The Élysée Treaty Comes to Mumbai! [fr]
France and Germany are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their friendship laid down in the “Élysée Treaty” from 1963. The Consulates General of France and Germany, the Alliance Francaise and the Goethe-
Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai seize this exclusive occasion to bring the spirit of French-German friendship to Mumbai in a one-week-festive programme featuring an exhibition on the treaty curated by the
CIDAL, Paris, as well as film-screenings and further activities.
For centuries, our two countries were rivals, adversaries, even “hereditary enemies.” Their relationship went through its most tragic period during the two World Wars, particularly with the crimes committed by the Nazi dictatorship. After this devastating period, the wish to finally overcome the enmity and to thrive together in peace took root in both nations and resulted de facto in a profound friendship.
We must be aware of this historical dimension in order to get an idea of the courage and audacity shown by Konrad Adenauer and Charles de Gaulle in signing the Élysée Treaty on January 22, 1963.
Though the text of the treaty is – amazingly - short and compact, its content is revolutionary: both states committed themselves to achieve on all important economic, political and cultural issues “insofar as possible (..) a similar position”. Centuries-old enmity can give way to profound friendship: this is the message of the Élysée Treaty, which is of universal significance.
Countless activities had followed over the last 50 years. To name just a few highlights: A vast network of town-twinnings evolved linking the citizens of both countries; a French-German-Youth-Office was established, that has arranged over 300.000 exchange programs and thus brought together about 8 million young people from France and Germany; a French-German-University offers more than 140 study programmes in joint courses at numerous French and German Universities. With the joint French-German TV channel ARTE both countries succeed in the field of film, news and media since 1992.
Remarkably on the military side a joint unit was formed, consisting of 6000 soldiers who serve in the “French-German Brigade” a highly mobile unit who has been deployed in conflicts on the Balkans and in
Also on governmental level the network between the two countries tightened and became an established framework. Germany and France were the first countries ever to establish regular intergovernmental consultations and their experience became a model for similar encounters with a number of third states - like consultations of both respective governments with the government of India. Recently, in February 2013, President Hollande’s State Visit to India and, in April 2013, the meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Berlin, have stressed the political importance. Both times the heads of government were accompanied by several key ministers of their governments.
In a comprehensive exhibition and through a number of activities the two Consulates and their Cultural Institutes will try to explain and to transmit the spirit of this friendship and its universal significance. The key themes of the treaty – reconciliation, young people, solidarity and Europe – shall be described and put into practice. A number of activities will be addressing young Indians and their teachers through teaser classes in German and French, which will give participants a feel of the language, a guided tour through the exhibition, a
didactical workshop on relevance of the friendship between the two countries in today´s time, info sessions on study in Germany and France, a conference on European language teaching and French-German film screenings.
The opening ceremony took place on Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm at Max Mueller Bhavan and was open to the public. Consul General of France in Bombay, Mr. Jean-Raphaël Peytregnet, in his speech, called this Friendship Treaty a ’bonding of hearts and minds across the Franco-German border’. Mr. Michael Ott, the deputy Consul General of the German Consulate, called it a meaningful treaty ’that actually works’.
The other events during the week shall also take place at Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, Mumbai. The concluding event of the celebration week will be at Alliance Française de Bombay on July 9, 2013. For more details kindly refer to the websites of the two Consulates as well as the two cultural institutes.