Franco-German mark ties in Ghana today
Today, the embassies of France and the Federal Republic of Germany celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty, also Known as the Friendship Treaty in Accra. With the treaty, Germany and France have established a new foundation for relations that ended centuries of political rivalry between them.
To highlight this celebration, the two countries, together with the Goethe-Institut and Institut francais are joining forces to organise a classical friendship concert at the National Theatre, this evening.
Musicians from the National Symphony Orchestra Ghana, a renowned conductor from Germany and a famous violinist from France will be performing to demonstrate that the love for music is universal and goes beyond borders.
The Political Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Kobby Asmah had an exclusive interview with the Ambassador of France, H.E. FrÃ©dÃ©ric Clavier, and the acting Ambassador of Germany, Mr Thomas Wimmer, on the global impact of the treaty. Below are the excerpts.
Kobby Asmah (KA): Recently, we heard about France-German historic relations. Over 50 years on, what is the focus of this historic relation in a unipolar world?
FA (French Ambassador, Mr FrÃ©dÃ©ric Clavier): Indeed, France and Germany are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the ElysÃ©e Treaty, signed on the 22nd of January 1963 by GÃ©nÃ©ral de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer, this year. It marked the historic reconciliation between our two countries formerly opposed in war and has laid the foundation for an unparalleled
Co-operation in all fields, not only politics and economy but also education, research, culture and youth exchange.
GA (acting German Ambassador, Mr Thomas Wimmer): I would like to add that a considerable innovation introduced by the treaty was the encouragement of involvement between the two civil societies. That, I believe, is the lesson of the French-German Friendship Treaty that everybody can draw: True friendship between nations cannot be decreed top-down, but it has to grow from the grass roots.
KA; How significant or relevant are these ties in world affairs?
FA: Beyond its strength and diversity, France-German co-operation has been the driving force of European integration which plays a major role in world affairs. Additionally, the ties that have been built between our two countries over these last 50 years carry a message of hope: There is no quarrel without solution; rivalry can find reconciliation and friendship. In my mind, to be French is also to be a bit German and vice versa; it is a question of solidarity and our mutual European Destiny.
KA: How would you characterise the socio-economic and political ties between France and Germany in recent times?
GA: As mentioned earlier, the strength of the Franco-German partnership originates in large part from the close ties the countries have formed over the years in all domains. For example, both countries are by far each other’s most important trade partners. On the political and institutional matters, we hold regular meetings at all levels (heads of state and government, ministers, senior civil servants) and various joint councils have been created in the fields of defence, environment, finance and economics affairs.
FA: Education was a priority area identified in the ElysÃ©e Treaty, which led to the creation of the Franco-German Office for Youth in 1963 and the Franco-German University in 1997 which proposes 90 integrated degree courses in France and Germany to 3,000 students every year. The Joint French-German Fund for exchanges between the two countries’ pupils and students which is one of the most important achievements of the ElysÃ©e Treaty has contributed to more than eight million cross-border exchanges since its creation. Earlier this year, our two countries adopted the agenda, ‘France and Germany share a common vision of their future in 2020,’ which paves the way for the further development of our co-operation in the years to come.
KA: What are the global impacts of Franco-German ties?
FA: We have talked about the impact that the Franco-German ties have had on the construction of the European Union. Some benefits from the strong co-operation between France and Germany have been extended to Ghana. Both countries do not only have extensive national programmes of development
Co-operation, run e.g. by Agence franÃ§aise de dÃ©veloppement (AFD), GIZ German Co-operation and KfW Development Bank, as well as the embassies. They are also major contributors to the European Development Fund (EDF) and other multi-lateral instruments which help Ghana to fight poverty and further realise its potential as a middle-income country.
KA: What special message do you have for Ghanaians as we mark this historic moment today?
FA: Sometimes in history, nothing can be done without men of action and Statesmen taking a risk to open a new page and that’s what GÃ©nÃ©ral de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer did in 1963.
GA: At the same time, it was key to activate civil society to make sure that our common future lies in peace and co-operation, not in conflict and rivalry.
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