The German department of Radio France International (RFI), which is threatened with closure, has written to German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy, defending its programmes in the name of ‘Franco-German détente’.
RFI announced in January a social plan involving 206 job losses as well as the closure of six foreign language departments: German, Albanian, Polish, Serbo-Croat, Turkish and Laotian. The CEO of RFI, Alain de Pouzilhac, notably argued that the Berlin Wall had fallen nineteen years ago, and that the transmission of programmes in German was therefore no longer justified.
In the letter, the German department states that ”The Berlin Wall was never the reason for our existence. Given that the number of Germans learning French is declining, our mission consists of generating interest in, and understanding of France” in order “to stimulate this German-French friendship that you, Madam Chancellor, have already described as essential”, it continues.
Ulrike Sachweh, a journalist in the German department, says that the departent has already received more than 1,500 letters of support. Among the supporters are personalities such as the mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit, the socialist John Marc Ayrault, Vincent Peillon, Harlem Desire and Michel Rocard, Jacques Toubon, the journalist Laure Adler, the writer Michel Tournier, the designer Sempé and the director Volker Schlöndorff.
(Source: JeanMarcMorandini.com - translated from French)