Germany defends Europe visa-free zone after Sarkozy threat
BERLIN - Agence France-Presse
France's President and candidate for the upcoming re-election, Nicolas Sarkozy delivers his speech during an election meeting in Villepinte, north of Paris, France, Sunday March 11, 2012. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)Germany underlined its support for Europe's 26-member visa-free zone Monday after French President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened at an election rally to pull France out of the pact.
Deputy government spokesman Georg Streiter told reporters that Berlin saw Sarkosy's comments on Sunday as part of campaign rhetoric ahead of France's two-round vote in April and May.
And he stressed that Germany had no plans to turn its back on the so-called Schengen passport-free zone.
"Free movement of people is one of the most concrete and important achievements of European integration and represents a fundamental freedom," he said.
"Freedom of movement within the EU is a key asset but otherwise I must ask that you understand that we do not take a stance on discussions in the French election campaign." Sarkozy, who last week said France had too many foreigners, made the threat as he hopes to turn the tide against front-running Socialist Francois Hollande in the presidential election.
The so-called Schengen passport-free zone must urgently be overhauled to fight the flow of illegal immigration, said the right-wing leader, returning to a constant theme in his bid for another five-year term.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come out in support of Sarkozy in his re-election bid over Hollande, largely due to the conservatives' shared views on tackling the eurozone debt crisis.