French, German Leaders Commemorate Armistice Day
11 November 2009
Two days after 20th anniversary celebrations of the fall of the Berlin
Wall, German and French leaders met in Paris in another symbol of
growing European unity, to jointly commemorate Armistice Day. This is the first time a German leader has attended
the Paris ceremony marking the end of World War I.
|German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2nd r) and French Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy (3rd r) lay a wreath of flowers at the Tomb of Unknown soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, 11 Nov 2009|
On a cold and
gray morning, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President
Nicolas Sarkozy together rekindled a flame before the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier near the Champs Elysees.
The two European
leaders listened to a French army choir sang the Marseillaise and then
the German anthem, marking a French-German friendship that grew from
the ashes of the two world wars. France and Germany helped found the
European Union and are still considered the main engines driving the
In a speech at the tomb, Mr. Sarkozy said Germany
and France share the same values, the same ambitions for Europe and the
same currency. He said the friendship between the two countries should
be treasured and when the two work together, they accomplish great
Ties have grown closer between France and Germany over
the years. Relations between former French president Jacques Chirac
and German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder were particularly strong and
the two forged a united front against the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
Merkel and Mr. Sarkozy are not as close. France and Germany disagree
in some areas, like cutting government deficits. But experts like
Jean-Luc Sauron say the French-German relationship still matters.
professor at Paris-Dauphine University, Sauron told French radio it is
important for the two countries to go beyond symbols like Armistice
Day. One test will be next week, when European Union leaders gather to
choose the first president of the European Union. France and Germany
are expected to support the same candidate for the post.