French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in Britain on Wednesday for a two-day state visit with new wife Carla Sarkozy, addressed the UK parliament to ask for greater cooperation between the two nations.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy launched on Wednesday March 26 a state visit to the United Kingdom destined to enhance Franco-British relations.
During a special address to both houses of parliament at Westminster on Wednesday afternoon, Sarkozy called for a ‘new Franco-British brotherhood’, 104 years after the entente cordiale treaty was signed by the two countries to work together on issues relating to the economy, environment and the problems of globalization.
“Let us discuss together, decide together, act together. Everything justifies this: our common status as members of the Security council, our responsibilities as nuclear powers, our influence on certain parts of the world, our membership to the European Union, our attachment to democracy and freedom” Sarkozy said. “If
Nicolas and Carla Sarkozy were welcomed at Heathrow airport by Prince Charles and his spouse Camilla. The presidential couple then headed for Windsor Castle, where they were received by Queen Elizabeth II with all of the royal splendour granted to high-key guests.
Nicolas Sarkozy will meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Thursday.
Two topics are to lead their discussions – defence issues first, as the tension finally dies down between the two countries who were deeply divided over the war in Iraq, and a strengthened European partnership to inject new dynamics into the European Union, which France is set to preside over from July.
Common defence strategies
On the eve of the NATO summit in Bucarest, President Sarkozy and Gordon Brown are to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, where France is planning to send 1000 additional soldiers.
“The United States and Great Britain evaluate that the French contribution to NATO is far from sufficient even if France confirms the additional troops in Afghanistan,” says Philippe le Corre, a former adviser at the French Ministry of Defence. “”But France believes it should concentrate its efforts on developing European forces. France’s goal is to reach autonomy, or semi-autonomy, on defence issues. Britain remains an ally of the US.”
It is highly unlikely that France will reverse its policies and abandon its efforts to create a strong European defence policy. “France will undoubtedly maintain its effort and even more so as American military strategies are increasingly criticised,” adds Philippe le Corre.
Three-party leadership for Europe?
The other issue at the heart of President Sarkozy’s discussions with Gordon Brown: giving new dynamics to the EU and turning Britain into a key player.
“The goal is to transform Europe’s Franco-German ‘ménage à deux’ into a ‘ménage à trois,” Professor François Poirier from Paris 13 university told FRANCE 24.
Nicolas Sarkozy stated on Wednesday in an interview to the BBC: “The Paris-Berlin axis is fundamental but not sufficient (…) Angela Merkel cannot succeed all alone.” The French president called on Britain to take part in the European construction “from the inside”. “We need you, we need your strength, we need your potential, we need your dynamics,” said the French head of state.
During his visit, Nicolas Sarkozy will also address immigration issues and the closing of a major nuclear deal planning the construction of power plants in Britain, in which France hopes to play a key role.
Date created : 2008-03-26