Marking 50 Years Since de Gaulle's Speech and Launching the Franco-German Year
Enlarge image Merkel and Hollande greet the public gathered in Ludwigsburg. (© picture alliance / dpa)
On September 9, 1962, in Ludwigsburg then French President Charles de Gaulle delivered his “address to Germany’s youth.” This marked the start of what was to become an unprecedented success story of reconciliation in the heart of Europe. Fifty years later the reality of Franco-German friendship is reflected in a host of initiatives and structures encompassing all areas of society and government.
In Ludwigsburg on September 22, 2012, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande together launched the Franco-German Year. Like de Gaulle 50 years earlier, Merkel and Hollande had a message for the young generation. “Europe’s future is in your hands,” the Chancellor noted. Europe’s young people especially had to be given a decent chance, she added. According to President Hollande, Germany and France were “the heart of Europe.”
Minister of State Michael Link, the German Government’s Commissioner for Franco-German Cooperation, attended the ceremony in Ludwigsburg together with his French opposite number, European Affairs Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
Better understanding between young people top priority from the start
Enlarge image French President Charles de Gaulle delivered his landmark “address to Germany’s youth” on September 9, 1962, in Ludwigsburg. (© Press and Information Office of the Federal Government) It was General de Gaulle’s great achievement to look beyond World War II and its horrors and focus attention on the two countries’ common future in Europe. During his visit to Germany in 1962 he therefore addressed himself explicitly to the country’s young people. July 1963 brought the founding of the Franco-German Youth Office. To this day the organization is the main platform for youth encounters and exchange between France and Germany.
With its support, young Germans can learn French, for example, attend school in France, obtain scholarships for internships there or find jobs with a French company. The same opportunities are available to young French people interested in learning more about Germany.
Taking stock 50 years on: new Franco-German website
Enlarge image The Franco-German Friendship Treaty or Élysée Treaty was signed by German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and French President Charles de Gaulle on January 22, 1963. (© Press and Information Office of the Federal Government) (© Press and Information Office of the Federal Government) January 2013 will see the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Franco-German Friendship Treaty (“Élysée Treaty”). This is indeed cause for celebration. To mark the Franco-German Year all kinds of events are being organized in both countries. In Germany over 200 events have been planned to date.
This special anniversary is also a good time to take stock of what has been accomplished and provide a close-up view of Franco-German ties across the whole spectrum. At a press conference in Stuttgart on 21 September, Minister of State Link unveiled the new Franco-German website.
Germany’s Consulate-General in Strasbourg to remain open
Minister of State Link also had good news for people living in the Franco-German border region. Plans to close Germany’s Consulate-General in Strasbourg, which, he noted, serves many Germans with homes in Alsace as well as the large number of French people living in the Franco-German border region, have now been shelved.
© Federal Foreign Office