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The Merkel-Sarkozy couple reclaims European security

On the eve of the Munich security conference, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have just affirmed their deep commitment to European security by publishing in several European newspapers (Süddeutsche Zeitung and Le Monde), which can be compared to a true profession of faith. In passing, the two French and German leaders who were spoken of in bad terms, and who have continued to align their divisions for several months, display their unity. Which is not bad either in terms of internal politics or at the level of the European Union or in the future dialogue with the United States. But aside from political consideration, there is something more important.

  • A strong symbolism and a new Franco-German couple? Beyond the precise content of this declaration, we can see, in fact, the strong symbolism that runs through this text.
  • European symbolism first. In my opinion, this text could be classified among the major European declarations on security such as the Franco-British declaration of Saint-Malo or the Brussels declaration on European defense policy. And it could constitute the starting point for a future three-way discussion – Russians, Americans and Europeans – on a new pact for European security.
  • Philosophical symbolism then. When the two European leaders conclude that in the absence of “ brave new world », as the philosophers Leibnitz and Voltaire (*) had wished, they call for a world where the « peace and security for all ", we have here both a very “Christian” – taken up by the Pope in several speeches -, very “UN” too – it was used word for word at the G7 summit in London in dramatic 1991, it was on the eve of the first war in ex-Yugoslavia) – and was recently taken up by Obama on the situation in the Middle East – in his interview with El Arabiya.
  • • Franco-German symbolism, finally. Present down to the smallest detail. The two writers who form the
    conclusion of the two heads of state and government were not chosen at random: Leibnitz was a diplomat stationed in Paris for several years; and Voltaire, friend of Frederick II, spent several years in Berlin as chamberlain. But, especially when the two leaders announce that, from now on, German soldiers, from the Franco-German Brigade, will be permanently established in France, this gesture is not insignificant. Especially when we know that these soldiers could be stationed in Strasbourg (according to my colleague Merchet), and even if nearly 65 years have passed since the reintegration into France of this bitterly disputed territory between France and Germany.
  • • Is this the beginning of a new Franco-German couple like with Mitterand-Kohl or Giscard-Schmidt? We can (want) to believe it. Because France and Germany have something unusual in Europe: they have almost everything different and are made to be antagonistic, like water and fire. Result: when they agree, it is difficult for anyone in Europe to oppose it. This is why the Franco-German couple is truly the European driving force. And the only possible one without any other alternative, in my opinion, the last ten years (notably with Prime Minister Blair) have proven it.

Europeans are reclaiming THEIR security. The force of the words used shows a clear desire for Europeans to reclaim the security of the continent. " We Europeans must speak more with a strong and united voice, which requires a high degree of cohesion from Member States within the framework of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Likewise, we must increase and pool our military and civilian capabilities, in the service of a forward-looking policy for the security of Europe. ". " We are convinced that it is in our interest to make European construction and the Atlantic partnership two sides of the same security policy. » This security must be broad. “ Our security policy must be defined more broadly. In addition to strictly military issues, it must take into account the international financial situation, energy supplies or migration issues. This corresponds to the analysis of the High Representative for the EU, Javier Solana, presented to the 27 at the Summit in December.

Discuss the future of NATO. The two leaders therefore call at the next summit of the Atlantic Alliance (in April in Strasbourg-Kehl) to have “ strategic debates and translating them into political choices. "" It is not a question of reinventing the fundamental principles of the Alliance, those of the Washington Treaty, and the community of values ​​and the solidarity that unites us. It is a question, as we have already done in the past (in 1991 and 1999), of debating without blinkers to give new directions and transform the Alliance in a credible manner.. " Likewise, the need to discuss a common political and military approach in Afghanistan is recalled. Finally, the statement points the finger at the failure of the " strategic partnership between NATO and the EU (which) does not live up to our expectations, due to persistent disagreements between certain nations ". " We think this needs to change. add Merkel and Sarkozy.

And an outstretched hand to Russia. Language is also important vis-à-vis the Russian neighbour. “Our alliance is a defensive alliance, whose sole ambition is our common security in the face of global threats they explain. " But we also have the right to expect Russia to demonstrate its respect for the norms and rules to which it contributed, through the Final Act of Helsinki and the Charter of Paris in 1990. ". If the two European leaders remind Russia of its international obligations, in particular the " respect for territorial integrity in Georgia, the call of the foot is also clear.

First, Ukraine and Georgia are being told that they will not soon join NATO (or the EU for that matter). " To become a member of the Alliance, there are criteria; this implies first of all being able to assume the heavy responsibilities, to make a real contribution to the security of the allies, and to share their values ". And, this " enlargement must contribute to the stability and security of the continent, which also benefits Russia »… In chosen words, this amounts to introducing a new criterion for membership in NATO and to granting Russia a right to review the enlargement to the former Soviet republics.

Secondly, the Medvedev proposal for a discussion on European security is accepted. " We want a closer political and security dialogue between the EU and Russia, which allows it to be further involved in the Euro-Atlantic security area. especially in the disarmament process. A point of view shared in the EU institutions, among Jose-Manuel Barroso and at Javier Solana.

Finally, it is about relaunching the arms control process – “ It is no longer necessary today to maintain enormous arsenals, and the objective must be a level of strict
» – to help relaunch US-Russia negotiations on the reduction of arsenals (Start) – « for which Germany and France hope for concrete results in the
next months
" - and of " safeguard the conventional force limitation regime in Europe » – we must create a dialogue with Russia on the conditions of ratification
of the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE), as amended.

In exchange for this hand extended to the Russians, the two European leaders expect other steps. "For example, that a solution be found in Transnistria in order to create an atmosphere
different ".

The text was translated into English byUS Embassy in France (unofficial translation)

(Photo: Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy at the last European summit, in December 2008, Brussels – Council of the EU).

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).