France

Macron Urges Defense of Democracy on Rare State Visit to Germany Ahead of EU Elections

Macron’s State Visit to Germany: A Call to Defend Democracy Ahead of EU Elections

French President Emmanuel Macron commenced his visit to Germany at a democracy festival in Berlin, where he highlighted the growing “fascination for authoritarianism” in major EU nations.

“We often forget that protecting democracy is an ongoing battle,” Macron stated, joined by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He emphasized that if nationalist parties had been in power in recent years, the outcomes of critical events such as the coronavirus pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would have been markedly different.

Steinmeier echoed Macron’s sentiment, saying, “We need an alliance of democrats in Europe.” He noted that the conditions leading up to the upcoming European elections are unprecedented, significantly different from previous elections.

‘Europe is Mortal’

Macron’s visit comes just two weeks before the European Union elections, where polls suggest his centrist coalition is trailing behind the far right, potentially even struggling to secure third place. In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition parties are also polling behind the far-right AfD, despite the party being embroiled in various scandals.

At a press conference, Macron pledged to “unmask” France’s far-right National Rally (RN), asserting that “nothing in their rhetoric holds water.” He expressed concern that the RN, topping the surveys, poses a threat to Europe.

In a recent foreign policy speech, Macron warned of the existential threats facing Europe following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, stating, “Our Europe, today, is mortal and it can die. This depends only on our choices.”

In Berlin, Macron urged Europeans to vote for parties that support and defend Europe. Hosting a state banquet for Macron, Steinmeier highlighted the need to protect against both external aggressors and internal threats.

Continuing the Dialogue in Germany

Macron’s visit includes a trip to Dresden in Saxony, where the AfD has strong support, and to Munster and Meseberg for talks with Scholz and a joint Franco-German cabinet meeting. This visit aims to underscore the historical significance of the Franco-German postwar relationship, as France commemorates the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

Despite the importance of the Franco-German alliance, tensions have arisen, particularly regarding foreign policy. Macron’s openness to sending troops to Ukraine drew a sharp response from Scholz, who clarified that Germany had no such plans. Additionally, Germany does not fully align with Macron’s vision of a European strategic autonomy less dependent on the United States.

Macron downplayed these differences, highlighting the importance of Franco-German coordination over the years, including agreements on sanctions against Russia and initiatives to boost European economic growth post-COVID.

“The Franco-German relationship is about disagreeing and finding ways to compromise,” said Helene Miard-Delacroix, a specialist in German history at the Sorbonne university in Paris.

While Macron frequently visits Berlin, this trip marks the first state visit in 24 years, since Jacques Chirac’s visit in 2000, and the sixth since Charles de Gaulle’s postwar state visit in 1962.

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