| 27 May 2024, Monday |

France’s Macron pays tribute, bids ‘adieu’ to Merkel

Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel was given a warm sendoff by French President Emmanuel Macron, on Wednesday, praising her for helping keep Europe during times of crisis.
Rather than a state dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, Macron opted for a more rustic French experience in the heart of France’s Burgundy wine-growing region.
Macron thanked Merkel for showing patience since he became president and teaching him lessons along the way, as he presented her with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor — France’s highest accolade.
“Since you have become chancellor, France has learned to know you and to love you,” he said, presenting the award.
Macron pointed out that Merkel had first worked with French president Jacques Chirac and then Nicolas Sarkozy to deal with the financial crisis and keep the eurozone together. She had then, he said, worked with Francois Hollande to face terrorism and tackle the immigration crisis, and with himself to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“You have worked to keep Europe together throughout all these shocks. I hope that the lesson you have left us with, to stand firm against strong headwinds and to make sure that everybody remains united and that things do not fall apart, that this will stay with us,” Macron said.
Hundreds of locals had earlier gathered in Beaune’s town square at sunset while the two couples visited a wine shop and received flowers and wine.
“This is a wonderful place where you can really experience France,” Merkel said.
Writing on Twitter in French and German, Macron said: “Welcome to Beaune dear Angela. France loves you.”
In 1993, then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and French President Francois Mitterrand called for closer European integration during a Franco-German summit in Beaune.
During a joint Franco-German Cabinet meeting in June, which was Merkel’s last, Macron thanked her for her work improving bilateral relations.
At that meeting, Macron told Merkel: “Allow me to say how much the Franco-German relationship owes to your commitment, your determination, sometimes your patience with us, and your ability to listen.”
Merkel is standing down after 16 years at the helm in Germany. She will finally relinquish her duties when parties hammering out a coalition in Germany are able to form a government, which they hope to do by December.