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French press review 27 October 2011

Last night's European emergency summit on the euro went on far too late for the people who print and distribute French newspapers. So the editors had to guess what might come out of the Brussels meeting and print their papers anyway.

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The main headline in business daily Les Echos reads "Europe's plan to save the euro", but they can't deliver in the small print, since the details were so slow in coming.

We already knew that the banks were going to be obliged to recapitalise, that is, stuff more money into the old sock, so that they'll have some real resources for a rainy day.

We also knew that the European Financial Stability Fund was going to be beefed up, with a view to saving the next tottering national economy once the Greek crisis has been dealt with.

According to Les Echos, the heads of state finally went for a lot of beef, agreeing terms which will see the fund grow to 1,000 billion euros. Nobody knows precisely where all that cash is going to come from, but at least everyone agrees that we need it.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Communist L'Humanité didn't know any more than the rest of us about what would finally emerge from the Brussels meeting, but they knew they weren't going to like it.

"Let's stop the massacre" screams Huma's front page, the small print braying that Europe's leaders are bleeding their people dry.

Instead of proposing a cure, says the communist daily, the heads of state have decided to kill the patient.

And the communist daily looks to Greece, where the population is on its knees after a series of austerity measures which haven't solved the problem but have certainly caused a lot of suffering.

According to L'Humanité, the number of suicides in Greece has risen by 40 per cent in the first six months of 2011, compared to the same period last year.

Right-wing Le Figaro soberly says we'll have to wait for the verdicts from the world stock markets. Tokyo closed just over two per cent up and the general mood across Asia appears to be positive.

But we've seen this sort of short-term positive reaction to earlier salvage plans, so it might be wise to wait a while before declaring the crisis over.

Le Monde looks to Tunisia, with a front-page editorial suggesting that the West is wrong to fear the success of the Islamic party Ennahdha in last weekend's elections.

Tunisia has to build its democratic institutions from scratch and has made a great start with polls which mobilised something like 90 per cent of registered voters.

Ennahdha doesn't really have a political platform, it has a history of opposition to the hated regime of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and that, along with a message of national identity, was enough to convince huge numbers of voters, across all levels of Tunisian society, that the Islamist party represents the face of the future.

The West is worried about religious freedom, about women's rights, about all the murky monsters dredged up by the fear of fundamentalism.

The worry is understandable, says Le Monde, but, for the moment at least, misplaced.

The people have voted. Those they have chosen are now negotiating with a view to forming a government.

Dossier: Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

That's democracy, and it must be allowed take its course, says Le Monde. When the dialogue stops, then the West, and Tunisia's voters, can start worrying.

Finally, just to prove that the world hasn't gone completely to pot, news from the science pages of Le Figaro that dinosaurs used to migrate.

Cuddly little fellahs known as camarasaurs have long befuddled scientists by apparently surviving in a region, now the far west of the United States, where water was unavailable for at least six months every year.

It turns out that the camarasaur was the swallow of his era, if you can imagine a swallow 18 metres long and 20 tonnes in his stockinged feet.

Palaeontologists have now discovered that the lads dealt with the drought by walking 300 kilometres to permanent springs on the volcanic fringe of their territory.

I hope that helps put the eurozone crisis in a slightly different perspective.

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