The View from Paris
DOES ANY Western power have an East European policy? Or are all Osteuropapolitiken both more and less than policies toward Eastern Europe in the sense that they usually involve more than Eastern Europe and amount to less than policies? This question is legitimate for all the Western countries considered in this book, but for none more than France.
In a sense France is the positive exception to a generally negative answer. While the Federal Republic's interests and policies are directed above all to the German Democratic Republic and those of the United States to the Soviet Union or the Soviet bloc as a whole, France has paid special attention to the division of Europe symbolized by the Yalta Conference, in particular to East Central Europe as such. This was especially the case under de Gaulle, but has been shown more recently by the attention, greater than in any other Western country, given in France to the Polish events of 1980-81.
Once upon a time, this attention could even have been called a policy. Not only was France present at the creation of the East Central European states out of the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, but the post-World War I system of alliances in the region could rightly be called "the French system."1World War II started as a direct consequence of that system, when France and Britain, having abandoned Czechoslovakia, went to war to honor their guarantees to Poland.____________________