French President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Berlin on Monday for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz about the war in Ukraine.
It is the French leader's first trip abroad since being reelected for a second term last month.
He was received with military honors at the chancellery ahead of a scheduled closed-door meeting and working dinner.
At a press conference before the talks, Scholz praised the Franco-German friendship and told reporters "we stand side by side with Ukraine as part of the European family."
The chancellor said Russia's invasion of its neighbor was "a turning point in history," that required European countries to work together.
"We support Ukraine morally, financially, and militarily — with weapons," Scholz said. "It cannot be the case that borders in Europe can be moved around with violence. And we will do everything we can to ensure the war does not spread to other countries and to enhance our defense capabilities."
Macron said he wanted to "emphasize the importance of the Franco-German friendship" by going to Berlin on the first international trip since his inauguration. In what is a tradition for Berlin and Paris, Scholz also made France his first foreign destination after becoming chancellor last year.
The French president said the two countries would "create a Europe that is stronger, that is prepared to tackle great challenges," such as digitalization and climate protection.
"We will also strengthen our joint positions in terms of defense and foreign policy," Macron said.
"The war that Russia launched in Ukraine has a deep impact on all of us, on our citizens, on Europe, and it has led to joint action in order to try and ... achieve some sort of cessation of hostilities and protect Ukraine," he added.
He said European countries would continue to support Ukraine while increasing sanctions on Moscow.
Both leaders also stressed the importance of reducing reliance on fossil fuels from Russia and limiting the impact of food and energy supply problems exacerbated by the conflict.
Macron wants broader 'European community'
Earlier Monday, Macron addressed the European Parliament in Strasbourg and called for a number of sweeping reforms to revamp the EU. His speech marked the end of a major citizens' dialogue looking at the future of the bloc.
It also came on May 9, when the EU typically commemorates peace and unity in Europe. But this year the occasion was overshadowed by the war in Ukraine. The date is also Victory Day in Russia, where the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany was marked with a military parade.
"We have given two very different images of May 9,'' Macron said. "On the one side, there was a desire for a demonstration of force and intimidation and a resolutely war-like speech, and there was here ... an association of citizens and parliamentarians — national and European — for a project on our future.''
In his speech, Macron said it would take "years if not decades" for a candidate like Ukraine to join the EU under current protocols, even if Kyiv is "already a member of the family of the European Union."
He proposed the formation of a new type of "political European community" that would allow democratic states outside the EU, such as Ukraine, to join in "European core values."
Meanwhile, on May 8, when France and Germany recall Nazi Germany's capitulation in 1945, Scholz said there could be "no peace under Russian dictatorship" in Ukraine, saying neither Kyiv nor Berlin would accept this. He said he was "convinced" that Russian President Vladimir Putin would not win the conflict.
"Ukraine will prevail. Freedom and security will win the day — just as freedom and security triumphed over oppression, violence and dictatorship 77 years ago," Scholz said.
nm/msh (AFP, dpa)