Gerhard Schroeder has been making known his views on Britain and the European Union:
PARIS, Nov 13, 2006 (AFP) – The idea of trying to expand the European Union’s core axis of France and Germany to include Britain “was a mistake and will remain so,” former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said Monday.
“At the beginning of my mandate, I believed the Franco-German axis could be enlarged to become a triangle with Great Britain. That was a mistake and will remain so,” he told France’s Le Figaro newspaper.
“The Britons think only in terms of the Commonwealth and of being a bridge between the continent and the United States. What’s more, they tend to bring their internal political fights onto the European field.
“Really, there’s no alternative to the Franco-German axis if we want to see European integration move forward,” he said. (via MAK)
It might also be commented that the idea of trying to form a European Union with Germany as a leading partner is still in some respects as problematic now as it was sixty years ago, in spite of all the politicking and assemblying that has passed under the bridge since then. Writing even earlier than that, the German novelist Thomas Mann was certainly not mistaken when in 1918, invoking Dostoyevsky, he characterized Germany as “the battlefield of Europe”, on which the continent’s inner disunities are enacted and made visible. Dostoyevsky also characterized Germany as, like Russia, standing outside the mainstream of European political thought and discourse. In Putin, Schroeder has met a soul-mate, for Germany is no more “truly European” in the political, civilisational sense than contemporary Russia. The “Franco-German axis” is a contradiction in terms, just as it ever was.