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French press review 21 February 2012

What now for Europe after the debt deal for Greece was approved by eurozone finance ministers in Brussels Monday night and the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei are the issues making the front pages in the French media.


Le Figaro figures that it will cost 350 billion euros to save Greece.

Europe gave Athens 110 billion last May, which just about saw the moussaka munchers to the end of the month. Now they need another 130 billion to keep the wolf from the door, and they'd like the private banks who are due 100 billion additional sponduliks to quietly kiss that money goobye.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

All of this, sadly, won't make any real impact on the fundamental problem which is that Greece has no proper state administrative aparatus and is run like a black market on a national scale.

The average Greek is very angry at being told he has to live on bread and water for the foreseeable future in order to pay the national debt; the same average Greek will now have to accept bankers from Brussels who will take up residence in the Finance Ministry in Athens and dole out the latest rescue money with a small spoon.

Expect more fighting in the street.

Europe's money woes are on the front page of communist L'Humanité too. The communist daily wants left wing deputies to vote against the European Stability Pact, due to be discussed in the French parliament this very day.

Officially, the pact is an attempt to establish a savings fund, to which rich European countries will contribute and from which poor European countries will scrounge. France, for example, should contribute 143 billion euros to the pot.

L'Humanité says the proposals, concocted by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, will do nothing but imprison the people behind the bars of hardship, as austerity becomes not a reaction to a passing crisis but a permanent way of living in the straitjacket of poverty.

Libération has the Chinese artist and dissident, Ai Weiwei, on its front cover, with incidental comments throughout the paper from the man much feared by Beijing.

When he describes himself as a worker in the fields of "fantasy, suspicion, discovery, subversion and criticism," you can understand why the politburo gets nervous every time they let Weiwei out of jail.

Opposite an article on "The struggle for power in Senegal", for example, Libé quotes Weiwei's 2010 observation that there are only two forms of government . . . they are, democracy which encourages criticism, and dictatorship which is interested only in its own survival.

Abdoulaye Wade would know a thing or two about that.

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