An Arduous Friendship: Differences of Opinion Mark Franco-German Relations

50th anniversary of the Elysée TreatyIt’s time to stop talking about Franco-German friendship. At least that’s what Bruno Le Maire believes. Mr. Le Maire, who served as France’s agriculture minister under Sarkozy, also as the state secretary in charge of European Affairs, likely knows Germany better than anyone else in France’s National Assembly. Le Maire visits Berlin regularly, speaks excellent German and considers the Chancellor Angela Merkel to be a politician of “historical magnitude”. Yet Le Maire feels few in France share his affinity for their country’s eastern neighbor. He is worried about Franco-German relations, and has been for some time. People in the 2 countries respect one another, Le Maire says, but their cultures and their political traditions are in many ways diametrically opposed. On both sides of the border, fewer and fewer people are learning the other country’s language, the two nations hold fundamentally differing views of what Europe should be. “Relationship between our two countries is a difficult one,” Le Maire says. “We need to recognize that fact and take it as our starting point.” Le Maire calls for a new kind of honesty and a sober approach in interactions between France and Germany. “For decades the focus of Franco-German relations was bringing 2 countries closer, creating a ‘Franco-German friendship.’ But that’s no longer enough,” Le Maire says. “We need to start from a simple acknowledgement this relationship is not something that happens naturally. If we start from the false assumption that it will be easy, we will always be disappointed.” This week Berlin marks, with great pomp and circumstance, the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, signed by German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and the French President General Charles de Gaulle on Jan.22, 1963. Also known as the “treaty of friendship,” this historical document laid foundation for postwar rapprochement between the big two countries. Many speeches are being given this week, both in the German parliament and elsewhere, evocations of all that has been achieved, well-deserved praise for this historical reconciliation and of course there will be a degree of hypocrisy as well. Franco-German relations are certainly worthy of celebration. But the fact is that this anniversary comes at something of an inopportune time for both sides. Ever since de Gaulle embraced Adenauer after signing of the treaty, demonstrative displays of affection have been part and parcel of relations between France and Germany. Le Maire is not the only one who feels the talk of friendship rings a bit hollow 50 years on, given the reality of differences of opinion between the two countries on how to approach the euro crisis. “Franco-German friendship” is indeed somewhat “unfortunate” turn of phrase here, admits Daniel Cohn-Bendit, member of European Parliament with Green Party who holds German and French citizenship. Cohn-Bendit suggests, would be to speak of a “Franco-German enmity” (…..)



Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

One Response to An Arduous Friendship: Differences of Opinion Mark Franco-German Relations

  1. Fifty years ago, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and French President Charles de Gaulle embraced after signing the Franco-German Friendship Treaty. Since then, the partnership between the two countries has become one of the cornerstones of European stability.


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