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French President François Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Berlin on Tuesday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, a milestone reconciliation and cooperation agreement that gave birth to a longstanding diplomatic and cultural alliance. The celebrations on Tuesday included a cabinet meeting between French and German governments, and a joint session of both countries’ parliaments, hosted by the Bundestag. But the alliance, often referred to in France as the ‘Franco-German couple’, has been placed under strain in recent years, and notably since the election last year of Hollande who has repeatedly clashed with Merkel over European policies. In this interview with Thomas Schnee, Étienne François, a historian and a recognized expert on the history of modern relations between France and Germany, a co-founder and former director of the Berlin-based Marc Bloch social sciences research centre, analyses the state of the current relationship between the two countries and the wider consequences of their fundamental differences in political culture.
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