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In World Aflame, Germany's Tireless Foreign Minister Trods On

steinmeier
Walter Steinmeier’s popularity in Germany is on par with Mrs. Merkel’s.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany’s economic clout has cemented its leadership role in Europe and increased demands for Berlin to play a greater role in solving geopolitical crisis around the globe.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Frank-Walter Steinmeier (58) studied law before working as a German civil servant in state and federal politics.
    • He has served as foreign minister twice under Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom he also failed to oust from office as the center-left Social Democratic Party’s chancellor candidate in 2008.
    • After his wife became ill in 2010, he donated a kidney for her. They have one daughter.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Frank-Walter Steinmeier doesn’t do hectic. Germany’s top diplomat can be silent. He can ponder.

And there is a lot to think about right now. His job, said Mr. Steinmeier after becoming foreign minister again following a four-year break, hasn’t changed. But the world is completely different. It’s rougher. Louder. Is there still a chance for quiet contemplation?

There are so many global crises requiring attention at the moment. But Mr. Steinmeier doesn’t let himself get distracted. Though he often works into the night, he still manages to have breakfast at home – that is, when his wife and grown daughter don’t have their own appointments. But he relies on his family to keep himself grounded in a chaotic world.

Sitting in his office in central Berlin slightly tanned and relaxed, he certainly doesn’t appear stressed out. It’s hard to imagine him that way. He works hard, because it comes naturally to him. Mr. Steinmeier would be frustrated if he wasn’t busy. No one knows that better than his wife, and she wants him to be happy. But his relaxed appearance also glosses over his ambition.

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