German Chancellor Angela Merkel turns Paris visit into show of fitness after tremors

German Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving for the Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 14, 2019.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arriving for the Bastille Day military parade on the Champs-Elysees in Paris on July 14, 2019.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (BLOOMBERG) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel demonstrated physical fitness during Bastille Day celebrations in Paris on Sunday (July 14), walking about 800m without incident after suffering three bouts of trembling in public since June.

With temperatures around 20 deg C, Merkel walked for 10 minutes to the German Embassy after attending a two-hour military parade on France's national holiday, during which she both sat and stood.

At the embassy, she stood while making brief comments to reporters thanking President Emmanuel Macron for inviting her and several other European leaders for Sunday's event.

Merkel, who turns 65 on Wednesday, has faced increasing questions about whether health concerns will prevent her from completing her fourth term, which ends in 2021.

Last week, she said she was aware of the responsibilities of her office and "will act on questions regarding my health."

About 59 per cent of Germans view Merkel’s health as ultimately a private matter, while 34 per cent say she should come clean, according to a poll published Sunday by the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper. The internet-based Civey poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points.

After the parade, Merkel walked with Macron to salute several war veterans. The chancellor has been in power since 2005, making her Europe's longest-serving leader.

For Macron, the celebration was an opportunity to reassert his call for a European Union army. France's long-term ambition is to work with other countries to create a European army to share procurement, command and operations, Defence Minister Florence Parly told Le Parisien.

"I see this as a big gesture toward a European defence policy," Merkel said of Macron's invitation. "I believe this is a sign of strengthening of European cooperation."