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Main focus of Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Paris and Berlin celebrate their friendship

Merkel welcomed Hollande as her guest on the eve of the celebrations marking the anniversary of the Friendship Treaty. (© AP/dapd)

Members of parliament from Germany and France celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty today, Tuesday, with a joint session in the Bundestag. The governments of both states want to promote even closer cooperation on the occasion of the anniversary. Commentators lament that the relations between the two countries have cooled considerably under Merkel and Hollande, and put their hopes in close people-to-people ties.

Les Echos - France

The relationship lacks that certain spark

The German-French friendship may not be faring as poorly as has often been made out in recent months, but nevertheless it lacks that certain spark for a successful common future, the liberal business paper Les Echos believes: "Half-way between a tired ritual and the celebration of real successes that only came about after prolonged trench warfare: that's what a good number of French and Germans will say when they see images of today's ceremonies in Berlin marking the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty. ... In fact, the pessimism that hovers over the Franco-German friendship is excessive. For half a century, relations between the two countries have been complex, and compromises difficult to reach. We all know that neither the reunification nor the common currency were conceived on a bed of roses. No, what is lacking in Franco-German relations is the fire of passion and the breath of life to keep that fire alive. The fire that is lacking: the elites of the two countries are less attached than previous generations to this special relationship. The breath that is lacking: after the euro, the next objective to be pursued is far from clear." (22/01/2013)

Der Standard - Austria

Franco-German partnership is passé

The Elysée Treaty of 1963 was the centrepiece of European unity, but the times of strong Franco-German cooperation have ended, the left-liberal daily Der Standard laments: "Who would have believed that in the midst of Europe's financial crisis German academics would already be debating about the 'German hegemony' and how to deal with Germany's leading role? Germany accounts for just under 20 percent of the EU's population, but it contributes 30 percent of the economic growth. Now French President François Hollande, together with the crisis-stricken southerly countries Italy and Spain, is trying to form an axis against Germany's dominion under Angela Merkel. The anniversary of the Elysée Treaty may be marked with celebrations, but there is no chance of a fresh start between Paris and Berlin, either on a personal or a factual level, and that means there's no chance of overcoming the European crisis." (22/01/2013)

Berliner Zeitung - Germany

Friendship works without politics

The Elysée Treaty is a success story that can't be stopped even if Hollande and Merkel don't get along particularly well, the left-liberal daily Berliner Zeitung writes: "The French President François Hollande doesn't like the chancellor. And she finds his concept of how to save the euro misguided. In the French election campaign, Merkel wanted to help prevent Hollande from winning. As we know, that backfired. Now the couple carries this baggage around with it. And that very fact exemplifies why there really is something to celebrate in Berlin today: in the anniversary year of the Elysée Treaty, relations between Germans and French have never been this close. And that despite the differences between their leaders. ... Large and small companies do cross-border business, both countries are each other's biggest trading partner. Ministries and other authorities engage in regular exchanges. There are more than 2,200 twinning arrangements and year for year a huge number of school children, university students and tourists who are eager to explore the partner country." (22/01/2013)

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