Macron in Berlin: celebrating unity – politics

Before dinner, duty calls. Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his guest Emmanuel Macron must do what the French President perfected during his years with Angela Merkel. It is important to celebrate Franco-German unity. Wherever they are. And where it would be good if they existed. That was the case with Scholz’s inaugural visit to Paris six weeks ago, that was the case at the EU summit in Brussels and it couldn’t have been any different during the French President’s first visit to Berlin since the Social Democratic Chancellor took office. The only thing that has changed is the situation. She got even more serious.

When Scholz received Macron in the Chancellery, it was less than 24 hours ago that both took part in a video call by US President Joe Biden with the most important European allies on the Ukraine crisis. “All participants expressed their great concern about the massive Russian troop movements and the tensions caused by Russia,” Scholz said afterwards. It was agreed that “further Russian aggression against Ukraine would have very serious consequences”. In the press release from the White House, that sounds a little clearer. There is talk of “preparing massive consequences and high economic costs”.

The comparison of such reports should not be overestimated, but it does allow insights behind the ranks of the West, which are not really always so tightly closed. In the communiqué from Paris after the switching conference, for example, the need for “credible warnings” to Russia was mentioned in a conspicuously vague manner. However, it is reported that Macron emphasized the important role of the European Union. In contrast to Scholz, who probably does not want to fuel the mistrust that already exists in Washington, Macron plays the part of the self-confident European offensively.

Before Macron’s departure, it was emphasized in the Élysée that in this “very tense situation” one’s own position would “coordinate very precisely with Germany”. They will ensure a joint analysis of the situation so that they agree “how to act if the situation worsens”. The Élysée announced that President Emmanuel Macron would be on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin “in the coming days” and propose a “path to de-escalation”. According to agency reports, he sent his Russia adviser Pierre Vimont to Moscow.

For Olaf Scholz, a trip to Moscow is only an option once he has been to Washington

In addition, Russian, Ukrainian, German and French diplomats are to meet in Paris this Wednesday to negotiate in the so-called Normandy format. Attempts should be made to advance humanitarian measures, i.e. the exchange of prisoners, the care of the needy and the opening of checkpoints. Other details of the implementation of the 2015 Minsk Agreement on Donbass Peace will also be discussed. Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of delaying implementation. In Paris, for example, it is said to be about a date on which Ukraine and the separatists will discuss a law on the status of Donbass.

This Normandy format is of particular importance for Germany and France, as it represents European efforts to take responsibility for peace on their own continent. Ukrainian considerations of getting the USA on board are rejected in both Paris and Berlin. However, there are hardly any illusions in the federal government that the acute danger of war could be averted in the four-way format. It is seen as one of four forums to defuse the situation – alongside the US-Russian talks, those with NATO and within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Scholz would probably like to get more involved himself, but a trip to Moscow is only an option after he has completed his inaugural visit to Washington at the beginning of February. Scholz described the round called by Biden as “a good sign of close cooperation and good cooperation”, in which the EU and NATO were represented alongside Great Britain, Italy and Poland. On the one hand, the Chancellor is keen to present himself to Biden as a reliable ally in the face of increasing criticism, for example of the German line against arms deliveries to Ukraine. On the other hand, the alliance with Macron, who is concerned about more European independence, corresponds to both the traffic light coalition agreement and the laws of European politics.

Last week, Macron called for a “common security order” in Europe before the European Parliament in Strasbourg. Europe must be a “power of peace” seeking dialogue with Russia. This fits into his idea of ​​stronger “European sovereignty” in defense, which has been repeated for years. However, Macron expressly does not want this to be understood as a departure from NATO. Reference is made in Paris to the participation of French soldiers in the NATO presence in Lithuania, Estonia and soon in Romania. Unlike Germany, according to information from the Élysée, France has not yet been asked by Ukraine for arms deliveries. However, in all questions of logistical support, one listens “very attentively” to the wishes of Ukraine.

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