Ten stakes of Foreign Policy

The upcoming first round – in less than a week - of the French Presidential Election will be critical to the future of France domestically and to its standing in the world.

If the French presidential campaign is mainly about domestic issues and if France’ constituents pay scant attention to foreign and defence policy; it is important to give it a close look.

In the front page of the daily newspaper Le Monde the three main candidates to the presidential race answered to questions about ten stakes of foreign policy.

Both the questions and the answers revealed the preoccupations of the French people on the ongoing foreign policy debate and the tasks that await the next president.

Ten Stakes of Foreign Policy

The Iranian issue

The question of the journalist was interesting in itself as it puts forward the idea that the next president may find himself in a situation to oppose to military strikes if the US or Israel decide it is the only way to prevent Iran from getting the nuclear bomb.

The question was about the means to use and not on whether or not they should oppose.

François Bayrou, head of the centre-right party is the toughest vis-à-vis the US saying “It is not about ‘opposing’ the US, since I doubt they would, in that hypothesis, appeal for the international community’ backing, it is about deterring them from getting involved in a new dead end.”

He expresses here the idea of preventing the US to another “risky attempt”.

Ségolène Royal recalls principles refusing “any unilateral initiative” but stays silent about the way the international community makes “Iran listens to the voice of the reason”. In her explanation there is an outright refusal of any initiative and a lack of the means by which the international community makes Iran comply to the resolutions.

On the other hand, Nicolas Sarkozy offers a perspective and stresses the need to use diplomacy: “I’m convinced a diplomatic issue is possible if the international community stays firm on her principles and requests”. The firmness, the use of diplomacy and the union of the international community, speaking of one voice, added to the adoption of resolutions are the keys for the research of a solving according to him.

Le Monde: Are you in favour of an embargo by the great powers on the selling of refined oil products to Iran? Would you accept the idea of sanctions adopted out of the UN framework, on the basis of “a coalition of volunteer countries”?

F. Bayrou praises for an exam “I think to proceed to a precise exam of all the means of economic pressure we dispose, is needed”. He is still wondering about what should be done and seems to fear the reactions of Russia and China “we have to be smart enough so that we do not have an in head-on opposition to China and Russia”.

S. Royal is clear about the evolution “we will have to step up the sanctions” but she curbs the initiative of a coalition even though the UE implemented the resolution of the UNSC through a coalition of volunteer countries. She is firm about the attitude but doesn’t give indications on the means.

N. Sarkozy says clearly that “we will have to go further in the sanctions” adding that “everything is still on the table”, […] what matters is efficiency.” He is ready to go beyond resolution 1747and would be ready to go further on sanctions even without UNSC’s resolutions.

Le Monde: Would you agree with the idea to authorise Iran to continue to have on its territory, under the control of the AIEA, research and development activities in the filed of the uranium enrichment, as a potential compromise for a way out of the diplomatic dead end?

Questioned about the opportunity for Iran to continue nuclear research and developments activities under the control of AIEA, they all agree.None of them is in favour of the AIEA control on Iran’ research and development activities as a compromise to find a diplomatic way out.

For F. Bayrou it is nonetheless “illusory and unfair to forbid access to a civil nuclear to Iran”.

S. Royal sticks to her idea that “the question is today that Iran stops its process of enrichment

without control”. Adding: “I say again that the best solution seems to me Russia’s proposal to supply Iran with enriched uranium so that it will avert the risk of proliferation while allowing this country to access electricity of nuclear origin.”

For N. Sarkozy “Iran has to show its pacific intentions” before the international community’ proposals on the development of a civil nuclear programme be carefully studied.

The crisis in Darfur

Le Monde: Are you in favour of the adoption of new sanctions against the Sudanese regime, if it keeps refusing the display of a UN peacekeepers contingent in Darfur, as the UNCS 1706 resolution requests? Which sanctions exactly?

They all agree on the overdue sanctions and the very much needed European action. Nicolas Sarkozy goes further stating “France will implement, if needed the measures with its European partners or from a national perspective.”

Weapons selling to China

Le Monde: Are in favour of the lifting of the European embargo on weapon selling to China?

For now they are not in favour of the lifting of the European embargo on the sells of weapons to China. For the three of them it goes along with the state of Human Rights in the country.

To F. Bayrou “ whether it is about Darfur, Taiwan, Iran, the protection of the minorities preservation and the respect of human of the person, we are in right to expect a strong inflexion of the Chinese policy before considering to normalize the situation”.

S. Royal deems “the lifting of the embargo is premature.”

The American anti-missile shield

Le Monde: Are you in favour of the settlement in Poland and Tchec Republic of the anti-missile shield elements that Americans want to implement? Do you reckon that this project makes sense, vis-à-vis the risk that Iran might in the future get missiles able to hit the European territory?

F. Bayrou prompts a dialogue with the US to avoid decision taken “under the American pressure”. “While Europeans should dispose of tools of threats analysis, of strategic prospective and programming of their joint military means, […] let’s start by discussing with the US of our conception of a desirable international order and we will see then in which measure we can share their military options.”

S. Royal “will make sure that this tool, essential to our political and diplomatic independence keeps permanently its credibility” but in the meantime it has to be stressed that she said the contrary on many occasions. She proposed to share in cooperation the buying a new aircraft carrier with the UK and declared that, if elected she would earmark the Defence money to fund education and the needed reforms.

She expresses doubts on the efficiency of the American anti missile shield as well as on the political question whether the EU would be protected by an American shield that EU does not control.

She expresses a lot of defiance vis-à-vis both the NATO and the US.

N. Sarkozy believes that security questions of one European partner concern all EU members and should be discussed first at this level. He is in favour of a European Defence and for a dialogue between the European partners.

Europe confronted with Russia

Le Monde: Are you in favour of the entrance, one day, of Ukraine and Georgia in NATO?

In the EU?

It is clear for the three candidates that Ukraine and Georgia can not join the EU today but with a nuance from Sarkozy on NATO.

F. Bayrou is not favour of new joining to the EU as long as the principles are not redefined. He is also opposed to their entrance into NATO.

S. Royal is not in favour of the entrance of Ukraine and Georgia neither into NATO nor into the EU and wonders about their security contribution. She praises for a break in the enlargement process of the UE.

N. Sarkozy makes a difference between joining NATO and the UE; he is for the development of a new and improved partnership with these 2 countries on economic levels. But he is not in favour of their entrance in the EU;

On NATO, at the opposite of the 2 others candidates he in favour of a deeper dialogue as a path to a future integration according to the wish of the people.

Le Monde: Would you be ready to speed up the Nabucco project aimed at giving the opportunitybto Europe to reduce its dependence to Russian gas supplying, opening the way to hydrocarbons coming from Central Asia, avoiding the Russian territory?

They all agree on the idea of the speeding up of the Nabucco project giving Europe the opportunity to curb its dependence to Russia’ gas.

F. Bayrou sees it as “a welcome tool of economical diversification”.

For S. Royal “it is a question of energetic independence”. And for N. Sarkozy “it is about a stable and diversified supplying on the long run for Europe energetic needs”.

Le Monde: Are you in favour of Russian funds increase into EADS Company, in which they have 5% of the share today?

They all disagree about the increase of Russian funds in the EADS because the company is linked to the French and European defence’ imperatives.

The analysis of the newspaper recalls the nuances between the three candidates and their distance from President Chirac’ foreign policy especially on Iran and China;

Nevertheless it confirms that François Bayrou and Segolene Royal should be the heirs of Chirac’ foreign policy following his main lines.

Nicolas Sarkozy is finally the candidate who is the more opposed to Chirac’s vision;

As he stated during his foreign affairs convention: he is in favour of real changes on foreign affairs; He wants to stick to values and to a transatlantic dialogue.

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