Macron and Scholz pledge to not give up dialogue with Russia

epa09708788 German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron hold a joint press conference before their meeting in Berlin, Germany, 25 January 2022. The meeting will focus on the French EU Council Presidency and the German G7 Presidency, current international issues and bilateral relations. EPA-EFE/Kay Nietfeld / POOL

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, who met in Berlin Tuesday, were eager to project unity in the face of the Ukraine crisis and vowed to “keep open all channels of dialogue” with Russia.

“We are all very vigilant and are working on common responses”, Macron told reporters, stressing that Germany and France were “united” on the issue. “We are both working to deescalate the situation”, he added.

Both leaders stressed the importance of the different dialogue formats between the Western allies, Ukraine and Russia. Scholz said the so-called Normandy format, consisting of Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany, is a “special contribution that we can make”.

Asked what the two countries would be willing to do in case of a Russian invasion into Ukrainian territory, Scholz said they had “made clear that any military intervention would have consequences and would have a high price”. Russia would need to take steps towards de-escalation, he added.

Macron visited Berlin on Tuesday for bilateral talks with Scholz, six weeks after Scholz visited Paris. The two leaders met to discuss Germany’s G7 presidency for 2022 and the French EU presidency, which ends in June.

“It is good that we coordinate these two tasks”, Scholz said, promising “all of his support” to Macron for his presidency priorities. The upcoming legislative priorities discussed by the two included the areas of the environment, digital, defence and the rule of law.

“We want to work towards an industrial modernisation that enables us to reconcile prosperity and climate protection”, Scholz said. Among other things, this would entail supporting the EU’s climate package “Fit for 55”.

Macron also stressed that digitalisation was a priority for both countries, which they would pursue, for example, through investments in artificial intelligence and the production of semiconductors.

Strengthening the EU’s digital sovereignty is among France’s EU Council presidency priorities.

(Clara Bauer-Babef | I Julia Dahm I

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