ARTICLE
France in International Relations. A European or Global Power?
 
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Uniwersytet Warszawski
Publication date: 2020-06-24
 
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2016;52(1):51–73
 
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ABSTRACT
Power status as a category in the theory of international relations has been the subject of analyses conducted by many researchers, including in France. Putting out a challenge to states, numerous non-state actors of international relations joined the game for power. The experience of World War II left France with a deep sense of humiliation. De Gaulle considered it his mission to restore France’s image as a world power. The decade of his presidency (1958–1969) was the apogee of France world power politics. Next to the seat in the UN Security Council, its basis included nuclear potential, contesting the United States’ leading role in the world, the Élysée Treaty with West Germany, the eastern policy, and France’s withdrawal from the military side of NATO in 1966 while still remaining a member of the alliance. The fall of the Soviet Union essentially changed France’s situation as a world power. France could no longer pretend to be conducting a policy of equal distance between the blocs. French elites, however, believed that the country still was a world power. It pursued its goals in multilateral structures. And it also attempted to play the role of the intermediary between the West and the Islamic world. Together with Russia and China, it advocates a multipolar world. France is the fifth world power in terms of share in global GDP, the fifth largest importer and sixth exporter in the world. It is among the countries that are the most open to foreign investments. The French military is the third largest in NATO. It often conducts foreign interventions. Between 2008 and 2012 France was the fourth exporter of arms in the world. In its policies it takes advantage of its culture and language as well. It has the second largest network of diplomatic missions in the world. It is particularly interested in the affairs of the Mediterranean Region and Africa. The French have come to terms with the fact that they are not playing as great a role in international relations as the United States, China, Russia or even Germany, but they also know that they have assets allowing them to be a European power with global aspirations.
ISSN:0209-0961