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What went wrong in Germany?

It wasn't long ago that the US and UK were the big losers of the developed world for their incompetent and politicized handling of the pandemic. Cases and deaths were surging even as their leaders diminished the threat of the disease.

Germany, meanwhile, was seen as a model of responsible pandemic management. Chancellor Angela Merkel's compassionate, pragmatic leadership, combined with respect for scientific expertise and general adherence to public health recommendations, had kept virus numbers low.

Six months later, the tables are turned — while the US and UK are poised to turn the corner with strong vaccine rollouts, the wheels are coming off in Germany.

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Hope for Europe's vaccine rollout;  CDU setback in German elections

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

How is the rollout of vaccines in Europe going?

So-so might be the best answer to that question. The UK is significantly ahead of most of the EU countries. It's being difficult to rollout production or increase production sufficiently fast. But it will get better in the coming months. And I hope that the evils of vaccine-nationalists can be prevented.

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What We're Watching: Hajj passports, AfD vs German intelligence, Turkey's human rights plan

Passport to the Hajj — Saudi Arabia announced that it will require pilgrims to have vaccine passports in order to enter the country for the annual Hajj later this year. Each year, millions of Muslims from dozens of countries travel to the holy sites of Mecca and Medina to fulfill a religious obligation, in an annual event that brings in billions of dollars for the Saudi economy. The vaccine passport requirement may mean that people without means or access to vaccines in their home countries will be shut out of the Hajj this year, but Riyadh is relying on the scheme to help them pull off the event — after last year's event was mainly cancelled amid the pandemic— without fomenting a COVID outbreak.

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Angela Merkel's missed connection

On Angela Merkel's last Valentine's Day as chancellor, she thinks back to East Germany, 1987. He was a foreign agent, she a quantum chemist. What might have been?

Europe minus Merkel

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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Estonian PM resigns over corruption allegations; post-Merkel Germany

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Why did the Estonian prime minister resign and what happens now?

Well, he had to resign because there were allegations of corruption in connection with a construction issue in in Tallinn. Let's see. I think my best guess is that there will be a new coalition with the new composition of parties and perhaps a more clear-cut commitment to reforms.

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Brazil's Elections, Merkel's Resignation, and Attacks in the US

Brazil's election, Merkel's resignation, the US's rough week, and Yemen's crisis. It's your World in 60 Seconds with Ian Bremmer!

Ready? Let's go!

 

And go deeper on topics like cybersecurity and artificial intelligence at Microsoft Today in Technology.

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