Tag Archives: President Emmanuel Macron

Yellow Jacket protests mark a year of anger

A diminished Yellow Jackets movement on Saturday showed it was nonetheless determined to make citizen anger felt in the streets of Paris as it marked the one-year anniversary of its first protest.

Police expected several thousand protesters in the French capital, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands who in earlier weeks swarmed into cities and towns around France from the countryside to protest rising fuel costs.

However, Action 53 — marking the 53rd weekend of protests — had the same hallmarks of destruction and clashes with police as earlier demonstrations. By early afternoon Saturday, Paris’ Place d’Italie was in flames, a section of the city’s peripheral highway had been momentarily blocked and police had arrested several dozen protesters, including one of the founding activists, Thierry Paul Valette, according to BFMTV.

After launching in November 2018, protesters took to the streets weekly — and while their numbers gradually sagged, they had a concrete impact.

As their rampages scared off tourists and impinged on the Christmas 2018 shopping season, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire in December said they were creating an “economic catastrophe,” and President Emmanuel Macron withdrew his plans for a carbon tax, the original impetus for the protests. Five months later, he announced a “national debate” to collect public opinion on matters like taxation, public services and shifting toward a greener economy.

“This period has changed me,” Macron told reporters in April as he announced a series of reforms aimed at addressing some Yellow Jacket anxieties, while rejecting core demands like a new tax on the rich.

In a poll published Wednesday, 55 percent of respondents generally support the Yellow Jacket protests. However, a greater proportion, 66 percent, don’t want to see the demonstrations ramp up again.

On Saturday, protesters headed toward the Place de la Bastille, while firefighters dodged projectiles as they responded to flames at the Place d’Italie — police barred a march slated to begin from the roundabout, citing violence. Hundreds of other actions were planned around the country.

Distrust between police and citizens is one of the legacies of the Yellow Jacket protests, said David Le Bars, head of the French police commissioners’ union.

“Nothing will be like before in the relationship between the police and a certain part of the population,” Le Bars told Franceinfo on Saturday. “Parts of society are about to fracture.”


‘France cannot host everyone’, says Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron has declared that France “cannot welcome everyone”, the latest in a series of comments suggesting tighter new laws on immigration.

Macron set the tone last week when he hinted at a tougher line on immigration in the second half of his mandate, arguing the government must stop voters drifting to far-right parties.

“France cannot host everyone if it wants to host them well,” Macron told French radio station Europe 1.

The president noted that France had seen a sharp increase in the numbers of people asking for asylum since the 2017 presidential election and said much tighter European cooperation was needed.

Macron’s comments come as the French parliament is set next week for a major debate on migration policy, with the lower house National Assembly discussing the issue on Monday and the Senate on Wednesday.

There should be a debate about how much and what kind of free medical aid is currently automatically available to undocumented migrants, Macron said, but he stressed that to cut it completely would be “ridiculous”.

Nevertheless, he remarked that “in order to be able to welcome everyone properly, we should not be too attractive a country”.

Help immigrants integrate

He also made clear that he wanted applications for asylum to be processed more quickly so that genuine refugees could benefit faster from French protection.

Another priority, he said, was to help immigrants integrate successfully by increasing access to French language courses and jobs.

He noted that illegal immigrants are not being sent back to their countries quickly enough and the system needs to be “much more efficient”.

The French president, whose first term expires in 2022, is keenly aware that his biggest political rival remains Marine Le Pen and her anti-immigration National Rally party.

Reactions to his latest stance on immigration from politicians on the right and far-fight have been sceptical.

Jordan Bardella, vice-president of the National Rally suggested Macron would not follow his words with concrete actions and that he was simply electioneering.

Some members of Macron’s own centrist LaREM party have expressed unease at the president’s new tone on matters around immigration.

France last year received a record 122,743 asylum requests, up 22 percent compared to 2017.


Macron says conditions in place for Trump, Rouhani talks

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that conditions were now in place for the leaders of the United States and Iran to meet at the United Nations, but it remained their decision on whether to move forward.

“I believe that the conditions in this context for a rapid return to negotiations have been created,” Macron told reporters on Tuesday after holding separate meetings with US President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

“There is a common intent to progress and to not just find the terms of a de-escalation, but to build a long-term accord,” he said.

“But it depends on the will of both sides.”

Macron has been pressing for a diplomatic solution to the ongoing crisis, meeting Rouhani twice in the last two days, and previously offering economic incentives aimed at coaxing the Iranian leader to meet with Trump.

Al Jazeera’s Jonah Hull, reporting from the UN, said there had been a flurry of diplomatic initatives by world leaders to make what would be an historic meeting possible.

But Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson have also declared that Iran was responsible for the attacks on Saudi oil facilities earlier this month, in a move which could jeopardise any rapprochement.

The joint statement, issued on Monday, only managed to anger Iranian leaders, with Rouhani dismissing it as “unsubstantiated accusations”.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s response was even more heated, calling the announcement “highly destructive and provocative”.

It added that such “irresponsible” remarks could set a “dangerous trend” in the region.

Possible concessions

Despite the sharp rhetoric, Rouhani held separate talks with the leaders of the three nations on Tuesday at the UN headquarters.

But he remained firm in his demand that the US must first lift the tough sanctions imposed on Iran, before he will agree to a meeting with Trump.

Earlier, he had indicated that he would not meet Trump for the sake on a “photo opportunity”, without getting a commitment for the US to lift the sanctions.

In an interview with CNN, Rouhani’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said that Iran would be prepared to sign an agreement with the US allowing more intrusive inspections in exchange for Trump lifting sanctions and the US Congress ratifying the deal.

On Tuesday, Macron was asked whether he thought Trump and Rouhani could still meet this week, and he said the two leaders should not miss the chance.

“I don’t think in the coming weeks and months there will be an opportunity for him (Rouhani) to come back to the US, and I don’t think President Trump will be going to Tehran,” he said.

“It’s a physical opportunity to seize because I think the best way to start a negotiation is to have a meeting, have a frank discussion between the two main protagonists,” Macron said.

In his speech earlier on Monday, Trump gave no indication that he was planning to ease the “maximum pressure” policy that it has employed towards Tehran.

“As long as Iran’s menacing behaviour continues, sanctions will not be lifted. They will be tightened,” Trump told the General Assembly.

“All nations have a duty to act. No responsible government should subsidise Iran’s bloodlust,” he said.


French Gov’t Budget, Actions To Tackle Femicides Falls Short of Expectations

A total of 101 women were murdered by their partners since the start of the year, rights association “Feminicides Par Compagnons Ou Ex” said.

French women’s rights groups lamented that Prime Minister Edouard Philippe presented Tuesday a package of emergency measures to combat sexist violence without the adequate budget to implement them properly.

“Women who stay with a violent partner is resigned to it, mostly due to the lack of financial and material means to leave with their children,” Philippe said. 

The government has allotted US$5.5 million to create 1,000 new localities for housing victims of domestic violence, the premier announced in a national forum to tackle the issue falling short of expectations from rights groups.

A total of 101 women were murdered by their partners since the start of the year, rights association Feminicides Par Compagnons Ou Ex reported. The group also called on French authorities to take a new approach by removing violent men from their partners and families, rather than women and children being the ones to move to shelters. 

In July last year, a group of 20 women’s organizations complained in an open letter about the massive cuts in the governmental budget, about US$10 million, assigned to address gender violence in the country.

The French PM said an audit will also be launched to identify dysfunctions within police services in dealing with victims’ complaints.

They are 100. Murdered because they are women. Tonight we named them. We are asking the state to wake up: we need means and public policies to tackle it.

Lucien Douib, the father of a victim, condemned the dismissal of numerous complaints sent to the police before his daughter Julie was murdered. The 34-year-old was shot by her partner last March.

“Every day I am crying for her one more time, and I would like to change that because she filed a complaint, five, six times,” he said.

“I filed a complaint myself for murder threats, five, six times. We had been listened to – this is true and false. We didn’t know why, how. We were warned three days before her death that all the complaints have been dismissed. I don’t understand why.”

The national forum launched on Sept. 3 with the creation of a new helpline 3919 – after the date of launch, for victims of domestic violence. Dubbed as the “Grenelle”, the forum gathers experts, associations, and government members in working group sessions until Nov. 25.

Ahead of the launch, non-profit organizations and collectives expressed their hopes for a more ambitious plan and called for a budget of US$550 million to US$1.1 billion.


Iran obstructing UN probe into secret nuclear warehouse, report says

Iran is obstructing a United Nations investigation into a secret nuclear warehouse that was outed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year, refusing to answer the questions of a nuclear watchdog, according to a new report.

The UN is probing whether Iran had set up a site in Tehran to store equipment and material for nuclear work, in contravention of the nuclear agreement limiting its uranium enrichment programme. But Iran is failing to provide answers to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the body that oversees the implementation of the nuclear deal, the Wall Street Journal reported late on Monday, citing diplomats with knowledge of the probe.

It represents the first time that Iran has failed to comply with the inspectors since the deal was installed in January 2016.

The revelation comes at a crucial moment for the landmark 2015 nuclear deal signed between Tehran and world powers. Iran has pulled back on its responsibilities under the deal and has given the remaining European signatories a Friday deadline to offer it new terms before it takes a “strong step” away from the agreement.

Iran categorically denied Mr Netanyahu’s claims about a secret nuclear warehouse at an undisclosed location in Tehran, which he presented on a large screen to much media attention.

The US withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018 after Mr Netanyahu’s allegations and imposed two rounds of sanctions on the Iranian economy. The restrictions have stoked Iranian anger. It has responded with a series of attacks on tankers in the Gulf, watering down its commitments to the nuclear deal and shooting down a US drone.

In recent weeks, talks of a US-Iran meeting to ease tensions has been touted but Iran is requesting the lifting of sanctions for any such summit to take place.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday ruled out holding any bilateral talks with the United States, saying the Islamic republic is opposed to such negotiations in principle.

In an address to parliament, Mr Rouhani also said Iran was ready to further reduce its commitments to the 2015 deal “in the coming days” if current negotiations yield no results by Thursday.

European parties to the deal have struggled to calm the deepening confrontation between Iran and the United States and save the deal by shielding Iran’s economy from the sanctions.

But Iran said on Monday that its views have been converging with those of France on ways to save the agreement.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been trying to convince the United States to offer Iran some sort of relief from sanctions it has imposed on the Islamic republic since pulling out of the deal in May last year.

“In the past few weeks, there have been serious negotiations” between Mr Rouhani and Mr Macron, as well as talks with other European nations, said government spokesman Ali Rabiei.

“Fortunately, in many areas, our views have come closer together,” he told a news conference


Costs of European integration to White House

Macron has warned Western nations against the “strategic mistake” of alienating Russia – but in doing so, he seeks a bigger role for himself in international politics.

“We are living the end of Western hegemony,” Macron told diplomats, after hosting the G7 meeting in the city of Biarritz on France’s Atlantic coast over the weekend. He named the rise of Beijing and Moscow as signs of a shift on the world scene.

The reality is that the European Union and the Eurozone, on the one hand, acknowledge the end of Western hegemony, and in particular the United States, and on the other hand, continue to be dominated by Washington. The EU’s inactivity towards Europe has led to anger and frustration among citizens.

The EU and the Eurozone have a very uncertain future. In other words, America and Europe can no longer speak of international domination.

In such a situation, people like the French President and German Chancellor are worried about the future of the Eurozone and the European Union. This concern increases over time. The occurrence of a variety of security, political, economic and social crises has created many challenges in the European Union and the Eurozone.

The emergence of these challenges has led to a sharp decline in the popularity of traditional parties in Europe. In such a way, nationalist parties have been able to increase their popularity with the public. Which side are the European Union and the Eurozone really heading to?

ill the future of Europe finally be clear these are the questions that concern the mentally ill, such as Merkel and Macron?

Ultimately, the more Europe delays in moving away from the United States, the more it will pay. It is as if European officials have not yet understood it. There is a long gap between the recent remarks of the French President and the EU’s practical approach.


Netanyahu tells Macron timing wrong for Iran talks: statement

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday to avoid new talks with Israel’s regional arch-foe Iran, his office said, as European leaders pushed to save the 2015 nuclear deal.

“This is precisely the wrong timing to hold talks with Iran, while it is increasing its aggression in the region,” Netanyahu told Macron in a telephone conversation that was initiated by the French leader, according to the Israeli statement.

Macron on Sunday paved the way for a potential breakthrough in the standoff between Washington and Tehran over the nuclear deal after Iran’s foreign minister made a flying visit for talks with host France at the G7 summit.

On Monday, at the G7 summit, U.S. President Donald Trump said that he would meet Iran’s president under the right circumstances and that talks were underway to see how countries could open credit lines to keep Iran’s economy afloat.

The nuclear deal has been in jeopardy since the United States withdrew from it last year and re-imposed economic sanctions, seeking to push Tehran into wider security concessions including curbs on its ballistic missile program.

Netanyahu, who sees Iran as a mortal threat and has long opposed the nuclear deal, has urged that sanctions be re-imposed on Tehran. He has so far been in lockstep with the Trump administration over its Iran policy.

On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the Islamic Republic would not talk to the United States until all sanctions imposed on Tehran are lifted.

Rouhani said Iran was always ready to hold talks. “But first the U.S. should act by lifting all illegal, unjust and unfair sanctions imposed on Iran,” he said.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said on Friday that the European Union will work to preserve the nuclear deal and would welcome any moves to add to its conditions.

Macron’s diplomatic moves came as Israel-Iran tensions flared. Last Saturday, Israel’s military struck in Syria in what it described as the thwarting of an Iranian-led killer-drone attack on Israeli targets.

On Thursday, Israel accused Iran of stepping up efforts to provide the Lebanese Hezbollah militia with precision-guided missile production facilities.

“Israel will defend itself against any attacks and prevent enemies that seek its destruction from obtaining nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu told Macron, according to the statement.

Israel and the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah are on high alert after drones were used on Sunday to attack what a security official in the region described as a target linked to precision-guided missile projects.

Hezbollah has blamed Israel for the rare strike in Beirut, and said it will retaliate. The heavily armed group has denied harboring such missile facilities.


Netanyahu to Macron: “Not the time” for Trump-Rouhani meeting

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told French President Emmanuel Macron in a phone call Friday that “Iran is expending its aggression in the region and this is not the time” to arrange a summit between President Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to a statement by Netanyahu’s office.

Why it matters: Netanyahu is very concerned about Macron’s initiative. The statement from Netanyahu’s office was his first public reaction on the Iran developments at the G7 meeting in France last Sunday. 

The backstory: Yesterday, Axios’ Jonathan Swan and I reported on Netanyahu’s attempts to reach Trump while he was at the G7 summit. Netanyahu was worried Macron would arrange a meeting between Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and tried to get Trump on the phone to convince him not to take the meeting. 

According to Netanyahu’s statement, Macron was the one who initiated today’s phone call. Netanyahu and Macron discussed the situation in Lebanon after last Saturday’s drone attack against Hezbollah’s precision missile production site in Beirut.

  • Netanyahu told Macron that Israel will continue to act to prevent its enemies from arming themselves with weapons to destroy Israel, and that whoever gives cover for aggression against Israel — such as the Lebanese government — will not be off limits.


France’s Macron Calls for End to Suspension on Iranian Crude Sale to India Amid US Pressure

New Delhi (Sputnik): Despite vowing not to give in to any sort of pressure from a third country while dealing with trade with Iran, the Indian government stopped purchasing Iranian crude in May this year after the re-imposition of US economic sanctions came into effect. On the contrary, China has not followed US sanctions and has continued its oil purchases from the Persian Gulf nation.

A day after US President Donald Trump indicated that there is room for negotiations with Tehran, French President Emmanuel Macron urged him to usher in peace by revoking the suspension on the sale of Iranian crude to India. Iran is the third-largest supplier of crude oil to India.

The development came against the backdrop of Iranian Foreign Minister Jawad Zarif attending the G7 summit in the seaside town of Biarritz in France for talks as part of Macron’s diplomatic initiative aimed at de-escalating tensions in the Gulf.

It is reported that Iran wants to coordinate the exports of at least 700,000 barrels of oil, ideally up to 1.5 million barrels per day, in exchange for an agreement to maintain the 2015 nuclear deal.

At the same time, China and India are among the recipients of Iranian oil that could be excluded from the American sanctions.

Meanwhile, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani reiterated on Tuesday that the situation will change only if the “US removes all sanctions” against the Islamic Republic.

“If they wish for more security in the region and want to have better relations with regional countries; if they claim that they want nothing from Iran, then they have to step back from sanctions”, the president added.

In the last week of June, while meeting Trump on the side-lines of the G20 meeting in Osaka, Japan, Indian Prime Minister Modi pointed out that “although Iran supplies 11% of our energy, India had reduced oil imports from Iran”.

Modi said that India had reduced the import of crude from Iran and that despite “the effect it had on the Indian economy we had been able to sustain this position”.

A senior government official told Sputnik that since May this year, India has increased the import of crude oil and gas from the US to fill the gap created in the wake up of stopping the Iranian crude oil imports.

On Monday, Prime Minister Modi, while meeting with President Trump, said that $4 billion worth of imports are already in the pipeline and that “we expect to step it up”. Modi will also hold a round table with the top CEOs of energy companies in Houston during his visit to the US in September.

India had initially opted to bow to the US sanctions after the Trump administration decided to end the waivers on 2 May that it had granted to eight of Iran’s top oil customers — China, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Greece, and Turkey, which were issued last November.

India is a major importer of Iranian oil. In 2018-19 alone, it imported 23.5 million tonnes of crude oil from the Islamic country.

Brazilian President mocks Macron’s wife, he says Brazil women must be ashamed of Bolsonaro

Brazilian women are probably ashamed of President Jair Bolsonaro, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday, hitting back after the Brazilian leader mocked Macron’s wife on Facebook.

The leaders have been feuding in recent weeks, with Macron blaming Bolsonaro for fires in the Amazon and accusing him of lying about climate change policy.

Bolsonaro responded on Sunday to a Facebook post that compared the looks of his wife Michelle, 37, with Macron’s 66-year-old wife Brigitte.

“Do not humiliate the man hahahah,” Bolsonaro wrote, in a comment widely criticised as sexist.

Asked about the incident at a news conference in Biarritz where G7 leaders are gathered for a summit, Macron said the comments were “extremely disrespectful” to his wife.

“It’s sad, it’s sad first of all for him and for Brazilians,” Macron said. “Brazilian women are probably feeling ashamed of their president.”

“Since I have a lot of esteem and respect for the people of Brazil, I hope they will very soon have a president who is up to the job,” Macron added.

Later on Monday, Bolsonaro denounced Macron’s plan for an international alliance to protect the Amazon, saying on Twitter that it would treat Brazil like a colony.

Brazil was angered after Macron, in the run up to the G7 summit, tweeted a photo of the burning Amazon forest, writing: “Our house is burning. Literally.” Macron said he had been lied to by Bolsonaro over his commitments to fighting climate change.

In July, Bolsonaro cancelled a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian – getting a haircut instead.

Since taking office in January, Bolsonaro has railed against the enforcement of environmental regulations in Brazil and announced intentions to develop the Amazon region, where deforestation of the world’s largest rainforest by loggers, ranchers and speculators has surged this year.