War in Ukraine in spotlight as France and Germany mark 60 years of historic treaty

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz visits Paris on Sunday to celebrate 60 years of post-war Franco-German cooperation, with the historic partnership strained by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and wider tectonic shifts.

Scholz’s personal relationship with President Emmanuel Macron isn’t exactly warm, as the two leaders meet in the morning at Sorbonne University for a joint cabinet meeting starting at 1:30 pm (1230 GMT).

But “there are structural problems that go beyond the personal relationship,” said Jacob Ross, a researcher at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Berlin.

The frictions are even felt by the public: 36 percent of French respondents and 39 percent of Germans told pollster Ipsos this week that relations suffered.

The 1963 Elysee Treaty, signed between post-World War II leaders Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle, provided for everything from military cooperation to youth exchanges.

Since then, France and Germany have often laid the foundations for a joint crisis response in Europe, and other countries are now looking forward to them again.

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Top issues to address include the conflict in Ukraine, climate and energy, and European competitiveness, facing a new wave of buy-American subsidies in the US.

“In both countries, we are aware that we are the engine of Europe,” Baerbel Bas, president of the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house, told UKTN in an interview.

“I am hopeful that Franco-German relations will gain new impetus thanks to the Sunday celebrations,” she said.

Ukraine war

Germany still doesn’t know if it will deliver its Leopard 2 main battle tanks to Kiev – or have allies deliver them – almost a year after the invasion.

The impression that “there is a united coalition and that Germany is standing in the way is wrong,” newly installed Defense Secretary Boris Pistorius said on Friday.

France has been pressuring Germany to move faster, in April with mobile artillery and this month with light tanks.

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Elsewhere, steps to jointly develop the next generation of fighters and tanks drag on, while France is absent from a 14-nation Sky Shield anti-missile initiative led by Germany.

Ross suggested that part of the problem lies in France’s adherence to a historic self-image as a sovereign, nuclear-armed power with a seat on the UN Security Council — as opposed to a Germany that likes to hand defense issues primarily to the US. spillway. recent decades.

There are early signs of change on both sides, with France reviving its NATO role since its invasion of Ukraine and Germany’s €100 billion ($108 billion) renewal of its armed forces.

‘Put to the test’

In addition to defense, both France and Germany are facing the interconnected trade and energy conundrums.

For Berlin, “things have become very complicated as Germany’s economic and political model is being tested,” said Maurice Gourdault-Montagne, a former French ambassador to Berlin.

Without cheap Russian gas or nuclear power, Berlin is forced to partially return to coal, as renewables still can’t make a difference.

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France, on the other hand, is rushing to repair and replace its aging nuclear reactor fleet.

Some in Berlin now fear that China will follow Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by seizing Taiwan – which it sees as a breakaway province – potentially disconnecting Germany from a vital market.

And leaders across Europe fear disruptions to transatlantic trade from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which will pump billions of dollars into US-made climate-friendly technologies.

Macron is expected to push Scholz on Sunday to join a concerted response, after receiving support from Spain’s leader Pedro Sanchez this week.

For France and Germany in particular, there are also foundations that need to be maintained in order to maintain the relationship in the future.

“The relationship has become less real” for ordinary French and Germans, Gourdault-Montagne said, and “has lost some of its emotion”.

(UKTN)

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