Barnier to Americans: stop ‘French-bashing’, improve alliance instead

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Employing plain English, French Foreign Minister
Michel Barnier has called on all Americans to quit
bashing the French and start working on improved
transatlantic relations instead.

In an opinion piece published in the 
Wall Street Journal

on 8 November, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier
addressed a sweeping appeal to the broad American public
for increased political co-operation. “I am writing
to you as a friend of America,” Barnier said,
outlining “all the things that connect” the two
countries whose “destinies are
intertwined”. 

“I’m concerned to see both Americans and
Europeans expressing doubts over the future of
transatlantic relations, and I’m troubled to see that
Europe is misunderstood, if not scorned, in the US,”
Barnier wrote. Rather than continuing with the current
practices, in which “the most inaccurate
clichés are obscuring the most obvious truths”,
Barnier said that the two countries should recognise that
they “have common interests everywhere”, and
thus they “should have common ambitions”.

“America needs a capable, responsible Europe. And
Europe needs a strong America, engaged in world
affairs,” Barnier said. The article appeared barely
a week after the US presidential elections, in which
George Bush secured a second term in office, and against
the backdrop of the two countries’ prolonged
disagreements over Washington’s Iraq policy. The
majority of the public in France is known to
have favoured Democrat John Kerry’s
candidacy. There is also known to be a high
level of anti-Iraq war sentiment in the country.

Identifying the major bones of contention between the
two countries, Barnier proposed the creation of “a
high-level group right now, consisting of independent,
respected figures from both sides of the Atlantic to
explore ways in which we can deepen our political
co-operation”.

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