Angela Merkel and Volodymyr Zelensky review the honour guards during the welcoming ceremony in Berlin. AP
German Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed concerns about her health after visibly trembling at an official ceremony on Tuesday, saying she was just a bit dehydrated in the heat.
Merkel appeared unsteady and was shaking as she stood in the midday sun next to visiting Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, whom she was welcoming to her office building with military honours.
Merkel’s whole body visibly shook and she pursed her lips as she tried to contain the situation as she stood with Zelensky in the 28-degree Celsius (82-degree Fahrenheit) heat while a military band played their national anthems outside the chancellery.
But following the anthems, Merkel seemed better, walking quickly along the red carpet with Zelensky into the building, pausing to greet the military band and take a salute.
Asked by reporter about her wellbeing at a news conference about 90 minutes later, Merkel smiled: “I’ve drunk at least three glasses of water and so I’m doing fine.” Zelensky, 41, made light of Merkel’s uneasy spell, joking that he would have come to her rescue if necessary.
“She was standing next to me and completely safe,” he said.
The dpa news agency reported that this was not the first time Merkel has been seen shaking under similar circumstances in the hot sun. It did not give a date for that incident, but said it was also ascribed to Merkel not drinking enough water.
And in 2014, Merkel postponed a television interview at the last minute after reported weakness, but her spokesman said at the time she was able to carry it out later after eating and drinking something. It is not publicly known if Merkel, who has led Germany since 2005, has any health problems. German privacy laws are very strict on that type of information.
Merkel, frequently called the European Union’s most influential leader and the most powerful woman in the world, turns 65 next month.
She has said she will leave politics at the end of her current term, in 2021. Meanwhile, Merkel also said on Tuesday that her transport minister would look at how to proceed after the EU’s top court rejected plans to introduce a German highway toll.
Germany’s transport minister Andreas Scheuer said the ruling implied the toll in its current form was off the table, but he had already put in place a task force to find alternative solutions.
Most Germans believe Angela Merkel’s health is a private matter, a poll showed on Saturday, after the chancellor suffered the latest in a series of shaking episodes this week that have raised questions about whether she should give an explanation.
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Others were taken to Community Regional Medical Center in critical condition, and some are in critical but stable condition, the TV stations reported.