France has prevented the minting of a euro coin commemorating its defeat at Waterloo, two centuries after Napoleon’s failed battle changed the course of European history.
Belgium withdrew a proposal, a European Union official told Reuters, that would have had Europeans jingling coins valued at only two euros but that would have weighed with humiliation of France’s defeat to Anglo-Dutch-German forces outside Brussels on June 18, 1815.
Paris had battled the move on the grounds that glorifying a time of conflict ran counter to efforts to foster European unity.
But there was no immediate comment from France, which last year struck a commemorative 2-euro coin marking the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings that helped end Nazi German occupation.
London newspapers, recalling Britain’s role in thwarting French domination of Europe after the revolution, reported gleefully on discomfiture in Paris at the Waterloo anniversary in three months time – underlining how remembering history may stir deep-seated tensions among neighbours.
Belgium, which as a state emerged from Dutch rule a decade after Napoleon’s death, is preparing to celebrate Waterloo with a weekend of festivities and re-enactments of one of history’s decisive combats and expects many more visitors to the battlefield near Brussels, where facilities are being renovated.
The 19 countries using the euro, a common currency intended to cement cohesion after centuries of conflict in Europe, use their own national design on one side of the coins. They may also mint special editions of the largest piece, the 2-euro coin, but special designs must be vetted by a council of EU ministers.
Approved designs this year include a German coin marking 25 years of reunification, a French commemoration of 70 years of peace since World War Two and Finland’s memorial to composer Jean Sibelius, born in 1865. Euro notes allow no national distinction and show bridges, windows and doorways to symbolise openness and unity.
But collectors looking for Waterloo souvenirs need look no further than Britain, outside the euro zone. The Royal Mint is offering a 5-pound coin featuring the architects of Napoleon’s downfall, the Duke of Wellington and Prussia’s Marshal Blucher.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)
Date created : 2015-03-12