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Paris-Berlin Consensus

DW staff (ncy)December 7, 2007

Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy made a show of harmony on Thursday, Dec. 6. The two agreed on the same line on Iran, and Germany's chancellor took back her criticism of the French president's Mediterranean Union plan.

Merkel and Sarkozy look at a painting
Merkel and Sarkozy took in an exhibition during her visitImage: AP

Despite the findings of a US intelligence report earlier this week that said Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, the consensus between Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy in Paris Thursday evening, was that the Islamic republic remained a threat.

"I believe that we're in a process, that Iran also presents a threat," Merkel said at a joint press conference with Sarkozy, adding that there were "gaps" in Iran's cooperation over its nuclear program.

"Everyone is aware of the fact that the Iranian leadership wants a military nuclear program," Sarkozy said.

Merkel and Sarkozy give a press conference
Their style could hardly be more differentImage: AP

The two spoke out in favor of the current strategy toward Iran, with the international community putting pressure on the country to be entirely open about its nuclear program but still negotiating with Tehran.

Berlin to get involved in Club Med

After Merkel's surprisingly open criticism of Sarkozy's plans for a Mediterranean union of European and African states, the chancellor indicated her doubts had been quelled.

"Now I think that we can do this together," she said, after the meeting.

The two sides agreed that high-level German and French government officials would draft a joint suggestion for the project, which Sarkozy said should include all Europeans, reflecting one of Merkel's concerns.

The previous day, Merkel had described the plans for a Mediterranean Union based on the principles of the European Union as a "corrosion of the EU in its core area," which she said "could release explosive powers in the EU."

Merkel and Sarkozy look at a painting
They agree on Iran, but Angie and Sarko didn't say if they have common tastes in artImage: AP

On Thursday, however, she qualified those comments, saying it would be unacceptable for the different parts of Europe to orient themselves in another direction. It would be a "difficult test" for the EU, if a second union were to be established, she added.

Sarkozy wants to create an economic, political and cultural union of Mediterranean rim states and invited those interested in participating to a summit in June. But many European Union countries have expressed opposition to the idea, which they see as competition for the bloc's so-called Barcelona process, which aims to increase ties between the EU and Mediterranean states.