It was not necessary to be late Tuesday evening to hope to attend the ceremony of awarding an honorary doctorate to former German Chancellor Angela Merkel. A line of students stretched from 27 rue Saint-Guillaume to the surrounding streets more than an hour before the event.
After Vaclav Havel in 2009 or Lula in 2011, the former Chancellor is only the fifth political figure to receive this honorary title awarded to “personalities of foreign nationality for eminent services rendered to the arts, letters, sciences and techniques, to France or to the establishment which awards the title”.
It is “a very, very great European” that the Paris Institute of Political Studies has chosen to honor. “In three words that have become historic, you have saved the honor of Europe”, addresses the director of the establishment, Mathias Vicherat. “Wir schaffen das! (“We will get there!”), had launched the Chancellor in August 2015 about the integration of refugees from the Syrian civil war arriving in the country. Never mind the fact that she abandoned this formula in 2016. She then judged that “too many things” had been put “inside”, making it “just a simple slogan, almost a meaningless formula”.
“The links between Sciences Po and my political work are obvious,” says the Christian Democrat, recalling that the four French presidents she worked with went through this school. Faced with “various challenges and different individual approaches”, she underlines “the spirit of Franco-German friendship” and her constant desire to find “common solutions”.
Financial crisis of 2008, annexation of Crimea and part of Donbass in 2014, refugee crisis of 2015 then Covid-19 crisis in 2020, Angela Merkel will have faced all types of events during her four mandates . How ? By leaving no room for “the far left, the far right or violence in the name of religion”. By striving to “see reality through the eyes of the other”, and thanks to the culture of “compromise” and that of making “concessions out of conviction” of their usefulness.
Not a word, however, about its mixed record in the fields of energy or its attitude vis-à-vis Russia. “It’s part of his mark, sweeps Arancha Gonzalez, dean of the School of International Affairs of the establishment. We do not sue on what worked or not, it is not up to us to judge. “We simply want to honor someone who has marked Europe,” concludes Mathias Vicherat.
To end this evening, the one who led Germany for sixteen years offered herself a stroll to the Boulevard Saint-Germain. On the other side, in the new campus of the Parisian school, she found the former French presidents François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy for an evening in her honor.
Angela Merkel will bring back an original gift in her souvenir suitcase: a copy of a former student of the IEP in Paris on Franco-German friendship, that of a certain François Mitterrand.