French-German Friendship, 1963-Present

The Elysée Treaty was signed on January the 22nd, 1963 between former French President Charles de Gaulle and former German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, at Elysée palace in Paris.

It sparked a new beginning in French-German relations and effectively ended centuries of rivalry and hostility between the two countries. Indeed, within a hundred years before the signing of the treaty, Germany and France went to war not one, not two, but three times, respectively in 1870, in 1914 – WWI – and in 1939 – WWII. Going further back in time, one can also remember the Napoleonic wars that opposed France to several European nations, including Prussia.

Strong cooperation was therefore implemented in between the two countries in the areas of foreign policy, defense and education, with the goals of building trust and friendship not only among both governments but with both countries’ people. Each other’s language was promoted at home, exchange programs for the youth were developed, degree equivalence for German and French students was laid down, cities were twinned, military units from both countries trained with one another, and so on. Note that, at the time, Germany was split in two: the German Federal Republic in the West, and the German Democratic Republic in the East. As France was part of the Western Bloc, in contrast to the Soviet Union and its allies, the Elysée Treaty was first signed with the German Federal Republic, to be then applied to all of Germany after its formal reunification in 1990.

As of today, both France and Germany enjoy a good relationship at all levels, and their cooperation has become the drive of the European construction and a basis for peace on the continent. Where indeed continuous warfare brought nothing but distrust, destruction and hatred, cooperation and friendship have laid the foundations for stability, prosperity, and to a certain extent, happiness in both countries.