AUS DEM SPIEGEL
Ausgabe 21/2005

SPIEGEL Interview with Danielle Mitterrand Francois Mitterrand's Widow Says, "I Will Vote No"

Danielle Mitterrand, 80, is the widow of former French President Francois Mitterrand. She spoke with SPIEGEL on the dispute on the weaknesses of the European Union, why the current treaty should be rejected and about the excesses of globalization.


Danielle Mitterand, wife of former French President Francois Mitterrand, says she will vote No in Sunday's referendum on the EU constitution in France.
AFP

Danielle Mitterand, wife of former French President Francois Mitterrand, says she will vote No in Sunday's referendum on the EU constitution in France.

SPIEGEL:

Madame, how are you going to vote at the EU constitution referendum on May 29?

Mitterrand: I continue to adhere to the logic of my commitment over the years for human rights, the Third World, and the fight against poverty. When I travel around the world, I always try to act as advocate for the victims of the economic system. I denounce the power of the economy over people, a system that turns individuals into elements in an economic equation, does not respect the poor and excludes everyone that does not live up to the principle of profitability.

SPIEGEL: Hasn't the globalization you are still fighting against long since become a reality in Europe?

Mitterrand: I can only reject a European constitution that emphasizes competition and profit as primary values. I am therefore going to vote No, but without taking part in any political campaign. Party politics hasn't interested me for a long time now.

SPIEGEL: Apparently, you are much further to the left than the majority of the Socialist Party...

Mitterrand: ...I often stood even farther to the left than my husband, because I was free of the restraints that come with being in government. He never resented that in me -- nor, by the way, did (former German Chancellor) Helmut Kohl despite my having reproached him for Germany's supplying of weapons to Turkey -- arms which were, in turn, then used against the Kurds. He didn't want to hear anything about it, but we remained on friendly terms.

SPIEGEL: Are you sure that your No on the European constitution would find favor with your late husband? What would Francois Mitterrand have thought about it?

Former French President Francois Mitterrand was one of the architects of the European Union.
AP

Former French President Francois Mitterrand was one of the architects of the European Union.

Mitterrand: I know that he always rejected economic liberalism with all its excesses. He had a tough fight with Margarete Thatcher, to whom efficiency, rationality and deregulation was everything. His legacy only contributes to my determination.

SPIEGEL: But your husband also negotiated controversial European treaties -- for example Maastricht which was accepted by a razor thin referendum in 1992. Do you see parallels to the situation today?

Mitterrand: He fought hard to obtain acceptable results. But he thought that most of the European treaties were bad. In Maastricht he did his utmost together with the Germans to push through the euro. He was successful and he was content with that. But he didn't think much of the rest of the treaty.

SPIEGEL: The Nice Treaty, which governs the EU today, is regarded as the worst EU treaty of all. But if the outcome of the referendum on Sunday is a No, Nice would remain in place. Don't you see a contradiction there?

Mitterrand:I cannot, of course, speak in the name of my deceased husband, but I know his way of thinking and therefore I think he would not have agreed to the Nice agreement. He always attempted to combat specific excesses of capitalism. Now that he is no longer around, the neo-liberal mentality is unrestricted.

SPIEGEL: Are you upset by the schisms among your socialist friends? They could, after all, even lead to a split of the party Francois Mitterrand took great care to unite.

Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterand continued the post-war project of bringing Germany and France closer together.
DPA

Helmut Kohl and Francois Mitterand continued the post-war project of bringing Germany and France closer together.

Mitterrand: I don't take sides in this dispute, it's not my issue. I am concerned about Europe's position in the world. Does this Europe have the courage to say No to a process that, in the end, could destroy our planet and its resources?

SPIEGEL: Don't you think it alarming that the paths of France and Germany, relative to the EU constitution, could diverge?

Mitterrand: At least we have a real debate in France. If Yes is the only answer allowed, why have a vote at all? I cannot imagine that the German-French friendship will suffer if Germany votes Yes and France No. That this friendship has become so firm is, to a great extent, owing to my husband.

SPIEGEL: So you don't think that a No would isolate France and throw Europe into a crisis?

Mitterrand: Not at all. On the contrary, I believe that a No would be a strong testimony to our humanism. Perhaps it would serve as incentive to rethink Europe's direction: Peace, fair resolution of conflicts, and solidarity with the weak -- instead of competition, profit and enrichment.

Interview conducted by Romain Leick

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