Celebrating 50 Years of Franco-German Friendship at Festival in Bonn
Enlarge image Foreign Minister Westerwelle and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius, right, as well as Bonn Mayor Juergen Nimptsch, center, unveil a plaque in Bonn commemorating the visit by French President Charles de Gaulle 50 years ago. (© Photothek/Trutschel) Together with local citizens, Foreign Ministers Guido Westerwelle and his French counterpart Laurent Fabius celebrated the friendship between France and Germany at a festival in Bonn on September 5.
It was in Bonn, 50 years ago, that the groundwork was laid for a new Franco-German friendship, following decades of conflict and enmity between the two countries. In 1962, the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer received the French President Charles de Gaulle in his private home in nearby Rhöndorf. The two statesmen discussed the first outline of what was to become the Elysée Treaty, setting the framework for the Franco-German friendship.
In a widely acclaimed speech delivered from the steps of Bonn Town Hall on September 5, 1962, de Gaulle proclaimed: “Long live Bonn, long live Germany, long live the Franco-German friendship.” Fifty years later, Foreign Ministers Westerwelle and Fabius unveiled a plaque commemorating this visit to Bonn.
In the words of Foreign Minister Westerwelle, “the marvellous tale of friendship between Germany and France, a friendship that is unparalleled in its depth and breadth, began with Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle.”
- The Elysée Treaty, signed by Adenauer and de Gaulle in Paris in 1963, was the basis of reconciliation between Germany and France. The friendship treaty provided for regular meetings between Cabinet Ministers from the two countries, a practice which was further institutionalized in the decades that followed. Franco-German cooperation has since become a key pillar of German foreign policy, and a driving force behind European integration. From the very beginning, cooperation also focused on meetings between individuals from France and Germany – the aim was reconciliation not just between governments but also between members of society. Town twinning schemes and youth exchanges are just two examples of the successful and enduring projects adopted to cement the Franco-German friendship.
Enlarge image Young people took part in the celebration of Franco-German friendship. (© Photothek/Trutschel) The two Foreign Ministers attach special importance to the future of the Franco-German friendship. Westerwelle and Fabius discussed relations between Germany and France with school pupils in Bonn Town Hall. Foreign Minister Fabius of France underscored the importance of language skills for mutual understanding, and called on the Germans to learn more French.
Foreign Minister Westerwelle believes the Franco-German friendship has a key role to play for the future of Europe: “Every age and every generation has its own challenges to face,” he noted in this connection. He stressed how vital it was for Germany and France to stand together now, and work with European partners to overcome the debt crisis and enhance the cohesion of Europe. Both Foreign Ministers reaffirmed their shared goal of making Europe fit for the future.