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German President Steinmeier re-elected for second term

by host

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was elected to a second five-year term Sunday by a special assembly of lawmakers and state-nominated delegates.

The position of president in Germany is largely symbolic, but its holder is nonetheless the country’s highest authority.

This year’s assembly casting votes included former German Chancellor Angela Merkel and BioNTech co-founder Özlem Türeci.

Steinmeier’s reelection was largely expected, after he won the backing last month from the ruling coalition of the Social Democrats, Greens and Free Democrats. He obtained more than two-thirds of the votes cast.

The German president used his acceptance speech to condemn Moscow for its military brinkmanship near Ukraine.

“We are in the midst of the danger of a military conflict, a war in Eastern Europe — Russia bears the responsibility for this,” Steinmeier said, according to the Associated Press.

“Russia’s troop buildup cannot be misunderstood — it is a threat to Ukraine and it is supposed to be one. But the people there have a right to live without fear and threat, to self-determination and sovereignty,” he added. “No country in the world has the right to destroy that — and whoever tries to do so, we will answer you decisively.”

Prior to his first election as president in 2017, Steinmeier was served twice as foreign minister under Merkel, and also as her vice chancellor from 2007 to 2009. Before that he was chief of staff to former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.

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