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Opening of the solemn debate with President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Met dank overgenomen van Voorzitter Europees Parlement (EP-voorzitter), gepubliceerd op woensdag 7 oktober 2015.

Monsieur le Président de la République Française,

Sehr geehrte Frau Bundeskanzlerin,

I extend a warm welcome to you both. This is an historic moment: the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany, here in the European Parliament - the home of European democracy - in Strasbourg - the symbol of Franco-German reconciliation - speaking today, together, about the future of Europe.

For centuries, Germany and France were arch-enemies - trapped in a vicious circle of war, defeat, humiliation and revenge. Millions more had to die, with Europe destroyed, before there was reconciliation between the two states - thanks to the courage of Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer. That was one more historic step on the road to peace in Europe.

Without reconciliation between France and Germany, the European unification process would never have been able to develop as it has. But, by the same token, without European unification, Franco-German friendship of the closeness we see today would certainly have been unthinkable. Through school exchanges and town twinning schemes, millions of people have found new friends and somewhere else they can call home.

Monsieur le Président de la République Française,

Sehr geehrte Frau Bundeskanzlerin,

It is 26 years since Helmut Kohl and François Mitterrand made a joint address to the European Parliament; you are the first heads of state or government, since then, to follow their example.

In what are difficult times for Europe, when we have unprecedented challenges to deal with, you have come to Strasbourg to debate with the Members of the European Parliament. That is something we are pleased about; and it is a significant event. Recent decades have shown us that Europe suffers when Germany and France do not work well together. Harmony and unity have not been the forces driving Europe forward - discord and disagreement, and the compromises reached to overcome them, have proved far more fruitful in that regard. The fact is that, if France and Germany can agree, then negotiations, however tough they may be, usually produce a sound compromise - one that combines the strengths of both to the benefit of all. For that reason, Mr President, Madame Chancellor, we are very eager to hear what you think about how to shape our shared future and what impetus you can give to that process.


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