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French press review 24 February 2014

5 min

The situation in Ukraine dominates this Monday morning's front pages.


Protestor in Kiev were still calling for the departure of President Viktor Yanukovych by the time Le Monde's weekend edition went to press at lunchtime on Saturday. This morning, Yanukovych is history, having vanished from the embattled capital, Kiev, in the wake of (perhaps even in anticipation of) a parliamentary vote to sack him.

Libération celebrates "The Ukrainian Spring," a reference to the various Arab Spring revolutions. But the left-wing paper warns that an awful lot remains to be done: Ukraine is effectively bankrupt, the economy in urgent need of overhaul. Without the financial support that Moscow had offered in support of the Yanukovych regime, will the president to be elected next May be able to do any better than his or her little-loved predecessor? How supportive can the European Union afford to be of those Ukrainians who look towards the West for salvation? What will the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin, decide to do now that he's got the skiiers and snow-boarders off his back with the end of the Sochi Olympics.

The main headline in Catholic La Croix talks of "Ukrainian hope," with the editorial insisting that "the future remains to be decided".

All commentators continue to stress the profound divide between the Russian-speaking east, and the Ukrainian west. But it's interesting to note that there was not a single vote in favour of Yanukovych in the debate on his sacking. At least 140 deputies from regions nominally supportive of the departed president thus voted against him.

The main story in right-wing Le Figaro assures us that there's war in the ranks of the French government about plans to build a new airport in Notre-Dame-des-Landes, near the western city of Nantes.

The Housing Minister and Green Party member, Cécile Duflot, at the weekend repeated her support for those who oppose the plan, prompting a harsh reaction from the Prime Minister. He wants the ecologists to put an end to their double standards and either support the government or get lost.

This latest dispute, says Le Figaro, added to recent disagreements about legalising cannabis, kicking out Roma people, nuclear energy, taxation and the increasing closeness between the socialist wing of government and the bosses, will add to the tensions which could well see the Green Party leave the ruling coalition following next month's municipal elections.

And good riddance, says the Figaro editorial. When will François Hollande wake up to the fact that his insupportable supporters have a capacity to cause trouble far in excess of their political significance? The right-wing paper reminds readers that the Green candidate, Eva Joly, managed to collect only 2.3 per cent of votes in the last presidential election.

Le Figaro looks back to 1936 when the French Communist Party refused to join the government, offering instead "support without participation". Today's Green Party has managed to reverse that situation, says the right wing daily, offering "participation without support". It will all end in tears.

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