Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz celebrate the Elysée Treaty on Sunday, while the conflict triggered by Russia exacerbates divergences and misunderstandings between Paris and Berlin.
By Philippe Ricard and Thomas Wieder (Berlin, correspondent)
Speech at the Sorbonne for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of the Elysée, Council of Franco-German ministers, and dinner in head: Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz had to try to look good, Sunday January 22 in Paris, in order to overcome the tensions that appeared in broad daylight in October 2022, when France decided to postpone the meeting of the two governments, the first since the coming to power of the Social Democratic Chancellor and its Fire Tricolore coalition with the Greens and Liberals (FDP), in December 2021.
Since this postponement, contacts have multiplied between Paris and Berlin, each making efforts, on both sides, to save appearances. “I do not know if it is necessary to talk about improvement. In any case, relations have never broken,” said, in recent days, a relative of the French president.
If no spectacular breakthrough is expected, nothing like the celebration of the Treaty of Friendship sealed in 1963 by Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer to stage the good understanding between their two distant successors.
Sunday morning, Emmanuel Macron and Olaf Scholz were to each spend a speech at the Sorbonne in front of parliamentarians from the two countries. A joint statement will be finalized in the afternoon to lay the groundwork for their bilateral cooperation and in Europe, by 2030. The great idea of the moment is to seek to strengthen the “sovereignty” of the continent, on time where it is more than ever vulnerable.
Two areas where nothing goes without saying
In reality, this reunion cannot escape an observation: the war in Ukraine shakes the Franco-German tandem, like never since the fall of the Berlin Wall, in November 1989, which led to German reunification then to the Enlargement of the European Union (EU) to countries from the Soviet block.
At the time, these upheavals already changed relations between France and Germany in depth, moreover undermined by the bloody bursting of the ex-Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As in echo to alliances From the First World War, Paris then supported Serbia, and Berlin Croatia and Bosnia.
Today, the two partners are in line to condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, failing to have been able to carry out their mediation efforts between Moscow and kyiv. But their desire to avoid any additional escalation with the Kremlin and to maintain a communication channel with Vladimir Putin is poorly seen by a large eastern part of the continent. The relative restraint of Paris and Berlin is all the more disputed in Poland, as well as in the Baltic and Scandinavian states, that these countries welcome the massive commitment of the United States, perceived as the real protectors of the continent in the face of Russian aggression. German procrastination regarding the delivery of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine only feed the resentment of part of the EU with regard to the main continental economic power, well in pain, with France, to sketch a defense strategy of the continent.
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