France Divided on Turkish EU Accession

Monday, December 20th, 2004

Last weekend’s regularly-scheduled European Council summit (the half-yearly meeting of European Union heads of government) was dominated by the prospect of Turkey as an EU member-state, and its most news-worthy result was the approval by the assembled leaders of the commencement of negotiations with Turkey to that end beginning in October of next year.

For me, the question of Turkey’s accession to the European Union brings with it two epiphenomena, one minor and one major. There is the way the question has already become entangled in the historic Turkey-Greece enmity, although at second-remove. Relations are now good between Turkey and Greece themselves, so that any veto of Turkish membership by the latter is hard to imagine (at least in the present situation). But there also remains the problem of the divided Turkish-Greek island of Cyprus, which Turkish armed forces invaded in 1974, and which more importantly is also an EU member-state. It seems that a lot of sweat and toil was expended at this just-concluded EU summit to find some compromise between Cypriot (and, actually, also Greek) insistence that Turkey recognize the Greek half of the island, and Turkish reluctance to do so. The compromise was that Turkey would not make such a recognition now, but would certainly do so before those entry negotiations start next October.

But that is the minor epiphenomenon, and so not of much interest to me. (Although it is nonetheless conceivable that future problems along this line could be enough ultimately to torpedo Turkish entry, thus rendering the following “major” epiphenomenon moot.) In my view, that “major” epiphenonemon is the gulf that has opened up between the negative attitudes of EU national electorates (not all of them, to be sure, but quite a number) towards Turkish accession and the continued behavior of their political leaders in keeping that accession process on-track. By the very nature of the way the EU works in important membership questions such as this, that behavior has to be well-nigh unanimous, as serious objections from any member-state can substantially slow down the process or even stop it. (Ultimately, of course, ratification of any Turkish EU-entry will have to be unanimous among all current member-states.) Meanwhile, the level of actual political support for Turkish membership is nowhere near unanimous across the continent. When will one reality catch up with the other? Or is that alleged EU “democratic deficit” for real, even to the extent that the epochal decision of admitting Turkey could be made even in the face of its rejection by the voters who actually make up the EU’s population?

In this light, the French press is the most appropriate prism to use to examine last weekend’s summit – and not only because an eventual referendum to enable French public opinion on the subject to find its political expression has been promised. (more…)

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Europe Faces Its New Challenge

Thursday, November 4th, 2004

The result is finally in – Bush wins – and most of the rest of the world is rather less than pleased. You would rather expect that, but can get filled in on the details here in the Washington Post. In that article there is a brief reference to a commentary from Le Monde; reason enough to go take a look at the full piece itself, in the original French (Electoral Archaism). It turns out that that Le Monde commentary is perhaps not the most definitive word to turn to from France’s newspaper of record, since at the time it was put on-line the presidential election’s final result was not yet known – it begins “Despite an advantage held by George W. Bush, the result of the American elections remains uncertain.” (more…)

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Notes from the French Underground

Monday, August 23rd, 2004

The account is published in Le Monde, but you almost expect that the message was smuggled out in microfilm, in the form of text requiring a secret decoder-ring to decipher. It tells the tale of a dangerous “mole” who has managed to penetrate one of the Organization’s high rituals: a correspondent from this leading French newspaper reports from on-the-scene at one of the “Ask President Bush” campaign appearances the Bush campaign has recently held around the country (Meeting George Bush, Half Rock Star, Half God). (more…)

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Ariel Sharon vs. France

Tuesday, July 20th, 2004

“Did the Israeli prime minister expect such a barrage [of criticism]? Did he even desire it?” Those were the questions posed by reporter Eric Favereau leading off coverage in the French left-of-center newspaper Libération yesterday of remarks by Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday, in which he called upon French Jews to move “immediately” to Israel to escape “unfettered anti-semitism” which is allegedly spreading in that country. (The lead article is [French foreign minister Michel] Barnier Harshly Criticizes Sharon’s Invitation to the Jews of France, although the verb that article-title actually uses translates to fustigate, perhaps an interesting addition to the vocabulary of us all.) But by making such remarks (in English, and in front of a delegation of American Jewish leaders visiting Israel, as it turned out), Sharon only managed to offend not only the French state, but Jewish organizations there. From the French foreign affairs ministry spokeswoman: “We have immediately made contact with Israeli authorities to ask for an explanation on the subject of these unacceptable remarks.” And from Richard Prasquier, executive board member of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (French acronym: CRIF): “We can’t accept this type of discourse. We all know that the situation of Jews in France is difficult. . . . [The Jewish community] knows that the [French] political class is doing everything to fight against this anti-semitism. But pouring oil on the fire this way is not acceptable.” (more…)

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Moore’s Fahrenheit Catches Fire in France

Saturday, July 10th, 2004

For whatever reason, Michael Moore’s blockbuster documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 was first exposed outside the US to French-speaking audiences, opening on 7 July in France, Belgium, and Switzerland. And, as you’d probably expect, it had a Smashing Début, as stated in the title of an article in the Nouvel Observateur. It was seen by 100,000 in France on its first day of showing alone (of which 30,000 in Paris), the best opening of all time for a documentary. Still, the (unnamed) writer does give Moore’s previous work, Bowling for Columbine, greater credit for being fully researched and documented. (more…)

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The French on the New American “Sunny Boy”

Wednesday, July 7th, 2004

Hey – I’ll trade you a John Edwards football card! Yes he played, during his college days at NC State. Actually, I’ll give you a free tip: if you move fast, you can print out the trading card showing the young Edwards suited up in his football uniform, but with the “John Edwards: President” logo underneath, used as promotional material during his Democratic primary campaign, which is featured on the French newspaper Libération’s best-of-the-pack article covering Edwards’ naming as the Democratic VP candidate. (more…)

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Dutch Presidency to the Economic Rescue!

Tuesday, July 6th, 2004

The chain continues! Of articles examining EU economic performance and policy and/or that of individual member-states, that is. And, as half-promised previously, this time we go to the French press, specifically flagship Le Monde, which announces that The Netherlands Makes the Modernization of the European Economy Its Priority. (more…)

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Mixed French Reviews for the New Constitution

Sunday, June 20th, 2004

Failure in December – but success in June! At their just-concluded Brussels summit the European Union’s now twenty-five members finally accepted a draft to put forward to their constituent parliaments and/or voters as the new European Constitution. Perhaps this summit’s productive result can be ascribed to the rotating EU presidency being held now by Bertie Ahern and the diplomatically-astute Irish, whereas Italy and Silvio Berlusconi were in charge last December – the Council presidency will cease to rotate this way once the new Constitution is enacted, by the way – or maybe it was all due to the new governments in place in Spain and Poland, the two “medium-sized” EU states that were the principle obstacles to progress at the last summit in December. One thing is sure, though: France and Jacques Chirac were once again in the middle of the goings-on, and so a review of French reporting and comment is appropriate. (Tony Blair was also a leading protagonist – or at least according to the French press, as we shall see – but I’ll let you read the on-line British papers about that yourself – and pay for it, in the case of The Times.) (more…)

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A Gang-of-Five Gallery of EU Commission President Candidates

Wednesday, June 16th, 2004

Today’s on-line Le Monde goes deeper into the question of who will succeed Romano Prodi at the beginning of next year as EU Commission President, putting forth five candidates in all under a link Les cinq prétendants: “the five claimants,” or even “the five pretenders” if you like.

(I simply reported yesterday on Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt being tipped as the likely successor by the Czech business newspaper Hospodárské noviny. By the way, I can’t give you any link to this Le Monde article, because the five putative candidates are presented in turn by means of a pop-up picture gallery, with underlying comment that is presented for such a short time that you can barely read it before it disappears for the next picture. So those of you who can read French, but slowly, you’ll have to give up on this one and simply go with what I can report to you below.) (more…)

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France Cheers Moore, Jeers Bush

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004

The big news for many over the past weekend was Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 911” being awarded the Golden Palm as best film at the Cannes Film Festival – the same movie, you’ll recall, that Disney does not want to distribute, despite the White House press statement issued in response to the award maintaining that it demonstrated that the US was a country of freedom of expression. (For others, with perhaps a more myopic view of the world, the big news was that President Bush fell off of his mountain bike. But we’ll be getting to that incident, too.) With his victory, Moore became the first documentary-maker since Jacques Cousteau in 1956 to win the Festival’s top prize, and at the same time he scored some big political points against the his arch-nemesis, the Bush administration.

As you would expect, the French press just lapped this all up. Surprisingly, though, the vehemence of the French fourth estate’s reaction seemed to vary inversely with the degree of the paper-in-question’s known partisan slant. (more…)

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Responsible Ones

Monday, May 10th, 2004

EuroSavant is back now, from an extended period of travel to Segway in cities located elsewhere in Europe. Fortunately, the scandal that erupted last week over the treatment of Iraqi prisoners by American (and seemingly also British) military personnel in Iraq shows no signs of dying down soon. I write “fortunately” not only from the immediate consideration that there is still plenty of coverage and commentary in the European press, but also because indeed this matter should not “die down” until all has been investigated, all has been revealed, and all those guilty have been relieved of their positions and punished. Some say that that would mean no such “closure” until Election Day next November.

As I make my way back into the €S groove, I have to shoot first at the big, obvious targets and leave subtlety (e.g. finding that telling commentary in some otherwise-obscure journal appearing in a more-obscure country) for later. What more obvious source to go to for non-English-language comment than France’s leading newspaper Le Monde? With its editorial from Sunday entitled Responsible Ones, Le Monde certainly does not disappoint. (more…)

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Defending Saddam: The French Connection?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2004

Saddam Hussein is still in US custody, held at some secret location within Iraq, but presumably he will eventually be put on public trial in some way. That is certainly the plan announced by President Bush at the time of his capture, although exact details on the form, place, and machinery of this trial have been few and far between. This still raises the issue of legal defense – as in, who will conduct that for Saddam whenever the trial does happen. Recent developments seem to point to the involvement here of French nationals. (Wouldn’t you just know it? Pass me some more of those “freedom fries” . . .)

These happenings have yet to see much coverage on the on-line American press, at least judging from what I could come up with via Google News. The best article I could find introducing Jacques Vergès, the “cigar-chomping French attorney” supposedly preparing Saddam’s legal defense, was from the New York Post (and those editors neglectfully leave out the “e avec accent grave” – that is, the “è” – that makes up a vital part of this Frenchman’s last name). But that’s all OK, because there has been plenty of French coverage, and these writers not only get the accent right but also have plenty of material in the files about the past antics of Me Vergès (“Me” for maître, the French title for a lawyer). (more…)

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French Persecution Complex?

Thursday, January 29th, 2004

That whole “jokester” issue – dealt with in my previous post, and having to do with a young Frenchman touching off a bomb-on-plane scare at JFK airport – refuses to die down, at least as far as the conservative French newspaper Le Figaro is concerned. You see, that’s not the only instance recently of French citizens tangling with the American authorities. The newspaper even thinks it sees some sort of pattern emerging, as is apparent right away in the title of its latest article, Those Frenchies [that’s the word the title uses] Being Maltreated by the American Authorities. (more…)

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French Airline Jokester Released

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

American security and air transport personnel these days truly do not joke around. Thank goodness I’m not telling you that out of sad personal experience arising out of my recent travels to and within the United States – recall that I advanced the heretical idea in this space not so long ago of displaying a sassy Dilbert cartoon while going through security checks. No, the above conclusion is instead clear from the recent experience of an unfortunate Frenchman – “a rather flippant French jokester,” some would conclude – named Franck Moulet who seemingly took a schtick about suspicious shenanigans on the American Airlines flight he was on rather too far a couple of weeks ago, and was jailed in New York City and put up on charges for his pains. English-language coverage of the incident (at least what I could find using that old reliable stand-by, Google News) is rather sparse. The French press, in contrast, has proved rather more willing to cover the story, as reporting attests to in Le Monde and in Le Figaro (Franck Moulet Freed in Exchange for Confession), and that last article even features a head-shot of the 27-year-old M. Moulet. Just look deeply into those eyes, I say, and then tell me whether this is some sort of comedian. (more…)

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Controversy over the Head-Scarf Ban

Friday, January 23rd, 2004

Wow: the split-up of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez is homepage news even for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (“Jennifer Lopez Gives Ben Afflek Walking-Papers), with column titles such as Doch wieder Puffy? (“So It’s Back to Puffy?”). That’s pretty tempting to get into. But it’s not like there isn’t anything else a bit more “legitimate” to discuss – like recent setbacks for the idea of banning the wearing of religious symbolism (primarily the Muslim head-scarf for females), in both France and Germany. (more…)

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Après la Capture

Tuesday, December 16th, 2003

The big story is out there, the obvious one. Maybe you want the EuroSavant opinion on the capture last Saturday night of Saddam Hussein. I think . . . that that was a Good Thing.

“That won’t cut it, MAO!” perhaps you object. Ah, but allow me to remind you of what you could term the “EuroSavant essence”: It’s not necessary for me to pontificate on these pages. (Although that can also occasionally happen; actually, I feel another expatiation coming on now, but not on this Saddamned subject: stay tuned for the next entry.) Rather, my function is to lead you daily (or whenever) on a merry traipse through the motley landscape of one or more of the various European presses – a landscape in which, to extend the metaphor, the lay of the terrain as well as most of the bright and curious flowers to be found within it would remain unknown and incomprehensible to you without my (free!) services as surveyor, geologist, and naturalist.

Translation: I just need to find other writers, writing in one European language or another, to pontificate on the topic of the day, and tell you what they’re saying. Since Mr. Hussein was such a good customer of France back in his glory days, let’s see if the French press can comment on his capture in ways that transcend the obvious. (more…)

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The Failed Brussels EU Summit

Sunday, December 14th, 2003

The decisive EU summit in Brussels this weekend to work out a final text of a Constitutional Treaty failed to achieve that aim. As had been expected, the principal stumbling-block was the question of the voting regime to be used for passing measures within the Council of Ministers by a “qualified majority”; both Poland and Spain stuck firmly to their demand that the current voting system, inaugurated by the December, 2000 Nice Treaty, be retained, while other states – principally the EU’s two biggest players, Germany and France – were equally as adamant that a new “double majority” system, proposed in the new Constitution, be implemented. But there were other points that had to be left for later resolution as well, as we’ll see. (more…)

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Zut Alors! No Contracts?

Thursday, December 11th, 2003

Did you catch the latest news about the Pentagon shutting out from eligibility for those big rebuilding contracts in Iraq all those countries that didn’t support the war, like France, Germany, and Russia? (For the protection of the essential security interests of the United States, natch!) Hoo-hah! Suckaaaz! Did those jackal-states really expect that they could step back and let the American troops and their various allied homies go in and put their rears on the line to lay down some hurt, and then just show up afterwards to earn some big green cleaning up the mess?

(Of course, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to hit them with this tough new reality just before the Prez was scheduled to give them a call asking them to forgive the Iraqi debt they hold. Josh Marshall feels that there really should be some official in place to coordinate things between Washington’s various diplomatic and security agencies so that embarrassing things like this don’t happen – something perhaps like a “National Security Advisor”?)

Ah, but remember that you are now in EuroSavant territory, my friend, which means that you get to hear from the other side. Are the French gnashing their unhygienic teeth in frustration? Are the Germans crying into their beer? I’ve got time to check out the one (France); stay tuned to this site to see if I also squeeze in the other. (more…)

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Approaching the Naples IGC – French View

Saturday, November 29th, 2003

We’re back “in the groove” now, as you’d expect we would be, since there are big things going on. Yesterday and today in Naples there has taken place a meeting of EU foreign minsters constituting the latest step in the process of formal negotiations over the proposed European Constitution collectively termed the “Intergovernmental Conference” (IGC). The French press covers the run-up to this meeting well. (Coverage of what is actually accomplished – if anything – will probably be available by Monday.) (more…)

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The European Social Forum

Sunday, November 16th, 2003

Recently this site has picked up some new fans, showing a particular interest in things French and offering kind words of encouragement (on their “Links” page). This reminded me that it had been a while since I had turned to the French press to see what was going on there.

(Same with the Czech press, it looks like. Hey, if you feel I’m neglecting something I claim to cover, just let me know and I’ll get right on it. This does work – it’s worked in the past.)

That turned out to be good timing, because this week there was something going on in Paris that attracted wide attention from French newspapers but little outside the country, namely the Forum Social Européen (FSE), or “European Social Forum.” Then again, there’s the problem that, even after reading about it from the various on-line journals, I’m still rather at a loss about what to make of it, or even to give a twenty-words-or-less summary description. (You can take your own look if you want, at the Forum’s own English-language website.) “An anti-globalization summit of left-wing political and non-governmental organizations” is what you could call it, a successor to the “World Social Forum” of January, 2001, which convened in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and was meant to be the explicit counterpart to the “World Economic Forum” meetings in Davos, Switzerland, of the rich-and-famous which occur regularly during that time of year. (The first European Social Forum happened in November of last year, in Florence, Italy.) (more…)

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Wasted (Brussels) Days and Wasted (Brussels) Nights (French View)*

Saturday, October 18th, 2003

Bad news for EU taxpayers, at least those who rather expect some concrete results from their representatives at European Union fora in return for the tax-euros they are paid. (Come on now – could anyone really be so naïve?) I know you recall that EU summit in Brussels that took place yesterday and the day before – Chirac also spoke for Germany during yesterday’s session, remember? (Covered in €S from both the French and German points-of-view.) That was nice, a great symbolic gesture and all that, but more pertinent might be the fact that little of note was actually accomplished. At least so the French on-line papers say. (more…)

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Gerhard Chirac: The French View

Friday, October 17th, 2003

Now that we’ve already covered German reporting and commentary on Jacques Chirac acting to represent German interests during the second day of the European summit in Brussels (today, in fact), let’s look at the French side. Another day’s passing has even allowed the time for more detailed, nuanced coverage to spring up in the French press, and so I concentrate on these recent articles. (more…)

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The “Open Letter to European Public Opinion” by Some Contrary Polish Intellectuals

Wednesday, October 15th, 2003

Even though I concluded in my previous weblog entry of earlier today (directly below) that it has had no practical effect on official Polish policy (yet) . . . I still think you might find interesting the “open letter to European Public Opinion, ” the brainchild of the editor-in-chief of the Polish quarterly Krytyka polityczna (“Political Critique”). The Le Monde article by new correspondent-in-Poland Christophe Châtelot which first drew my attention to it is here; and here is one of the places where you can refer to the Polish original (it’s in the middle of the page, under the “List otwarty . . .” heading) in case, say, you want to evaluate my Polish-to-English translation skills.

Click on “More…” to proceed to the English translation (you know we don’t want to take up valuable homepage space to impose this on €S visitors who aren’t the least bit interested in this sort of thing . . .) (more…)

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Voices from Out of the Polish Woods

Wednesday, October 15th, 2003

Our old/new friend Christophe Châtelot, correspondent in Poland for Le Monde, is back at work, with an interesting new article (pointed out to me by EuroSavant habitué Chris K.), Two Hundred Polish Personalities Are Ready to Sacrifice for Europe. The brief piece concentrates on the 23-year-old figure of Slawomir Sierakowski, editor-in-chief of the quarterly review Krytyka polityczna, or “Political Critique.” Mr. Sierakowski is against the “Nice or Death” approach to the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on the EU Constitution adopted by, according to him, “the [Polish] political and media establishment.” (For those coming in late, you can find €S background on “Nice or Death” here.) He says such an approach is likely to result in “a strong Poland within a weak EU,” a result he rejects. For good measure, he also considers unnecessary any explicit reference to the Christian faith in the Constitution’s preamble – not because he considers Christian values unimportant, but because he wants a Europe founded upon the widest base of values, and mentioning Christianity specifically could repel others or make them feel excluded.

To put these sentiments into action, Sierakowski drew up and publicized “an open letter to European opinion” (reproduced and discussed here, but in Polish; maybe I’ll translate it later, it’s not that long). He managed to gain the support (i.e. signatures) of around 200 other Polish intellectuals. And for many inside and outside of Poland, mainly those who earnestly hope that a final-form European Constitution can be agreed upon at the IGC, and who suspect Poland’s approach to that conference to be a mite unyielding and hard-core, this is a welcome gesture.

But will it have any true reverberations on the government, so that the Polish negotiating position is actually modified in some way? Or is just the combined voice of 200 Polish intellectuals crying out of the wilderness, so that “Nice or Death” is, so to speak, still alive and well? I went looking for an answer in the Polish on-line press. (more…)

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Baghdad Discovers the Internet

Thursday, October 9th, 2003

I know that I owe you a survey of Austrian reaction to the election in California of the “Governator,” but hold on. (Actually, by this point that’s probably the entry above this one; you’ve already read it.) While working on the French-press entry, I discovered serendipitously this great article in Le Monde about Baghdad residents finally being able to use the Internet. It’s entitled In the Internet Cafés, Baghdadis Discover the Joys of “Chat,” Erotic Sites, and “Real Life”, and yes, the whole thing brings to mind adolescents discovering sex. (more…)

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The French Appraise “Schwarzy”

Thursday, October 9th, 2003

Here we go: and the French press, as you can well imagine, has had a lot to say about Governor-elect Schwarzenegger, who by the way apparently is known best there as “Schwarzy.”

We start with Le Monde, which features no less than three commentary pieces on the California election results, in addition to several reports of a more factual nature. (more…)

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Poland Set to Derail EU IGC?

Friday, October 3rd, 2003

I’m back home, and back in business. And just a quick note for that subset of my clientele concerned (as am I) about the best Internet café in Prague: Unfortunately, the one I mentioned at the Narodni Galerie on Dukelskych hrdinu will shut down for good at the beginning of the week of 5 October. There were always free terminals to be had there, yes; but a normally welcome fact like that can also eventually backfire, when those in charge evaluate whether the facility is bringing in enough revenue to justify its existence.


The big event coming up soon from the EuroSavant perspective is the EU Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) for evaluating and (probably) amending, prior to official submission for approval to the 25 EU governments, the draft Constitution submitted last June by the European Constitutional Convention. One major thread to this story, it seems to me, is the hard line that the Polish government is taking in the run-up to this IGC, making its various demands for changes to the draft document clear and threatening to veto the whole process if it doesn’t get them. I noted this only obliquely in a recent entry which discussed the controversy over the proposed German “Center Against Expulsions” memorial for Berlin. But with the ICG due to start tomorrow, it’s time to zero-in on the topic – and fortunately, Le Monde’s new correspondent for Poland, Christophe Châtelot, does exactly that with what is his first dispatch in his new assignment, an article entitled Poland Goes on the Assault against Future European Institutions. (more…)

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The Franco-American Summit in New York

Wednesday, September 24th, 2003

George W. Bush yesterday gave his long-awaited speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations. It hardly went over like gangbusters. I assume that you’ve already consulted the accounts from the mainstream American press: the New York TimesAn Audience Unmoved; the Washington PostA Vague Pitch Leaves Mostly Puzzlement. And that unflattering coverage was from American media, which need to behave themselves vis-à-vis the Administration to ward off John Ashcroft shutting them down as subversive organizations under the Patriot Act. (OK, so it’s not like that, at least not yet. At least not among the newspapers – but I’ve read some interesting analysis about the factor that makes the American broadcast media so nice towards Administration policy, and its initials are F, C, and C.)

How bad is the coverage of the same event (and its appendages – like the Bush-Chirac meeting) likely to be in the French press? Let’s take a look.

The analysis piece in Le Monde, Paris-Washington, Two Opposing Diagnoses on the Situation in Iraq, shows a surprisingly mild tone. (more…)

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The French Press Responds to Bush

Tuesday, September 9th, 2003

Here we go! (Lost the thread? See the beginning of my previous post, i.e. of “Mon Sep 08, 2003,” as the peculiar pMachine software formatting puts it.) Plenty, plenty of commentary on Bush’s Sunday speech in the French press – let me try to cover as much as I can, in the time I’ve allotted myself (and it’s a generous slice, you can be sure, dear reader!) to write this.

Why not start with Le Figaro? My reflexive instinct is rather to start with Le Monde (“France’s New York Times,” and all that), but Tuesday’s print edition of Le Figaro irresistibly draws me with its big front-page, above-the-fold headline above the standard picture of Bush addressing the nation in the Oval Office: Qui veut aider Bush? – “Who Wants to Help Bush?” (more…)

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Poles in Iraq VI: The Poles Take Over Their Sector

Saturday, September 6th, 2003

The day has finally come! – and even passed! I mean the day when the Polish occupation sector in Iraq officially came under Polish command, obviously a crucial event for our “Poles in Iraq” series.

Fortunately, I grabbed the relevant URLs while I still was in the US, so that I can still access the articles in the Polish press even if they are a day or two old. And now I am back at home-base in Amsterdam and can check out what they say.

Interestingly, the best account of the hand-over ceremony – and the issues surrounding the start of the Polish command – I find in the Krakow-based Dziennik Polski, in the article which appeared a few days ago entitled W Wiezy Babel, or “In the Tower of Babel.” As we will see, that reference to Babel is not just some headline-writer’s facile trick, taking advantage of the fact that this is all taking place in the area where the original Tower of Babel was said to have been built, but actually has some present-day relevance as well. (more…)

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