France and the North Atlantic Alliance
De gaulle's round of Pre-Summit Meetings
President de gaulle's crowded diplomatic schedule of the next two months reflects the growing stature of France on the stage of world politics. After receiving British Prime Minister Macmillan for two days of private talks, March 12–13, de Gaulle on March 15 is to welcome Soviet Premier Khrushchev to France for a fortnight's state visit. The French President himself then travels to England for a state visit, April 5–8, before proceeding across the Atlantic two weeks later to confer with Canadian government leaders in Ottawa and to spend three days, April 22–25, with President Eisenhower in Washington. The climax follows shortly afterward when de Gaulle plays host at the Big Four summit meeting scheduled to open May 16 in Paris.
The ceremonial visits and the diplomatic activity in which France participates as an equal signify the enhanced prestige that has come to the nation under de Gaulle's leadership. France, defeated in World War II, shorn since then of large parts of its empire, and sorely weakened by protracted warfare in Algeria, naturally cannot pretend to an equality of power with the other members of the Eig Four. During the brief space of time since the Fifth Republic came into being, however, political and economic reforms have given France an access of strength that seems destined to place it in a role of rising importance in the Western alliance.
Recent developments that have contributed notably to enhancing the prestige of the Fifth Republic and de Gaulle have been (1) demonstration of the ability of the government at Paris to surmount the threat to its authority raised at the end of January by army officers and revolting European settlers in Algeria; (2) emergence of France as a fledgling nuclear power through its test explosion of an atomic bomb in the Sahara on Feb. 13; and (3) an impressive economic upsurge in metropolitan France. Economic reforms effected by the de Gaulle government have enabled the country to live up fully to its commitments as a member of the newly formed European Economic Community or Common Market. They have laid the groundwork also for restoration of France to a position of effective leadership in Western Europe—this time in partnership rather than rivalry with independent Germany.