Macron: I really think our Europe can die

Macron meeting with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier/Photo: EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN

Emmanuel Macron began the first state visit by a French president to Germany in 24 years with warm words for his hosts.

"Franco-German relations are crucial and important for Europe," Macron said at the start of his three-day state visit to Germany.

He rejected the suggestion that relations between the two countries, often described as the engine of Europe, had begun to weaken. After landing in Berlin, Macron immediately traveled to the government quarter to meet President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and attend a democracy-themed festival.

Steinmeier welcomed Macron and called his visit "proof of the depth of Franco-German friendship". He said that despite sometimes differing on individual political points, Berlin and Paris always "reach an agreement in the end".

"If Germany and France are united, then a lot can still be achieved in Europe," he said, German news agency DPA reported.

Macron also emphasized the importance of the European elections in June and called the European Union the defender of democracy and common values.

The European elections, less than two weeks away, and confirmation of the importance of Franco-German relations in moving the EU forward will be at the center of a trip that will take him to different regions of the country.

"I think we are experiencing an existential moment in our Europe, because I really think our Europe could die," Emmanuel Macron said, French AFP reported.

"There is a form of fascination with authoritarianism that is born in our democracies (…) that also feeds nationalism and extremes on our continent," he pointed out.

"What would this Europe be like if it had been ruled by nationalists in recent years", Macron asked and answered that "we would not have had a vaccine (...), a European recovery plan, the capacity to respond to migration challenges in Europe, we would not have had a European Green Deal and capacity to manage decarbonisation”.

"We would leave Ukraine to support Russia, which is supported by all the nationalists in our countries, and therefore the story will not be the same," claimed the French leader.

"For all these reasons, it is important to vote for the Europeans," concluded Emmanuel Macron, calling for a "struggle" for democracy.

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