Chancellor Olaf Scholz vowed Wednesday that his new government will do everything for Germany to overcome the coronavirus pandemic and let people return to their normal lives, declaring that “we will win this fight” as he made his first major policy speech to parliament.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz delivers a speech during a meeting of the German federal parliament, Bundestag, at the Reichstag building in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. 

Scholz, who took over from longtime Chancellor Angela Merkel last week, declared that “we have no time to waste” as he opened a presentation of his three-party coalition government’s agenda.

Scholz takes office as Germany is grappling with its biggest wave of infections of the pandemic so far. There are signs that restrictions imposed in recent weeks are beginning to slow infections, and the new chancellor said the country is well-placed to fulfill a pledge made in November to get 30 million vaccine shots in arms by the end of this year.

“Yes, things will get better; yes, we will pursue the fight against this pandemic with the greatest determination; and yes, we will fin this fight,” he told lawmakers.

He reiterated a pledge that there will be “no red lines” in pursuing efforts to restore normal life.

Scholz also said that the government won’t tolerate a “tiny minority” of extremists trying to impose their will against coronavirus policies. German security agencies have warned that parts of the Querdenken movement — a loose collection of groups opposed to the pandemic restrictions — are becoming increasingly radicalized.

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