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Germany

Paris To Berlin, A Unique Chance For Europe

Arch-enemies no more
Arch-enemies no more

-Analysis-

Some new presidents wait three months until they make their first overseas trip. Not Emmanuel Macron. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande, the freshly-elected, 39-year-old French president headed to Berlin today, just 24 hours after his inauguration.

A stronger, more united Europe sits at the top of Macron's agenda, as shown by his election night victory march last week to the strains of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" — the European Union's official anthem. In yesterday's inauguration address, he declared, "We will need a more efficient, democratic and political Europe, because it is the instrument of our power and sovereignty." But how he can actually make that happen remains to be seen.

In Berlin, Macron will meet a reinvigorated Angela Merkel after the Chancellor's CDU party unseated SPD rivals in Sunday's regional elections in Germany's most populous state, North-Rhine Westphalia. It's a victory that bodes well both for Merkel's hopes to secure a fourth term at Germany's helm in national elections in September, and subsequently for Macron's desire to move swiftly on a new, common plan for Europe.

Now the Macron-Merkel duo — "Mackerel"? — must breathe a whole new life into the European project.

As journalists Stefan Kornelius and Christian Wernicke explain in Süddeutsche Zeitung, France and Germany are planning "a new beginning" in their relations and will be looking at ways to bring their cooperation closer, including on security and defense issues. For Sascha Lehnartz, Die Welt"s correspondent in Paris, Macron's "courageous pro-Germanism" is a "unique opportunity" for Germany and for Europe. But there is also an opportunity in teaming up with Macron for Merkel, who, Lehnartz writes, "over the past 12 years didn't stand out as an outspoken Francophile."

In the German as well as in the French press, there is the unmistakable feeling that a new era is opening today. With Macron's victory over Marine Le Pen, the EU just survived a "near-death experience,"Süddeutsche Zeitung"s Stefan Kornelius writes. But now the Macron-Merkel duo — "Mackerel"? — must breathe a whole new life into the European project.

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Geopolitics

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

Turkey's objections to Swedish membership of NATO may mean that Finland joins first. And as he approaches an election at home, Turkish President Erdogan is playing the game to his advantage.

For Erdogan, Blocking Sweden's NATO Bid Is Perfect For His Reelection Campaign

January 11, 2023, Ankara (Turkey): Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the International Conference of the Board of Grievances on January 11.

Turkish Presidency / APA Images via ZUMA Press Wire
Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — This story has all the key elements of our age: the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the excessive ambitions of an autocrat, the opportunism of a right-wing demagogue, Islamophobia... And at the end, a country, Sweden, whose NATO membership, which should have been only a formality, has been blocked.

Last spring, under the shock of the invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin's Russia, Sweden and Finland, two neutral countries in northern Europe, decided to apply for membership in NATO. For Sweden, this is a major turning point: the kingdom’s neutrality had lasted more than 150 years.

Turkey's President Erdogan raised objections. It demanded that Sweden stop sheltering Kurdish opponents in its country. This has nothing to do with NATO or Ukraine, but everything to do with Erdogan's electoral agenda, as he campaigns for the Turkish presidential elections next May.

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