Chirac hopes for calm in summit with Major
Saturday 28 October 1995
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.
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
UK weather: Warning for more snow and ice as freezing temperatures and gales hit Britain
Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
UK weather: Travel chaos continues as King's Cross train delays add to snow on roads
The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...
£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...