Ambassadors of France and Germany in Lithuania Maryse Berniau and Matthias Mülmenstädt spoke on campus to students, faculty, and guests about French-German cooperation on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty. The landmark French-German treaty formally ended the rivalry between the two countries and established the grounds for future cooperation.
Both ambassadors emphasized that, despite their differences, France and Germany are working for the unity of Europe.
“France and Germany managed to find a solution to the euro crisis together. We have established good practices over fifty years. We are linked together by our current history. There is a real benefit of cooperation. At different times we have managed to find solutions that are good for France, Germany, and, we hope, the rest of Europe,” said Berniau.
Mülmenstädt likewise emphasized the ongoing cooperation between Germany and France.
“France is our trading partner number one. EADS, which produces Airbus, is France’s and Germany’s joint company,” he said.
The ambassadors noted that although the two countries sometimes have different approaches to certain issues, such as fiscal austerity or nuclear energy, their cooperation has led to unprecedented results.
“In December [the EU] received the Nobel Peace Prize. This success story is comparable to no other. You can cross borders without stopping and use the same currency; Erasmus students are going to other European countries. In two decades, we reconstructed Europe and built democratic states,” said Berniau.
EHU’s Rector Prof. Anatoli Mikhailov stressed that cooperation with France and Germany has been an important pillar of EHU’s existence both in Minsk, before its forced closure, and, currently, in Vilnius.
“When we were in Minsk, Germany and France contributed to our university. Courses were taught in French, our department of political science cooperated with universities in France, we had our Institute for German Studies. This cooperation indicates that it’s possible to contribute to concrete changes in Belarus,” said Mikhailov.
This "German-French Day" was organized by EHU’s Center for German Studies and the Department of Foreign Languages with the support of the Embassies of France and Germany, Institut Francais and Goethe-Institut in Lithuania, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
* Photo by Embassy of France in Lithuania