France, Germany Celebrate 50 Years Of Reconciliation
In contrast to the last two years of the countries working through Europe’s debt crisis, President Francois Hollande and Chancellor Angela Merkel came together in celebration during the symbolic event held in Reims.
“The European Union is going through a crisis - it won’t be the first, it won’t be the last,” Hollande said. “But…it forces us to move toward a new phase of development.”
The meeting replicated an encounter between former French President Charles de Gaulle and German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer in 1962 when the leaders enshrined Franco-German ties after World War I and World War II, Reuters reported.
On Saturday night, more than 40 graves of German soldiers killed during World War I were vandalized in the Saint-Etienne-a-Arnes military cemetery in northern France, BBC reported. Wooden crosses were pulled up and some were used for a campfire.
“No dark force and even less stupidity can alter the deep Franco-German friendship,” Hollande said to Merkel and others in Reims. “Our friendship inspires Europe. We don’t want to preach. We just want to give examples to be followed.”
The leaders met at Reims’ Notre Dame Cathedral which was extensively damaged by German bombing during World War I, Agence France-Presse reported. Reims is about 25 miles west of the cemetery.
The leaders showed unity during the celebration, though they differ on how to continue with the struggling eurozone, Reuters reported. Merkel wants Europe to form a fiscal union, giving Brussels more oversight over national budgets. According to Reuters, Germany has denied Hollande’s proposal of mutualizing European debt through jointly-issued euro bonds.
“Europe is more than just a currency,” Merkel said, “and the Franco-German relationship is vital in this regard, it has deeply marked European unification.”
Reach Executive Producer Agnus Dei Farrant here.