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Liberation, France, 12/06/2007
After many electoral promises: does president Sarkozy walk the walk?...

Main points of 2 articles about president Sarkozy’s electoral campaign vs. actual foreign policy

I- Electoral campaign…

1- The night of his election, Sarkozy said:
Paris “will always be standing by oppressed people all around the world, because it’s its tradition”

2- In his electoral speeches, he said that if he was elected, France would no longer compromise on “the issues of democracy, respect of human rights and fair governance”

3- To those who reproached him to have met with president Bush, he replied that it was less shameful “than shaking hands with Putin”,
and he evoked the tens of thousands of casualties in the Chechen war:
“Our silence on the 200,000 deaths and 400,000 refugees of the war in Chechnya is unbearable”

4- Isabelle Lasserre, in conclusion of her book “L’impuissance francaise” [“French powerlessness”], a damning assessment of 10 years of catastrophic Chirac diplomacy, was full of hope:
“The new president promised a new French vision of the world”

II- …vs. reality:

After more than 6 months in power, Sarkozy seems to go back to his 2 predecessors’ realism on foreign policy matters

He does not hesitate to befriend less than recommendable regimes in the name of pragmatism and PR stunts

He is an opportunist, changing his foreign policy according to the current geopolitical situation

1- Libya: Kadhafi:

Case in point, the release of the Bulgarian nurses who had been jailed by Kadhafi’s regime:

a) Nonetheless, according to Francois Heisbourg, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in London [and chairman of the Geneva Center for Security Policy]:
“Lots of European countries, first and foremost Great Britain, normalized their relations with Kadhafi when he renounced his weapons of mass destruction program. These relations with the Libyan dictator were the price to pay for the release of the Bulgarian nurses.”

b) Except for the European Commission, which had welcomed him in Brussels in April of 2004, Paris is the only Western capital that invited Kadhafi [who was indeed received at the Elysée palace [equivalent of the White House] on December 10]:
- Jean-David Levitte, diplomacy advisor to Sarkozy, assured the investigative parliamentary commission on the release of the Bulgarian nurses that the invitation to Kadhafi by France was not a compensation
- Philippe Douste-Blazy, ex-Foreign Affairs minister, does not agree:
he maintained that this visit was a key element in the agreement with the Libyan leader

On top of the Bulgarian nurses case, Paris has many reasons to be nice to Kadhafi;
Indeed, he allegedly intends to buy a dozen Rafales [fighter jets]

2- Russia: Putin:

a) Francois Heisbourg was nonetheless troubled by Sarkozy’s phone call to Putin after the victory of Putin’s party at the legislative elections on 12/02/07:
- The ballot has been denounced as “unfair” by Western governments
- “Such a phone call was unnecessary since Vladimir Putin was not even a candidate, and I am all the more surprised that, during their trip to Moscow [on october 9], Nicolas Sarkozy and Bernard Kouchner [Foreign Affairs minister] were not shy about addressing human rights”:
indeed, they met the leaders of the Memorial NGO;
and Sarkozy mentioned human rights in his speech

b) During that same trip, Sarkozy told journalists about his very positive views of Putin, “a very intelligent person, extremely well informed on current worldwide issues”;
such an enthusiasm might explain his aforementioned phone call to Putin

3- China: Hu Jintao:
- Embraces and toasts to a Franco-Chinese friendship with Hu Jintao were numerous during Sarkozy’s trip to China at the beginning of this month
- Sarkozy even introduced his mother and his son to the Chinese president
- In order to sign quietly huge economic contracts with Beijing, Sarkozy was all of a sudden very flexible regarding human rights; he thus decided that neither Rama Yade, the State Secretary for Human Rights, nor Bernard Kouchner, would come with him
- Sarkozy just merely warned the Chinese president that there was a lot of progress to be done in order to establish a “rule of law state”

4- Syria: Bashar al-Assad:
- On his father’s grave, Chirac had offered Bashar al-Assad his friendship, before declaring himself betrayed, especially after the murder of Rafik Hariri
- This did not prevent Sarkozy to engage Assad, at the time of the highest repression of dissidents, and when no less than 6 Lebanese anti-Syrian MPs have been murdered in Beirut
- Bashar approved of Sarkozy’s initiative: it enabled him to break out of his isolation;
but he gave nothing in return;
which constitutes a complete failure of French diplomacy regarding the Lebanese presidential elections: according to a diplomat “France was had”
- But what horrifies most the opponents [to Syria] is the relations between Claude Guéant [general secretary of the Elysée] and Assef Chawkat, Bashar’s brother-in-law, head of the Syrian secret service;
a relationship that allegedly started when Sarkozy was Interior Minister.

5- Venezuela: Hugo Chavez:
He was warmly received at the Elysée in November, when he was invested with a mediation mission in order to obtain the release of Franco-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt
[for more on this matter, go to the 6/22/07 issue of the Croissant:
“Hostages in Colombia and the FARC”]

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