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
He expresses here the idea of preventing the
Ségolène Royal recalls principles refusing “any unilateral initiative” but stays silent about the way the international community makes “
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
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
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
Questioned about the opportunity for
For F. Bayrou it is nonetheless “illusory and unfair to forbid access to a civil nuclear to
S. Royal sticks to her idea that “the question is today that
without control”. Adding: “I say again that the best solution seems to me
For N. Sarkozy “
The crisis in
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
They all agree on the overdue sanctions and the very much needed European action. Nicolas Sarkozy goes further stating “
Weapons selling to
Le Monde: Are in favour of the lifting of the European embargo on weapon selling to
For now they are not in favour of the lifting of the European embargo on the sells of weapons to
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
F. Bayrou prompts a dialogue with the
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
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
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
Le Monde: Are you in favour of the entrance, one day, of
In the EU?
It is clear for the three candidates that
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
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
They all agree on the idea of the speeding up of the Nabucco project giving Europe the opportunity to curb its dependence to
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
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
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.