“Impossible is a word to be found only in the dictionary of fools”
– Napoleon Bonaparte
Together they hold a crisis-ridden Europe together.The weakened German Chancellor Angela Merkel needs not to worry. Her liberal democratic mission for Europe will not die down all too soon. The boy whom she was planning to take by hand and show the world is not a minion. Barely fifteen months into the presidency, French President Emmanuel Macron has proven he is capable of leading the continent on his own terms or on Merkel’s lines.
Be it his latest move to woo Turkey, much to the annoyance of Donald Trump or his awe inspiring speech at the US congress that snubbed the Republicans or his no-nonsense attitude towards Brexit and the manner he brokered a deal between France and four other EU countries last week regarding the stranded migrants on a Mediterranean rescue vessel, the 40-year-old French President has already won over the world. Global leaders and the media are awakening to reality that Macron is all but mediocrity. Though nowhere near Napoleon who became emperor of France at the age of 34, Macron fans are making comparisons and claim that in terms of youthful political versatility and innovativeness, Macron certainly is the closest the French have ever got closer to the emperor.
The degree at which the 40 year old French President Emmanuel Macron and the 64 year old German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been complementing each other too is unprecedented in the history of Franco-German relations. Such camaraderie was last seen in global politics largely between United States and United Kingdom during Clinton-Blair and Reagan-Thatcher eras.
The past week was a crucial one.
In the wake of a boiling immigrant crisis in Spain and the Syrian refugee issue taking centre stage in Putin-Merkel talks, Germany’s far right-wingers once again held protests against their Chancellor demanding that she resigns. The domestic protests saw Merkel promising to accelerate the pace of the deportation of rejected asylum seekers.
Meanwhile, Macron brokered a deal between France and four other countries – Germany, Spain, Italy and Luxembourg to harbour 141 migrants stranded on a Mediterranean rescue vessel ending a five-day tug-of-war among European countries as to what was to be done about them. Macron’s dexterity in handling this crisis was lauded by many parties. The European refugee crisis is largely attributed to Merkel by opponents. It’s the price she had to pay for saving ‘humanity”. It’s obvious that instead of being the protégé of Merkel, the French President is fast becoming her saviour.
As per the phone conversation between Merkel and Macron on Friday, both leaders call for a combined European solution as regards rescue two ships and smugglers. The European situation regarding refugees has been compounded with the decision by Italy not to allow private ships into its ports.
Following last week’s domestic protests and refugee crisis in Spain, Chancellor Merkel is now expected to suggest tighter border controls to Macron as well.
She is reportedly planning to reintroduce border controls in boundaries it shares with France and also Switzerland. The German chancellor is already working with Greece and Spain on repatriation of asylum seekers and also holding negotiations with the Italian government.
France and Germany account for around 50 per cent of the Euro Zone output and hence call the shots in the union. However the growing refugee crisis is seeing a new low in Merkel’s popularity and she certainly must be thanking her stars that there’s an Emmanuel Macron to stand by her. Macron’s election last year came at a time when an isolated and battered German Chancellor was desperately looking for an influential partner to back her and carry forward her liberal democratic mission. The young French President has certainly fared beyond her expectations.