Riots in France force Macron to postpone state visit to Germany

By Andreas Rinke and Elizabeth Pineau

BERLIN (Reuters) -French President Emmanuel Macron has postponed a state visit to Germany that was to begin on Sunday after four days of nationwide riots since the police killing of a teen presented him with one of the biggest crises of his leadership.

It was the second time this year that unrest in France has forced Macron to postpone high profile encounters with a head of state after Britain’s King Charles cancelled a visit due to protests over pension legislation.

“A state visit is a visit of friendship, purely ceremonial, there will be a better time to do so,” a Macron aide told Reuters, asking not to be named.

“The French would not have understood if he had gone to Germany. These days in Paris are important.”

Macron spoke on the phone on Saturday with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and briefed him on the situation, a spokesperson for the German president said.

The state visit was to see Macron cross Germany from west to east before giving a speech on bilateral relations.

However, for all the planned show of camaraderie, French and German officials had said the leaders would not publicly address simmering disputes over nuclear energy or air defence.

Yann Wernert, of the Jacques Delors Institute think tank in Berlin, said the postponed visit highlighted the unrest’s impact on Macron’s ability to conduct foreign policy.

“The state visit can be made up for later, but the violent protests and the reactions to them also show how charged the political mood in France is at the moment,” he added.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Elizabeth Pineau; writing by Tom Sims and Richard Lough; editing by Giles Elgood and Andrew Cawthorne)