Emmanuel Macron, President of France, visits the democracy festival to mark 75 years of the Basic Law together with Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and they stand at a table football table. French President Macron and his wife are on a three-day state visit to Germany at the invitation of Federal President Steinmeier.Credit: Michael Kappeler/dpa

Berlin (dpa) – Emmanuel Macron arrived in Berlin on Sunday for the first state visit to Germany by a French president in 24 years, a pomp-filled three-day trip that is being described as a tribute to the Franco-German friendship.

Macron and his wife Brigitte arrived on Sunday afternoon, after which the French president is set to attend a so-called Democracy Festival marking the 75th anniversary of Germany’s Basic Law – the democratic constitution adopted in West Germany after World War II.

At the time, West Germany was under occupation by the victorious Western Allies, which included France, Britain and the United States.

Macron and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will engage in a public discussion at the festival.

The French leader is then scheduled to travel to Steinmeier’s nearby official residence, the Bellevue Palace, where he will be greeted with military honours. A joint press conference by the two presidents will follow in the late afternoon.

A walk through the Brandenburg Gate with Berlin Mayor Kai Wagner and a state banquet at Bellevue Palace are set to take place in the evening.

Sunday’s visit comes ahead of European elections to decide the next European Parliament. Far-right EU parties have seen a surge in support in recent years – including in France and Germany – and are expected to do well in the June 6-9 polls.

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The relationship between Paris and Berlin has long been seen as the driving force of European policymaking. But frictions began to emerge in 2022, after Angela Merkel left the German political scene, although Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have recently made efforts to improve cooperation.

Agreement has been found on several issues, including reform of the EU’s debt and deficit rules, but other points of contention remain, notably on the extent of military aid for Ukraine and the EU’s economic policy responses to protectionist measures by China and the United States.

These thorny questions and others are set to be discussed at a meeting of French and German ministers on Tuesday.

Macron and his wife are scheduled to travel to Dresden on Monday. There, he will give a speech on European policy in front of the Frauenkirche – a monumental domed church that is a symbol of post-war reconciliation.

On Tuesday, they are set to travel on to Münster, where Macron will be awarded the Peace of Westphalia Prize.

Macron came to power in France seven years ago and cannot run for a third term in the 2027 next presidential election.

The official state visit is the first by a French president to Germany since 2000, although leaders from both countries regularly meet and visit in less formal ways.

Macron had planned to make the state visit last July. However, the trip was postponed due to nationwide unrest in France following the deadly police shooting of a 17-year-old that shocked the nation.

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