Hollande, Merkel say they’ve got the ‘right chemistry’
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French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to silence speculation that ties between their countries had hit a low as they celebrated the 50th anniversary of a treaty that sealed their post-war reconciliation.
French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel smoothed over their differences on Tuesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty in Germany’s capital Berlin, saying they had the “right chemistry” in a day filled with celebration and symbolism.
The treaty was signed in 1963 by former French president Charles de Gaulle and then-German chancellor Konrad Adenauer, as an official stamp of reconciliation between the two countries nearly two decades after the end of World War II. Since then, it has served as the cornerstone of French-German relations, a key partnership within the European Union.
The 50th anniversary of the treaty, however, comes amid widespread speculation that ties between Germany and France have frayed as Europe struggles to emerge intact from a protracted sovereign debt crisis.
‘Moving Europe forward’
Speaking at a joint press conference in Berlin on Tuesday, Hollande and Merkel sought to silence talk that cooperation between their two countries was at an all time low, announcing a series of proposals before May aimed at lifting Europe out of economic crisis.
“We are fully aware of our responsibility to improve the situation in the European Union, to get over the euro crisis and also to strengthen the economy while strengthening the European model of competiveness […] and social cohesion,” Merkel said. “This is a model we wish to keep and preserve for the future.”
Merkel also emphasised the importance of working with other European partners to tackle issues such as unemployment and energy.
Hollande echoed many of Merkel’s comments, adding that France and Germany hoped to deepen their relationship in an effort to stabilise and “move Europe forward”.
Faced with a question about their personal “chemistry”, Hollande and Merkel burst into laughter before delving into whether or not their drastically different leadership styles had placed an additional strain on their working relationship.
“Perhaps this is the best-kept secret,” Merkel said, turning to Hollande. “We have the right electricity, the right chemistry, and so we can continue to communicate with each other.”
Later in the day, cabinet ministers from both countries met for a joint session, while around 400 French lawmakers travelled to Berlin to sit down for a debate with their German counterparts in the historic Reichstag building, the seat of Germany’s parliament.
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