Elysee Treaty: France and Germany celebrate 50 years of friendship

Surrounded by French, German and EU flags, members of France and Germany's governments pose for a picture at the Chancellery in Berlin on Jan. 22, 2013, the 50th anniversary of the Elysee Treaty.
David Gannon

BERLIN, Germany — France and Germany celebrated 50 years of friendship on Tuesday, the anniversary of their landmark Elysee Treaty.

Signed in Paris on Jan. 22, 1963, the agreement formally ended decades of emnity between the two neighbors and set the seal on a friendship that, half a century later, continues to drive the European Union.

Tuesday's celebrations were held in Berlin, where Chancellor Angela Merkel met President Francois Hollande at the French embassy in front of the city's iconic Brandenburg Gate.

Several hundred French lawmakers and almost the entire French cabinet accompanied Hollande to Berlin, where they were invited to special joint sittings with their German counterparts, the Deutsche Press Agentur reported.

At a joint press conference, Merkel said the two governments planned to put forward proposals for "a deeper cooperation in economic policy" by May, Reuters reported.

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Despite the professions of friendship, the anniversary falls at a tense time for the partners, the BBC pointed out. With much of Europe in financial crisis, center-right Merkel has led the drive toward austerity, while, since defeating her former ally Nicolas Sarkozy last May, Socialist Hollande has advocated greater spending to drive growth.

France is also seeking support for its war on Islamist insurgents in Mali. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has already ruled out sending combat troops, which according to Der Spiegel magazine has angered France and other allies who see Germany as leaving "all the dirty work" to them.

Read more about the history of the Elysee Treaty on Deutsche Welle. The full text is here.