El­y­see Treaty: A Cor­ner­stone of Co­op­er­a­tion

Southasia - - Cover Story Treaty - This ar­ti­cle was writ­ten jointly by Am­bas­sador of France, Philippe Thiebaud and Am­bas­sador of Ger­many, Dr Cyrill Nunn.

France and Ger­many are cel­e­brat­ing this year the 50th An­niver­sary of the Elysée Treaty. On the 22nd of Jan­uary 1963, Gen­eral de Gaulle and Chan­cel­lor Kon­rad Ade­nauer com­mit­ted to em­bark on the road of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion be­tween Ger­many and France to steer to­wards mu­tual un­der­stand­ing and closer co­op­er­a­tion. For the two coun­tries it was a his­toric moment, charged with emo­tions. Gen­eral de Gaulle and Chan­cel­lor Kon­rad Ade­nauer knew that they would be shap­ing the fu­ture course of Franco-Ger­man re­la­tions, and of the Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion.

Since then, our re­la­tions have grown and ma­tured in all fields: pol­i­tics, se­cu­rity, econ­omy, youth ex­changes, cul­tural and in­tel­lec­tual ex­changes, to name only a few. The 50th an­niver­sary of the Elysée Treaty pro­vides a good op­por­tu­nity to look back at the success of the Ger­man-French co­op­er­a­tion which paved the way to Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion as a whole, but also to set new ob­jec­tives to the bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion for the next decades, with the am­bi­tion to pur­sue and deepen the process of Euro­pean in­te­gra­tion.

Chan­cel­lor Merkel and Pres­i­dent Hol­lande met on Jan­uary 22 (to­day), along with par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and min­is­ters, to mark one of the key dates of this Fran­coGer­man year of cel­e­bra­tions launched in Septem­ber 2012.

We would like to high­light on this spe­cial oc­ca­sion the strength and depth of the re­la­tions be­tween Ger­many and France. There is a need for many Euro­peans, and we also be­lieve, for peo­ple from South Asia, to have a clearer in­sight into the rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process be­tween two cen­tury-old arch-en­e­mies and the en­su­ing co­op­er­a­tion be­tween France and Ger­many. The Elysée Treaty made reg­u­lar meet­ings be­tween civil ser­vants an obli­ga­tion. It might be sur­pris­ing for a Pak­istani reader but nowa­days rep­re­sen­ta­tives from both coun­tries are in­te­grated in both for­eign min­istries’ cab­i­nets.

It is lit­tle known, but Ger­man com­pa­nies em­ploy 320,000 em­ploy­ees in France, and French com­pa­nies, 285,000 em­ploy­ees in Ger­many. More than 8 mil­lion stu­dents have par­tic­i­pated in pro­grammes through the cre­ation of the French-Ger­man Youth Of­fice, and more than 61,000 stu­dents went on ex­change pro­grammes to France and Ger­many in 2011 alone. De Gaulle and Ade­nauer were vi­sion­ary in the em­pha­sis they placed on build­ing up trust be­tween the young gen­er­a­tions in both coun­tries.

The bi­lat­eral de­fence co­op­er­a­tion is in­tense, dy­namic and re­mains es­sen­tial for France’s and Ger­many’s strate­gic ob­jec­tives. In the cen­tre of this co­op­er­a­tion is the French-Ger­man Bri­gade cre­ated in 1989 (con­sist­ing of 2, 800 Ger­man and 2,300 French sol­diers). The joint bri­gade has be­come a world­wide model for close co­op­er­a­tion in se­cu­rity and de­fence.

The Franco-Ger­man TV chan­nel Arte presents a good ex­am­ple of our close co­op­er­a­tion in the field of cul­ture. Since its cre­ation in 1990, Arte po­si­tioned it­self as a ref­er­ence in terms of qual­ity and va­ri­ety of pro­grammes from both coun­tries. Just like the “Aman ki Asha” ini­tia­tive pro­motes un­der­stand­ing and ex­changes be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan, this joint me­dia ven­ture has been an im­por­tant ve­hi­cle of di­a­logue be­tween France and Ger­many.

Ger­many and France are key found­ing mem­bers of the Euro­pean Union. The Elysée Treaty re­mains the cor­ner­stone of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween our two coun­tries, which is the main en­gine of the Euro­pean Union; the two coun­tries rep­re­sent 33% of the EU pop­u­la­tion, 36% of the Euro­pean Bud­get, 37% of the EU GDP, 31% of the vot­ing rights. In the past few months, we have been work­ing to­gether, along with the other Euro­pean coun­tries, to push for­ward de­ci­sive ac­tions to over­come the Eu­ro­zone cri­sis.

Robert Schu­man, one of the found­ing fa­thers of the Euro­pean Union, noted “Europe will not be made all at once, or ac­cord­ing to a sin­gle plan. It will be built through con­crete achieve­ments which first cre­ate a de facto sol­i­dar­ity”. Build­ing a last­ing peace, and co­op­er­at­ing with your neigh­bours, re­quires cre­ativ­ity, com­mit­ment and is nei­ther easy nor straight­for­ward, it de­mands com­mit­ment and cre­ativ­ity. But the re­sults can be sur­pris­ing and if lead­ers of both coun­tries had their doubts and their re­serves about the Elysée Treaty in 1963, 50 years on­wards it pro­vided the ba­sis of a deep rooted and in­spir­ing friend­ship.

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