Prime Minister in France seeks to sooth German friendship | News | DW | 27.04.2013
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Prime Minister in France seeks to sooth German friendship

France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has stepped in after his socialist party issued strong criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He said Franco-German friendship was essential.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault took to Twitter on Saturday to express some soothing remarks after his Socialist Party drafted some strong comments on the German chancellor and her policies.

Ayrault, a former German teacher, said in tweets posted both in French and German on Saturday: "We will not solve Europe's problems without an intense and sincere dialogue between France and Germany."

"Franco-German friendship is essential to give a new impetus to the European project and to find ways of returning to growth," Ayrault said in a second Tweet.

A document to be presented at a Socialist Party conference on Europe in June had described the German leader as "self-centered" and said her austerity policies were hurting Europe. The document also accused Merkel, who faces elections on September 22, of being obsessed with "Berlin's trade balance and her electoral future."

Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, deputy chairman of the Party of European Socialists later said on his website this "stigmatizing language used towards Angela Merkel" would now be removed from the document.

Discontent bubbling

Last week socialist National Assembly speaker Claude Bartolone raised the prospect of a "confrontation" with Merkel.

The chancellor's office had downplayed the remarks. "We work very well together. We don't have the feeling that there is a change in policy," Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert told France's Le Monde newspaper.

Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, and a leading figure in Germany's opposition Social Democrats commented: "On a national level, we have gone much too far with austerity policies." He told the Belgian daily L'Echo: "The argument that investor confidence will return with the reduction of public deficits is undoubtedly false."

Michel Barnier, French European commissioner for internal market and services and a member of the centre-right UMP party opposition, judged the attacks "non-sensical."

"Let's look at what is working in Germany rather than criticize it," he suggested in French and German on his Twitter account.

jm/ccp (Reuters, AFP)