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Scholz and Macron convene for 'strategic' retreat in Hamburg

October 9, 2023

Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the deepening of Franco-German ties with the aim of making Europe a "geostrategic, military and technological power."

French President Emmanuel Macron (l) and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (r) at the Port of Hamburg under overcast skies
Emmanuel Macron (L) and Olaf Scholz (R) and their teams will spend two days looking hard at Franco-German relationsImage: picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday welcomed his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron for a two-day Cabinet retreat in which the two will seek ways to re-energize slumbering Franco-German ties.

Macron arrived in Hamburg where the two toured an Airbus facility — Airbus is considered a French-German success story with production facilities across the EU — before embarking on a private boat cruise that allowed the two men several hours of one-on-one conversation.

Franco-German ties 'more important than ever'

"We want a strong and unified Europe," said Macron. "We are using the special trust of German-French friendship to look hard at questions of fundamental importance," added the French politician.

He went on to say that it is "more important than ever" that the two nations, whom many see as the traditional motors of Europe, "create closeness" in order to come up with common solutions to the pressing questions facing each country as well as the bloc as a whole.

Macron articulated the aim of making "both our countries and Europe an important geopolitical, military and technological power." Though no hard and fast policies are expected to come from the talks, said Macron, "concrete answers" to pressing issues would follow shortly.

Neighbors come together over Israel attacks

Both countries have drifted apart of late, with differences piling up. These range from tiffs over subsidized energy prices and EU fiscal rules to common defense projects.

Pushing its way onto the agenda Monday was this weekend's attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists. Both leaders pledged their "full support and solidarity for Israel," with Scholz condemning the attacks as "barbaric."

Scholz emphasized that Germany, France, the US and the UK had all agreed that, "no one should fuel further terror in the region" and warned of a "conflagration."

Scholz, Macron, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are scheduled to hold a conference call on the situation in Israel this evening before Macron, Scholz and their respective teams embark on day two of their retreat.

France, Germany celebrate 60 years of Elysee Treaty

js/ab (AFP, AP)

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