In a recent convention of the European Union (EU), two attendees were quarreling over unifying their currency system. They were the representatives of France and Germany. The dispute was a trivial matter, and it ended without serious conflict. It was, of course, derived from each nation's current interests. Even though this dispute was not serious, I was another frequent issue that complicates the Unions relationships.
We used to hear news about violent hooligan riots whenever both countries played soccer games. In accordance with Eurobarometer, a statistical periodical of European matters, there has been a long-lasting sentimental conflict between the two countries. What are the intrinsic problems between them?
From time immemorial, every European nation has been at war and then cooperated with each other. That is, especially, true of France and Germany, which live side by side. Their deep-rooted animosity originated from geographical history.
As a matter of fact, Paris' intention to contain Germany deepened after World War Ⅱ (WWⅡ). In 1952, right after the WWⅡ, France lead in establishing the European Coal and Steal Community (ECSC). In WWⅡ, France was invaded by Germany, and the war caused awful damages to each other. Paris, therefore, promoted the ECSC to contain Berlin. Since then, France has been the most influential country in Europe. In any kind of unity of Europe, from the European Community to the EU, Paris' leadership has been intensified.
After the unification of Germany, Berlin was trying to grasp some influence in the EU based on economic power, not as a defeated nation. Up to now, there occurred many frictions with France. France wanted to obstruct Germany's growth and Germany wanted to be the new leader of the EU. Therefore both adjacent nations are likened to "Cats and Dogs."
Both nations also use their abilities together as major members of the EU. Sometimes they show us a mighty community spirits. How could they do so? What's in their hearts? The historical animosity cannot end that easily, and they still seem to have negative emotions. What are they both planning to solve their complicated historical differences?
According to experts in international relations, both nations' leaderships have recognized the importance of European unity. They are well aware that opening up old wounds should be executed within the limits of not severely hurting each other. Actually, every country in Europe has the same historical relationship. In addition, European history is a shared racial and cultural.
For that reason, European countries avoid unresolved historical matters officially and dealing with the affairs emotionally. So these historical matters were only discussed in private and scholastic domain after 1970s.
■ To Overcome Deep-rooted Animosity and To Become Unified
These days they are searching for ways to hang together as well. How could they interact? The Post met with Lee Jae-seung, a professor at Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security, to hear how they cooperate.
"The racial animosity cannot be dissolved by instantaneous efforts. Accordingly, a political approach would be a return to the historical past again. In case of present-day Europe, they advocate "One Europe" and value harmony," said Prof. Lee. According to him, there is growing racialism among the extreme right-wing. But their exclusivism concentrates on not adjacent European nations but non-European or foreign labor matters.
He analyzed the historical disputes between France and Germany and how they relate to latest Korea, Japan, and China conflicts.
"I think that re-interpretation couldn't be reached satisfactorily. Twisted historical matters should be modified, but it should essentially come with sufficiently profound scholastic discussions including each concerned nation's vision for the future and so forth.
In case of France and Germany, there have been many wars, opposition and distrust over their 1000-year history. Nevertheless, they are seeking for a new partnership through the prosperity of the EU. We should watch how both countries progress to the future. On the other hand, Korea, Japan and China are likely to behave emotionally and impulsively in historical re-interpretation. The new era of Northeast-Asia is at hand. It is worth considering this aspect carefully."
Cats and Dogs in the Same Boat Cats and Dogs in the Same Boat
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