Merkel plays it safe after shaking spells

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 12 Jul 2019

German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday insisted she took care of her health after remaining seated during national anthems at an official ceremony, in a rare change of protocol apparently to prevent a repeat of uncontrollable shaking.

With questions swirling about Merkel's health after she suffered three episodes of shaking in public in less than a month, the veteran leader opted to play safe.

After greeting Denmark's new Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the portico of the Chancellery, a smiling Merkel walked her over to a podium where both leaders took their seats before the anthems played.

Asked by journalists if she had seen a doctor over the shaking incidents and about the results of any medical checks, Merkel declined to give specifics.

"You can assume that firstly, I know the responsibilities of my office and that I therefore act accordingly with regard to my health," Merkel said at the joint news conference with Frederiksen. "And secondly, you can also assume that as a person, I have a strong personal interest in being in good health and that I take care of my health."

Standing next to her at the press conference, Frederiksen said she found the chancellor "as strong and competent as before I came to Berlin today."

The unusual move came a day after a similar ceremony when the German chancellor was seen shaking involuntarily for the third time.

On Wednesday, Merkel began trembling as national anthems were being played at the reception of Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne.

Just over an hour later, she attended a press conference as planned and told journalists that her health was no cause for concern.

She explained that she was simply still in a phase of "processing" a previous shaking spell, but that "there has been progress".

"I will have to live with it for a while," added Merkel, who turns 65 next week. "Just like how it has come, one day it will go away too."

The first bout of shaking was blamed on dehydration. But a second episode struck a week later just hours before she was due to board a plane for the G20 summit in Japan.

Officials have sought to play down the repeated shaking.

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