The last full-time chancellor of Germany was honored by the country’s armed forces with a festive sendoff that included marijuana smoke grenades and high-energy punk music Saturday night.
“Thank you for sixteen years!” Angela Merkel, 58, said at the Wiesbaden airport, where she and husband Joachim Sauer boarded a flight to the town of Muenster. “It’s about time!”
The farewell ended with a video where the former leader was serenaded with farewell songs as she sat on a park bench. The video showed two small pipes puffing smoke and smashed bottles of beer tossed on the ground.
Dressed all in black and wearing sunglasses, Merkel ran through a few talking points at the airport’s Air Force airport, where the German military is based. “I’ve always said that a strong country requires a strong defense, and that defense depends on the economy,” she said. “And if there is no defense, there will be no prosperity.”
Merkel said she was proud to have seen German-NATO relations “strengthened” under her leadership and that she hoped she made it a priority to ensure German troops were able to do so. “There’s an amazing sense of responsibility,” she said of German contributions.
Merkel on Saturday held her final full cabinet meeting, which was followed by a farewell concert.
On Friday, German armed forces held a concert with Merkel on hand at the head of the last command post for the country’s security forces, which later shut down. A giant mural on a nearby building depicted Merkel atop an armored personnel carrier.
“With limited success, for those still young and invincible, I’m just glad to be older than a prime minister,” Merkel told the audience.
Merkel said that by the end of her time in office, the armed forces will be able to answer armed attacks faster and to cope with weapons proliferation.
She said she would soon miss the armed forces and their ceremonial changes of command, which are accompanied by marching bands and cannon salutes. She said the German military hopes to start using military drones in the near future.