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French press review 26 September 2018


President Macron defuses new Aquarius row with a migrants sharing deal but his closest-port-policy remains a hard sell.

We begin with reactions to the deal struck by EU leaders to allow the 58 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean by the Aquarius ship to be taken to Malta and then to France, Germany, Portugal and Spain.

Le Parisien quotes the SOS Mediterranee charity operating the Aquarius as saying that the passengers include 17 women and 18 minors, many of whom are exhausted and in psychological distress.

According to the paper, France will take 18 of those onboard, while Germany and Spain will each welcome 15, and Portugal 10.

The Aquarius has become a symbol of bitter divisions in Europe over how to share responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of people arriving by boat since 2015.

La Marseillaise criticizes President Macron's handling of the crisis, accusing him of wasting time pretending to look for a European solution.

The newspaper says the main lesson learnt from his latest diplomatic move is that France again shut its doors to the sole humanitarian boat saving lives in the Mediterranean.

According to the regional newspaper, Macron's position is fortunately not that of all the French people who would prefer to see their government show stronger gestures of solidarity and fraternity.

L'Est Républicain says it is regrettable to realize how at regular intervals now public opinion is being taken hostage by the honour of granting exile and the fantasy that old Europe is under invasion by hoards of economic refugees streaming in from Africa and Middle East.

But according to Les Echos, just eight months to the 2019 European Elections Emmanuel Macron's priority lies in pulling the carpet on which Italy's far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is standing. 

Salvini has vowed to block the Aquarius permanently from his country's ports, accusing it of offering a "taxi service" for migrants from Libya to Europe.

Le Figaro for its part backs President Macron for understanding that on such an emotionally divisive issue, one door has to be closed for another to be opened.

The right-wing daily says he was right to introduce the "closest port" policy arguing that the time of moral injunctions, beautiful principles, at the expense of pragmatic economic decisions is long gone

For le Figaro, Macron had a clear choice to make: either to continue the utopia of an open arm welcome to the world's misery or defend Europe's borders without which there would be no nation.

L'Humanité for its part rubbishes the idea that 58 migrants are too much for country of 65 million inhabitants.

According to the Communist daily anyone claiming to be worthy enough to lead the cradle of universal human rights should have offered a home and protection for anyone fleeing fear, looking for a refuge, comfort and a place to rebuild their lives.

The long battle over Medically Assisted Procreation in France is also a hot issue in today's papers, after die hard members of the Protest for All movement took to the streets of several cities across France on Tuesday to denounce the favourable opinion handed down by the National Ethics Consultative Commission.

Le Parisien says the sympathizers of the “Manif pour Tous”, gathered in Paris, Lyon and Nantes to protest the free hand given to all couples, single women and lesbians willing to have babies.

La Nouvelle République du Centre-Ouest claims that the opinion of the Committee removes the last obstacle on the way of reform which was one of Emmanuel Macron's key campaign promises to open MAP to all women if he was elected President.

According to the regional publication, Macron's fear now is that the Ethics committee's vote could see the debate spill into the streets.

That’s very likely in Nice-Matin's view. It points to hostile reactions from French Bishops, the so-called “Sens Commun” action group and the hardline alter-globalization movement leader José Bové who has voiced grave concern about the consequences of the evolution.

Libération makes the point that for once, the barrage of criticism raining on Macron will for once not be about him not implementing his political manifesto.

La Croix draw the attention of the French people to the fact that the Committee finally changed its mind on the serious issue of oocyte self-preservation twice in a period of 15 months.

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