G7 Meeting in Munich: A former Cartesian discourses on method

GOETHE wrote on his deathbed: 'Uber allen Gipfeln ist Ruhe.' When the poet made his assertion that 'over all summits is peace', he could not have dreamt of the kind of Gipfel that would one day be held in his native Germany - he was referring to the mountaintops he could see from his bedroom window.

But the phrase did spring to mind yesterday when a very serene President Mitterrand gave his end-of-summit press conference. The 75-year-old president, the doyen of this and most other summits, used the occasion to savour his new role as the grand champion of the Bosnian people. As he continued to goad Britain over its go-slow attitude on the Yugoslav crisis, he defended for the first time his decision to make a lightning visit to Sarajevo last month without consulting his European partners.

'There may have been one or two in the European Community who complained. And I say to them: 'What about the principle of subsidiarity?' ' said the President, tongue firmly in cheek.

'I had no intention of negotiating when I went there. So I went to spend a Sunday in Sarajevo. I don't see why I should seek permission from the Twelve, the Commission, the European Parliament or anyone else as to where I spend the weekend.'

Mr Mitterrand defied snipers and shells when he flew on a symbolic visit to Sarajevo immediately after the EC summit in Lisbon last month. He was privately criticised for breaking EC ranks by launching a solo initiative.

The following week, Britain assumed the EC presidency. Its first act was to acclaim subsidiarity - the principle whereby national governments should, wherever possible, retain the right to make decisions without deferring to the Community.

The French leader, whose arrival at functions is always preceded by that of his Swiss physician armed with two black suitcases containing medical equipment, looks after his political health no less assiduously.

He has been surrounded by a host of female image-makers since his popularity started dropping in the ratings, and always manages to make his press conferences an event. When asked by a journalist from Haiti what France could do to improve the situation on the island, Mr Mitterrand quipped: 'Hang on a minute. I am not a maniac about military intervention, after all.'

The President, who yesterday completed his 12th successive G7 summit, went on defend his move to take Yugoslavia to the top of the G7 agenda.

He was asked if the topic really belonged in what was essentially an economic forum where some others, for instance Britain, would prefer to keep the question in the background. The response was well worthy of the Grand Old Man: 'It is surprising to see so many of my partners suddenly become so Cartesian, when I was just beginning to cease to be so.'

Suggested Topics
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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

£500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

£18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

£22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue