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2021 | Book

Franco-German Relations Seen from Abroad

Post-war Reconciliation in International Perspectives


About this book

This book examines external perceptions of the Franco-German relationship, both from a historical perspective and as a driving force for regional integration. By providing various country and regional studies, it analyses the various types of perception and self-perception in several regions around the globe. Here, Franco-German cooperation serves as a mirror in which third-party countries view their own situation, today and in the future. The contributions address the questions of if and how the Franco-German reconciliation and cooperation is perceived as a role model for other regions, especially for the reconciliation of other inter-state and international conflicts. A concluding chapter highlights the divergences and convergences between the respective conflicts, and proposes recommendations for actors involved in diplomacy and international relations.

The book is intended to provide scientific support for the implementation of the Franco-German Aachen Treaty of January 2019. It will appeal to scholars in political science and cultural studies, and to anyone interested in learning more about the Franco-German relationship and on external perspectives on it.

Table of Contents

Franco-German reconciliation after 1945, which has long been perceived as self-evident in both countries, has a high symbolic value worldwide. In many countries involved in conflicts, the history of the rapprochement of the historical hereditary enemies offers a promising point of orientation for the future. However, it seems questionable whether the Franco-German example can actually be applied to other cases. Based on this observation, the introduction clarifies the conditions under which experts from fifteen different countries analyze Franco-German relations “from the outside” and relate the principles of their reconciliation to the history and political topicality of their own country. Above all, it explains the need for a multi-perspective approach that takes into account the political, cultural, and civil society dimensions of the respective conflicts in equal measure and at the same time makes us aware of the “myths” of this reconciliation process.
Nicole Colin, Claire Demesmay
Reconciliation: A Definitory Approach
After the Second World War, the term “reconciliation” disappeared from the language for the time being, since the German–French and also the reconciliation in Europe in the interwar period had remained only superficial and had neither been able to prevent the rise of National Socialism nor the Second World War. Thus, in the first ten years after the Second World War, more neutral terms such as “rapprochement” and “understanding” were chosen above all. It was only at the end of the 1980s that the term experienced its real breakthrough, which it owed not least to impulses from the present. This development was accompanied on the one hand by the overcoming of apartheid in South Africa and the way it was dealt with, and also by the reconciliation policy in Rwanda. On the other hand, the term was also used in the states of the former Eastern Bloc after the Cold War had been overcome. Now, initiatives under the sign of reconciliation began in order to jointly come to terms with the divided history of conflict. The focus of this chapter is precisely how history is dealt with in post-conflict constellations.
Ulrich Pfeil
“Motor of Europe” as a Potential Role Model for the Western Balkans
This chapter focuses on the Franco-German reconciliation and cooperation model as a potential role model for improving the relations and cooperation between Serbia and Croatia. It examines key similarities and differences in the particular socio-historical context of the Western Balkans and today’s dynamics of the EU, which impact the extent to which these two countries can mirror the Franco-German model as “core countries” that could push for reconciliation and regional cooperation within the region. In order to examine the extent and applicability of this model to relations between Serbia and Croatia, the chapter compares the context in which the reconciliation process among these countries took place, with a particular focus on the role of the political leadership, thereby mapping contextual differences that could present potential shortcomings in transferring the lessons learned from the Franco-German model.
Tara Tepavac
From Discourse to Practice: A Case Study from the Western Balkans on the Transferability of Franco-German Experiences
Since the end of the wars during the break-up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Franco-German reconciliation and cooperation have often been presented as an example to follow both in and for the Western Balkans. However, while there have been many discourses on the “Franco-German model,” they have rarely led to a concrete transfer of experiences. One of the rare exceptions relates to the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), created in 2016 by the six governments of the Western Balkans. The Franco-German Youth Office played a significant role in the process of establishing this new institution, not only as a point of reference, but also as a facilitator and coordinator, with the political support of the German and French governments. This chapter offers a more precise analysis of the role of the Franco-German actors involved in the establishment of RYCO and examines how the question of transferring experiences was handled in practical terms and discussed during this process.
Nicolas Moll
The Franco-German Reconciliation Narrative from the Dutch Perspective
While the Franco-German reconciliation process developed in an exemplary way at a political, economic, and societal level after the Second World War, in the Netherlands, there was still some strong resentment toward its German neighbor up until the middle of the 1990s. Starting with this asymmetry, this chapter seeks to analyze the portrayal of the Franco-German process of rapprochement and reconciliation in the most important Dutch national daily newspapers in the context of the important anniversaries of the Élysée Treaty. For this purpose, different patterns of argumentation that are dependent on their context in contemporary history and which dominated the discourses between 1990 and 2015 are analyzed and the causes of the identified shifts in perception are examined through historic contextualization.
Britta Bendieck, Nicole Colin
An Inspiring and Intimidating Relationship: Franco-German Cooperation from the Polish Perspective
The unprecedented success of the Franco-German reconciliation after 1945 provoked a great deal of reflection and set the ground for political action. From the Polish perspective, the Franco-German relations played three functions being a source of inspiration, anxiety and hope. First, many aspects of the Polish-German reconciliation after 1989 have been inspired by similar developments that unfolded between France and Germany after 1945. Second, the leading role of France and Germany in the European Union has caused anxiety for both Euro-skeptics and Euro-enthusiasts in Poland. Whereas the former are anxious about Poland’s national sovereignty, the latter consider the close cooperation between France and Germany as a threat to the European project as a whole. Third, the Franco-German-Polish cooperation—in the form of the Weimar Triangle, launched in 1991—led many political actors and observers to believe that Poland could have a major impact on the course of European integration. This failed attempt to institutionalize the Franco-German-Polish relationship suggests that the transferability of the Franco-German experience relies upon imitation rather than innovation and that it might be limited to bilateral contexts.
Kornelia Kończal
On the Transferability of the Franco-German Model: The Case of Ukraine and Russia
Since 2014, Russia has been fighting a hybrid war against Ukraine. Besides conventional military forms of combat means of propaganda, economic measures as well as diplomacy are being used in this conflict. Started officially after the “Euromaidan” in 2014 to protect the Russian-speaking population from “Ukrainian fascists,” this war is unofficially a continuation of the Kremlin’s policy directed against Ukraine’s western integration. Eventually every war is bound to end. However, the wheel does not need to be reinvented for its peaceful ending and normalization of relations between belligerents to be achieved. If well-proven models for reconciliation and constructive cooperation are ready to be used, they obviously should be. This chapter analyzes the chances of a successful transfer of the Franco-German model to the architecture of the Ukrainian–Russian relations.
Alla Paslavska
Reconciliation Through Trust and a Common Destiny: The Algerian and Moroccan Relationship on the Line
This chapter explores the possibility of reconciliation between Morocco and Algeria, inspired by the French and German reconciliation model. Mutual mistrust has set in over the past few decades following several crises. Reconciliation efforts are complicated by each side’s sense of grievance, among leaders and an increasingly belligerent public. They both now see the status quo as the safest option. Faced with the limits of traditional approaches, the Franco-German model could break the deadlock by binding their destinies together and creating incentives for collaboration. The model owes its success to the ability to overcome multi-generational conflict and distrust through integrative economic measures and symbolic gestures. It jumpstarted European construction, just as this reconciliation could resuscitate the Arab Maghreb Union as a prosperous block that includes Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, and Tunisia. Hence, their reconciliation should overcome the root of mistrust and address the structural incompatibility between the two economies.
Idriss Jebari
Transferability of the Franco-German Model in the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict
When it comes to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the Franco-German rapprochement clearly has its limits as a transferable blueprint for reconciliation. At its core, the Israeli–Palestinian entanglement is not a rivalry between two entities only, but must be situated within the wider Israeli–Arabic conflict in which many players are at work. Nevertheless, this chapter points out that there are similarities, such as geographical proximity, the courage of political leaders to reach out to the “other side” in order to alter relationships and help to build trust, and the overriding influence of geopolitical changes. Even though these similarities are limited and should not be overrated, this chapter uses a combined theoretical and empirical approach to argue that the historical example of the Franco-German reconciliation shimmered through in the Middle Eastern peace talks time and again and serves to this day as a point of reference and projection space for hope.
Cécile Cohen-Blaser, Gisela Dachs
Iran and Saudi Arabia’s Difficult Pathway Toward Reconciliation: A Conversation
This chapter is dedicated to how Iran and Saudi Arabia might ultimately find a pathway toward reconciliation. In the background, it asks how the German-Franco relationship can, after decades of enmity, serve as a blueprint for resolving geopolitical antagonisms. Iran and Saudi Arabia find themselves in a geopolitical context that has undergone manifold transformations in the past decades. The Islamic Revolution in Iran 1979, the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988, the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Arab Spring in 2010 and 2011, and the wars and conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen have all impacted the relationship between two countries competing for geopolitical and ideological predominance. In all of these contexts and conflicts, Tehran and Riyadh have positioned themselves at opposite ends of the spectrum. While their rivalry might not be the root cause, it is often a driver of currently ongoing conflicts in the Middle East.
Adnan Tabatabai
Indo-Pak Reconciliation Through the Franco-German Mirror
The pulls and pressures influencing the India–Pakistan bilateral relationship have ebbed and flowed for the better part of a century, sculpting not only the contours of the bilateral, but also those of South Asian regional relations, stability, security, and integration. Over the years, numerous different attempts aimed at trust-building and enhancing cooperation between India and Pakistan have been made. Often, the trajectories of these efforts, big or small, have tended to fall into a repetitive cycle best illustrated in the oft-heard catchphrase used to describe this relationship, namely “one step forward, two steps backward.” Although the entirety of the Franco-German experience might not be applicable to the Indo-Pak context, it does provide a point of reference for drawing comparisons and gleaning insights to not only identify workable ways forward, but to also identify those measures that might not be effective.
Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy
Generous Gesture? Franco-German Reconciliation from the Korean Perspective
The relationship between South Korea and Japan has been greatly influenced by unresolved historical problems. The main reason for South Korea’s interest in Franco-German reconciliation is that Germany and France have been able to face the pain of their shared past. In their criticism of Japan, most Koreans always refer to the German admission of guilt for Nazi crimes as a model. In view of the Japanese rejection of coming to terms with the past, a new approach must be adopted in South Korea: First the intensification of possible contacts with Japanese society, then a joint search for a long-term political solution to historical conflicts. The institutionalization of Franco-German cooperation, such as with the Franco-German Youth Office, can directly encourage South Koreans to take a further step towards closer and more stable cooperation. The contacts and networks for the cooperation between South Koreans and Japanese should not be disturbed by the politics of memory, but be intensified.
Dong-Ki Lee
Franco-German Reconciliation Through the Prism of East Asia: A Japanese Perspective
Franco-German reconciliation is often seen as a model in Japan. As a historical process, however, it is not necessarily transferable to East Asia, where there is a need to come to terms with war and colonial history and to reconcile perpetrators and victims. Over the last three decades, the East Asian countries have become closer both economically and culturally, but this has not led to political cooperation based on mutual trust; if anything, the rise of globalization has seen an increase in history-related conflicts. Despite this, though, Japan has led a number of initiatives for conducting dialogues about its painful past with its neighbors. The Franco-German example (e.g., the principle of multiperspectivity) can be instructive in this context. Franco-German experiences with youth exchanges or town twinning as “parapublic underpinnings” of reconciliation can also provide a model for East Asia, where, despite China’s predominance, there is a certain shift toward greater symmetry.
Akiyoshi Nishiyama
The Deconstruction of Ethnic Identity: Germany, France, and Rwanda
Rwandan “ethnic” confrontation and inner European (German-French) conflicts are both good examples of the destructive potential of socially and politically constructed identities. In a mesalliance of power and identity politics, both cases brought about terrible destruction. “Europe” and “Rwanda” function as inclusive identity constructions with the intention to substitute and finally abolish narratives of exclusion, hierarchy, and cultural superiority. In both contexts, civil society and government actors apply grassroots strategies of neighborhood reconciliation and national memory politics. The parallels and differences in both cases can alert us to the opportunities or risks when actors intervene in identity politics.
Eric Ns. Ndushabandi, Rainer Schmidt
South Africa’s Reconciliation Project 25 years After Democracy
This chapter aims to highlight the importance of economic justice within any reconciliation model that seeks to bring sustainable peace, comparing the Franco-German approach to that of the South African approach. Twenty five years after the end of apartheid, poverty levels remain high and inequality is higher than at the time of the political transition. While laws no longer separate South Africans, class does. This contrasts strongly with the approach that characterized efforts to restore Franco-German relations in the immediate wake of the Second World War. While cultural exchange has been the more visible feature of the reconciliation between these countries in recent decades, the stability on which these relations rested for most of the post-war period is anchored within the economic foundations for shared prosperity that were laid in the immediate wake of the war.
Jan Hofmeyr
Debating the History of Franco-German Reconciliation with Third-Party Countries: A Review
Over the years, France and Germany have developed a set of reconciliatory tools, some of which can be adapted by third-party countries in their own processes of reconciliation. In this chapter, I review the results of meetings I have attended in some of those countries over the course of the last 15 years. A comparative approach between the Franco-German rapprochement and those of other countries is fruitful because it enables us to understand the characteristics and mechanisms of the process and the actors involved in it. An exchange with third parties also opens up the possibility of rethinking Franco-German history from the outside. If presented as a simple success story, the narrative of reconciliation may be dismissed as “easy” by third parties. It is important to uncover the construction of antagonisms in order to refute essentialist arguments, and to recognize that rapprochement is a non-linear process that feeds on its failures as well as its success.
Corine Defrance
Post-War Reconciliation Around the World: Lessons Learned from the Franco-German Experience
If the unique nature of the Franco-German experience makes any attempt to reproduce it impracticable, that experience can nonetheless arouse interest, enthusiasm, and even a certain fascination elsewhere. Without serving as an example, it can act as a point of reference and provide useful inspiration even in very different situations. Comparisons cannot, however, supply all the answers and must be made with caution if misunderstandings are to be avoided. This means always taking into account not only the parameters of the Franco-German experience, but also the parameters of those countries where there is conflict and scope for reconciliation. The Franco-German experience may be a point of reference for countries that are still beset by regional rivalries and conflicts, but the French and Germans would do well to remind themselves of the ground they have covered.
Claire Demesmay
Franco-German Relations Seen from Abroad
Prof. Nicole Colin
Dr. Claire Demesmay
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