Macron, Scholz plan Berlin dinner to talk energy crisis, Russia tensions – POLITICO

BERLIN/PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron plans to travel to Berlin on Monday to meet German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for a working lunch, three officials familiar with the trip’s preparations told POLITICO.

The meeting, which is conditional on Scholz recovering from COVID, would fall on a historic date – October 3, the day of German reunification. The aim would be to align France and Germany’s positions ahead of an informal EU summit in Prague on Thursday and Friday.

High on the expected agenda are the energy crisis, the gas price cap, the recent explosions in the Baltic Sea pipeline and new sanctions against Russia, which the European Commission notes suggested On Wednesday.

The two also plan to discuss support for Ukraine and Franco-German defense cooperation — a tense topic as both France and Germany have been criticized for failing to offer Kyiv adequate military aid and failing to ensure a credible autonomous European defense.

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Also on the table: the “MidCat” gas pipeline from the Iberian Peninsula to Northern Europe. The French government said on Wednesday it was reviewing whether to drop its opposition to the completion of the gas and hydrogen pipeline.

Neither Berlin nor Paris officially confirmed the meeting because of Scholz’s positive coronavirus test on Monday. However, a spokesman for Scholz told reporters on Monday that the chancellor was “quite hopeful” that he would recover within a week so he could attend German reunification celebrations in Erfurt on Monday.

According to the preliminary plan, Scholz would return to Berlin after the celebrations to receive Macron for a working lunch that will likely take place at Schloss Meseberg, a baroque palace north of Berlin used as a government guest house.

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Many will be watching if the meeting coincides with the announcement of new weapons for Ukraine. Both leaders are under pressure to send main battle tanks to Ukraine as part of a stepped-up aid package. But while Macron is expected to announce more weapons for Kyiv soon, such as B. Caesar howitzers, according to official figures, main battle tanks will probably not be on the list.

“[The Ukrainians] have made some inquiries, particularly for the Caesars,” Macron told reporters in New York last week. “We made deliveries, we will make some more. We have other equipment.”

In a telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday, Scholz emphasized “that Germany will not stop supporting Ukraine politically, financially and with humanitarian aid, as well as with arms deliveries to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity. ‘ said a spokesman.

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Scholz has further high-level meetings planned for next week: on Tuesday he will receive Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Berlin for German-Dutch climate talks before traveling to the northern Spanish city of A Coruña on Wednesday for Spanish-German government consultations.

On Thursday, Scholz will continue his trip to Prague for the first meeting of the “European Political Community”, a Macron-initiated summit of heads of state and government from EU and neighboring countries. On Friday, the heads of state and government of the EU will meet in Prague for an informal summit of the European Council.

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