50 years of the Élysée Treaty – 50 years of Franco-German friendship
With a Franco-German Year and numerous commemorative events, France and Germany are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty. As a driving force for European integration, Franco-German friendship is something that concerns us all. The highlight was a joint session of their parliaments on 22 January in Berlin. François Hollande was the guest of Federal President Joachim Gauck and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two countries’ Foreign and Defence Ministers met at the Federal Foreign Office, and then the Franco-German Council of Ministers met at the Federal Chancellery.
Festivities on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty
Adenauer and de Gaulle after the signing of the Élysée Treaty, 22 January 1963
© picture alliance / akg-images
January 22nd was completely devoted to Franco-German friendship.Exactly 50 years ago, on 22 January 1963 at the Élysée Palace, Germany’s Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and France’s President Charles de Gaulle signed the so-called Élysée Treaty, the treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the French Republic on Franco-German cooperation.Both countries’ ministers and parliaments met in Berlin on 22 January and celebrated the anniversary.
At the Franco-German Defence and Security Council
© photothek / Imo
In the morning, the Foreign and Defence Ministers of the two countries, Guido Westerwelle and Laurent Fabius as well as Thomas de Maizière and Jean-Yves Le Drian, respectively, met for the Franco-German Defence and Security Council at the Federal Foreign Office.Talks focused on the efforts to help Mali, the development of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in Europe as well as other current foreign policy topics.
Franco-German Council of Ministers
At the Franco-German Council of Ministers
© picture alliance / dpa
Afterwards the ministers of both countries met at the Federal Chancellery for the Franco-German Council of Ministers.FolllFollowing the meeting, Federal Chancellor Merkel emphasized the “closely coordinated” cooperation, saying that Germany and France were aware of their great responsibility for Europe and that by May there would be joint proposals to strengthen the economic and monetary union. In addition to Europe, topics included education, youth, culture and agriculture as well as energy and climate policy.Foreign policy topics such as the situation in Mali were also discussed.
A Berlin Declaration on the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty was also passed.
Joint session of the parliaments and governments
Joint session of the parliaments and governments
© picture alliance / dpa
The plenary chamber of the German Bundestag has rarely been as full as for the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty. There was a joint session of the parliaments and governments.The President of the Bundestag, Norbert Lammert emphasized that understanding between the two countries was essential, especially because they “indeed had different interests, traditions and ideas”.
Both Federal Chancellor Merkel and French President Hollande gave speeches.Merkel underlined that it was important to remain curious about the neighbours and pass this on from generation to generation.She said, that interest in others could not be prescribed to someone by a treaty. Hollande emphasized that the friendship between France and Germany did not exclude any country, but rather was open. He also said that both countries have a special significance, for example, for the further development of the economic and monetary union.
Both parliaments passed a joint declaration.
The last item on the day’s programme was an anniversary concert at the philharmonic hall at the invitation of the Federal President.
“A really amazing development”
Franco-German postage stamp specially issued for the Élysée anniversary
© BMF (Bildmotiv: Tomi Ungerer)
In an interview with the Deutsche Welle, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called the friendship between Germany and France “a precious jewel in our European crown”. Westerwelle added that what had started fifty years ago in 1963 had “developed in a most magnificent fashion”. To Deutschlandradio, Westerwelle said that especially the younger generation should not take Franco-German friendship as a matter of course. He said that “friendships must be renewed daily.”In an interview with “The European”, a magazine focused on debate, he said that this friendship, more than other friendships within Europe, had deep roots in society.
Basis for exemplary cooperation between two countries
Signatures on the Élysée Treaty
The Élysée Treaty opened an extraordinary friendship between France and Germany, one unique in its intensity. The Treaty is the political, legal and also symbolic basis for a remarkable new model of cooperation between two countries.During the run-up to the anniversary, the Élysée Treaty itself was restored and digitized by the Federal Foreign Office’s Political Archive: you can see it here.
Numerous publications also deal with the topic. At the Haus der Geschichte der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the national history museum in Bonn, Federal Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle spoke at the presentation of Armin Fuhrer and Norman Haß’s book, A Friendship for Europe: The long journey to the Élysée Treaty (Eine Freundschaft für Europa. Der lange Weg zum Élysée-Vertrag).
Commissioners for Franco-German Cooperation
The officials in charge of Franco-German cooperation, Germany’s Minister of State Michael Georg Link and France’s Minister Delegate for European Affairs Bernard Cazeneuve, are responsible for coordinating preparations for the festivities.
Commissioners for Franco-German Cooperation Link and Cazeneuve
© Photothek / Imo
In the Bundestag on 16 January, Minister of State Link said that “the depth and intensity of Franco-German relations are unique.”Every generation, he went on, must fill these relations with new life.
The Federal Foreign Office has set up a special Task Force for the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty. The highlights of the Franco-German Year calendar are:
- 22 September 2012 in Ludwigsburg: Ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle’s Ludwigsburg Address to Germany’s Youth;
- 22 January 2013 in Berlin: Joint ceremony of the French and German Governments and Parliaments as well as the French Senate and the Bundesrat to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty;
- July 2013 in Paris: Ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Franco-German Youth Office.
Franco-German projects around the world
The French and German embassies in the United States celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty
© Deutsche Botschaft/Ambassade de France, Washington
Germany and France work closely together in Europe as well as other parts of the world. A host of projects taking place during the Franco-German Year in other countries demonstrate the spirit of Franco-German cooperation as well as the added value it provides.
Also, an exhibition detailing the course of Franco-German reconciliation will be shown at over 50 of Germany’s missions abroad. The story of how two countries and nations that had been bitter enemies and fought several wars with each other became reconciled can provide useful insights into the dynamics of peaceful interaction and trust between countries.
Laying the cornerstone of the Franco-German embassy building in Dhaka on the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Élysée Treaty
© German Embassy Dhaka
Also apart from the anniversary celebration, there is close cooperation between Germany and France: in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Germany and France are constructing an embassy building together.The cornerstone was put in place on the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty.Starting in 2014 from a shared building, both embassies want to work even more closely together and make an impact on Bangladesh.
Élysée anniversary website
Logo 50 years of Élysée Treaty
© Foreign Ministry
The prime purpose of all the festivities planned is to develop and revamp Franco-German relations in the light of the changes under way in Europe and the wider world. The Franco-German Year is therefore targeted particularly at the young generation.
A special Élysée Treaty anniversary website (external link, opens in new windowwww.elysee50.de , external link, opens in new windowwww.elysee50.fr) provides an overview of the whole spectrum of Franco-German intersocietal cooperation. Details of all Franco-German Year events are available from the online calendar. All stakeholders can associate their projects with the Franco-German Year by using the anniversary logo.
Last updated 21.01.2013