French press review 2 March 2011

Le Monde sets the tone for the morning’s headlines, saying the western world is divided on what to do about Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi.


Following international condemnation, financial pressure, and UN sanctions, Kadhafi now faces a foreign military presence in his midst, with the United States having deployed forces to zones north of Libya.

Le Monde highlights the fact that western leaders are unsure of what to do in terms of a potential Nato military intervention.

The centrist daily quotes French Prime Minister François Fillon saying that “we” – presumably speaking for western leaders – are considering all other possibilities to make Kadhafi understand his time has come.

And if you’ve been following the week’s news, you’ll know France itself has been adjusting its diplomatic approach to the revolts in the Libya, Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere.

This is most notably evident with President Nicolas Sarkozy’s replacement of the country’s foreign minister, swapping Michèle Alliot-Marie with seasoned veteran Alain Juppé last weekend.

Today, Le Monde reports Fillon raising the issue of Juppé's intention stay on as mayor of the city of Bordeaux, even as he takes the country's top diplomatic role.

The paper points out that Juppé, who has been the city’s mayor since 1995, has juggled that role with another big one in the past, notably from 1995-97 when he himself was also the country’s prime minister.

This is followed by a quote from Juppé saying he trusts himself to manage his own day planner, thank you very much.

Right-wing Le Figaro echoes the prime minister’s sentiment on Libya in its much bolder headline: "Tripoli: Kadhafi's big bluff".

Their correspondent met Kadhafi's son Saif al-Islam, who said in the next two days, everything will be back to business as usual in the Libyan capital.

The son of the Libyan leader is also quoted as saying they are victims of a propaganda campaign in the foreign media. But evidently, Le Fig isn't buying it.

Communist daily l'Humanité also seems to think Tripoli will soon fall, but their correspondent meets volunteers in the eastern city of Benghazi, and quotes them in the headline: "It's we who shall liberate Tripoli". This is against the backdrop of a clearly well-armed group of fighters loading what looks like to be some kind of anti-aircraft weapon.

Inside their coverage explains how in Benghazi, the population is preparing a final assault.

For their part, leftist Libération leads with a story on the home front. The average price of renting a place to live in France went up 2.5 per cent in 2010. The national average price for the year was 12.3 euros per square metre. An infographic shows rates are highest in the Paris region, at 17.8 the square metre. The lowest figure is in a regions eastern France, at 8.7 euros the square metre. The paper quotes a number of politicians and administrators giving their views on how to contain prices and regulate the market.

In their editorial, Libération suspects the solution lies somewhere between cuddly teddy bears and Soviet-style rigour. And that's a literal translation.

Finally, there is a fair amount of ink spilled on John Galliano, the British fashion designer with French label Christian Dior who was fired yesterday, following the appearance of a video showing him making acerbic anti-Semitic comments and expressing his admiration for Adolf Hitler.

This as Dior is slated to appear in Paris Fashion Week, which also kicked off yesterday.

Le Monde also devotes a page to the tale of Galliano as an enfant terrible of the fashion world, known for excess, vanity and provocative statements and gestures. They dig up a quote from their own archives, from January 2007, when Galliano told them, “I am never provocative just to be provocative. I provoke to stir up emotions or sometimes a debate.”

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