managed to keep an open line of communication throughout the outgoing German leader’s years in office.
Merkel was a proponent of direct talks with Putin, and her ambivalent stance on Russia frequently alienated her partners, particularly in eastern Europe.
Case in point is the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that is set to carry Russian gas to Germany, which several eastern European countries believe will embolden Moscow at their expense.
Lastly, China’s President Xi Jinping also congratulated Olaf Scholz on Wednesday, affirming Beijing’s willingness to work with Germany’s new Chancellor to “promote bilateral ties to a new level,” Xinhua News Agency reported.
“China is willing to consolidate and deepen political mutual trust and expand exchanges and cooperation in various fields with Germany,” Xi told Scholz.
Xi’s swift congratulatory message for Scholz stands in stark contrast with Beijing’s weeks-long silence before congratulating US President Biden after he won the US presidential elections last November.
China is Germany’s largest trading partner, with 213.2 billion euros worth of goods traded between the two countries last year, according to the German government’s statistics.