Eye rolls. Awkward handshakes. Uncomfortably close encounters with friendly world leaders.
It’s been a hell of a day for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
As host for this year’s high-stakes G20 conference, Merkel had to juggle a seemingly impossible list of duties, from welcoming the world’s biggest leaders (and egos) to keeping an eye on ongoing protests in Hamburg while dodging the adoration of some heads of state. All the while, she had to retain her position as the biggest and most effective defender of the types of progressive immigration and climate change policies that most infuriate President Trump.
Merkel is probably more than relieved that the day is coming to an end, but just before the conference heads into day two, here’s a quick look at some of the most awkward moments she’s had to endure in the past 24 hours.
When she finally scored a normal handshake with President Trump
Trump and Merkel have some history when it comes to handshakes.
It’s hard to forget the clip of the two leaders at a White House meeting in March where reporters asked repeatedly for them to shake hands for a photo op. Merkel looked expectantly at Trump multiple times, but Trump just stared straight ahead, his nose in the air and fingers clasped.
Yesterday, photographers at the G20 were ready to capture Trump snubbing the German leader again. Instead, Merkel extended her hand and Trump took it. The result is a snapshot for the picture books: Trump, surprising even himself at his own civility, and Merkel, delighted that the G20 was off to a somewhat sane start.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin said something insufferable — again
Just made Angela Merkel’s eye roll into a GIF. You’re welcome. pic.twitter.com/8nMBoReoQ8— Hosseh Enad (@ehosseh) July 7, 2017
In a clip that has now been made into a million different GIFs, Merkel and Putin are chatting and walking when Merkel seems to ask Putin a question. When he shakes his head in response, Merkel rolls her eyes before gritting her teeth and nodding at the Russian leader as he prattles on.
Her exasperation seemed all too familiar, particularly to women.
This isn’t the first time Merkel has had to give an egotistical world leader with a penchant for misogyny some serious side eye, and, sad as this is, we doubt it’ll be the last.
When she had to bat off the adoration of some excited heads of state
First there was French President Emmanuel Macron.
Still a fresh face to the world stage, Macron was clearly excited to meet the longtime German leader, who shares his worldview and is an ally in his growing feud with Trump.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was equally pleased to meet Merkel, likely because she’s a role model of sorts for center-left politicians across the West, particularly when they run a country that shares a border with Trump’s America.
Jokes aside, Merkel has handled herself impressively. She has always stood out at large international gatherings (which are still, as evident from this G20 picture, an indisputable boys’ club), but it’s even more pronounced now because of the increasing rift between Germany and the US.
As Vox’s Zack Beauchamp has written, this is the first time in modern history that the US isn’t the de facto leader of the Western world. Germany is, and Merkel is the person progressive leaders are looking to as they chart a new course that involves fighting, or seeking ways to sidestep, Donald Trump.