Archive for the ‘french’ Category

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
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.”

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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.

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Race, Obama, World: After U.S. Breakthrough, Europe Looks in Mirror

November 12, 2008

In the general European euphoria over the election of Barack Obama, there is the beginning of self-reflection about Europe’s own troubles with racial integration. Many are asking if there could be a French, British, German or Italian Obama, and everyone knows the answer is no, not anytime soon.

By Steven Erlanger
The New York Times

It is risky to make racial comparisons between America and Europe, given all the historical and cultural differences. But race had long been one reason that Europeans, harking back to the days when famous American blacks like Josephine Baker and James Baldwin found solace in France, looked down on the United States, even as Europe developed postcolonial racial problems of its own.

“They always said, ‘You think race relations are bad here in France, check out the U.S.,’ ” said Mohamed Hamidi, former editor of the Bondy Blog, founded after the 2005 riots in the heavily immigrant suburbs of Paris.

“But that argument can no longer stand,” he said.

For many immigrants to Europe, Mr. Obama’s victory is “a small revolution” toward better overall treatment of minorities, said Nadia Azieze, 31, an Algerian-born nurse who grew up here. “It will never be the same,” she said, over a meal of rice and lamb in the racially mixed Paris neighborhood of Barbès-Rochechouart.

Her sister, Cherine, 29, is a computer engineer. Mr. Obama “really represents the dream of America — if you work, you can make it,” she said. “It’s a hope for the entire world.”

But the sisters are less optimistic about the realities of France, where minorities have a limited political role, with only one black deputy elected to the National Assembly from mainland France.

Has the Obama election caused any real self-reflection among the majority here? “It’s politically correct to say, ‘O.K., great! He’s black,’ and clap,” Nadia said. “But deep down, there’s no change. People say one thing and believe another.”

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France, Spain launch anti-piracy plan

November 2, 2008

DJIBOUTI (AFP) –The defense ministers of France and Spain on Sunday launched a European Union military operation to combat piracy off the Somali coast.

“This is the inception of the operation which will be formalized on November 10” at a meeting of EU defense ministers in Brussels, French Defence Minister Herve Morin told reporters.

Accompanied by his Spanish counterpart Carme Chacon, he was speaking in Djibouti, where the pair were on a brief visit to assess multinational efforts to secure the strategic Somali waters and review their anti-piracy arsenal.

Both French and Spanish ships were among the at least 77 vessels attacked for ransom by Somali pirates since the start of the year.

What French President Nicolas Sarkozy has described as a “criminal industry” has threatened to disrupt world trade with relentless attacks in the Gulf of Aden, through which 30 percent of the world’s oil transits.

The high-profile case of the September capture by pirates of a Ukrainian cargo loaded with weapons apparently destined for southern Sudan has contributed in spurring the international community into action.

France, which has a major military base in neighboring Djibouti, is so far the only country to have used its firepower against the pirates in April and September operations following hostage-takings.

Spain has pledged two ships and one surveillance aircraft to the new operation, while France has opened its base to the Spanish forces for logistical support.

Morin said Britain would take the command of the joint force and added that other contributions from Greece, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden were awaiting final confirmation.

NATO warships recently arrived in the region in a bid to secure the maritime delivery of food aid to the civilian population of Somalia, where a deadly civil conflict continues to rage.

Experts have warned however that sending foreign warships to such a vast area would hardly sound the death knell of Somali piracy, which has flourished in recent months.

Pirates argue that their attacks are in retaliation for the plundering of their water resources by foreign fishing navies and the dumping of toxic waste in their waters.

They often cite France and Spain as among the worst offenders on the issue of illegal fishing.

France Boosts Spending on Military

October 30, 2008

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 30, 2008; Page A18

PARIS, Oct. 29 — The French government decided Wednesday to increase military spending by an average of $1.8 billion a year as part of an effort to field a trimmer but better-equipped army to safeguard France’s role in world affairs.

The five-year program, which has been under study since President Nicolas Sarkozy took power in May 2007, was maintained despite a financial crisis that has undermined the already sluggish French economy and led to predictions of budget cutbacks across the government. Defense Minister Hervé Morin said the decision illustrated Sarkozy’s determination, even amid financial turmoil, to conduct activist policies in Afghanistan, Africa and other trouble spots around the globe.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy gestures as he delivers a speech ...
France’s President sarkozy will embrace more defense spending.
(AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)

Sarkozy proposed Wednesday, for instance, that European countries, including France, dispatch a military force to Congo to work alongside U.N. peacekeepers trying to end the spiraling conflict there.

“In spite of the crisis, we will not touch defense funds,” Morin said in an interview with the Figaro newspaper. “France wants to maintain a strong foreign policy. For its voice to be heard, it must be a credible military power.”

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Europe puts more than US on the line for banks

October 13, 2008

By ANGELA CHARLTON and EMMA VANDORE, Associated Press Writers

PARIS – Europe put $2.3 trillion on the line Monday to protect the continent’s banks, a figure that dwarfs the Bush administration’s $700 billion rescue program, in its most unified response yet to the global financial crisis after a stumbling start.
The pledges by Britain and the six countries that use the euro helped soothe stock markets, along with a promise by top central banks to provide unlimited short term dollar credits.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech during a ... 
French President Nicolas Sarkozy delivers a speech during a press conference after an extraordinary Cabinet meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris, Monday, Oct. 13, 2008. Sarkozy said his government will provide up to Euro360 billion (US$491 billion) to help banks stay afloat through the financial crisis. The measure is part of a raft of proposals agreed with other governments sharing the euro currency on Sunday to unblock frozen credit markets.(AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

The action by Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Britain came after weeks in which the governments often acted at cross purposes and sniped at each other — a piecemeal approach that failed to stop steep and frightening slides on financial markets.

“The time of each one for itself is fortunately over,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy said, following a Cabinet meeting that approved France’s spending in the framework of the plan.

“United Europe has pledged more than the United States,” added Sarkozy, who has taken a lead in getting the cooperation.

The pledged money will not go into a collective pot. Instead, governments were deciding individually how much to commit to supporting their own banks under broad guidelines agreed at a summit Sunday. The sums are considered a maximum, and might not all be spent if the financial crisis eases.

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France Pulls Poisoned Chinese Food Products; Dairy Sued in China

October 13, 2008


France has recalled sweets and biscuits made with Chinese dairy products after finding high levels of a chemical.

In China, four babies have died and 53,000 have fallen sick after consuming milk products contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.

The EU banned imports of Chinese baby food containing traces of milk in response to the scare last month.

The recall of White Rabbit sweets and Koala biscuits is the first such order to be made by a European country.

French consumers were warned to destroy or return the tainted products after tests showed high levels of melamine, which can cause kidney failure.

“The first results of tests conducted in France have shown a melamine level above the warning level set by the European Commission at 2.5mg per kilo,” the agriculture ministry said in a statement.

So far there have been no identified cases of health problems associated with the contamination in France.

The recall is the strongest measure yet taken by a European country amid a worldwide health scare over Chinese milk products that has led several countries to ban dairy imports from China.

It came as China issued new quality controls for its dairy industry and promised more severe punishment, including public naming, for anyone found to have violated safety standards.

Some Chinese dairy farmers are accused of fraudulently adding melamine to watered-down milk to make the product appear rich in protein and to fool quality control tests.

Chinese Dairy Sued over Poisoned Milk Death

By CHRISTOPHER BODEEN, Associated Press Writer 

BEIJING – The family of a baby whose death has been blamed on toxic milk filed suit against one of China’s largest dairies Monday, while another dairy ensnared in the scandal said it was a victim of unscrupulous subcontractors.

The lawsuit against Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co. was filed over the May 1 death of 6-month-old Yi Kaixuan in the northwestern city of Lanzhou, the family’s lawyer said.

In this July 3, 2007, file photo, a worker selects the daily ... 
In this July 3, 2007, file photo, a worker selects the daily product at the production line at Wahaha’s factory in Hangzhou, China. Chinese beverage maker Wahaha Group is considering buying dairy assets from Sanlu Group, the milk maker at the heart of a scandal over milk tainted with an industrial chemical, reports said Monday October 13, 2008. Wahaha spokesman Shan Qining said he could not confirm the reports citing the company’s chairman, Zong Qinghou, as saying he wants to buy a milk powder production line from Sanlu.(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, FILE)

It is the first to be filed over a child who died from drinking the tainted milk and asks for almost $160,000 in damages.

Milk collection stations and individual farmers are accused of watering down milk to increase volume, then adding the industrial chemical melamine to increase protein levels. Melamine, used mainly in plastics and fertilizer, is high in nitrogen and can make milk appear to contain more protein, which is what quality tests measure.

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China urges calm after anti-Western demonstrations

April 20, 2008

By TINI TRAN, Associated Press Writer 

BEIJING – Fresh anti-Western protests flared in several Chinese cities Sunday as people vented anger over pro-Tibet demonstrations along the Olympic torch relay. State media appealed for calm in an apparent attempt to dampen the nationalistic fervor.
Over the weekend, protesters waving Chinese flags have rallied in front of the French Embassy in Beijing and at outlets of French retailer Carrefour in nine cities across the country. They have threatened boycotts of the retailer, whom they accuse of supporting the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader — a charge Carrefour denies.

Tibetan native now living in Ann Arbor, Lob Sang, left, made ...
Tibetan native now living in Ann Arbor, Lob Sang, left, made his difference of opinion known to demonstrators, right, during the Dalai Lama’s visit to the University of Michigan on Sunday, April 20, 2008, in Ann Arbor, Mich. Many demonstrators wore T-shirts that read ‘Support Beijing 2008,’ a reference to the upcoming summer Olympics. (AP Photo/Jerry S. Mendoza)

A front-page editorial in the People’s Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece for the Chinese Communist Party, called for calm, urging people to cherish patriotism “while expressing it in a rational way.”

“As citizens, we have the responsibility to express our patriotic enthusiasm calmly and rationally and express patriotic aspiration in an orderly and legal manner,” the commentary said.

The editorial seemed to reflect concern among China’s leaders about a growing anti-Western backlash, fueled by anger over the demonstrations in Paris, London and San Francisco during the Olympic torch relay. The relay has become a magnet for protests against China‘s rule in Tibet and its human rights record.

Barry Sautman, a political scientist at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said the government is trying to rein in the demonstrations in order to ensure calm and project an inviting image ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.

“That’s why they want demonstrations to be very short,” Sautman said. “They want to wrap them up as soon as possible so they can go on to restore the image of China as welcoming to people around the world.”

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