You ensured Europe ‘remains united’ – Macron’s final toast to outgoing…

  • French
    President Emmanuel Macron sent off outgoing German chancellor Angela Merkel in
    style, praising her accomplishments.
  • Merkel
    will stand down after 16 years when a new German coalition government is formed,
    following a 26 September national vote.
  • Macron
    hosted Merkel in the Burgundy wine vicinity, presenting her with France’s highest
    award, the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour.

PARIS
– French President Emmanuel Macron gave Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela
Merkel an affectionate and stylish send-off on Wednesday, praising her for
keeping Europe united by years of crisis.

Welcoming
her in the heart of the Burgundy wine vicinity, instead of at a formal state
dinner at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris – where Merkel has known four
French presidents – Macron thanked her for her patience with him and the
lessons she has taught him.

As he presented Merkel with France’s highest award, the
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, Macron said:

Since you have become chancellor, France has learned to know you and to love you.

Macron
said Merkel had first worked with French president Jacques Chirac, then with
Nicolas Sarkozy to confront the financial crisis and keep the euro zone
together, with Francois Hollande to confront terrorism and 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.

Champions of European integration

Macron
and his wife Brigitte gave Merkel and her husband Joachim Sauer a tour of the
15th-century Hospices de Beaune, a former hospital for the poor which now
houses an annual charity auction of Burgundy wines.

At
dusk, hundreds of well-wishers lined the streets as the two presidential
couples walked around the cobble-stoned streets during Merkel’s farewell visit
to France as chancellor.

“This
is a wonderful place where you can really experience France,” Merkel said.

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) congratulates outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R), flanked by her husband Joachim Sauer (L) during the ceremony of the Grand Cross, the highest distinction of the Legion d’Honneur, in Beaune, Eastern France, on 3 November 2021.

The
two leaders made no political statements in Beaune, where their predecessors
Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterrand called for closer European integration
during a Franco-German summit in 1993.

Both
champions of European integration, Macron and Merkel worked together closely
during the Covid-19 crisis, though they were not regarded as being as close as
Merkel and her fellow conservative Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president from
2007 to 2012. Their cooperation during the euro zone crisis earned them the
moniker “Merkozy”.

Merkel,
67, who has led her country for 16 years, will stand down when a new German
coalition government has been formed following a 26 September national vote in
which she did not seek re-election.

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