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France's Macron touts 'indispensable' ties on Germany visit

May 26, 2024

Macron's state visit is the first by a French president in nearly 25 years and comes amid a number of challenges two of Europe's strongest countries currently face.

French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte walk alongside German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender
Macron has arrived in Germany for a three-day state visitImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

French President Emmanuel Macron began a three-day state visit to Germany on Sunday, the first by a French president in 24 years.

The state visit is at the invitation of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, with Steinmeier's office saying the trip will be "highlighting the unique relationship between the two countries."

Macron is starting the trip to Germany with his arrival in the capital, Berlin.

Macron: Franco-German friendship 'at the heart of Europe'

Macron says Germany, France 'moving forward'

Shortly after landing in Berlin, Macron said that the partnership between Germany and France was "indispensable" for Europe.

"Franco-German relations are indispensable and important for Europe," he said.

"We have to face an imperialist desire in Europe ... this supposes boosting the Franco-German relationship," he said, referring to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Macron rejected claims that the relationship between the two countries was beginning to strain.

"That is not true. We are moving forward," he said.

Steinmeier said that despite differing views, Berlin and Paris always "come to an agreement in the end."

"If Germany and France are in agreement, then there is still a lot that can be achieved in Europe," he said.

Macron warned against the growth of "authoritarianism," referring to polls that suggest far-right parties could garner increased support in upcoming EU parliament elections.

He said that if the far-right had been in power in Europe in recent years "history would not have been the same," pointing to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

"We need an alliance of democrats in Europe," Steinmeier said.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier play table football
Macron and Steinmeier stressed the importance of Franco-German partnership during the French president's visitImage: Christian Mang/REUTERS

Macron to travel across Germany

The two leaders are due to travel to several regions in Germany but on Sunday first attended the Celebration of Democracy, marking 75 years of the Basic Law — the democratic constitution adopted in West Germany after World War II — being held in Berlin's government district.

Macron is then due to be received at Schloss Bellevue in Berlin, with military honors.

According to Steinmeier's office, the second and third day of Macron's visit will include stops in Dresden and Münster.

The focus there is will be on common challenges "to which France and Germany can find shared European answers," a statement from Steinmeier's office said, which added that during all stops, the leaders will celebrate European integration.

Steinmeier's role is largely ceremonial and while German presidents have little executive power, they aspire to be moral authorities above daily politics.

Macron arrives in Germany for three-day state visit

France, Germany disagree on Ukraine, strategic autonomy

France and Germany have shown disagreement on a number of issues, including on the war in Ukraine.

Earlier this year, Macron said France did not rule out sending troops to support Ukraine, which prompted a critical response from Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Paris has also stressed its desire to establish strategic autonomy for the EU that would make the bloc less dependent on the US. It has expressed concern at Germany's decision to buy mostly US-produced equipment for its EU air defense umbrella, the European Sky Shield Initiative.

Macron's trip comes two weeks ahead of European elections, with polls showing that Macron's coalition is trailing behind the far-right National Rally party.

The National Rally recently broke with the Alternative for Germany party (AfD) over comments made by AfD candidate Maximilian Krah on the Nazi SS paramilitary force.

kb/wd (AFP, dpa)