Embrace in Potsdam: Federal Chancellor Scholz and French President Macron
MICHAEL KAPPELER / AFP
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) met French President Emmanuel Macron for dinner in a friendly atmosphere in his home town of Potsdam. It was the first time in his reign that he received a head of state or government in the Brandenburg state capital.
The two of them didn't just go out to eat together on Tuesday. Scholz showed Macron the center of Potsdam during a walk of more than half an hour. They met at the Old Market, sat outside in the café of the Barberini Museum and also walked across the Friendship Island, a nearby park. More than 50 people stood at the Neuer Markt and watched Scholz and Macron as they went to the "Kochzimmer" restaurant.
The meeting was also significant because the chancellor and president did not get off to a good start after the change of government in Berlin in December 2021. The relationships were and are not easy.
Their dinner in Potsdam was not entirely private: the delegations of both countries were also there, but Scholz and Macron sat at a separate table. It was considered likely that both spoke about the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, but also about European issues such as the EU Commission's proposals for a reform of the debt rules – a particularly controversial topic between Germany and France. Macron and Scholz had seen each other only last week at the European summit in Moldova, where they launched a joint attempt to mediate in the conflict in northern Kosovo.
In the past year, there had been a huge crunch in german-French relations. A joint cabinet meeting even had to be postponed in the autumn due to too many differences. At the 60th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty on german-French friendship in Paris in January, both sides tried to turn the corner. The joint Council of Ministers was rescheduled. The fact that the Chancellor invited the French President to Potsdam – practically to his home – can be understood as a further easing exercise in the still tense relationship between the two countries.
"Our countries are united by an inseparable friendship," Scholz said on Twitter in German and French on Tuesday evening. »Together we are tackling the challenges of these days and our time.«
From 2 to 4 July, the French head of state will pay a state visit to Germany at the invitation of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. In addition to Berlin, stations in Ludwigsburg near Stuttgart and Dresden are planned so far. According to current planning, Macron will only have breakfast with Scholz. Steinmeier is planning a grand state banquet at Bellevue Palace. It is the first state visit by a French president to Germany in 23 years.