samedi 17 février 2018

Mind the Gap: How France and Germany Can Spearhead Joint Foreign Policy Initiatives Now

Mind the Gap: How France and Germany Can Spearhead Joint Foreign Policy Initiatives Now  

(extraits du dossier dirigé par Claire Demesmay, DGAP, Berlin) : lire ici

Edited by Claire Demesmay 

In light of the current instability on Europe’s borders and uncertainties about the international role of the US under the administration of President Donald Trump, it is high time for Franco-German foreign policy initiatives. With a possible new German government in sight, a window of opportunity opens for new joint action by the two countries at the core of the EU. At the same time, differences between France and Germany, both on policy issues and in terms of their strategic cultures, could impede any such cooperation. This study shows how Paris and Berlin can bridge – and exploit – these gaps to facilitate joint initiatives, even in the short term, on four key topics: Russia, transatlantic relations, Syria and Turkey.

Syria: Associating German with French Initiatives

Frédéric Charillon & Andreas Rinke  

The conflict in Syria currently stands at the center of much of the international debate because it triggered a destabilization of the entire Middle East region – with the military involvement of a large number of foreign countries. The armed conflict also sent huge numbers of refugees to neighboring countries and Europe. As a result, Syria swiftly climbed to the top of the diplomatic agenda
for Germany and France. Despite the shared urgency, however, both countries have very different views on the conflict: This is due partly to historical reasons, and partly to the fact that France and Germany play different roles in world politics and hold different views on the use of military power. Nonetheless, the time for joint initiatives is now better than ever before – frstly, because  both countries share common interests in the Middle East, and secondly, because the election of French President Macron might help fnd a common stance. A common French-German strategy for Syria, and for the wider Middle East, is both possible and necessary, and the EU offers the best framework in pursuing this. Paris made it clear that it wanted to promote new initiatives. Associating Germany with them would be indispensable.

France and Germany: Different Approaches Toward Syria
Germany and France diverge widely in their approaches toward Syria for at least three reasons. These relate to the two countries’ different historical involvement in the region, to their divergent attitudes on the use of military force, and lastly, on the context of current terrorist attacks.

The historical factors at play in the issue date back to colonial times: Unlike Germany, which does not have any colonial background in the Middle East, France used to exert tutelary power in both Lebanon and Syria and has kept strong links with the Levant ever since. Paris’ political clout in Lebanon somewhat decreased when frst, the Syrian, and then the Iranian grip on the country intensifed after the Civil War (1975-1989). But a struggle for influence between the West – mainly France and the US – and the Syrian-Iranian camp remained. Several attacks on the French territory in the 1980s, as well as the assassination of the French Ambassador in Beirut in 1981 and
later the killing of French hostages were attributed to Damascus, Tehran and their local allies, such as Hezbollah.