A Blue­print for Friend­ship

France and Ger­many ended their en­mity by sign­ing the Treaty of Friend­ship in 1963. Can In­dia and Pak­istan fol­low a sim­i­lar route?

Southasia - - Contents - By Sam­ina Wahid Perozani

In­dia and Pak­istan can co­ex­ist peace­fully by fol­low­ing the Franco-Ger­man treaty of friend­ship.

It is 50 years since the El­y­see Treaty was signed be­tween Ger­many and France – the two Euro­pean na­tions that had been bit­ter en­e­mies for cen­turies and fought two World Wars in the first half of the 20th cen­tury. Com­monly known as the Treaty of Friend­ship, this agree­ment pro­vided a sound ba­sis for what turned out to be a last­ing re­la­tion­ship of trust and un­der­stand­ing be­tween the two former en­e­mies. Sig­nif­i­cant pol­icy de­ci­sions were en­forced and or­gan­i­sa­tions/in­sti­tu­tions set up that trans­formed po­lit­i­cal al­liances into prac­ti­cal ben­e­fits for both na­tions. The fifti­eth an­niver­sary of this land­mark treaty pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity to re­flect on the im­pact it has made and to per­haps con­sider it as a model worth em­u­lat­ing by other coun­tries strug­gling to main­tain bi­lat­eral ties as well.

The El­y­see Treaty was signed on Jan­uary 22, 1963 in Berlin by French Pres­i­dent Charles de Gaulle and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Kon­rad Ade­nauer to put an end to dif­fer­ences be­tween the two na­tions; dif­fer­ences that led them to wage three wars against each other over the course of a cen­tury. Hos­til­ity be­tween the two na­tions started as early as the 16th cen­tury, largely based on pre-Ro­man cul­tural dif­fer­ences. Ten­sions con­tin­ued to es­ca­late, re­sult­ing in the Franco-Prus­sian War in the 19th cen­tury. Both coun­tries re­mained fiercely op­posed to each other all through the First and Sec­ond World Wars. It was af­ter the Sec­ond World War (1939-1945) that both par­ties worked on rap­proche­ment and de­clared an end to their ri­valry. Eigh­teen years af­ter the war came to a close, the El­y­see Treaty was fi­nally signed, fol­low­ing a pe­riod of Fran­coGer­man co­op­er­a­tion (ini­ti­ated in the 50s). The agree­ment has been so suc­cess­ful that the two coun­tries re­main closer than ever de­spite all the daily po­lit­i­cal wran­gling.

The treaty is unique be­cause of a few dis­tinc­tive features that also make it a success: it is a pub­lic com­mit­ment to rec­on­cil­i­a­tion that can be called upon in times of fric­tion be­tween the two coun­tries; it em­pha­sises the im­por­tance of civil so­ci­ety and the role it can play in the strength­en­ing of ties; it in­sti­tu­tion­alised re­la­tions in sev­eral im­por­tant ar­eas, in­cul­cated a cul­ture of co­op­er­a­tion and devel­oped per­sonal ties that tran­scended bu­reau­cratic and pol­icy de­ci­sions; and it laid the ground­work for fu­ture Ger­man and French premiers who con­tin­ued to use this treaty as a model for strong bi­lat­eral re­la­tions.

Bar­ring a few hic­cups here and there, the El­y­see Treaty has been mostly suc­cess­ful in main­tain­ing har­mo­nious re­la­tions be­tween France and Ger­many. Per­haps one of the

most sig­nif­i­cant re­sults of this pact has been the Franco-Ger­man Of­fice for Youth (FGYO). Set up in July 1963, the of­fice is cred­ited with bring­ing to­gether the youth of the two coun­tries, and pro­motes un­der­stand­ing, sol­i­dar­ity and col­lab­o­ra­tion by urg­ing them to par­tic­i­pate in var­i­ous ex­change pro­grams. Some of the ef­forts of this youth of­fice in­clude the pro­mo­tion of French and Ger­man lan­guages, set­ting up of Franco-Ger­man high schools, pub­lish­ing of a joint his­tory course book that high­lights a shared per­spec­tive on his­tory and a French-Ger­man TV chan­nel called Arte. How­ever, even more im­por­tant has been the treaty’s his­tor­i­cally cen­tral role in set­ting the foun­da­tion of the Euro­pean Union (EU). Not­with­stand­ing po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences that sur­faced from time to time, both Ger­many and France have been com­mit­ted to pro­pel­ling EU for­ward. This has been most ob­vi­ous in the unan­i­mous sup­port lent to ma­jor Euro­pean projects such as the cre­ation of the euro (thanks to the 1992 Maas­tricht Treaty). In fact, all EU con­sol­i­da­tion in the last 50 years has been a di­rect re­sult of the Franco-Ger­man al­liance.

It was in 2003, the year that marked 40 years of the French-Ger­man friend­ship, that EU com­mis­sion­ers Pas­cal Lamy (from France) and Gunter Ver­heugen (from Ger­many) ini­ti­ated the Lamy-Ver­heugen Plan that aimed to unite both coun­tries in cer­tain key ar­eas in­clud­ing mil­i­tary and eco­nomic al­liances, com­bined em­bassies and the hold­ing of a joint seat in the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (UNSC). As a re­sult, Ger­many and France forged eco­nomic ties by set­ting up two mas­sive in­dus­trial units, Areva and Aven­tis. The former is a French pub­lic multi­na­tional nu­clear power com­pany with its head­quar­ters in Paris. The com­pany is also ac­tively in­volved in other en­ergy projects and pro­vides so­lu­tions for car­bon­free en­ergy. Till re­cently, the Ger­man elec­tron­ics gi­ant Siemens was also a share­holder in the com­pany. Aven­tis, on the other hand, is the re­sult of a merger be­tween French and Ger­man com­pa­nies, and was later merged with Sanofi, France’s lead­ing phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pany. The com­pany man­u­fac­tures medicines for sev­eral ther­a­peu­tic indi­ca­tions.

Also, on the eve of the 40th an­niver­sary, the premiers of both coun­tries de­cided to set up new forms of co­or­di­na­tion ev­ery year with the help of the Coun­cil of French-Ger­man Min­is­ters. This coun­cil, cre­ated by the then French Pres­i­dent Jacques Chirac and Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Ger­hard Schroeder, re­placed the an­nual Franco-Ger­man Sum­mit in­sti­tuted by the treaty. Along­side this, Ger­many and France set up an El­y­see Fund to fi­nance cul­tural projects in other coun­tries, thus pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional vis­i­bil­ity and sub­stance to the FrenchGer­man co­op­er­a­tion abroad. In fact, since 2003, sev­eral cul­tural projects in Nigeria have re­ceived the pa­tron­age of the El­y­see Fund. In 2010, at the 12th Coun­cil of the Franco-Ger­man Min­is­ters, the French-Ger­man Agenda 2020 was ap­proved, which de­tails 80 sub­stan­tive mea­sures for deeper co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries in the day-to-day af­fairs of the masses. Th­ese in­clude a com­mon mat­ri­mo­nial sys­tem, French-Ger­man civil ser­vice, cre­ation of bilin­gual kin­der­gartens, com­mon med­i­cal ser­vices in bor­der ar­eas and oc­cu­pa­tional in­te­gra­tion of young peo­ple.

Even more in­ter­est­ing is the merg- ing of their armed forces in the EU in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal stand­ing army corps – Euro­corps. While sev­eral EU na­tions have contributed their sol­diers, huge French and Ger­man con­tin­gents, col­lec­tively known as the Franco-Ger­man bri­gade, is at the helm of this force. In fact, Euro­corps re­ceives most of its in­fantry from France while most of the ar­mour is sup­plied by Ger­many.

It is clear then that the El­y­see Treaty has been a re­sound­ing success. To­day, there are count­less twinned cities and towns in Ger­many and France and thanks to the ef­forts of the Fran­coGer­man Youth Of­fice, hun­dreds of thou­sands of young peo­ple have dis­cov­ered their Euro­pean neigh­bours. Paris and Berlin re­main the driv­ing forces in mat­ters of Euro­pean pol­i­cy­mak­ing and even though re­la­tions have cooled on oc­ca­sion, the fact is that their close co­op­er­a­tion has never been vul­ner­a­ble to a fall­ing out. There­fore, it’s not sur­pris­ing that both coun­tries have great re­spect for this his­toric agree­ment.

The El­y­see Treaty has also helped boost eco­nomic, in­dus­trial and mil­i­tary growth across Europe. It is a model worth repli­cat­ing since it shows that in spite of all odds, na­tions can ac­tu­ally rise above their dif­fer­ences, come to­gether and work to­wards com­mon goals.

French Pres­i­dent Charles de Gaulle shak­ing hands with

Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Kon­rad Ade­nauer.

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