Valéry Giscard d'Estaing

French official and politician (1926–2020)

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing (born 2 February 1926 - 2 December 2020) was a French centre-right politician who was President of the French Republic from 1974 until 1981. He is a member of the Constitutional Council of France.

Europe without Greece is like a child without a birth certificate

Quotes edit

  • Public opinion will be led to adopt, without knowing it, the proposals we dare not present to them directly. (...) This approach of 'divide and ratify' is clearly unacceptable. Perhaps it is a good exercise in presentation. But it would confirm to European citizens the notion that European construction is a procedure organised behind their backs by lawyers and diplomats.

Quotes on Valéry Giscard d'Estaing edit

  • Did it have to come to this? The paradox is that when Europe was less united, it was in many ways more independent. The leaders who ruled in the early stages of integration had all been formed in a world before the global hegemony of the United States, when the major European states were themselves imperial powers, whose foreign policies were self-determined. These were people who had lived through the disasters of the Second World War, but were not crushed by them. This was true not just of a figure like De Gaulle, but of Adenauer and Mollet, of Eden and Heath, all of whom were quite prepared to ignore or defy America if their ambitions demanded it. Monnet, who did not accept their national assumptions, and never clashed with the US, still shared their sense of a future in which Europeans could settle their own affairs, in another fashion. Down into the 1970s, something of this spirit lived on even in Giscard and Schmidt, as Carter discovered. But with the neo-liberal turn of the 1980s, and the arrival in power in the 1990s of a postwar generation, it faded. The new economic doctrines cast doubt on the state as a political agent, and the new leaders had never known anything except the Pax Americana. The traditional springs of autonomy were gone.
    • Perry Anderson, "Depicting Europe", London Review of Books (20 September 2007)
  • Yet, alongside Western weaknesses, there were also serious problems for the Soviet system, while the American position was less bleak, in both absolute and relative terms, than the successive electoral defeats of presidents Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter in presidential elections in 1976 and 1980 might suggest. Moreover, the failure of the Communists to benefit substantially from the changes in Portugal, Spain and Greece was matched by Communist weakness elsewhere in Western Europe. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, French President from 1974 to 1981, and Helmut Schmidt, German Chancellor from 1974 to 1982, combined to act as a very strong stabilising force and to relaunch the EEC project. Within the Socialist International, the so-called Socialist Triangle of Willy Brandt, Olof Palme, Swedish Prime Minister, and Bruno Kreisky, Austrian Chancellor, was dominant. In Italy, the Communist Party, the most powerful in Western Europe, adopted a ‘Euro-Communism’ that was opposed to Soviet direction. Enrico Berlinguer, who became Party Secretary in 1973, a key figure, was committed to the existing democratic system and pursued what was termed the ‘historic compromise’ with the established Christian Democrat-dominated political system. A pact was negotiated in 1976, with the Communist Party agreeing not to try to overthrow the Christian Democratic government. Euro-Communism was a term coined in 1975 by Western European Communist leaders keen to demonstrate their democratic credentials. More generally in Western Europe, the declining position of heavy industries was a challenge to the trade unions that were central to left-wing political parties, and notably to the Communists.

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