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French press review 17 September 2011

Text by: William Niba
4 min

Saturday’s papers are dominated by reactions to the Socialist Party presidential primary debate, the Greek debt crisis and the situation in Libya.

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Western regional paper Le Courrier de l'Ouest welcomes the trip to Libya by French president Nicolas Sarkozy arguing that it has recouped the international standing of France, after the country missed out on the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

THE BATTLE FOR LIBYA

While Kadhafi still remains at large, the paper says, Sarkozy was right to fly to Tripoli. It recalls that in November 2003, George Bush did not wait for the capture of Saddam Hussein to visit “liberated” Irak. What’s important now, according to the newspaper, is the reconstruction of a new, reconciled Libya, a challenge which it claims the Americans failed to live up to in Iraq.

Le Monde looks beyond the contracts to be harvested by France as its reward for “spearheading” the regime change campaign in Libya. The newspaper holds that despite numerous obstacles Europe has a card to play in the liberated Arab countries.

Le Monde explains that one week after being hailed in Benghazi, Nicolas Sarkozy has to deal with the sensitive question of Palestinian nationhood at the United Nations. The newspaper argues that his hesitation to clarify his stance on the issue could undermine European efforts to reach a common position on the dossier.

Le Monde says it will be unfortunate if the Europeans lose in New York the credibility reacquired in Libya due to their divisions on the Israeli-Palestinian dossier.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

La Montagne, based in the centre of the country, examines the Greek debt crisis that has left the eurozone on the brink of recession. The paper claims that the vicious circle of debt, concerns about the solidity of European banks and stagnating growth continue to defy the Europeans.

La Montagne takes to task some countries that are taking advantage of the situation to lecture others. Top prize, it says, goes to US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who flew to Poland to lecture the Europeans on management, when his own country that is “a debt champion”.

Libération looks ahead to the Socialist Party primaries after Friday night’s well-watched debate. An estimated five million viewed the prime time programme and Libé is delighted that the six candidates successfully underlined their differences while avoiding personal attacks.

The left-leaning paper, however, warns that the temperature could rise as the contest heats up to the run-off vote on 15-16 October. Libération warns them that five million viewers are not five million voters. It urges the candidates to listen to some useful criticism coming from the ruling party camp, especially President Sarkozy who ridiculed the primaries as a “big spenders’ contest”.

Southern paper Midi Libre says the spin doctors of the ruling UMP party must be biting their fingers after receiving a brilliant lesson of democratic conduct from the Socialists. According to the regional tabloid, the UMP party can no longer ignore the question of primaries, strongly opposed by Sarkozy, especially in 2017 when they will have to settle especially the pitched political battles raging between UMP party secretary Jean François Copé and Prime Minister François Fillon.

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