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French press review 17 November 2014

The French press rounds up all the usual suspects . . . First, there's the Russian head honcho, Vlad the Impaler, on the front page of left-leaning Libération under the headline "Putin the pariah".


Vladimir was, we are told, ostracised at the weekend G20 meeting, severely criticised for his policy of agression. But, says Libé, that could push Big Bad Vlad into an even more aggressive stance.

The crucial next step is to create the conditions for a normalisation of relations with Russia, says Libération, a Russia deeply wounded economically by on-going international sanctions.

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Catholic La Croix wonders at the strategic options facing the Russian leader who now finds himself isolated, with nearly everybody against him.

The "nearly" is important, since he has China on his side, and the so-called emerging nations are ambivalent, to say the best of them.

What all of this diplomatic shilly-shallying is going to mean to the ordinary Ukranian is another question entirely.

Then there's Nicolas Sarkozy, promising at the weekend to reverse last year's law allowing marriage for everyone, if he's elected president. His efforts earn him pride of place on the front page of conservative daily, Le Figaro.

You will know that the measures entitling same-sex couples to get married the same as everyone else provoked a certain amount of resistance, particularly among the very well organised ranks of the catholic right. In an effort to ensure the support of that bloc for his campaign for a return to the top job, Sarkozy now says he would have the law reversed if he was elected president.

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But could he, in fact, do just that?

Le Figaro asked a number of legal experts for their opinions, and got a mixed response.

Common wisdom asserts that the law has been passed, marriages have taken place, children have been adopted, and therefore nothing can be done to alter the legal situation because it would involve un-marrying, dis-adopting and suchlike afronts to the French constitutional guarantee of equality. But common wisdom is frequently wrong when it come to the law.

One lawyer cites the 1816 reversal of the law allowing divorce, introduced after the Revolution, to suggest that there is absolutely no constitutional impediment to putting the legal machinery into reverse.

Another expert, who accepts that there is no technical reason ensuring the survival of the new marriage law, does warn that the French Constitutional Court would never allow a step that would imply discrimination under the law against a specific group. France would face prosecution before the European Court of Human Rights.

Le Monde wonders if France has the capacity, either economic or military, to enable it to continue to participate in three major war zones. Says the centrist paper, the engagement of 20,000 French soldiers in Iraq, the Central African Republic and across the Sahel is costing at least 800 million euros more than originally budgeted.

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Limited means are forcing a certain amount of ingenuity from the serving soldiers, but the real danger, according to Le Monde, is that cost-cutting on training may result in an army with various levels of competence.

Says the centrist paper's editorial, it is time for Europe to recognise that certain countries in the European Union . . . France, Britain and Poland are singled out . . . do more than their share to keep the Old Continent secure. And that effort comes at a cost, something which Brussels can no longer be allowed to ignore.

Communist L'Humanité looks forward to the vote in the French parliament, later this month, on the recognition by France of a Palestinian state.

The communist daily stresses that a vote for Palestine is not a vote against Israel. L'Humanité asked five pro-peace israelis for their opinions on the question. The answers are heartening, if unlikely to change much in the current hawkish environment.

Elie Barnavi says that external political pressure is essential to force the Islaeli authorities to change, adding that without change, there'll never be regional peace. Another peace campaigner warns that Israel can not afford to wait a decade for a solution, since Palestinian desperation will not stay under the lid for ten more years.

One hundred-and-thirty-five countries have already officially recognised the Palestinian state.


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