France, Germany hail ties at WWI commemoration ceremony
Updated: 2014-08-04 10:53
PARIS - French President Francois Hollande and his German counterpart Joachim Gauck on Sunday paid tribute to the soldiers who died in World War I after Germany declared war on France a century ago.
In Alsace region, east France and near German border, the two leaders remembered the sacrifices of 30,000 soldiers who lost their lives at the Great War. But also hailed reconciliation and ties linking Europe's main powerhouses that helped to promote peace and stability in the old continent.
"Reconcile is to honor the dead and offer a guarantee of peace to the living," Hollande stressed.
"This friendship that unites us is an example for the world. It is a strength and an invitation wherever peace is threatened," French president added during the ceremony.
Looking to the Europeans' outlook, already tainted by economic woes and social strains, Hollande noted that remembering what happened 100 years ago showed the need to cope with current challenges of wane growth and high joblessness in bid to have a strong European bloc.
In Hartmannswillerkopf, Hollande and Gauck laid wreaths, hold a minute's silence and hug it out, in a strong message of close ties between both countries and to show "...the will can always win over fate and people who were regarded as hereditary enemies can be reconciled in a few years," according to the French head of state.
Hollande and Gauck also laid the foundation stone for the first museum jointly conceived by historians from both countries and the "first institution devoted to the Great War."
"The terrible fighting ...had made Hartmannswillerkopf a sacred place where there was the memory of 20th century's rift. With the construction of this unique museum, it will also become a symbol of friendship between France and Germany and of their reconciliation," they said in joint statement.
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