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Ma8k8 comcron hails ties with Berlin

保持饥饿感有助于延缓衰老 | 8k8 com | Updated: 2024-07-22 09:21:45

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier pose for photos as they commence the Franco-German sport summer in Berlin on Sunday. CHRISTIAN MANG/REUTERS

French President Emmanuel Macron's state visit to Germany will be critical to the future direction of the European Union and the role to be played by the two countries at a time when their leaders do not see eye to eye on some key issues, experts say.

The three-day visit, which started on Sunday at the invitation of German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, is the first by a French president in 24 years since a trip by Jacques Chirac in 2000.

"Franco-German relations are indispensable and important for Europe," Macron said shortly after landing in Berlin. He had previously visited Germany many times but not as a state visit.

Macron rejected claims that the bilateral relationship was beginning to strain. "This is not true. We are moving forward," he said.

Steinmeier said that despite differing views, the two countries 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.

The two leaders attended an event in Berlin on Sunday marking the 75 years of Germany's constitution adopted in former West Germany after World War II.

Macron's agenda on Monday and Tuesday will include stops in Dresden, Munster and a government house outside Berlin where he will meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and where a joint Franco-German cabinet meeting will be held.

The two key EU powers have shown disagreement on key issues from the Russia-Ukraine conflict to the use of nuclear energy.

Macron has said France does not rule out sending troops to support Ukraine, but Scholz immediately reacted by saying Germany has no such plan.

The French president has also talked about the importance of strategic autonomy for the EU, saying the bloc should not become a vassal of the United States, views that Germany does not entirely share.

Ding Chun, director of the Center for European Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the state visit by Macron shows the two sides have realized the importance of reaching consensus and achieving better coordination on key issues.

Ding described the personal relationship between Macron and Scholz as far less cordial than that between Macron and former German chancellor Angela Merkel.

He said the EU is facing both internal and external troubles.

"The Franco-German axis is less powerful than before, especially on issues regarding sending troops to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and energy-related issues," he said.

"If the Franco-German axis slacks, it will impact heavily on European integration, the EU's strategic autonomy and global status, and it will hurt the EU's interest."

Critical timing

The timing of the visit is critical given the rise of populism and far-right leaders in the EU just two weeks before the European election, he said.

On the external front, Ding said the possible return of Donald Trump to the White House would put pressure on the EU in terms of US isolationism and its America First policy, adding that would require better coordination and cooperation between Germany and France.

Lai Suetyi, an associate professor at the Center for European Studies at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, said she is glad that this postponed state visit finally took place. Macron had to put off a state visit in July last year because of domestic violence caused by the killing of a teenager of African descent by police.

"After the past few years of deadlocks, Macron and his German counterparts should recognize how essential the Franco-German engine is in driving the EU forward," Lai said.

"The current timing fits as ruling parties in both France and Germany are polling behind the far-right parties in the upcoming European Parliament elections."

Macron's visit will help encourage people to vote and discourage the support for extreme parties, she said.

In France, polls show Macron's coalition is trailing behind the far-right National Rally party. In Germany, the Alternative for Germany, labeled by many in Europe as far right, has kept its second place in polls, ahead of Scholz's governing Social Democratic Party and its coalition partners.

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