France Hosts German Political Leader

German opposition leader Angela Merkel is in Paris for meetings with high-level French officials, including President Jacques Chirac. Ms. Merkel wants to send a message that she will continue supporting historically close bilateral ties, if she is elected Germany's next chancellor.

Angela Merkel told reporters in Paris that the relationship between France and Germany was part of her tradition, and part of the tradition of her Christian Democrat Party. Ms. Merkel's spoke just after she met with President Chirac at the Elysee Presidential Palace in Paris.

Many analysts believe that Ms. Merkel may very likely become Germany's new leader if the country holds elections in September. Polls show her party well ahead of the Social Democrats of Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

Aurore Wanlin, a researcher at the Center for European Reform in London, says Ms. Merkel's trip to Paris is a chance to buff up her international qualifications. A former East German, Ms. Merkel has focused largely on domestic politics.

"She really does not know about France and she really does not know about the French-German relationship," she said. "She has a profile in Germany."

Angela Merkel, right, meets with Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris
Besides talks with Mr. Chirac, Ms. Merkel also met with French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin and the country's interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy - who also heads the ruling Union for a Popular Movement party.

A strong French-German relationship was for years considered the motor of the European Union. Ties have been particularly close between Mr. Chirac and Mr. Schroeder, who have presented a united front on many issues - most notably in their opposition to the war in Iraq.

But more recently, the two countries have divided on several European subjects. French voters rejected the EU constitution, which the German parliament passed. And the two governments do not see eye to eye on the European budget.

And despite some critics who suggest that the Franco-German axis is no longer relevant in Europe, Ms. Wanlin believes its still important.

"When France and Germany manage to agree on a project, and to solve their differences and when they manage to convince the others to go along with them, then the European Union is in good shape," she said.

In some ways Ms. Wanlin says, President Chirac has more in common with Ms. Merkel, despite his close relationship with the German chancellor.

For example, she thinks Ms. Merkel is more supportive of keeping generous EU agricultural subsidies than Mr. Schroeder will be. On the other hand, Ms. Merkel has said she wants closer ties with the United States if she becomes Germany's next leader. France, Ms. Wanlin adds, may not be happy about that.


This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs