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New Franco-German initiatives: Foreign Minister Le Drian on first official visit to Berlin France

22.05.2017 - Article

Just a few days after being appointed, the new French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian met Foreign Minister Gabriel in Berlin.

The new French Foreign Minister since 17 May, his first trip abroad only a few days later brought him to Berlin. Jean-Yves Le Drian met Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on Monday (22 May). The talks focused on Europe’s future.

“Europe cannot move forward without France and Germany.”

Keen to advance the Franco-German partnership: Gabriel and his counterpart Le Drian
Keen to advance the Franco-German partnership: Gabriel and his counterpart Le Drian© Gottschalk/photothek.net

“France and Germany are not Europe, but Europe cannot move forward without France and Germany,” stated Foreign Minister Gabriel after his talks with his new French opposite number, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Gabriel stressed that Emmanuel Macron’s election and the new French Government presented a great opportunity not only for France but also for Europe. Germany and France therefore wanted to continue to work closely together in Europe, emphasised the two Ministers.

Gabriel went on to say that the EU was in a difficult state at present. New initiatives were now needed, for example in the economic and employment spheres, initiatives aimed at safeguarding jobs and combating youth unemployment, as well as securing the EU’s external borders. Furthermore, peace and stability had to be fostered in Europe’s neighbouring regions. Germany and France wanted to continue being close partners in all areas and advancing changes.

Reforming the eurozone

Gabriel stressed that it was important that Franco-German initiatives remained acceptable to other European states. With regard to the EU as a whole, the eurozone had to be reformed. The economic and financial policies of the member states had to be more closely integrated, for example through a joint eurozone budget.

Stabilisation in Africa

New colleagues: Foreign Minister Gabriel waiting outside the Federal Foreign Office for Jean-Yves Le Drian
New colleagues: Foreign Minister Gabriel waiting outside the Federal Foreign Office for Jean-Yves Le Drian© Gottschalk/photothek.net

Another area in which Germany and France want to cooperate especially closely in future is fostering stabilisation and crisis prevention in Africa. Gabriel stated that France was very active in Africa, both in military and political terms, and that Germany wanted to provide support in future and place a special focus on Africa in its cooperation with France.

“This was a good start and I’m looking forward to working together,” summed up Gabriel once the talks had ended. Although this was the first meeting between Le Drian and Gabriel as Foreign Ministers, it was not the first time they had met. As Defence Minister under President Hollande, Jean-Yves Le Drian frequently visited Berlin. He stated that he was pleased his first trip had brought him to Berlin.

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