Briand was France’s longest-serving minister of foreign affairs since Talleyrand. From the beginning of his career he dealt with the separation of church and state. In 1905 he succeeded in convincing the parliament to adopt the relevant act of law.
After World War I he tried to facilitate an agreement concerning German war reparations and worked towards improving the relations between France and Germany. From 1925, serving as minister of foreign affairs, Briand was involved in the efforts aimed at normalising the situation in Europe through non-aggression pacts which were to guarantee peace and security. On December 1, 1925, already as prime minister of France, he signed the Treaty of Locarno.
In 1929 and 1930, in a memorandum addressed to the League of Nations and the French government, he presented a plan to create a new economic union in Europe which he named the “European Federal Union”.
Stresemann worked to improve the French-German relations after World War I. His other goal was to revise the Treaty of Versailles. During a period of political instability when the governments of the Weimar Republic collapsed one after another, Stresemann was perceived as one of the most influential German politicians.
He negotiated the Treaty of Locarno (signed in 1925) and Germany’s entry into the League of Nations. He also signed the Rhineland Pact and secured guarantees regarding Germany’s borders with France and Belgium. He never excluded the possibility of using military power to regain the territories in the east that the Treaty of Versailles had granted to Poland.
As he admitted, he needed the agreement with France in order to “gain a free hand to secure a peaceful change of the borders in the East and (…) concentrate on the later incorporation of German territories in the East”.