Ukraine dominates Hollande meeting with Merkel
Issued on: Modified:
The crisis in Ukraine topped the agenda of French President Francois Hollande's two-day visit to Germany. Aimed at strengthening ties between the two heads of state, it was finally the tense stand-off with Moscow over Kiev that brought the leaders together.
"Between France and Germany, there is a mutual understanding and we're constantly reviving our close ties", François Hollande announced on Saturday, during a joint declaration with the German chancellor.
But it was on the pressing issue of Ukraine, that the two leaders at the heart of Europe reignited their personal chemistry.
In the picturesque coastal town of Stralsund in Germany where Hollande kicked off his two-day trip, the political duo sought to improve their rocky relationship, after months of divisions, on everything including how best to tackle the eurozone crisis.
Socialist Hollande has advocated stimulus measures to boost growth, whilst Merkel is the champion of fiscal discipline.
In the end, the divisions between Berlin and Paris were swept aside by the recent tensions in Ukraine.
In a joint press conference, the two leaders warned that Russia could face serious "consequences" if it did anything to jeopardize presidential elections at the end of the month.
"Our objective, our demand, is for an indisputable presidential election to take place on 25 May. It must be transparent, and it must give the elected president indespensible legitimacy," the president said.
Both he and Merkel stated that Sunday's referundums by pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine were "illegal", but asked that Kiev refrain from taking offensive measures against them.
"We have condemned the Sunday referendums, which have no legitimacy. We have deplored the provocations and the losses of lives, several dozens in different cities. So, we have also called for a de-escalation."