'Merkozy' factor: Merkel, Sarkozy bond amid crisis

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2011 2:24 PM
'Merkozy' factor: Merkel, Sarkozy bond amid crisis

Hammering out a plan for a tighter European fiscal union has meant a lot of together time for German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy. And judging by their body language, they've developed a friendlier working relationship as they worked to resolve the continent's debt crisis in recent months.

Melissa Eddy is a Berlin-based AP reporter who's witnessed many meetings involving "Merkozy" _ as the two have become known _ and has taken note of their evolving collaboration. Here are some of her reflections on what she's seen.

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FROM COOL TO WARM

When the two first started working together, their relationship was described as "cool." There was a time when the French press quoted Sarkozy as referring to Merkel as "Madame Non" _ Mrs. No.

This week, the press captured a photo showing Merkel giving Sarkozy "the bises" _ kisses on both cheeks, as is French tradition _ as she greeted him in Paris on Monday.

The warmth was visible and reflected the determination they seemed to have recognized that they will only make progress against the European debt crisis if they stand together.

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A WALK ON THE BEACH

One of the events that is often cited as a turning point in their relationship was the walk along the beach in October 2010, when they were in Deauville, France, at another summit aimed at resolving debt problems.

That was a rare time they were captured in a friendlier pose, with images showing a more personal connection.

Still, there have certainly been closer leaders than Sarkozy and Merkel. Consider two of their predecessors, Germany's Gerhard Schroeder and France's Jacques Chirac. They used to visit one another and spend time together privately.

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MERKOZY: GOOD COP, BAD COP?

The term "Merkozy" has surfaced in the press from time to time, reflecting the view of them as a real duo. But they also complement one another very well.

Merkel is as reserved as Sarkozy is impulsive. She would never have blown off British Prime Minister David Cameron's handshake as Sarkozy did after Cameron said no to the plan for a tighter fiscal union, although one could imagine she was equally displeased with his rejection of their plan.

They were both annoyed, but she always seeks consensus, while he has no bones about making clear how annoyed he is.

It almost seems as if they have somehow figured out how to make their polarized personalities work together as a whole.

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SPEAKING THE SAME LANGUAGE

When engaging in official diplomatic consultations, Merkel and Sarkozy communicate through translators. But they don't always have translators on hand when they're having one-on-one, informal chats.

Ironically _ given events of the past week _ they often find themselves speaking Cameron's language: English _ even if, for Sarkozy at least, it's not the English of Shakespeare.

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Follow Melissa Eddy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/meddybln.