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What we can learn about Europe from Henri de Grossouvre

French writer and international relations expert Henri de Grossouvre has learned a lot about Europe’s position in world politics, and he is committed to sharing this knowledge.

In 2001, Grossouvre published the successful ‘Paris Berlin Moscow’ a book which went out of stock almost immediately and was met with worldwide success. It was soon translated into Italian and Serbian and it is sold at Amazon. He then wrote “For a European Europe, an avant-garde to break the deadlock” in 2007 along with François Loos, who prefaced it.

In 2009, the prolific French writer published ’The Eurodistrict Strasbourg Ortenau, the construction of the real Europe / Der Eurodistrikt Strassburg-Ortenau, Konstruktion eines lebendigen Europa’, a bilingual French-German book.

After finishing his studies in Bonn, Germany and even attending the prestigious Harvard Summer School, Grossouvre went on to travel and live in Austria, Belgium and Romania. He now spends most of his days in a quaint German town close to the French border. He works in Paris several days of the week and spends the rest playing tennis, cycling and running.

Amidst his busy schedule, Grossouvre was generous enough to have an interview with us and share his secrets to success.

What made you decide to be an author and not something else?

I think I work better when I am writing down my ideas, rather than speaking them. I have had a long held interest in world politics and international relations, particularly centred around Europe. Federalism and regionalism are interesting to me, but even more so is the idea that we can unite the most powerful European countries to make Europe strong again. This can be done through a strategic alliance using the so-called ‘Paris-Berlin-Moscow’ axis, which I wrote a book about. We need to utilise an avant-garde mode to do this.

Of course, these are relatively obscure topics. Not many people wrote about these themes, which is why I decided to do so. I wanted to fill the gap, so to speak. Over a 20-year period I ended up publishing about 100 articles in international relations newspapers and journals, plus three books.

These themes are interrelated, which makes them easier to write on. In addition, they reflect my life growing up, travelling and working – across Romania, Hungary, Germany, Austria, Russia and so on. I actually worked over in Kiev and Kharkov. Doing so inspired ‘Ukraine, a new European power?’, something I wrote a while back. But yes, I am deeply motivated by the current political climate and my own personal experiences. It is a linguistic, geographic, academic and cultural relationship for me. It is a complex but a meaningful one.

What does your writing process look like?

I begin by gathering my ideas. This starts, of course, with what I read about in newspapers and online. I then add my personal perspective to the mix and let the ideas brew. And then I write! The end result is an interesting combination of current affairs and timeless concepts centred around European culture and geography. ‘Paris Berlin Moscow’, for instance, is clearly based on many of the ideas of De Gaulle and Jean-Pierre Chevènement, but as it was written throughout the 2001-2002 French Presidential Election, it is definitively modern. I spent many months writing that intensively – I had a tight deadline!

What have you discovered through writing your books?

Really, how we humans are all very similar, in spite of our political alignment or nationality. I did not anticipate that I would make allies everywhere. I made allies with Socialists, Communists, Radicals and right-wing people. I learned a lot from them, and was lucky to have been exposed to them through my writing and research. It is evident that we are all curious and want to know the answers to deep questions, and I am grateful that I get to help share some of these potential answers. Another interesting thing I realised is that most Gaullists keep out of Gaullist parties and simply call themselves Gaullists instead. I want to do this myself.

Why did you decide to begin writing ‘Paris Berlin Moscow’?

That book was a real passion project for me. It started from a love of German and Russian culture, life and history that I developed through travel and reading. I had first written a small op-ed on Gaullism, in which I tried to highlight how Jean-Pierre Chevènement was De Gaulle’s true successor. This attracted the interest of Chevènement’s team. They got in touch and asked if I would write them a brief on the economy in Central Europe. I asked them if I would be able to write on the Paris-Berlin-Moscow alliance instead, and they agreed, likely because it was Chevènement’s idea to begin with. I deeply enjoyed writing that book.

What is the Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis, in simple terms?

The axis is basically just the idea that there is a lot of potential for Greater Europe to make an impact on the world stage, and that this can be realised through a strategic alliance between Germany, Russia and France. Why these countries? Well, Germany is in the middle of Central Europe, France is seated in the West, while Russia is located to the East, giving it ties to Asia. This means that together they cover Europe and can ensure its strength.

Each country’s strong history, culture and traditions mean that they are well-suited to make real impacts on the international stage. Since World War II they have merely been subjects. That can change if we work on it.

Has the response to ‘Paris Berlin Moscow’ been positive?

For the most part, yes. I am thankful to everyone that took the time to comment on my book. Many people supported the idea and were enthusiastic about it. Some were more critical of it, but this too I appreciate as it means that I can strengthen these ideas. A large reason for my book’s ability to get so much feedback is the fact that it was released in a number of languages. This meant that I could form relationships with a vast number of people worldwide, and build a strong network of both friends and experts.

The ideas of Henri de Grossouvre and his predecessors provide much food for thought. Grossouvre is a prime example of a writer on international relations who deeply cares about the subject matter he writes on. To learn more about his work, you can view some of his writings online in journals.