It was to be the beginning of a new chapter in Franco-German friendship: Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier had invited his French counterpart Emmanuel Macon to a three-day state visit to Germany from Sunday. But on Saturday, Macron was forced to cancel at short notice because of the serious unrest in France that had been going on for days.
Officially, the state visit has only been postponed, but no new date has been set for the time being. Politically, Macron could hardly have afforded to dine at the state banquet in the garden of Bellevue Palace or to cruise across the Spree with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) while town halls, schools and police stations were burning at home.
The refusal should be all the more embarrassing for Macron, as he already received the state visit of British King Charles III in the spring. had to postpone. At that time, too, there were violent riots in the country, at the time against the controversial pension reform.
This time, the death of a 17-year-old shot dead by a police officer triggered the riots. It was the spark in the fuse, and since then hair-raising scenes have been taking place in France every night, bringing back memories of the suburban riots of 2005 in many French people.
"The postponement of the state visit has nothing to do with the state of Franco-German relations," emphasizes Christophe Arend, office manager of the Franco-German cultural representative Anke Rehlinger (SPD). This was different last fall, when the joint Council of Ministers was postponed because there was no progress on several issues.
In Paris, the significance of the cancellation is downplayed. The state visit was primarily symbolic in nature, there was no political reason, it said. Macron and Scholz see each other regularly anyway, most recently at the EU summit on Thursday and Friday in Brussels.
There, too, Macron had to leave earlier because of the situation in France. Irrespective of the postponed state visit, the situation in France is ultimately weighing on Franco-German relations.
"In Germany, there is growing concern about the president's ability to act," says Yann Wernert, a political scientist at the Jacques Delors Center in Berlin. Increasingly, the question arises as to how strong the partner is with whom Berlin is doing politics together.
On the German side, the state visit was primarily described as an opportunity to once again appropriately celebrate the Franco-German friendship that had become commonplace. There was talk in Macron's environment that it was necessary to "raise your eyes".
In the eyes of critics, the visit should have covered up the fact that there have been numerous Franco-German tensions in recent months - from the ongoing conflict over nuclear power to joint armament projects, which include an air combat system and a battle tank, to the development of a European missile defense system , where the ideas of both countries are far apart.
In the best-case scenario, Macron's trip to Germany could also have helped to deepen mutual understanding and give new impetus to relations. Macron also wanted to be the first French President to travel to East Germany and give a speech in front of the Frauenkirche in Dresden.
A missed opportunity. But after the summer break, the next appointment for Franco-German couple therapy is already scheduled: In October, the governments of both countries are to meet for a two-day closed conference - a new format in which both sides are also supposed to get to know each other informally.