Nov. 9, 2005

Franco-German Green Party leader Daniel Cohn-Bendit to speak Nov. 11

Daniel Cohn-Bendit
Cohn-Bendit

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, a leading activist in the European environmental movement and key representative of the French and German Green Parties in the European Parliament, will give a free public talk Friday, Nov. 11, at 6 p.m. in Hollis E. Cornell Auditorium of Goldwin Smith Hall on the Cornell University campus. In the late 1960s, he became famous as a student activist in Europe with the sobriquet of Danny the Red, because of his red hair.

Cohn-Bendit's talk, "Quo vadis Europe: the Franco-German Dialogue in the European Community," will serve as an advance keynote presentation for "Franco-German Relations and the New Europe," a conference jointly sponsored by Cornell's German Cultural Studies Institute and French Studies Program to be held Nov. 19.

"Cohn-Bendit is by my reckoning the most influential and intriguing European political figure to visit Cornell since we had Lionel Jospin in the spring of 2003," said Philip Lewis, professor of Romance studies and co-organizer of the conference.

Cohn-Bendit, a publicist and politician, was born in France to German-Jewish parents who had fled Nazism in 1933. He grew up in Paris and moved to Germany in 1958. Cohn-Bendit became a legend for his small but important role in the 1968 student riots in Paris. After being forced to leave France for his anti-government activities, he returned to Germany and became a leader of the German Green Party. In 1994, he was elected to the European Parliament and, in 1999, became the leader of the French Green Party. In 2002, Cohn-Bendit became president of the Green parliamentary group.

As a Green Party member, he has been a controversial figure whose independent views have drawn attacks from both the left and the right. As a proponent of freer immigration, a supporter of legalizing soft drugs and a staunch opponent of nuclear power, he has chafed the right. But Cohn-Bendit also has drawn fire from the left for his support of free-market policies and the military interventions in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

In 2005 he joined in the campaign supporting the European Union constitution, but the French referendum was eventually defeated. For complete background on Cohn-Bendit, visit http://www.cohn-bendit.de.

For more information about Cohn-Bendit's visit, contact Lewis at (607) 255-1373, e-mail pel6@cornell.edu, or contact Peter Hohendahl, the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature and co-organizer of the Franco-German conference, at (607) 255-8353, e-mail puh1@cornell.edu.