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France

French press review 21 March 2016

media DR

Salah Abdeslam, Barack Obama and the European Union share the front pages this morning. The American president is in Cuba, the suspected terrorist is still in Belgium and the EU plan to export its migrant problem to Turkey is in tatters because Greece can't handle the paperwork.

Communist L'Humanité could be accused of stretching the truth with a main headline reading "Barack Obama discovers the Cuba libre".

Of course, there's a reference to the famous cocktail, allegedly invented after the second war of independence between the United States and Spain, which is a mix of rum, lime juice and Coca-Cola.

But human rights organisations have been saying for years that Cuba is far from free.

There is only one political party. Opposition is a crime.

One group that works to improve the lot of Cuba's political prisoners deplores the American leader's visit, reminding us that Obama promised to go to Cuba only after the human rights situation on the island had improved.

Other dissident voices say the American leader's visit is welcome for the attention it has brought to bear on the central American island and the probable repercussions as Havana tries to improve its image on the world stage to escape from 54 years of economic sanctions.

Questions and answers?

Salah Abdeslam is the young man arrested in Brussels last Friday, suspected of involvement in the November terrorist attacks here in Paris.

Libération hopes that the arrest will lead to answers to some of the crucial questions about November's terrible events. We still have no idea who masterminded the attacks, nor of the extent of the network of organisers behind the 10 killers.

Libé says any information obtained from Abdeslam will take months to verify.

To read our coverage of the November Paris attacks and their aftermath click here

Right-wing daily Le Figaro has a different sort of question.

It wants to know how the most wanted man in Europe managed to evade the vast national and international police operations mounted to track him down. He obviously had accomplices in the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek where he was finally arrested. Who are these people and how dangerous are they?

Le Figaro's editorial calls for nothing less than the "cleaning up" of no-go zones like Molenbeek across Europe, to close down the ghettos where the law of silence is supposedly imposed by threats and violence. Europe must reintroduce strict border controls, says Le Figaro, so that terrorists can never again travel through Greece, Italy, Hungary and France with complete impunity, carry out attacks and then escape to Belgium. Finally, says the right-wing paper, before the suspect has even been extradited to stand trial, Abdeslam must never be let out of jail.

Greeks fail to implement refugee deal

The weekend's real top story is surely the initial failure of the EU-Turkish deal on migrants.

Because of a lack of manpower and money, Greece has been unable to fulfill its part of the deal, which involves the deportation of asylum-seekers to Turkey.

At least 4,000 judges, lawyers and translators are needed right away and many state agencies, like the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and the Stateless, are refusing all cooperation, because they question the legality of the entire procedure.

Under international law, asylum-seekers have the right to remain in Europe while their case is being examined. European diplomats accept that some of those the new deal returns to Turkey will take action before the European Court of Human Rights.

But, the same diplomats cynically calculate, that will take time.

Perhaps sufficient time to close down the Greek escape route. And so move some of the problem back to Turkey while more of it moves to Libya, Lampedusa, Gibraltar, the Canaries . . .

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