The year 2021 was a huge challenge for all of us – said the new German chancellor Olaf Scholz in his first New Year’s speech. French President Emmanuel Maron said “the country is facing difficult weeks due to the increase in coronavirus infections.” Italian President Sergio Mattarella thanked his countrymen for trusting “science and institutions” and vaccinating against COVID-19.
In his first New Year’s address, Olaf Scholz called on his compatriots to take advantage of vaccination due to the rapidly spreading variant of the omicron virus. – The year 2021 was a huge challenge for all of us – he emphasized. At the same time, he asked for understanding of the new restrictions that came into force in Germany after Christmas, for example regarding private contacts.
2021 was also difficult for Germany due to the devastating floods in North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Rhineland-Palatinate. – As a society, we accepted these challenges with determination – said the Chancellor.
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Appeal for vaccination
Scholz thanked all those who work on a daily basis “for the common good, health and safety” – employees of hospitals, vaccination centers, police and armed forces. He also thanked everyone who tried to comply with the applicable regulations.
– Those who have not yet vaccinated should do so now, and those who have already been vaccinated should receive a booster dose quickly. Speed is important and we need to be faster than the virus. Let’s do everything possible together so that we can finally defeat the coronavirus in the new year, appealed the chancellor.
Scholz also spoke about the economy. “The twenties are a decade of new beginnings,” announced Scholz, speaking about the largest restructuring of the German economy in years. He reminded about the assumed climate goals for the coming years. – Progress for a better world could not be achieved by any country alone – he added. – It can only be successful if the international community works on it together.
He announced that Germany wanted to take advantage of its beginning presidency in the G7 group of countries to make this group a pioneer, especially “in a business that is neutral to the climate and a fair world”.
In his New Year’s speech, French President Emmanuel Macron said that “the country is facing difficult weeks due to the increase in coronavirus infections.” He also said that France will cope with the pandemic if people behave responsibly. “Everything must be done to avoid another lockdown,” announced the president.
He called on the French again to vaccinate against COVID-19, but did not announce any new restrictions because, as he put it, the government does not want to restrict citizens’ freedoms again.
The president emphasized that despite the coronavirus, France managed to introduce reforms that had been planned for several decades, such as social security reform or raising the salaries of the lowest-paid officials. He added that other important changes will be implemented soon.
Macron has declared that he will continue to serve France in “whatever role” and the Reuters agency points out that he has not declared whether he will run in next year’s presidential election. However, according to the agency, Macron’s staff has already started preparations for the election campaign. A record number of infections was detected in France on Friday – 232,200. The total number of infections for the third consecutive day exceeds 200,000.
The President of Italy thanks his countrymen
In a speech delivered on Friday at the Presidential Palace at the Quirinale, Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella said. – In the coming days, as dictated by the Constitution, my role as president will end. It was seven absorbing, difficult and emotional years.
Thus, he once again ruled out the possibility of staying for a second term, as he had already announced. The president praised his countrymen for “showing the authentic face of Italy – hardworking, creative, solidarity”. He thanked all those who trusted “science and institutions” and vaccinated against COVID-19, for – as he noted – “maturity” and a sense of responsibility.
“Vaccines have saved the lives of many thousands of people,” Mattarella said. He pleaded not to be discouraged by the new wave of infections with the variant of the coronavirus, which he admitted was causing frustration. “A lot has been done,” he said.
– In those years our Italy survived and suffered “also for other reasons,” added the leader. Among them he mentioned international Islamic terrorism, catastrophes, earthquakes, floods, accidents at work; he reminded of women victims of violence. I felt alone – said the president. He indicated the Constitution as “the foundation of national unity” and assured that in everything he did he respected its provisions. Sergio Mattarella thanked Pope Francis for his love for Italy and Europe. The new president will be elected in early 2022 by the parliament together with representatives of the regions of the country.
Main photo source: PAP / EPA / CLEMENS BALANCE SHEET / POOL