Belarus, Turkey on agenda as Macron and Merkel meet

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) and French President Emmanuel Macron on their way to a press conference after their meeting at the German government's guest house Meseberg Castle in Gransee near Berlin, Germany, 29 June 2020. [EPA-EFE/Kay Nietfeld]

French President Emmanuel Macron will host German Chancellor Angela Merkel next week at his Mediterranean holiday retreat to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the post-election protests in Belarus and growing tensions with Turkey, the presidency said Friday (14 August).

The pair will have a packed agenda for their meeting at the Fort de Bregancon Thursday, with challenges raised by Britain’s departure from the European Union, climate change and the consequences of the devastating blast in Lebanon also set to loom large.

They will look to push ahead with the coronavirus recovery fund for Europe agreed at an EU summit last month and which was seen as evidence the Paris-Berlin motor is driving the EU again.

The two allies will look to coordinate policy on the mass protests in Belarus following President Alexander Lukashenko’s disputed re-election win which the opposition had denounced as a fraud.

They will also discuss mounting tensions between Greece and Turkey over disputed Mediterranean waters, with Macron taking the toughest of lines against Ankara.

The presidency emphasised it was a rare honour for a foreign leader to be invited to the fort — the summer residence of the French president.

“The meeting has an exceptional character as it is the first time (Merkel) is invited to Fort Bregancon by a president of the Republic,” the Elysee palace said.

Last year Macron invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to the mediaeval fortress which belongs to the state. In August 2018, the French president met then-British prime minister Theresa May.

Macron and Merkel last saw each other at the marathon five-day long EU summit that ended on July 21 with member states agreeing to a €750 billion rescue plan for economies left shattered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Germany and France strongly backed the package, which enables joint borrowing by the 27 members of the bloc to help virus-hit countries, particularly Spain and Italy.

The deal was a special victory for Macron, who came to office in 2017 committed to strengthening the European Union but has struggled to deliver

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