Professional bodybuilder Dayana Cadeau of Canada poses during a press conference for the 2007 Ms. Olympia in Las Vegas, Nevada September 27, 2007. Ms. Olympia finals will be held September 28. NO SALES NO ARCHIVES REUTERS/Las Vegas News Bureau/Brian Jones (UNITED STATES). NO ARCHIVES. NO SALES. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel follows a session of the house of parliament 'Bundestag' in Berlin September 20, 2007. The Bundestag discussed on Thursday the possibility of extending for another year the German military presence in Afghanistan. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke (GERMANY)
by Emsie FerreiraSat Sep 15, 11:09 PM ET AFP
Four months after Nicolas Sarkozy became France's new president, a cool wind is blowing between Paris and Berlin as tensions appear in his pivotal relationship with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
From a bruising European Union summit in June, through weeks of simmering discord over the independence of the European Central Bank to a patronising remark on nuclear power last Monday, Sarkozy has repeatedly offended Merkel, observers in both capitals say.
The German daily Rheinische Post spoke of a "deep crisis" between the leaders of the two countries who regard themselves as the driving force of the EU.
French right-wing newspaper Le Figaro reported that the reserved chancellor has become increasingly irritated at Sarkozy's "rough and ready" manner.
It said she resents his attempts to claim the credit for collective successes on the European front, like the hard-won accord in Brussels on a new governing treaty for the EU and Libya's release of the six condemned Bulgarian medics in July.
And German officials suggest the chancellor is uncomfortable with Sarkozy's warm but familiar way of kissing and hugging her whereas his predecessor Jacques Chirac kept his distance with an old-fashioned kiss on the hand.The French president signalled that the gloves came off during a bilateral meeting at a baroque castle at Meseberg outside Berlin on Monday and that the antagonism between him and Merkel is mutual at the moment.
French government spokesman Laurent Wauquiez said Sarkozy told his cabinet that his latest talks with the first German chancellor to grow up in the former communist east were "very frank" -- diplomatic speak for heated.
"He added that one has to get to know the person behind the words, that Germany had undergone a profound change and that the personality of Madame Merkel, a woman from the east with all that that entails, also marks a change," Wauquiez said.
Sarkozy is reported to have lost his temper with German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck in Brussels in July when he criticised France's budget policy and to have waited in vain for Merkel to rebuke her minister.Observers say there has been tension in the air from the outset between Sarkozy and Merkel, who has been lauded for her low-key but deft touch on the international stage.
Sarkozy flew to Berlin hours after his inauguration on May 16 to show that, like his post-war predecessors, he values France's special relationship with Germany.
But the German media reported that the mood between him and Merkel was strained already over dinner that night.A guest editorial by French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in Le Figaro on Friday called for unity, and said even friends were allowed to disagree sometimes.
"The few misunderstandings or prejudices that sometimes make themselves felt between our two countries detract nothing from the richness of our partnership," he wrote.
The newspaper offered relationship advice for the power couple.
Sarkozy, it said, should respect Merkel's lack of political room to manoeuvre at home.
And the chancellor should learn from former chancellor Konrad Adenauer who said that when dealing with the French, one must salute their flag three times before getting down to business.
Fri Sep 14, 3:19 PM ET
China has summoned Germany's ambassador in Beijing to discuss Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to grant the Dalai Lama an unprecedented meeting this month, the German foreign ministry said Friday.
A spokesman confirmed a report due to appear in Monday's edition of the Handelsblatt business daily that ambassador Michael Schaefer has been called to a meeting with Chinese authorities.
The German government's chief spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, announced earlier on Friday that Merkel will receive Tibet's exiled spiritual leader at the chancellery in Berlin on September 23.
It will mark the first time that the Dalai Lama has been received there, he told reporters.
Asked if the visit would offend China, which Merkel visited in August, Wilhelm had said Beijing was aware of Berlin's position on Tibet.
"Human rights issues related to Tibet is an issue that we always bring up with the Chinese side, especially during the bilateral German-Chinese human rights dialogue but also in the EU-China human rights talks," he said.
The Handelsblatt report also states that China has repeatedly pressed Germany to refuse the Dalai Lama permission to enter the country, but that Berlin has rejected the demand.
The Dalai Lama, whose worldly name is Tenzin Gyatso, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent campaign against Chinese rule in Tibet.
He makes frequent visits to Europe to promote the cause of Tibet, but in recent years has backed off from pushing for Tibetan independence, campaigning instead for the Himalayan region to have "genuine autonomy".
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is surrounded by Opel CEO Hans Demant (L) and Carl-Peter Forster, CEO of General Motors Europe as she sits in a Flextreme concept car during her visit at the 62st International Car Show IAA in Frankfurt September 13, 2007. The world's biggest car show will be open to public until September 23. REUTERS/Alex Grimm (GERMANY)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel reacts during a session of the house of parliament 'Bundestag' in Berlin September 12, 2007. The members of the Bundestag on Wednesday discuss the federal budget for the year 2008. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (GERMANY)
A Giuliani spokeswoman (said) that he was "proud of his Italian heritage and has a record celebrating the country's culture and the important contributions Italian-American have made."
That group could include actor Tony Sirico, who played the menacing Paulie Walnuts on "The Sopranos" and recently endorsed Giuliani.
"I love him," said Sirico. "Ya hear what I said? I love him."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes French President Nikolas Sarkozy for talks at the government's guest house, Meseberg Palace in the village Meseberg north of Berlin on Monday, Sept. 10, 2007. (AP Photo/Herbert Knosowski, Pool)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) hugs French President Nicolas Sarkozy after a news conference at the government guest house 'Schloss Meseberg', some 70 kilometres (43.5 miles) north of Berlin September 10, 2007. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (GERMANY)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel (R) welcomes French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the government guest house 'Schloss Meseberg', some 70 kilometres (43.5 miles) north of Berlin September 10, 2007. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (GERMANY)
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (R) watches as Chancellor Angela Merkel (C under umbrella) welcomes French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the government guest house 'Schloss Meseberg', some 70 kilometres (43.5 miles) north of Berlin September 10, 2007. REUTERS/Tobias Schwarz (GERMANY)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, right, welcomes French President Nicolas Sarkozy during heavy rainfall for talks at the government's guesthouse, Meseberg palace in the village of Meseberg, Germnay, Monday, Sept. 10, 2007. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007. German authorities said Wednesday they had arrested three suspected Islamic terrorists for allegedly plotting attacks on Frankfurt International Airport, one of Europe's busiest, along with nearby Ramstein Air Base, a key U.S. and NATO military hub. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
A spider monkey rests at the Zoological Garden in San Jose, August 20, 2007. Costa Rica has lost up to half of its monkeys over the last 12 years as developers expanding into their jungle habitat isolate them in small communities. The spider monkey has been the most affected, its population falling to 7,000 from 26,000 a dozen years ago, said University of Costa Rica ecologist Ronald Sanchez. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate (COSTA RICA)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefs the media at a news conference with Lebanon Prime Minister Fuad Siniora, not seen, in Berlin on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2007. German authorities said Wednesday they had arrested three suspected Islamic terrorists for allegedly plotting attacks on Frankfurt International Airport, one of Europe's busiest, along with nearby Ramstein Air Base, a key U.S. and NATO military hub.(AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
Merkel "continued to impress the world with her cool leadership at two back-to-back summits," Forbes said.
The magazine cited her work getting leaders at the Group of Eight summit to agree to goals for cutting greenhouse gas emissions and persuading European Union leaders to get moving on a treaty to replace their failed constitution.