Merkel gets prize for her efforts to promote peace


GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel lamented on Saturday that US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull his country out of the Iran nuclear accord was making the situation in the Middle East “even more difficult” and warned Europeans to be sceptical of “easy” solutions promised by populists.

Speaking while in Italy to receive a peace prize, Merkel cited the recent escalation of Israeli-Iranian hostility that quickly followed Trump’s announcement about the Iran accord as a reason for concern.

The German leader made her remarks at St Francis’ Basilica, in Assisi, the saint’s hometown, where Franciscan friars awarded her the St Francis Lamp for peace. Merkel was honoured for the welcome Germany gave to Syrian war refugees, a decision that carried political risks for the chancellor and her party. Introducing her at the ceremony was Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos, who won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for dogged efforts to bring 50 years of violent conflict in his country to a peaceful end. Santos praised Merkel for representing “those principles which ought to serve as antidotes in a world in which the ghosts of nationalism, of fundamentalism, of racism, of populism and of intolerance are surging with dangerous vigour”.