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Eye On France

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  • #46
    The conservative party of President Nicolas Sarkozy won a solid victory in parliamentary elections on Sunday, but in a surprise, it failed to trounce the opposition on the left the way both the polls and politicians had predicted.

    In a sign that the left is alive and well in France, there was a net gain of seats for the Socialists and a net loss for Mr. Sarkozy’s governing Union for a Popular Movement in the 577-seat National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament.

    Mr. Sarkozy’s party won 314 seats, a loss of 45 members; the Socialists won 185 seats, a gain of 36, according to Interior Ministry figures issued early Monday morning.

    In the most high-stakes contest, Alain Juppé, Mr. Sarkozy’s minister of a new high-profile mega-ministry for the environment, transportation and energy and the mayor of Bordeaux, lost to a Socialist. As required, Mr. Juppé will step down from what is the No. 2 position in the government, a humiliating setback for Mr. Sarkozy.

    In a less important but symbolic defeat for the conservatives, Jean-Louis Bruguière, who had earned a global reputation as France’s leading antiterrorist investigative magistrate, also lost to a Socialist.

    There was also high drama of a more personal sort. Ségolène Royal, the defeated Socialist candidate for president, and François Hollande, the father of their four children and the leader of the Socialist Party, have separated, according to a book to be published next Wednesday.

    “I asked François Hollande to leave our home, to pursue his love interest, which is now laid bare in books and newspapers, on his own,” she is quoted as saying, adding, “I wished him happiness.”

    In the book, “Behind the Scenes of Defeat,” Ms. Royal said that she and Mr. Hollande “remain on good terms.” She also said that she will seek to replace Mr. Hollande as leader of the party.

    Following the disclosure, Mr. Hollande issued a communiqué confirming the separation, which had been rumored for some time.

    The latest development in the Royal-Hollande saga became public only after polls closed and did not seem to be a factor in the election.

    The victory by the “blue wave,” as the political power of the Sarkozy forces has been called, was the first time in 29 years that a governing party had retained its majority in the lower house of Parliament.

    Both the left and the right claimed to have triumphed. “The French people showed they did not want to give all of the power to Nicolas Sarkozy,” said former Justice Minister Élisabeth Guigou, a Socialist.

    But Prime Minister François Fillon congratulated voters for their “clear and coherent choice, which will allow the president of the republic to implement his project.”

    Certainly, the outcome gives Mr. Sarkozy the mandate to push through his ambitious program to cut taxes, strip some labor protections, slash unemployment, impose curbs on immigration and make France more competitive economically. But psychologically, the Sarkozy government may lose some momentum.

    Parliament, consisting of a National Assembly and a largely symbolic Senate, does not enjoy nearly the same authority as the American Congress does in serving as a counterweight to the presidency. In the period before the vote, the Socialists and other parties of the left had warned that a consolidation of power behind Mr. Sarkozy would be potentially dangerous for democracy in France.

    Mr. Hollande attributed the stronger-than-expected showing of the left to what he called the “first unfair measures of the government.” He cited a much-criticized proposal to increase the value-added tax on goods and services and another to curb reimbursements for medical care.

    In separate comments, former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who belongs to Mr. Sarkozy’s party, admitted that popular fear of the extra tax as well as of the party’s “blue tsunami” had eroded support.

    In one month since assuming office, Mr. Sarkozy has shown signs of wanting to expand the power of the presidency, usurping some functions carried out by the prime minister.

    He has ordered a special summer session of the new Parliament, when much of the country is on vacation and not inclined to protest in the streets, to immediately consider his first set of bills on taxes, labor rules, universities, immigration and crime.

    In foreign affairs, Mr. Sarkozy has several proposals: for the crisis in Darfur, the moribund European constitution, the fate of Kosovo, climate change. At the recent Group of 8 meeting in Germany, he appeared confident, even cocky, in meetings with other heads of state, lecturing Britain’s departing prime minister, Tony Blair, about why he was not more popular and musing with President Bush about the 2008 presidential race in the United States.

    Despite a sizable increase in the number of women who will serve as representatives, the new National Assembly will remain overwhelmingly male, white and middle-aged.

    The new Democratic Movement Party of François Bayrou, the centrist who came in third in the first round of the presidential election, won only three seats, down from 29.


    • #47
      Bucking convention, French first lady snubs Bush invite

      PARIS (AFP) - Cecilia Sarkozy's decision to bow out of a picnic with the president of the United States this weekend is the latest proof of the French first lady's unpredictable, even rebellious take on her new role.

      President Nicolas Sarkozy travelled alone to meet George W. Bush and his family at their Atlantic holiday home after Cecilia -- staying just an hour away at a US lakeside resort -- bowed out due to a throat ailment.

      The US leader said he was "disappointed" but understanding after Cecilia called Laura Bush at the last minute to excuse herself, but the change of plan sounded a false note in what was billed as a rare personal get-together.

      She was photographed later Sunday taking a stroll in town with two friends. Nicolas Sarkozy, meanwhile, was seen wearing earphones and jogging on a lakeside path with a seven-strong entourage.

      It was not the first time France's new first lady sent protocol flying to the wind: at her husband's first Group of Eight meeting in June she ducked out of the first ladies' programme midway, saying she had to prepare a birthday party for her daughter.

      Last month, the elegant 49-year-old former PR executive grabbed the headlines again when she stepped in as an unlikely last-minute envoy to EU talks on the release of the six foreign medics jailed in Tripoli.

      The mission's success took some sting out of the controversy, with Cecilia hailed as a heroine in the medics' home country Bulgaria, but it also left critics complaining about a blurring of roles at the head of state.

      Cecilia Sarkozy had warned before her husband's election she did not see herself slipping easily into the traditional role of hostess of the Elysee, and appears determined not to be tied down by etiquette.

      The French media have been both puzzled and fascinated by the glamorous new lady of the Elysee: "The Cecilia Enigma" was the front-page headline of Le Nouvel Observateur magazine last week.

      Cecilia's staff at the Elysee -- she has her own PR team and diplomatic advisors -- say her role will be more clearly outlined in the autumn. But they stress her top priority remains her family: her 10-year-old son with Sarkozy and two daughters from a previous marriage.

      Sarkozy's detractors accuse him of taking diplomatic risks to create a tailor-made role for a demanding wife -- with one opposition deputy suggesting the couple was playing out "marital therapy" on the world stage.

      The couple's at-times stormy relationship has often been the stuff of gossip tabloids: the couple split for a few months in 2005, each pursuing separate love affairs. There was also widespread speculation about whether Cecilia would join her husband in the Elysee.

      Cecilia was noticeably absent from her husband's side on the campaign trail, and -- to the president's embarrassment -- it emerged she did not turn out to vote in the decisive second round of the election on May 6.

      On election night, the couple put a lid on gossip-mongering by appearing side-by-side, and Cecilia dazzled the French public at Sarkozy's inauguration two weeks later -- a picture of glamour in a ivory Prada dress.

      But Cecilia's absence from early photos during the couple's US holiday set the Paris gossip mill spinning with rumours of fresh marital trouble. Later photographs showing Cecilia at her husband's side put the chatter to rest.

      With her latest departure from convention, Cecilia appears determined to keep the public guessing -- and her husband on his toes.

      It was perhaps the French president, in a rare candid moment, who best summed up his situation to a group of reporters on July 14: "At the end of day, my only real worry is Cecilia," he said.


      • #48
        France mulls new measures against Iran

        PARIS - France said Friday it is considering measures for a new U.N. Security Council resolution targeting Iranian leaders who have defied the international community over their country's nuclear program.

        The United Nations has already imposed financial sanctions on a list of companies some linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps involved in Iran's nuclear program. The sanctions were imposed last year to punish Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment.

        "We are considering additional measures, in the framework of a new Security Council resolution, against members and backers of the Iranian regime refusing to comply with demands of the international community," Hugues Moret, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in an online briefing Friday.

        French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for international unity over Iran's nuclear program, which several Western countries fear masks plans to develop weapons. Iran says its intention is to produce electricity.

        Russia and China have thwarted attempts by fellow permanent Security Council members the U.S., Britain and France to impose harsh U.N. sanctions, and have stalled efforts to create new penalties this summer in the face of continued Iranian refusal to freeze its nuclear enrichment activities.


        • #49
          Sarkozy cautions against attack on Iran

          PARIS - French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned Monday that it would be "catastrophic" to resort to military force in confronting Iran over its suspect nuclear program.

          "For me, Iran having a nuclear weapon is unacceptable," Sarkozy said in his first major address on foreign policy, but he stressed that he opposed an attack on the Islamic regime and urged that the West rely on diplomacy.

          He said Iran can choose between dialogue with the international community or more U.N. sanctions. "This tactic is the only one that allows us to escape from a catastrophic alternative: an Iranian bomb, or the bombing of Iran," he said.

          Sarkozy also said Iran is entitled to use nuclear power for civilian needs, such as generating electricity.

          If countries like Iran run out of fossil fuels, and "if they don't have the right to the energy of the future, then we will create conditions of misery and underdevelopment, and therefore an explosion of terrorism," Sarkozy said.

          In other areas, the new president signaled a shift in tone from his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, casting himself as a "friend of Israel" and taking a tougher line on Russia and China.

          But despite his admiration for the United States, Sarkozy said Chirac was right to oppose the war in Iraq, which he called a mistake.

          Sarkozy took over from fellow conservative Chirac in May pledging to boost France's international stature. The energetic new leader quickly scored a few high-profile diplomatic coups, such as helping secure freedom for six Bulgarian medical workers jailed in Libya for nine years on charges of deliberately infecting children with AIDS.

          Yet the sdiplomatic agenda he outlined Monday was relatively modest. He proposed, for example, a committee of great minds to reflect on the future of the European Union an unassuming proposal for the EU, which Sarkozy nonetheless called France's "absolute priority."

          He also eased his opposition to Turkey's bid for membership in the EU, which he previously vowed to block. On Monday, Sarkozy said he would not oppose new talks with the Muslim state, while adding the discussions should examine the idea of a weaker alliance than membership.

          "A few months after taking the presidency, Nicolas Sarkozy is realizing that he has limited room for maneuvering," said Philippe Moreau-Defarges of the French Institute for International Relations.

          Sarkozy's tough language about China and Russia set him apart from Chirac, who was often criticized for too-cozy ties with authoritarian leaders.

          Sarkozy warned Russia against exercising its energy exports with "brutality." And he said China was "transforming its insatiable quest for raw materials into a strategy of control, notably in Africa."

          While France has a history of close ties with the Arab world, Sarkozy said: "I have the reputation of being a friend of Israel, and it's true. I will never compromise on Israel's security."

          Despite that, he said, the many Arab leaders who have visited him since his election know they can count on his friendship.

          Sarkozy, who spent his summer holiday in New England and whose affection for the U.S. earned him the nickname "Sarko the American," sent his foreign minister to Iraq last week to smooth over ties that were strained when Chirac opposed the U.S.-led invasion.

          But friendly relations do not mean there cannot be differences of opinion, Sarkozy said Monday.

          "France was, and still is, hostile to the war," he said, calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

          Though he criticized the U.S. over Iraq, Sarkozy showed his commitment to the security effort in Afghanistan by pledging more troops to train the Afghan army following months of speculation about France's commitment to that international force.

          Closer to home, Sarkozy reiterated his proposal for a "Mediterranean Union" to bridge the divide between Europe and North Africa. The idea echoes a concept dear to Chirac, who called for a "dialogue of cultures" to counteract the forces of extremism.

          Francois Heisbourg, a leading expert on French strategic and foreign policy, said that even when Sarkozy was sending a message of continuity, his style differed dramatically from Chirac's oratory flourishes.

          Sarkozy is "clear talk no punches pulled, no dancing around words. This was very deliberate," Heisbourg said.

          "It's a message to the Iranians, but it's also a message to the Russians and the Chinese that is, that if you want us to have a serious chance to try to avoid getting ... into this awful alternative, you'd better be serious in the Security Council."


          • #50
            Socialists say Sarkozy has small man syndrome

            Belakhare yeki eteraf kard...

            Socialists say Sarkozy has small man syndrome

            PARIS (Reuters) - France's Socialist party on Friday accused Nicolas Sarkozy of suffering from "small man syndrome," saying this explained why the shorter-than-average president had proclaimed his reforms the biggest in decades.

            The Socialists, who are still trying to recover from their double defeat in presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year, have sharply criticized pension, social and civil service reforms Sarkozy announced this week.

            Referring to Sarkozy's comments on Thursday that he was preparing "the biggest reform of the social model since the Liberation (of France)," Socialist spokesman Benoit Hamon said:

            "In psychoanalysis, this is what you call the syndrome of the small man who considers that everything he does is bigger than anything that has ever happened," he told reporters.

            "With Nicolas Sarkozy, all he does, all he touches, he considers it to be the greatest. In reality, we have never witnessed such a step backwards since the Liberation. On the social issue, as well as on immigration," Hamon said.

            French media say Sarkozy is around 1.65 meters tall (5 feet 5 inches), some 20 centimeters shorter than his predecessor Jacques Chirac.

            He wears shoes with particularly high heels, and popular satirical television show Les Guignols de l'Info has frequently poked fun at him for being very short and trying to seem taller.

            Hamon told Reuters later on Friday he had not wanted to refer to Sarkozy's height, but to the president's way of communicating and "his obsession to always wanting to explain what he does is the biggest, most beautiful done in 50 years."

            In a television interview on Thursday, Sarkozy defended his reform plans, saying he would not let union protests deter him from ending pension privileges awarded to many state workers.

            He sparked union anger earlier this week by announcing that he would phase out the so-called "special regimes," which allow rail, electricity and gas workers, among others, to retire earlier than their peers in other industries.

            France's Socialists have said the proposed reforms only helped employers but would hurt workers. They have also criticized Sarkozy's proposal to introduce immigration quotas.

            Sarkozy, who won the presidential election against Socialist candidate Segolene Royal in May, has portrayed himself as a hyperactive hands-on president.

            He is popular with many voters, with 64 percent of French people saying they trust him in being able to resolve France's problems, according to a recent survey by TNS Sofres.

            But some analysts say the president's honeymoon might be nearing an end, and that divisions have started to emerge inside his government, which he dominates leaving ministers little room for maneuver.
            Take him and cut him out in little stars,
            and he will make the face of heaven so fine,
            that all the world will be in love with night,
            and pay no worship to the garish sun

            - Shakespeare

            "In all intellectual debates, both sides tend to be correct in what they affirm, and wrong in what they deny." - JS Mill


            • #51
              France does not believe Iran nuclear claims: presidency

              PARIS (AFP) - France does not believe claims by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that his country's nuclear activities are peaceful, President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said Thursday.

              "Ahmadinejad says that the programme is peaceful. Ultimately, we do not believe him. Everyone knows that the programme has military goals," spokesman David Martinon told a press conference.

              "The question is not settled. We have every reason to believe that what is being developed in the plant at Natanz (in central Iran) is not peaceful. We have a string of very powerful clues leading us to that conclusion," he said.

              The Iranian president denied any attempt to seek atomic weapons at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, saying Tehran's nuclear programme was "peaceful and transparent" and that its standoff with the West was a "closed matter."

              Iran rejects Western charges that it is trying to build atomic weapons under the guise of its civilian nuclear program and insists it is entitled to pursue uranium enrichment as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.


              • #52
                France to build military base in UAE

                France is close to signing a deal with Abu Dhabi in the UAE to build a permanent military base in the Persian Gulf, a new report says.

                Presidential spokesman, David Martinon, and the French Defense Ministry declined to comment on the report in the Le Monde daily on Monday.

                The report comes as French President Nicolas Sarkozy is in the region on a three-nation tour and is expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

                France already has long-standing military cooperation accords with Persian Gulf littoral states, including the UAE and Qatar.


                • #53
                  intresting i can see the US building theme but why does france need such a base?

                  G-d determines who walks into your life....It is up to you to decide who you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go.



                  • #54
                    وزارت خارجه فرانسه سفیر ایران را احضار کرد

                    آقای احمدی نژاد نخستین بار در 26 اکتبر سال 2005 در همایشی با عنوان "جهان بدون صهیونیسم" در تهران خواهان محو اسراییل از نقشه جهان شد
                    وزارت خارجه فرانسه، علی آهنی سفیر ایران در این کشور را احضار کرده و اظهارات "ضد اسراییلی" محمود احمدی نژاد، رییس جمهوری ایران را "به شدت محکوم کرده است".
                    در جریان این اقدام، مخالفت شدید و خشم دولت فرانسه نسبت به اظهارات آقای احمدی نژاد، به آقای آهنی ابلاغ شد.

                    آقای احمدی نژاد روز چهارشنبه گذشته در بوشهر اسراییل را "موجود پلید صهیونیست" خوانده بود و گفته بود "این موجود به آخر خط رسیده است".

                    پاسکال آندرانی سخنگوی وزارت خارجه فرانسه گفت: "ما یکبار دیگر توجه سفیر ایران را به غیرقابل قبول بودن چنین اظهارات خصمانه ای نسبت به کشورهای دیگر جلب کردیم و یادآور شدیم اینگونه اظهارات بر وجهه ایران در جامعه بین الملل تاثیر بسیار منفی می گذارد.

                    صفا حائری روزنامه نگار در فرانسه به بی بی سی فارسی گفت اگرچه از زمانی که آقای سارکوزی در فرانسه روی کار آمده رابطه ایران و فرانسه تیره شده اما چنین اقدامی توسط دولت فرانسه بی سابقه بوده است.

                    آقای حائری در عین حال احتمال اینکه سیاست داخلی فرانسه در چنین اقدامی نقش داشته باشد را نیز نفی نکرد و گفت ممکن است با توجه به کاهش محبوبیت دولت نیکلاس سارکوزی، او در پی جلب نظر و رای حامیان اسراییل و به ویژه جامعه یهودی فرانسه باشد که در این کشور صاحب نفوذ است.

                    آقای احمدی نژاد نخستین بار در 26 اکتبر سال 2005 در همایشی با عنوان "جهان بدون صهیونیسم" در تهران خواهان محو اسراییل از نقشه جهان شد و با اين سخنان نه تنها محکوميت دولتهای غربی و نهادهای بين المللی را عليه خود برانگيخت بلکه رهبران فلسطينی نيز به انتقاد از او پرداختند.

                    علیرغم انتقادهای شدید از رییس جمهور ایران او بارها پس از این تاریخ با اظهارات تند علیه اسراییل از جمله افسانه خواندن هولوکاست یا نسل کشی یهودیان جنجال آفریده است.


                    • #55


                      • #56


                        • #57
                          نیکلا سرکوزی، رئیس جمهوری فرانسه خواستار آزادی فوری يک مدرس زن فرانسوی شد که يک هفته پيش به اتهام جاسوسی در ايران بازداشت شده است. آقای سرکوزی این اتهام را بی اساس و غیر واقعی دانست.

                          کلوتيلد رايس، ۲۳ ساله، هنگام خروج از ايران در فرودگاه بازداشت شده است. به گفته وزارت خارجه فرانسه، این خانم در يک سفر پنج*ماهه دانشگاهی، در دانشگاه اصفهان زبان فرانسه تدريس می*کرده است.

                          به گزارش آسوشیتدپرس، آفای سرکوزی به خبرنگاران در پاریس گفت که وی انتظار دارد که این شهروند فرانسوی بزودی آزاد شود ولی جزئیاتی در این مورد ارائه نداد.

                          پیشتر، وزارت خارجه فرانسه با انتشار بيانيه*ای دستگيری وی را به*شدت محکوم کرده است. دولت فرانسه نیز با مقامات ايرانی تماس گرفته و خواستار آزادی فوری اين شهروند فرانسوی شده است.

                          برنار کوشنر وزیر خارجه فرانسه نیز در این مورد گفت: اتهام جاسوسی که به وی وارد شده بی*معنی و بی*اساس است.

                          کوشنر گفت: وی مانند ديگران به تماشای تظاهرات صدها هزار نفری در ايران رفته و از اين تظاهرات عکس* گرفته است.

                          وی افزود: با احضار سفير ايران، از وی خواسته شده است که کلوتيلد رايس بي*درنگ آزاد شود.

                          وزارت خارجه فرانسه نيز با انتشار بيانيه*ای خواستار همبستگی همه کشورهای اروپائی در اين ماجرا با فرانسه شد.

                          مقامات امنيتی ايران در هفته*های گذشته پس از آغاز اعتراضات گسترده به نتايج انتخابات رياست جمهوری، صدها نفر از روزنامه*نگاران، شخصيت*های سياسی و معترضان را بازداشت کرده*اند. سازمان*های بین*المللی مدافع حقوق بشر در مورد وضعیت این زندانی*ها ابراز نگرانی کرده*اند.

                          مقامات ايرانی همچنين ۹ نفر از کارمندان ايرانی سفارت بريتانيا را به اتهام نقش داشتن در اغتشاشات بازداشت کردند. اين امر با اعتراض شديد بريتانيا، اتحاديه اروپا و آمريکا روبه*رو شد و تهران تاکنون هشت نفر از اين کارمندان را آزاد کرده است.

                          آيت الله علی خامنه*ای، رهبر جمهوری اسلامی، نيز روز دوشنبه در ديداری که با جمعی از مردم داشت به برخی دولت*های غربی شديدا اخطار کرد که مراقب رفتار خصمانه خود باشند، زيرا ملت ايران عکس*العمل نشان خواهد داد.