Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Why Can’t France, Sarkozy Get International Respect?

December 2, 2008

In much of the world, President Nicolas Sarkozy enjoys a reputation for being something of a diplomatic dynamo. But Sarkozy and France get ignored, maligned, lectured and insulted often and loudly from one voice in Asia…..In China, the energetic French leader has a strikingly different standing than the one he enjoys almost everywhere else. In China, Sarkozy (and France) is the favorite international whipping boy……

By Bruce Crumley
Time Magazine

sarkozy
Business ties with China are likely to suffer if the French President goes ahead with his plan to meet the Dalai Lama.  Photo by Gerard Cerles / Pool / Reuters

The latest humiliation comes with Beijing’s decision to boycott the 11th annual China-European Union summit, which has been scheduled to open in Lyon today. China stunned E.U. officials last week by announcing that its delegation of more than 150 political and business leaders would stay at home because, in the words of China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang, “the summit cannot be held in a sound atmosphere, nor can it achieve expected goals.” The reason? The French President’s plan to meet with Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on December 6 as part of an event honoring fellow Nobel peace prize winner Solidarity leader Lech Walesa in Poland.

“China firmly opposes any contacts with the Dalai Lama by foreign leaders in whatever form,” Qin said in a statement released by the state-run Xinhua news agency. “We hope that France could fulfill its commitments, and properly deal with China’s major concerns in earnest so as to create conditions for the steady development of bilateral relations.”

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets the audience ... 
Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets the audience before delivering a speech in Prague November 30, 2008.(David W Cerny/Reuters)

Read the rest:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8
599,1863013,00.html?xid=rss-world

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Don’t rush Georgia and Ukraine into NATO

December 2, 2008

Several scholars have recently come forward to say it may be too early to bring Ukraine and georgia into NATO — and thus anger Russia….

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By Michael O’Hanlon
The washington Times
According to press reports, the Bush administration is pursuing a final bold foreign policy move in its last weeks. Bypassing normal procedures, it wants European allies and Canada to agree to offer Georgia and Ukraine rapid membership into NATO.

This is a singularly bad idea, much more likely to worsen U.S.-Russia relations and increase the risk of war than to do any real good for the new democracies of Central Europe.

The idea might seem a natural response to Russia’s brutal invasion of Georgia in August, by any measure a disproportionate and unwarranted action in response to tensions over the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. But as most now realize, Russia’s aggression, while unjustified, was not unprovoked. Among other things, Georgia had fired artillery rounds carelessly into disputed regions at the outset of the crisis. President Mikhail Saakashvili’s desire to reintegrate South Ossetia and Abkhazia back into Georgia proper, while understandable at one level, has been pursued with wanton disregard for the role of the international community and for the need to pursue this goal carefully and peacefully. Future policymaking must seek to deter not only Russia, but other regional actors, from the kind of irresponsible behavior that pushed the Caucasus toward all-out war just three months ago.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/200
8/dec/02/dont-rush-georgia-and-ukraine-into-nato/

 

By Charles King
The Washington Post
Sunday, November 30, 2008; Page B02

The tiny village of Ushguli lies in an emerald-green valley in the far north of the republic of Georgia. Hemmed in by the snow-capped peaks of the Caucasus mountains, it’s a jumble of slate buildings flanking a glacier-fed stream. When I last visited, local elders showed me around the medieval stone towers that dot the countryside. A millennium ago, defense was a self-help game, and families erected private fortresses to guard against vengeful neighbors and foreign raiders.

Political leaders in the United States and Europe are careering down a path that could make faraway Ushguli the eastern border of NATO. Foreign ministers from the transatlantic alliance’s 26 member states will meet this week in Brussels to decide whether Georgia and Ukraine should take an important step toward membership. But Western leaders would be wise to act slowly, or the world’s most successful military alliance could become as irrelevant as the ancient watchtowers of the upland Caucasus.

Last April, NATO put off both countries’ applications but promised to revisit the issue in December. The August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia has sharpened the debate. To some Western observers, Russia’s intervention in Georgia demonstrated the need to expand the alliance and block Moscow’s imperial ambitions. Without the security guarantees provided by NATO membership, the logic goes, both Georgia and Ukraine will find themselves increasingly threatened by the bear lumbering forth from the Kremlin.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/2
8/AR2008112802251.html

Legal Hurdles in West Slow Pursuit of Pirates

November 29, 2008

Somali pirates firing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades hijacked yet another ship in the Gulf of Aden on Friday, this time seizing a chemical tanker. A German military helicopter from a nearby warship arrived in time to pull three security guards out of the water, but not soon enough to prevent the hijacking of the ship and the rest of the crew.

By Nicholas Kulish
The New York Times

The latest attack, in which even trained security personnel aboard could not deter the pirates, demonstrated the urgent need for coordinated action by governments from Cairo to Berlin. But the bureaucratic and legal hurdles facing international institutions and national governments have so far defeated most efforts to deal with the nimble crews of pirates in speedboats, whose tactics have grown bolder as their profits have paid for better weapons and equipment.

The French warship Nivose escorts commercial ships in the Gulf ... 
The French warship Nivose escorts commercial ships in the Gulf of Aden. Somali pirates dodged an increased foreign naval presence in the Gulf of Aden to seize another ship as the deadline ticked down for a Saudi tanker held to ransom.(AFP/Eric Cabanis)

While the pirates have been buying GPS devices, satellite phones and more-powerful outboard motors, officials in Europe have been discussing jurisdictional issues surrounding the arrest of pirates on the high seas and even the possibility that the pirates might demand asylum if brought onto European Union shores.

Germany, perhaps more than any other country, epitomizes both the importance of safe passage for ships and the difficulty of reacting swiftly. It is the world’s leading exporter of goods, and according to the German Shipowners’ Association it has the world’s largest container-ship fleet, with some 36 percent of total container capacity.

That would seem to argue for swift action to stop the pirates, and Germany did indeed draw international attention earlier this week when it announced that up to 1,400 military personnel members might take part in the mission to combat piracy. But the figure significantly overstated the likely deployment as part of a European Union mission in the region, and Parliament has yet to approve it. It also remains to be seen whether the rules of engagement give German sailors a free enough hand to fight the pirates.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/world/europe/29pirates.html

Massive Public Spending Hoped To End Global Recession

November 29, 2008

In a bid to jump-start the beleaguered global economy, countries around the world are introducing massive public spending programs aimed at creating millions of jobs, boosting the use of green energy and modernizing infrastructure in a way that could transform urban and rural landscapes.

The viability of some of the plans remains unclear. But observers say the number of countries moving in tandem underscores the perceived severity of the coming global recession and the view that governments must at least temporarily pick up the slack as the hard-hit private sector sheds jobs and cuts spending. 

 

By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 29, 2008; Page D01

It is time “to invest massively in infrastructure, in research, in innovation, in education, in training people, because it is now or never,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in a recent public address.

World leaders are pursuing a variety of strategies to tame the economic crisis, including moves to unclog credit markets, strengthen financial institutions and ease monetary policy. But fiscal stimulus packages, in particular, have emerged as a favorite tool of policymakers. Some countries’ plans are particularly bold: China is accelerating projects to build more nuclear power plants and a vast natural gas pipeline; Italy may erect the first bridge connecting Sicily to mainland Europe.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/28
/AR2008112802660.html?hpid=topnews

China Cancels EU Summit; Economic Turndown Worries Everyone

November 27, 2008

The head of France’s business lobby said Thursday she is “worried” about the trade implications of China’s decision to pull out of an upcoming China-European Union summit.

The EU-China summit was planned for Monday in the French city of Lyon. On the sidelines, around 150-200 Chinese business executives had been expected to meet with European counterparts at an event organized by the French employers lobby Medef.

China called off the meeting, however, in protest at French President Nicolas Sarkozy long-awaited meeting with Tibet‘s exiled Buddhist leader Dalai Lama.

Medef’s President Laurence Parisot called China’s decision “a real shame.”

“This worries me for French companies,” Parisot told the Associated Press.

“I don’t understand what motivated the Chinese authorities,” he said, noting that the U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the Tibetan leader without provoking such a reaction.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang hinted that his government may be looking at economic reprisals as well.

“Since France has major interests in China, since the French leader repeatedly says that he takes China as a major strategic partner, then why is he doing this?” he asked at a news conference Thursday in Beijing.

“This is exactly where we feel confused and where the Chinese government and people express strong dissatisfaction.”

Pulling out of the summit suggests that countering criticism on Tibet is a bigger priority for China’s communist leaders than working with the EU and nations like France on solutions to the global financial crisis.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081127/ap_on_bi_
ge/eu_france_china_trade_1

Poland, Czech Republic Ask U.S. To Keep Missile Defense Plans; Telling France, Sarkozy, Medvedev to “Bugger Off”

November 17, 2008

Poland and the Czech Republic hope that the new U.S. administration does not change its plans for a missile shield in Central Europe, the Euronews television channel reported on Saturday.

“We are not waiting for, even on political grounds, any kind of revolution. But of course, a new president looks at everything in a new way,” Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Saturday.

“We know the position of the newly elected president – he told me himself that he wants to be sure that thing works,” the Polish foreign minister added in comments broadcast on Euronews.

From: RIA Novosti

Under President George Bush, Washington has worked hard to reach agreements with Warsaw and Prague on the deployment of 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and a radar station in the Czech Republic.

The U.S. has insisted that the missile shield is intended to protect against attacks from “rogue states” such as Iran. Russia has protested strenuously against the system as a threat to its national security.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, speaks with President ... 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, speaks with President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev during the EU-Russia summit, in Nice, southern France, Friday, Nov. 14, 2008.  They agreed with each other but leaders in Poland, the Czech Republic and the U.S. said “bugger off.”(AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who takes office in January, has been noncommittal on missile defense. After his election victory, a senior foreign policy adviser, Denis McDonough, said he would only continue with the project if its effectiveness was proven.

Euronews also reported that the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic had been surprised by the declaration of French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday that the missile defense system would not improve Europe’s security.

“We should not talk about deployment of a missile shield, which would do nothing to bring security,” Sarkozy said at a news conference with President Dmitry Medvedev after the EU-Russia summit in the French resort city of Nice.

Czech Deputy Prime Minister Alexandr Vondra said in a statement to reporters he “was surprised” by Sarkozy’s remarks.

“As far as the French presidency’s mandate for the EU-Russia summit is concerned, it contains no mention of the anti-missile shield,” he said.

France holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union.

An Iranian surface-to-surface missile lifts off from a launch ... 
An Iranian surface-to-surface missile lifts off from a launch platform during a test firing at an undisclosed location in the Iranian desert in this image released to Fars News by the military November 12, 2008.  Iran says these missiles can now reach Israel and into Europe.REUTERS/FARS NEWS

Russia Backs Off (Further?) on Europe Missile Threat

November 15, 2008

President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia retreated Friday from his threat to deploy missiles on Europe’s borders, but only if President-elect Barack Obama joined Russia and France in calling for a conference on European security by next summer.

By Stephen Castle
The New York Times
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At a meeting in Nice hosted by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Mr. Medvedev backed away from the bellicose speech he gave last week, just hours after Mr. Obama won the United States presidential election. On Friday, the Russian leader argued instead that all countries “should refrain from unilateral steps” before discussions on European security next summer.

Mr. Sarkozy, who presided over the meeting between Russia and the 27 European Union nations in his capacity as the union’s president, helped ease the way for Mr. Medvedev’s retreat. The French leader supported the idea of talks on a new security architecture for Europe and suggested that they could be held by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in June or July.

 
Above: President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, left, greeted President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia in Nice, France, on Friday, before a meeting with officials from the European Union nations. Bruno Bebert/European Pressphoto Agency

Both Russia and the United States belong to the organization.

Mr. Sarkozy made clear that he wants the United States to think again about the missile defense systems that it plans to build in Poland and the Czech Republic. Mr. Medvedev last week threatened to respond by stationing missiles in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania, both of which are members of NATO and the European Union.

“Between now and then,” said Mr. Sarkozy, referring to the summer summit meeting, “please no more talk of antimissile protection systems.”

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/world/
europe/15europe.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Russia minister says Moscow against new Iran sanctions

November 14, 2008

Russia is against fresh sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear programme as demanded by some Western powers, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Riabkov said on Friday.

“Russia is against the sanctions pushed forward by some of the six” powers involved in negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear programme, the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

“The Western countries are for the sanctions. China like Russia did not back it,” he added, a day after a meeting in Paris over the issue.

The political directors from China, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States along with France and a representative for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana Thursday reaffirmed their twin-track approach of dialogue and sanctions.

A French foreign ministry statement stressed that the UN Security Council “reaffirmed the importance of the dual-track approach,” namely talking with Tehran while also considering imposing more sanctions on the regime if it fails to halt sensitive nuclear work.

Tehran maintains that it is enriching uranium only for peaceful purposes to generate power, while Western powers, especially Washington, suspect Iran of trying to develop an atomic bomb.

Sarkozy: US missile shield won’t help security

November 14, 2008

French President Nicolas Sarkozy undercut the American rationale for a U.S. missile shield in Eastern Europe on Friday by saying that the system would do nothing to improve European security.

Sarkozy’s comments were the strongest to date by an American ally against the missile-defense plans, which have infuriated Russia despite the Bush administration‘s insistence that they are aimed at protecting Europe from Iran.

By ANGELA CHARLTON, Associated Press Writer

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (L), welcomes Russia's ... 
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy (L), welcomes Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev (R) at the start of a EU-Russia summit in Nice, November 14, 2008. At rear is Christian Estrosi the mayor of Nice. REUTERS/Pascal Deschamps

“Deployment of a missile defense system would bring nothing to security in Europe … it would complicate things, and would make them move backward,” Sarkozy said after a summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev smiled and pointed his finger at Sarkozy in approval after the comments from the French president.

The remarks came at the end of a week in which the United States and Russia rejected each other’s proposed solutions to the standoff over the missile plans, making it increasingly likely that it will not be resolved before U.S. President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

Obama has not been explicit about his intentions on European missile defense, saying it would be prudent to “explore the possibility” but expressing some skepticism about the technical capability of U.S. missile defenses.

Moscow sees the defense plans as a Cold War-style project that could eliminate Russia’s nuclear deterrent or spy on its military installations. Russia recently threatened to install short-range missiles close to EU borders in response to the U.S. plans for a missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Much of Western Europe is nervous about the idea of such major defensive weaponry stationed around the continent.

Sarkozy has generally been hawkish on Iran and allied himself more closely with Bush than his predecessor Jacques Chirac. But Sarkozy is also clearly looking ahead to his relations with Bush’s successor.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081114/ap_on_re_eu/eu_eu_russia_missil
es;_ylt=AuJiqptW6u7WBsO6hCP61pus0NUE

Global Economic Mess Makes G-20 Summit Sober, Serious, Anti-Junket

November 14, 2008

There are no plans for sightseeing tours, shopping sprees or three-anything lunches when leaders from 20 countries, accompanied by large delegations of officials, business people and journalists, visit the capital during the next two days for a world economic summit.
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By Pamela Constable 
Washington Post Staff Writer

Instead, the event promises to be brief, sober and businesslike, in keeping with the grim financial outlook facing every country at the summit, including the host, and the timing of the meeting during a power lull between administrations in Washington.

“There will not be much time. Our delegation will arrive at 6 p.m. tomorrow and leave right after the meeting and possibly a press conference Saturday,” Emanuel Lenain, a spokesman for the French Embassy, said yesterday. Between formal discussions, he said, President Nicolas Sarkozy “will work and work.” His glamorous wife, former model Carla Bruni, will not be with him, and he will attend tonight’s White House dinner alone.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13/AR2008111304039.html

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G-20 To Consider Monitoring World Banking Among Proposal

By Anthony Faiola and Glenn Kessler

Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, November 14, 2008; Page A01

Nations are close to adopting a series of measures aimed at combating a global recession and laying the groundwork for a broad reconstruction of the international financial system, as world leaders arrive in Washington for a major economic summit this weekend.

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/w
p-dyn/content/article/2008/11/13
/AR2008111303844.html