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Sarkozy tries to slip Merkel some nukes

MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images The French and the Germans have cooperated on many fronts since the end of World War II. Their partnership is largely credited with driving economic growth in Europe, and both countries champion further European integration. Now, French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to take the relationship to a whole new level. According to ...

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MICHAEL URBAN/AFP/Getty Images

The French and the Germans have cooperated on many fronts since the end of World War II. Their partnership is largely credited with driving economic growth in Europe, and both countries champion further European integration. Now, French President Nicolas Sarkozy wants to take the relationship to a whole new level.

According to a report in Der Spiegel, Sarkozy, in a recent meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, asked if Germany would be interested in some French nuclear weapons. Der Spiegel explains the German reaction thusly:

Both the chancellor and her foreign minister were speechless. The idea of possessing nuclear weapons is taboo in Germany. Sarzoky’s predecessor Jacques Chirac cautiously brought up the issue 12 years ago, but he quickly realized it was pointless to pursue it.

Steinmeier eventually explained that as Germany had signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; it wasn’t interested in French nukes. Merkel said nothing. 

Sarkozy’s offer is the latest in a series of odd incidents between the French and the Germans. For instance, Sarkozy asked Merkel to force German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück to publicly apologize for contradicting the French president at an EU meeting over the independence of the Central European Bank. Merkel told Sarkozy she couldn’t reprimand Steinbrück, as he was articulating German policy. 

Disputes over more substantive issues like Iraq have also emerged. The Germans were miffed when French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visited Baghdad recently to express support for U.S. policy. Berlin was also upset by France’s nuclear agreement with Libya. Both were done without consultation.

What does this new dynamic between France and Germany mean for the rest of Europe? Der Speigel says it best: “It’s possible that Europe’s legendary Franco-German motor might shift into neutral for a while.”

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