Obama pays tribute to Merkel

Former President ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Memo: Biden, bruised by Afghanistan, faces a critical test in Ukraine Is the US capable of thinking strategically? Juan Williams: GOP infighting is a gift for Democrats MORE paid tribute to outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel as she attended what was considered to be her last European Council summit this week.

“Very few political leaders can be counted upon to put their principles above any narrow definition of self interest. Your beloved German people, and the entire world, owe you a debt of gratitude for taking the high ground for so many years,” Obama said in a prepared video message.

Germany's Social Democratic Party defeated Merkel's Christian Democratic Union in an election earlier this year after the chancellor stepped down from her roll after over 15 years. 

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Obama maintained a strong relationship with Merkel while in office, including awarding her the Medal of Freedom in 2010. She was the last foreign leader he spoke to while he was president before former President TrumpDonald TrumpMan sentenced to nearly four years for running scam Trump, Biden PACs Meadows says Trump's blood oxygen level was dangerously low when he had COVID-19 Trump endorses David Perdue in Georgia's governor race MORE was inaugurated in 2017. 

In his remarks, Obama praised her leadership in Germany and thanked her for her friendship.

“I was proud to honor you with a Medal of Freedom for what your commitment to what the alliance between the United States, Germany and Europe can mean to the world. I was privileged to draw on your partnership in overcoming a series of crises facing our people,” Obama said in the video. “And I was happy to become your friend as I watched you draw on good humor, wise pragmatism and an unrelenting moral compass in making hard decisions over many years.”

Merkel was also praised by European leaders, who spoke of her legacy as Germany chancellor, a position she has held for close to 16 years, and for being a European ally.

“Your style is your coolness,” European Council President Charles Michel said during his address, according to The Guardian. “You are a monument.”

Michel lamented that her anticipated absence at European Union summits would be difficult for him.

“[W]ithout Angela is like Rome without the Vatican or Paris without the Eiffel tower,” Michel said, according to The Guardian.