At noon on Friday, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz was received with military honours by President Macron at the Elysée Palace on his inaugural visit to the French capital. “We held cordial talks on the issues that jointly concern us”, said Scholz: “The main point here is how we can go about strengthening Europe.” In addition to cooperating over economic and foreign policy, security policy issues were also crucial, he said.
The talks had established a “good starting point for what needs to be done in the near future”, said the Federal Chancellor. In this connection, he specifically referred to France’s presidency of the European Council (first half of 2022) and Germany’s G7 presidency next year. Based on his talks with Macron, Scholz said he was optimistic that Franco-German relations would continue to develop well.
Situation in Ukraine a cause of concern
Scholz also addressed current political challenges. He was concerned about the situation on the Ukrainian border, he said, where large numbers of Russian soldiers had been deployed. Scholz welcomed the fact that US President Biden had sought talks with Russian President Putin on this issue. “We too will continue to pursue our activities to ensure that Ukraine is able to maintain a positive perspective”, he said, stressing that cooperation in the Normandy format provided a sound basis for working on these issues and ought to be reactivated.
Inviolability of borders essential
Federal Chancellor Scholz spoke of a “shared clarity that the inviolability of borders in Europe is one of the principles that all in Europe must accept in the interest of joint security”. It was not just about power, he urged, but about principles that were binding for all.
Pandemic, climate change, foreign policy
In his appeal to the public the Federal Chancellor had two messages: firstly he called on people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, and secondly he advocated a common EU policy in the fight against the pandemic. Scholz also reaffirmed this collaboration in the fight against climate change: the expansion of renewable energies and the path to a climate-neutral industry could only be mastered based on joint action, he said. Scholz and von der Leyen agreed that the EU must pursue a strong, sovereign foreign policy. Everyone should be able to live in safety and borders should remain non-negotiable, stressed Scholz.
For a better Union
At the start of the meeting with Federal Chancellor Scholz on Friday afternoon, EU Commission PresidentUrsula von der Leyen praised the new German government’s clear commitment to Europe. Together it was possible to create a better Union, she said. German policymakers “have to feel directly responsible for progress in Europe”, said Olaf Scholz in reply at the start of the meeting.
Strong European commitment
It was good to talk about things that were important for Europe’s future, stressed Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz following his talks with the President of the Council of the European Union, Charles Michel. Europe had to be strong and make the most of its capabilities, he said. Michel said he saw Scholz’s inaugural visit as a clear political signal and thanked the Federal Chancellor for his firm European commitment, saying that the talks between the two leaders had particularly served to prepare for the European Council next week and also for the months ahead.
After his inaugural visit to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday evening, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz stressed that security could only work on a joint basis: founded on the NATO, in association with European partners and with reliably equipped Federal Armed Forces. With regard to Ukraine, Scholz reiterated the principle of the inviolability of borders, saying that no threat to integrity would be accepted.