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In Berlin for state go to, Macron makes plea to defend democracy

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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier together with his spouse Elke Budenbender and French President Emmanuel Macron together with his spouse Brigitte Macron converse with folks as they go to the Democracy Festival to mark 75 years of the German Basic Law and 35 years of the peaceable revolution, in Berlin, Germany, May 26, 2024.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS

Emmanuel Macron arrived on Sunday in Berlin on the primary state go to to Germany by a French President in 1 / 4 century, bringing a plea to defend democracy in opposition to nationalism at upcoming European elections.

Mr. Macron made an look at a democracy pageant his first cease, the place, accompanied by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, he warned of a “form of fascination for authoritarianism which is growing” within the two main EU nations.

“We forget too often that it’s a fight” to guard democracy, Mr. Macron stated.

If the nationalists had been in energy in Europe within the final years, “history would not have been the same”, he stated, pointing to choices on the coronavirus pandemic or Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We need an alliance of democrats in Europe,” Mr. Steinmeier stated.

Mr. Macron “has rightly pointed out that the conditions today before the European elections is different from the previous election, a lot has happened”.

‘Europe is mortal’

The journey comes two weeks forward of European elections the place polls present, in a serious potential embarrassment for Mr. Macron, that his coalition is trailing nicely behind the far proper and should battle to even attain third place.

In Germany too, all three events in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition are polling behind the far-right AfD in surveys, regardless of a collection of scandals embroiling the anti-immigration occasion.

In a keynote handle on international coverage final month, Mr. Macron issued a dire warning concerning the threats to Europe in a altering world within the wake of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

“Our Europe, today, is mortal and it can die,” Mr. Macron stated. “It can die and this depends only on our choices.”

Ramping up his warning in Berlin, Mr. Macron urged Europeans “to go vote for the party that we back and a party that defends Europe”.

After the talks with Steinmeier in Berlin on Sunday, Mr. Macron is because of convey his message to Dresden within the former East German Saxony state, the place the AfD has a powerful supporter base.

Tuesday sees Mr. Macron within the western German metropolis of Munster and later in Meseberg, exterior Berlin, for talks with Scholz and a Franco-German joint cupboard assembly.

‘Awkward’

Beyond making joint requires the European elections, Mr. Macron’s three-day go to will search to emphasize the historic significance of the post-war relationship between the 2 key EU states, as France subsequent month commemorates 80 years for the reason that D-Day landings that marked the start of the tip of German World War II occupation.

But all has not been clean in a relationship usually seen because the engine of the EU, and German officers stated to be uneasy at occasions about his often-theatrical fashion of international coverage.

In a question-and-answer session on social media with younger folks this month, Mr. Macron enlisted assist from Scholz when requested if the Franco-German “couple” was nonetheless working.

“Hello dear friends, long live French-German friendship!” Scholz stated in French in a video on Macron’s X feed. “Thank you Olaf! I very much agree with you,” Mr. Macron replied in closely accented German.

Officials from either side are at pains to emphasize that whereas there are periodic tensions on particular points, the elemental foundation of the connection stays sound.

But Mr. Macron’s refusal to rule out sending troops to Ukraine sparked an unusually acidic response from Scholz that Germany had no such plans. Germany additionally doesn’t share Mr. Macron’s enthusiasm for a European strategic autonomy much less depending on the United States.

“The Franco-German relationship is about disagreeing and trying to find ways of compromise,” stated Helene Miard-Delacroix, specialist in German historical past on the Sorbonne college in Paris.

Mujtaba Rahman, managing director for Europe in danger evaluation agency Eurasia Group, stated relations between France and Germany “remain awkward, verging on hostile”.

“On the big issues, little progress should be expected,” he stated on X.

While Mr. Macron is a frequent customer to Berlin, the journey is the primary state go to in 24 years following a visit by Jacques Chirac in 2000 and the sixth for the reason that first post-war state go to by Charles de Gaulle in 1962.

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