Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Socialist French President Visits Conservative German Chancellor

Shortly after taking his oath as the new President of France and a short motorcade in the rain, the new President of France, Francois Hollande wasted no time visiting his German counterpart, Angela Merkel.  While the new President was enroute his plane was struck by lightening and he had to return to France to change aircraft. 

Merkel and Sarkozy had an excellent relationship and the agreement reached to sort out Greece's debt crisis was developed between Merkel and he former French president.  Hollande campaigned on less austerity and more growth. 

Hollande arrived in Berlin to be greeted to with full honours for a state visit, with a military honour guard and all the trimmings.  Hollande's firs official  state visit shortly after he was  sworn in demonstrated the significance of the German/French relationship. 

The media, hungry for results, from the private meeting of these two European heavyweights, assembled in the foyer of the Chancellors office, demonstrating the importance of this relationship and the way forward for Europe. 

While no specific details were discussed, the two leaders attempted to put a positive light on their meeting. 

"We are very pleased, that on the day of his day he official became President, tha the (Hollande) came to us in Germany.  It pleases us even more that he did it, despite lighting striking his aircraft, perhaps this is a good omen for our cooperation,"said Merkel.

"I was very pleased with the official reception, because I wanted to pain a picture of trust, surpassing our diffenrece.  Trust in the work that we want to do together.  I also wanted to convey a picture of co-operation and continuity,  I hope that we will be able to convince Europeans that Germany and France together have the will to work on our relationship and the relationship in Europe overall," said Hollande.

Needless to say, the German and French public have different expectations from their leaders.  Greece is in turmoil and will be having new elections next month, since no coalition could be formed.  The current solution has been austerity, which no doubt hurt the ordinary person on the street. 

Years of neglect and politicians trying to garner votes have brought Greece to the brink of bankruptcy.  Those European leaders that attempt to get their spending under control, with entitlement and pension reform are being punished.  It is no different with Sarkozy and even in Merkel's Germany, where a state election in Nord Rhein Westfalen, showed the door to her Christian Democratic Union this past weekend.

In the United States the election this November is taking on the question of two different ideologies, one of entitlements and more spending, while the other bases its policies on the market place and deficit reduction.

Hollande and Merkel also differ in their approach to Afghanistan.  While Merkel supports the NATO plan to exit the country in 2014, Hollande wants to accomplish this a lot sooner.

The G8 meets later on this month in the United States.  President Obama has invited Hollande to a private meeting prior to the G8 discussions.  Hopefully, by then, the Germans and French will be using the same playbook and sing the same tune.  

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