58th Anniversary of the signing of the Elysee Treaty – January 22, 1963
THE PROCESS OF RECONCILIATION WITH VISION
On Friday, January 22, Germany and France marked the 58th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty, signed in 1963 by the Federal Chancellor Konrad Adenauer and President Charles de Gaulle, with the aim of uniting two peoples separated by three bloody wars and mutual mistrust. The agreement was supplemented by an additional agreement signed in 2019 in Aachen by President Emmanuel Macron and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The basis for this reconciliation agreement was the strong, unreserved political will and vision of the two political leaders who believed that Europe’s future depended not only on peace but also on mutual trust and active cooperation at all levels. The founding of the European Union is actually closely associated with the proactive reconciliation between France and Germany.
Fifty-eight years later, Germany and France are cooperating at the highest political level, but also in the fields of industry (Airbus as a symbol of success), defence, culture (ARTE TV channel broadcast nationally in both countries in both languages), young people (the German-French youth network), education (an extensive network of bilingual schools and classes), administration, etc.
2020 – GERMAN-FRENCH COOPERATION DURING THE PANDEMIC
During 2020, the world was surprised by the outbreak of a pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus. Neither France nor Germany were spared. When hospitals in France were overloaded due to a large number of newly infected people, Germany received patients from France in its hospitals and provided them with adequate medical care. In addition to this example of cooperation, France and Germany also launched a European recovery initiative on May 18 so that Europe could emerge from this crisis empowered. The mechanism, approved by the European Union in August, is funded by the first European debt pooling program worth 750 billion euro and represents a milestone in European integration and solidarity within the Union.
FRANCE AND GERMANY IN SERBIA – TOGETHER FOR A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE
UNCONDITIONAL SUPPORT TO SERBIA IN THE EU
Germany and France strongly support the process of Serbia’s accession to the European Union through political dialogue at the highest level and financial means from EU funds (200-300 million euro in grants) as well as by providing bilateral assistance for reforms. Both governments have been transferring their expertise to ministries and working groups, among others in the areas of managing EU partnership projects, public administration reform and the rule of law. Besides, they encourage business activities and regional youth reconciliation by funding the RYCO Regional Office for Youth Cooperation, established in 2016 in Paris at the Western Balkans Summit, chaired by France and Germany.
France and Germany support the fight against organized crime and terrorism in the Western Balkans by launching a comprehensive initiative against the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of small arms and light weapons, which both countries hold the presidency of, along with the European Union. They also encourage regional cooperation and reconciliation in the Balkans, making an active contribution to the EU-sponsored dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina. In July 2020, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel organized a summit in Paris in order to renew the dialogue that had stopped 18 months before, in November 2019. The summit was attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Kosovo Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti, the EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell and EU Special Envoy Miroslav Lajčak. France and Germany are still seeking a quick resumption of dialogue, immediately after the elections in Kosovo.
JOINT COMMITMENT TO QUALITY INFRASTRUCTURE WITH MAXIMUM REDUCED CARBON FOOTPRINT
France and Germany in Serbia are committed to sustainable development following the EU standards, contributing to an economically stable and ecological country by raising the awareness of citizens and investing in infrastructure and new technologies. The two countries’ engagement is quite diverse and ranges from boosting energy efficiency in buildings, through waste management to modern and alternative means of transportation. Furthermore, both countries are investing in renewable energy sources, such as the Kostolac wind farm and the Zvornik hydropower plant. Energy production from waste and through the circular economy are also part of the efforts of Germany and France to support Serbia on its path to a sustainable future. These complementary projects are financed on the basis of state funds and loans and are implemented by national development assistance agencies. These are AFD on behalf of France and KfW on behalf of Germany. Both have their headquarters in Belgrade and work in line with the EU’s environmental goals.
DEVELOPMENT OF ARTS AND TECHNOLOGY
In 2021, the French Institute and the Goethe Institute in Serbia, together with the Association of the Video Game Industry of Serbia, will establish cooperation to develop a common perspective in the increasingly dynamic sector of video game making. The project called “Playing Narratives”, funded by the German and French governments, will provide expertise and know-how from Paris and Berlin, more precisely, it will combine the French experience based on a long tradition of comics, indie gaming and animation with the German high-tech video game and animation industry. Following a public competition, 15 participants will be selected, all young creatives from Serbia between the ages of 18 and 30 who already have experience in writing comics, animation, sound design or creative writing. In collaboration with leading educators and industry experts from the three partner countries, they will have the opportunity to learn about the true practice of the production process in the video game industry.
FORECAST FOR THE POST-PANDEMIC WORLD
During 2020, as in previous years, Germany and France coordinated their activities to defend their position on the international scene. Germany chaired the Council of the European Union from July to December 2020, harmonizing its positions with France. In 2022, France will chair the Council of the European Union, continuing everything that both countries have jointly defined as a priority.
In an ever-changing and redeploying world, President Emmanuel Macron and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel launched the first German-French Forum for the Future in July 2020, bringing together leading stakeholders from business and social life to work together to make proposals for political order. Reflecting together and creating the future we strive for is even more important in these times of crisis in the public health sector.
During 2019 and 2020, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas advocated internationally for a renewed transatlantic partnership with the United States in 2021, for a stronger system of multilateral cooperation and for NATO’s adaptation to current challenges in the world. In the post-pandemic world, France and Germany will continue their activities at the global level in order to combat climate change in international forums such as the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change, which will be held in November 2021 in Glasgow or the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) on biodiversity to be held in Kunming in May 2021.