French press review 13 June 2015
The impact of climate change on the French wine industry, the fallout of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn sex trial, the possible departure of Greece from the European monetary system and questions about the role played by Napoleon in French and European history. Those are this morning's front-page main courses.
Global warming is having a dramatic effect on grape growing, with the possibility that wines currently produced in Bordeaux will, in less than a century, be made from grapes grown and harvested in the United Kingdom. Le Figaro is scandalised. Champagne will come from Norway. And Alsace, the most northern of the contemporary French wine regions, will then be the source of what we now call Mediterranean wines.
Various efforts are being made to introduce new varieties of vine into the French system, with the underlying fear that more climatically resistant grapes won't necessarily result in more palatable wine.
Yesterday, as the world knows by now, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former director of the International Monetary Fund, once potential Socialist presidential candidate, was completely cleared of all charges following a four-year legal marathon. Of the 14 people accused alongside DSK, 13 were cleared by yesterday's judgement, meaning that the 35 volumes of evidence collected by French investigators were worse than a waste of paper.
The problem is that Strauss-Kahn has seen his clearly colourful private life dissected in court and gleefully spread over the world's front pages. That was in evidence. But now that he's been proved innocent, that evidence cannot be withdrawn.
The daily Libération accepts that the media have to take their share of the blame for running a parallel case against Strauss-Kahn. But the paper insists that the press simply followed the judicial process, never instigated any charges against DSK. If they had done less, says Libé's editorial, journalists would have been accused of once again covering up for the rich and powerful. The editorial concludes that silence would have been worse than the media feeding frenzy that this trial provoked. Dominique Strauss-Kahn might have preferred silence.
Greece is getting ever closer to the European exit and Le Monde thinks that would be a bad outcome.
The negotiations are not going well, with the International Monetary Fund leaving in a huff and the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras heading home to celebrate the reopening of his country's national television service.
While the talks are officially continuing, German media say that Chancellor Angela Merkel has told her money men to prepare for a Greek departure.
It will all come down to the European Council meeting on 25 and 26 June, where Tsipras will play his last card in the hope of some kind of political lifeline. Without that, and a few million euros in ready cash, the Greek leader will have four days before the debt collectors from the IMF arrive at his door, demanding the repayment of 1.6 billion euros.
Le Monde says Tsipras faces the stark choice of seeing his country go broke or of completely reneging on crucial election promises. The debt collectors, for example, want to see further cuts in Greek pensions. But those Greeks lucky enough to benefit in retirement have already seen their pensions reduced by 15 per cent for the least well off and by 44 per cent for those with pensions of over 3,000 euros per month.
The crucial question remains how a country can escape the crisis if it is further plunged into poverty by those who are supposed to be helping. That question remains unanswered by Brussels.
Which brings us to Napoleon and another imponderable: was he a visionary or a tyrant? Catholic La Croix, which poses the question, suggests that Old Boney may have been both.
His impact on contemporary France in terms of the legal and administrative machinery Napoleon put in place is undoubted. His 15-year military campaign cost about one million lives and made France deeply unpopular with the neighbours. Two hundred years after his final defeat, Napoleon's legacy remains a battleground.
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