Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Putin congratulates new French president in call

Putin congratulates new French president in call

And with that in mind, France's new President Emmanuel Macron spent his first full day in office visiting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Ms. Merkel said she and Mr. Macron had agreed to "develop anew" their bilateral relationship and that their cabinet ministers would meet shortly after the French parliamentary election in June.

"First we need to work on what we want to change, and then if it turns out it needs a treaty change, then we're prepared to do that", she said.

Macron and Merkel pledged Monday to work closely together to draw up a "road map" of reforms for the European Union.

"If we can answer the questions of why, what for and explain the usefulness of such changes, then Germany would be ready for that anyway", she said, adding that she had briefly discussed this with Macron during the meeting. But she also made clear that treaty changes were not a topic immediately on the table.

Mr. Macron himself sounded a note of skepticism about the political obstacles standing in the way of such major changes.

The government is led by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, a conservative.

In Berlin, the 39-year-old French leader urged a "historic reconstruction" of Europe to battle populism sweeping the continent, following his defeat of far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Forces of division have been closing in on Le Pen since her electoral loss to centrist Emmanuel Macron, but she dismissed the notion that there were links between her loss and a series of events widely seen as potentially weakening her party.

His appointment is a further blow to the Republicans, who have been trying to regroup after the presidential vote and prevent defections to Macron's camp.

Merkel has hailed Macron's win as a blow for populism.

And he asked Macron also to "contribute to the cooperation and solidarity among nations", and to continue to promote "in Europe and in the world the search for peace and common good, the respect of life and the defense of dignity of each person". While Germany's economy - Europe's largest - has been performing well in recent years, France's has stalled.

Speaking in Berlin alongside Ms Merkel, Mr Macron dispelled rumours he wanted to convert national debt into eurozone debt.

She told a G20 trade union event in Berlin on Wednesday that, while Britain would be free to change rules to its own advantage after leaving the bloc, it would pay a price if the EU had to take steps in response to preserve a level playing field.

As a candidate, Mr Macron called for a "new Franco-German deal" that would involve "much more structured co-operation" on investment, on European border security and on defence.

Pope Francis has sent new French President Emmanuel Macron his congratulations and a few words of encouragement.

London's Evening Standard reports the remarks of a close advisor to Macron, who makes explicit the future dynamic he expects to come from the French and German leaders.

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