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François Mitterand on the Issue of German Reunification (July 27, 1989)

After Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the CPSU, made a visit to Paris, the French president discussed the question of German reunification and warned against drawing rash conclusions. The interests of both German states, he mentions below, had to be considered, along with those of the western powers and the Soviet Union.

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Question: Mr. President, what kind of effects could this “common house” of Europe* have on Germany? What is your future vision of Germany?

Answer: Your question is too broad for me to answer just like that.

Question: Do you think Germany will attempt reunification?

Answer: Definitely. Reunification is a concern of all Germans. And that is easy to understand. This problem, which has waited forty-five years to be solved, is assuming ever more significance as Germany continues to grow stronger. This strength has already been proven in the economy and is on its way in politics.

Question: Could the Federal Republic be tempted into having its eye more on the East than on the EC countries?

Answer: To turn around entirely, so to speak? No, I don’t think so. It is not at all surprising that the Federal Republic would want to have better relations with the Soviet Union and the other countries in the East, in view of its geographic location and its history. And who would want to deny it that? But Germany has no interest in changing camps and sacrificing its European policies for a reunification that the Soviet Union is not ready to allow anyway. And I don’t think Germany is even considering it.

Question: Have you spoken to President Gorbachev about it?

Answer: Reunification is in my view a justified wish of the Germans. But it can only be implemented in a peaceful and democratic way.

Question: But you don’t think it would change anything regarding the Soviet veto?

Answer: I don’t know if I would call it a veto. Just look at the press release after the conversation between President Gorbachev and Chancellor Kohl in Bonn. I don’t have the impression that the foreign policy of the two countries will change fundamentally on account of the improved climate.

Reference to the common European house that was introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the CPSU and head of state of the Soviet Union – eds.

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