Franco-German Week in Paris Marks End of Élysée Anniversary Year
Enlarge image The Franco-German Youth Office is one of the most important joint organizations. (© picture-alliance / dpa) Minister of State Michael Georg Link and his French counterpart Thierry Repentin marked the end of the Franco-German anniversary year with several days of celebrations in Paris. Between July 4 and 6 the two Commissioners for bilateral relations attended a number of events, held political talks and congratulated the “Élysée Treaty’s best product,” the Franco-German Youth Office, on its 50th anniversary. On Saturday they visited the “Village franco-allemand” in the heart of Paris.
Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called the Franco-German friendship “the most precious jewel in the European crown.” The aim of all the festivities around July 5, he said, had been to show off this jewel with all its facets. The week of celebrations marked the conclusion of the official Élysée Treaty anniversary year, which began last September in Ludwigsburg and included the major highlight of a joint session of the two parliaments in Berlin in January.
Enlarge image Minister of State Link (© CIDAL/C. Naranjo) On the evening of July 4, to launch the Franco-German week, Minister of State Link, Minister Delegate for European Affairs Repentin and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister-President of Saarland and currently Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Germany for Cultural Affairs under the Treaty on Franco‑German Cooperation, attended the award ceremony for the Franco-German Prize for Journalism. The Prize is regarded as one of the highest honors for journalists in Europe and is awarded for outstanding work on Franco-German and European issues in all forms of journalism. The aim is to encourage journalists and editors to report on relations between the two countries and thus to promote mutual understanding.
The “Élysée Treaty’s best product” turns 50
On the afternoon of July 5 Minister of State Link and European Affairs Minister Repentin took part in the ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the Franco-German Youth Office (FGYO). The Federal Government was also represented by Federal Family Affairs Minister Kristina Schröder. The French Minister of Sports, Youth, Popular Education and Community Life, Valérie Fourneyron, also participated.
Enlarge image The mayors of Paris and Berlin, Bertrand Delanoë and Klaus Wowereit, visit the festival. (© DFJW/OFAJ: Prisca Martaguet) The FGYO is a product of the Élysée Treaty: with offices in Berlin and Paris, it serves to intensify intercultural exchange between children, teenagers and young adults from the two countries. To this end, it promotes school and youth exchanges, helps raise awareness of the two cultures and supports joint civil-society projects in this sphere.
Part of the ceremony included the handover of a “young people’s appeal” to the politicians, a collection of ideas showing just what young Europeans hope for Europe’s future. Link and Repentin thanked the young people for the appeal and praised them for showing such a commitment to Europe by participating in democracy. All the speakers, including Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and President François Hollande, who sent video messages, emphasized how important it was to tackle high youth unemployment and create prospects for young people.
Award ceremony with Prime Minister Ayrault
In the evening, with French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault in attendance, Minister of State Link and European Affairs Minister Repentin presented the FGYO with the renowned Adenauer-de Gaulle Prize. The award honors the active involvement of citizens from both countries in shaping the Franco-German partnership. At Prime Minister Ayrault’s invitation, the ceremony was held in his official residence, the Hôtel Matignon.
From political talks to the Franco-German village
Finally, on July 6, the Minister of State and the European Affairs Minister visited the large-scale street festival “Village franco-allemand” on the Place de la République in Paris. The village was a place of encounters and dialogue: numerous companies and institutions working to bring France and Germany closer together presented their activities to the public. A varied cultural program and catering stalls offering French and German specialities made the festival complete.
During his trip to Paris, Minister of State Link took the opportunity to hold political talks with European Affairs Minister Repentin. Their talks focused on current European and bilateral policy issues.