Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Saturday, 31 October 2009

17 January 1995: 'Nationalism is war'

European Parliament, Strasbourg.

In the mid-1990s, war was raging in south-eastern Europe, as the countries of former Yugoslavia tore themselves apart.

It was against this backdrop that the French President François Mitterrand addressed MEPs in Strasbourg, in a keynote speech to mark France's presidency of the EU.

The veteran politician told the audience how his own war time experiences had formed his desires for greater European unity. He had been a prisoner of war in Germany, before escaping and joining the French Resistance.

He spoke of how an ever closer union could help to banish the risks of war in the future; and he warned MEPs against complacency, leading to one of his most famous quotes: "Nationalisme, c'est la guerre" (nationalism is war).

President Mitterrand died less than a year after making this speech, at the age of 79.

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