The Foreign Ministry’s reporter focuses on Europe and international security
Rick Noack The Foreign Ministry's reporter focuses on Europe and international security November 12 at 07:28 BERLIN – German Chancellor…
BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have had their ups and downs. Each has been declared the new “leader of the free world” after the end of President Barack Obama’s term. Both are domestic problems.
And according to an older lady they could very well be a couple.
“Mr. Makron, it’s not possible, a little good woman like shaking hands with the Republican President. It’s amazing,” told the 100-year-old Macron on the side of a World War Anniversary event on Saturday. The excited lady then turned to Merkel, probably the world’s most powerful woman.
“You’re Madame Macron,” said the smiling centenarian to Merkel, 64, confused her with Macron’s wife Brigitte Macron, 65, according to France’s public broadcaster and Belgian television.
With an unambiguous German accent, a moral Merkel clarified twice in French: “I am the German Chancellor.”
“It’s amazing” answered the diminished woman whose name was not reported by French news media. A video of the meeting in Rethondes, about 60 miles north of Paris, hears a relative saying that the woman would be 101 on Monday.
Under different circumstances, a female world leader for her female counterpart would fail Another example of gender stereotypes. However, reactions to Saturday’s remarkable exchange were overwhelmingly positive. To a woman born at the end of the first devastating world war and young when the Germans launched the other, the Franco-German unit proved to be completely unthinkable for its younger self.
More than 30 million people were killed during World War I. Only two decades later became 40 million more victims of World War II, with half of them estimated to have been civilians. After-war departments affected French-German relations early, as more mass graves were discovered and the attempts revealed the full phases of Nazi occupation.
But in the second half of the 20th century an understanding between France and Germany came to the conclusion that both nations were geographically and politically bound. That character later helped to set up the European Union, a project originally designed to preserve peace in Europe, but now a much more expansive economic and political endeavor.
As the union union is now under unsurpassed pressure both inside and outside, Macron and Merkel are seen as their most powerful protector. On Sunday, Germany’s right-wing alternative Alternatives to Germany caused a rebellion when it suggested that Merkel should have refrained from participating in the Paris after-war show this weekend because Germany did not win the war. At the same time, the approval classes for Macron release as populists left and right get new speed.
But both Macron and Merkel have struggled to meet these challengers. Merkel will descend from his party’s leadership in December to host the party base, dissatisfied with low reconciliation ratings, with some who expect his departure as a German leader just a few months away. Macron’s ambitious plans to reform E.U. has stalled among Germany’s domestic woes and their own challenges at home.
In Eastern and Central Europe, forces such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban have taken power and while benefiting from E.U. financing, they constantly track against the leadership of the League. For them, Merkel, Macron and Brussels are synonymous with a bleak liberal project that has allowed many immigrants to Europe and is now returning as a result of a popular backlash.
And so, of course, Brexit and a US president who did not seem to be particularly touched by unity visa shown this weekend.
An optimistic interpretation of Saturday’s rare unitedness, next to a witness of World War II, would be that the experience of these conflicts paved the way for a political project that has been sufficiently powerful to resist assembly polarization , at least so far.
It is unclear whether the Merkel-Macron alliance will survive intact or how long it may be. Like Merkel and Macron held hands this weekend, some not only felt unity but also melancholy, with Merkel facing an uncertain future in German politics.
The “old demons”, as mentioned later, referring to nationalism and conflict, could easily come back to chaos and death. With the memory of World War II slowly, and most witnesses who are already dead, Macron’s supporters say that conflicts become more likely again.
In the case of the 100-year-old lady at least optimism won on Saturday.
“I’ll be here next year,” she said, picking up Macron.
“I too,” Macron replied.
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