BERLIN (Reuters) - French President Emanuel Macron urged lawmakers in Germany's lower house of parliament to join him in living up to the legacy of late statesman Wolfgang Schaeuble in a speech on Monday that was mostly in German.
Macron, who studied German at school but does not speak it fluently, practiced ahead of his address at the ceremony in the Bundestag honouring Schaeuble, French officials said.
The gesture comes as French-German ties are strained by disagreements on energy, industry and defence policy that are exacerbated by a lack of chemistry between charismatic Macron and his tight-lipped German counterpart, Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Schaeuble, who grew up in the shadow of the Second World War and served as a member of the German parliament for more than half a century, was a fervent defender of the Franco-German relationship which he saw as key to broader European peace and prosperity.
"The life of this great German, this great European, shows that he saw the changes of his country and the implementation of the European project as all part of one whole," Macron said.
The French-German bond helped two countries blossom again after the war, he said.
"The German-French friendship is the guarantor of that formula as the fundamental connector link of Europe."
Schaeuble devoted much of his career to re-unifying Germany and later served as former chancellor Angela Merkel's finance minister during the eurozone debt crisis. He died in late December, aged 81.
"Now an era after Wolfgang Schaeuble begins. Let us take on this legacy and be up to the task," Macron said.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Sarah Marsh; Additional Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Andrew Heavens)