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France

French weekly magazines review 19 October 2014

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There two towering issues in the magazines this week: Turkey’s obstruction of allied operations against the Islamic State (IS) armed group in Syria and Iraq and the dwindling political fortunes of conservative comeback kid Nicolas Sarkozy.

The former French president’s political fortunes have been further hurt by revelations about two more affairs. Le Point published what it claims is a forgotten memo warning the UMP that is could face prosecution for breach of trust and embezzlement if it pays the penalty slapped on Sarkozy for breaching campaign fund ceilings.

Background reading: Previous French scandals

Le Canard Enchainé digs out more allegations about another corruption scandal involving Sarkozy.

According to the satirical weekly, two French judges have opened an investigation into several contracts signed in 2010 between France and Kazakhstan for the sale of 45 helicopters for close to two billion euros.

Le Monde and the investigative website Mediapart broke the story two weeks ago, reporting that the magistrates who have been investigating the case since 2012, suspect that the agreement included the payment of funds, put under custody of an adviser of Sarkozy and, separately, an assistant to Claude Guéant, the secretary to the presidency.

A bank account owned by Guéant containing 297,000 euros is under investigation, according to the two newspapers. On top of this, the Canard reports that the judges suspect Sarkozy of having pressured the Belgian Senate on the Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s behalf, in order to soften the judicial fate of several Kazakh businessmen sued in Belgium.

Le Monde alleged that the Kazakh president made Sarkozy’s intervention with the Belgian senators a condition for the sale of the helicopters.

Le Point says the providential man Sarkozy thought he was has been “kicked in the teeth”. The right-wing magazine reports that his popularity has crashed by nine points, according to an Ipsos poll published this week. The survey found that 64 per cent of French voters now have a negative opinion of him while the former premier and current mayor of Bordeaux Alain Juppé is France’s most popular politician with 54 per cent liking him.

Le Point says Sarkozy is forced to swallow the bitter pill of seeing Juppé overtake him in the hearts of sympathisers of his UMP party, with a massive 78 per cent of them now having a positive opinion of his rival to be the party’s candidate in the 2017 French presidential elections.

The problems of the US-led coalition trying to prevent IS creating an Islamic

Click here for our coverage of Turkey presidential election 2014

fundamentalist state in portions of Syria and Iraq attract a series of comments from the magazines this week.

According to the Canard Enchainé, Turkey is getting on the nerves of the Americans. Ankara, it reports, agreed to cede its military installations at the strategic lncirlik air base 160 kms from its border with Syria for use by US allies and then changed its mind, saying it only agreed to facilitate humanitarian operations from the base. Le Canard quotes French diplomats as saying that Turkish officials are seeking guarantees that Western allies will never impose a Kurdish state on its border.

Le Nouvel Observateur accuses Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of committing a crime, claiming that the Turkish government has no intention of protecting the Kurds besieged by in Kobane and will turn a blind eye and allow a massacre to take place there.

“Ankara is messing us about,” is L’Express’s judgement on Turkey’s behaviour.
 

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