Tilo Schabert: "A Struggle for Europe. France at the Historical Watershed of 1989-1990"
"A struggle for Europe. France at the historical watershed of 1989-1990"
a public lecture by
TILO SCHABERT, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nuremberg
At the time of the historical watershed of 1989-1990 François Mitterrand was the political leader of France.
As regards international politics, he belonged to the school of "geopolitics". Concerning politics in general, he cultivated in his political persona, quite peculiarly, both, the words of a rebel and the warnings of a realist. The Soviet empire, he declared, would succumb to the historical force of "nationalities" – within the next 20 years, he said in 1985 to the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. To the Soviet Ambassador in Paris, Yuli Vorontsov, who asked him to explain the "riddles" of France`s foreign policy, he answered: "What? That`s simple. We want to remain free." And yet, Mitterrand continuously warned of the disorder very likely to set in if the current "order of Yalta" – the neat division between an "Eastern" and a "Western" bloc – would break up. Precisely this did happen, however. The greatest amount if statesmanship was required to respond, in the late eighties of the last century, to the historical challenge emerging ineluctably from the revolutionary upheavals within the Soviet realm. Mitterrand, with the advice and support of his excellent staff at the Elysée, proved himself up to the task. The rebel welcomed the strive for freedom and self-determination, the realist articulated and applied rules of prudence and geopolitical wisdom for conceiving and handling eventually the replacement of the "order" under the threat of nuclear apocalypse by an order under the star of personal liberty and national self-determination. France, under the leadership of Mitterrand, played in this process an active and most constructive role. This can be demonstrated especially with regard to the problem of a reunification of Germany. It is largely due to Mitterrand`s France that Germany`s unity was built as a piece of construction for Europe`s unity.
Tilo Schabert is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. He was awarded a Knighthood in the French National Order of the Legion of Honor in 2007 and has published more than two dozen books, most recently Die Menschen im Krieg, im Frieden mit der Natur—Humans at War, at Peace with Nature and Religionen: Die Religioese Erfahrung—Religions: The Religious Experience. For his book How World Politics is Made - France and the Reunification of Germany he was awarded the Prize of the French and German Parliament.
Tuesday, 1 March, 17:00 Hanak Room