Chirac hopes for calm in summit with Major

MARY DEJEVSKY

Paris

Jacques Chirac arrives in Britain tomorrow for his first summit on British soil since taking office in June. After an unhappy few months in the international arena, in which France has been isolated over nuclear testing, ceded ascendancy in the West's Bosnia policy to Washington, had to calm German worries about the franc and been made to look foolish by Algeria, the French President can look forward to two days of relative calm, first at Chequers and then in London.

But the high hopes for the British-French relationship, raised at least by the British side after the first Major-Chirac summit in June, do not seem to have been entirely justified. The active role taken by President Bill Clinton in former Yugoslavia has left the celebrated British-French co-operation on the sidelines. While military collaboration in Bosnia appears to be flourishing, competition for the diplomatic credit has left Paris and London arguing about who will host what sort of Bosnia conference as the prospect of peace draws closer.

What appeared to be Britain's ambition of gaining a bilateral relationship resembling that between France and Germany seems also to have been disappointed, or at least to be proceeding more slowly than anticipated. Although there are visible strains between Paris and Bonn, over what Bonn sees as the laxness of the French government's economic policy and its backsliding on implementing the Schengen agreement on open borders, the "special relationship" persists, and it has not been augmented by a French-British equivalent.

The fact remains that, as Mr Chirac noted in June, the Franco-German alliance is a "necessity", even if officials on both sides concede that relations have rarely been worse.

It is hard to imagine Mr Chirac flying to London at short notice, as he did to Bonn this week, to reassure John Major that Paris was not changing its priorities.

One notable point of agreement between Britain and France in advance of this weekend's meeting is the "excellent" state of bilateral relations and the equally "excellent" state of personal relations between Mr Chirac and Mr Major.

However, the two sides clearly differ on the weight they give to this personal element. For Britain, it tops the bill; for France, it comes close to the bottom, after the hard practicalities of military, defence, and foreign policy co-operation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones