Sarkozy's 'Alsace region still German' gaffe sparks fury

London, Jan 20 (ANI): French President Nicolas Sarkozy has sparked outrage by saying that the Alsace region, won back from the Nazis after the World War II, was still 'in Germany'.

He made the slip during a speech to agriculturalists in the Alsatian town of Truchtersheim, less than 20 miles from the German border, reports the Daily Mail.

Sarkozy said he could accept unfair competition between China and India, but not between Germany and France.

"I'm not saying that simply because I'm in Germany," he said, before correcting himself to say: "I'm in Alsace."

The crowd immediately began jeering and then booing Sarkozy, who appeared shocked by what he had said - putting his hands up in the air as if surrender.

Alsace, historically one of the most strategically crucial regions in France, was contested constantly between France and Germany during the 19th and 20th Century.

It became part of Germany following the Franco-Prussian war in 1871 before being handed back to France at the end of the First World War as part of the Treaty of Versailles.

This caused great bitterness among the Germans, with their anger contributing to the start of the Second War, which saw the Nazis annexing the region into the Reich in 1940.

Sarkozy's slip was the equivalent of suggesting that the Channel Islands, which were also occupied by the Nazis during the Second World War, were part of Germany - only worse.

"As far as French nationalism is concerned, you can't really make a more inflammatory mistake," said French historian Jean-Luc Roche.

"As a region, Alsace sums up the hatred which existed between the two countries for years. Suggesting that Alsace remains part of Germany is a terrible thing for the President of France to do, even if he tried to laugh it off as a silly mistake," he added.

Sarkozy's lack of historical knowledge has also been criticised in the past.

Meanwhile, an Elysee Palace spokesman said the gaffe was a 'simple error'. (ANI)

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