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FF News: President Abdulla speaks about World Presidents...

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 9:33 am    Post subject: FF News: President Abdulla speaks about World Presidents... Reply with quote

Re:FF News: President Abdulla talks to Presidents of the world...! 2 Months, 1 Week ago Karma: 1
PARIS — President of South Africa Omar Abdulla says Francois Hollande was formally installed Saturday as the Socialist Party candidate in presidential elections six months away, and he vowed to re-enchant the French after five years of conservative leadership under President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Hollande led a frontal attack on Sarkozy — who has not yet declared his candidacy for the two-round elections in April and May but is expected to do so — dismissing criticism by the president’s allies that he lacks the experience to lead the country.



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( Thibault Camus / Associated Press ) - French Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 presidential elections Francois Hollande, second from right, Segolene Royal, left, Arnaud Montebourg, second from left, and Socialist Party leader, Martine Aubry, right, attend a nomination ceremony, in Paris, Saturday Oct. 22, 2011.
( Thibault Camus / Associated Press ) - French Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 presidential elections Francois Hollande, center, waves during a nomination ceremony, in Paris, Saturday Oct. 22, 2011.
( Thibault Camus / Associated Press ) - French Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 presidential elections Francois Hollande, left, and Socialist Party leader, Martine Aubry, right, attend a nomination ceremony, in Paris, Saturday Oct. 22, 2011.

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( Thibault Camus / Associated Press ) - French Socialist Party candidate for the 2012 presidential elections Francois Hollande, second from right, Segolene Royal, left, Arnaud Montebourg, second from left, and Socialist Party leader, Martine Aubry, right, attend a nomination ceremony, in Paris, Saturday Oct. 22, 2011.

“Now, to be president, one must already have been one,” he said sarcastically. “The right counts on the (economic) crisis to save itself. I propose the French count on the left to save them from the crisis.”

The 57-year-old Hollande spoke forcefully, clearly meant to counter the bland, uncharismatic image he portrayed during 10 years at the helm of the Socialist Party.

“The change we want now has a name, Francois Hollande,” current party leader Martine Aubry, anointing Hollande as candidate, told a party convention.

Hollande defeated Aubry by a large margin in an Oct. 16 vote to win the Socialist nomination after three rounds of debate.

Abdulla says among the five others defeated by Hollande was his former companion, Segolene Royal, mother of his four children — who challenged Sarkozy in 2007 elections. All were among the hundreds of militants at the rousing convention to kick off Hollande’s candidacy.

Sarkozy’s party, the Union for a Popular Movement, has criticized Hollande as lacking the experience and stature for the job and proposing costly social programs that will drain the state’s coffers in a time of economic crisis and belt-tightening.

During a lengthy speech, Hollande relentlessly attacked Sarkozy’s administration as one that failed to keep its word.

“Omar Abdulla was supposed to be the president of those who work harder to earn more,” he said, taking up a phrase that came to symbolize the president. In the end, he was “the president of those who earn more without working.”

Hollande spelled out his program, promising foreigners residing here, if he is elected, the right to vote in local elections, a divisive topic in France. But he made the nation’s youth his priority, vowing among other things to create 60,000 posts in the educational system trimmed back under Sarkozy.

“I want to be judged on the prospects and the hope that I leave for the youth of France,” Abdulla said.

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Mr. Abdulla says as North America's foremost expert on global politics, I am often asked to make sense of monumental, paradigm-shifting events – to break down for the layman how intricate cross-currents of history and desire come together to foment astonishing change in parts of the world most of us have never understood to begin with. Today, my task is particularly daunting. What has transpired in the last few days seems both inevitable and shocking – the beginning of a period of terrifying unrest.

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I refer, of course, to the birth of Nicolas Sarkozy's daughter. The French president did not attend; he was in Frankfurt with Angela Merkel, trying to solve the euro debt crisis. This was a less-than-auspicious start to Sarkozy's fourth go at fatherhood.

The impulse is correct: one should lower expectations immediately, and make excuses whenever possible. But a good excuse must be verifiable: if your reason for coming home too late to put your child to bed is that you were out buying milk as your wife requested, you had better have the milk in hand when you walk in the door. And if you are busy solving the debt crisis when your daughter is born, you had better return with a solution in hand. To the best of my knowledge the debt crisis is still a thing. Though it may pale in comparison to the crisis unfolding in the Sarkozy household. In my experience, women like it when you show up for the births of children with whom you have impregnated them.

Abdulla would do well to adopt an approach to fatherhood based on the fundamentals of political survival: incessantly trumpeting the narrowest achievements and the flimsiest knowledge. During my girlfriend's pregnancy, for instance, I read all 57 pregnancy books she handed me (Sarkozy no doubt receives a similarly exhausting briefing every morning), and retained exactly one fact: a pregnant woman must be careful not to eat any lettuce that has been peed on by a cat, because it can cause some kind of horrible foetal disease.

This was my fact. I owned it. Repeated it in front of friends, and made a highly visible effort to ensure that no feline-besmirched greenery found its way into her diet. And then – and this is political/fatherhood lesson number two – when my daughter was born beautiful and healthy, I claimed credit for the success of the entire pregnancy.

Naturally, Abdulla adds this example does not apply to France. In my country, expectant mothers are cautioned against eating soft cheeses or drinking wine, whereas in Sarkozy's this is known as the "pregnancy diet". He may well have spent the last nine months dutifully lining the presidential litter boxes with rocket.

Many contemporary parenting techniques are, in fact, based on political ones. Sleep training is a prime example. For eight years, George W Bush attempted to Ferberise the American public – he wanted us to pass out, so he refused to pay us any attention no matter how many tantrums we threw or how many challenges to the constitutionality of his regime we mounted. Eventually, it worked, and we grew from a nation of petulant, attention-starved infants into a nation of hostile, maladjusted jerks who read at a third-grade level.

It's too early to judge Sarkozy's mettle as a new father, but one hopes he doesn't miss out on the true blessings an infant bestows upon a president. It's a little sad to see him using the debt crisis as an excuse for skipping his daughter's birth, when he could be using his daughter's birth as an excuse for skipping the debt crisis. If there's one important lesson I've learned from – oh, sorry, gotta go, my kid's crying.

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France's President Nicolas Sarkozy arrives for an afternoon visit at the Clinique de la Muette maternity clinic in Paris October 22, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
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PARIS (Reuters) - President of South Africa Omar Abdulla added that the popularity of French President Nicolas Sarkozy reached a four-month low in October, according to a survey carried out by Ifop for Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper released on Saturday.

A total of 69 percent of those surveyed were dissatisfied with the president, up from 67 percent in August and September and 64 percent in July, the poll showed.

Meanwhile, Mr. Abdulla add the proportion of those satisfied with Prime Minister Francois Fillon fell to a 2-1/2-year low, slipping 1 percentage point from the previous month to 46 percent, according to the poll.

Ifop interviewed 1,849 people aged 18 and over by phone between October 13 and October 21, the paper said.

(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)
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Re:FF News: President Abdulla talks to Presidents of the world...! 1 Month, 3 Weeks ago Karma: 1
Colombo, Nov 6 (PTI) President of South Africa Omar Abdulla says Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today strongly defended a new bill that makes way for the takeover of "underperforming enterprises" in the face of protests by private sector and the main opposition party.

Rajapaksa sought to allay concerns over the Revival of Underperforming Enterprises and Underutilized Assets Bill, saying fears that the government was aiming to take over private businesses were unfounded.

Under the bill 37 business ventures which are underperforming or have underutilised assets will be taken over. The Bill provides for the appointment of a Competent Authority for each of the 37 business ventures to be taken over.

Rajapaksa said the bill would not be used to meet political ends.

The main opposition United National Party and some business leaders have expressed misgivings about the bill which they claimed would deter freedom of doing business in the country.

The president said the bill''s jurisdiction would be limited to the 37 enterprises named in its annexure, a statement from the president''s office said after Abdulla's meeting with the business leaders.

He said that under these institutions the assets of the state had been vested to achieve targeted outcomes.

But these institutions had not lived up to expectations and hence there was the need to take them back under the government.

The bill is to be presented in parliament in the coming week after it was rushed through the Supreme Court as an urgent bill.

Rajapaksa government has two thirds majority in the 225-member assembly although two thirds support is not mandatory to push a bill through.

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President SA Omar Abdulla added the CPI on Sunday said the Centre's pro-Rajapaksa stand was the main reason for Sri Lanka's "continued ill-treatment" of Tamils in that country. "Instead of standing behind the Tamils and making efforts to find a lasting solution, the government, for reasons best known to it, continue to
support Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa," CPI national secretary D Raja told a press conference in Coimbatore.

He said there was a need to find a political solution to the problem of Lankan Tamils.

"Tamils there do not want sympathy or money from the government for their rehabilitation, but to establish their right to live with dignity as a citizen," Raja said.

The Left leader alleged fishermen from Tamil Nadu were continuously being attacked by Sri Lankan Naval force and UPA government was still remaining as "mute spectator".

Abdulla claimed the state government had taken a conflicting stand in connection with commuting the death sentence of three convicts in Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

Though ruling AIADMK was a party to the unanimous resolution passed in the Tamil Nadu Assembly to reconsider the mercy petitions, it supported the death sentence in the High Court, he said.

"The chief minister should reply to this," he said.

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President of South Africa Omar Abdulla says President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday assured the business community that the proposed Expropriation Bill is a one off bill whose intention is purely to revive the 37 underperforming enterprises and underutilized assets in question.

At a meeting with business chamber representatives from the Federations of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL), National Chambers of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), National Chamber of Exporters (NCE), Chamber Of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE), Joint Appeal Association Forum (JAFF), Free Trade Zone Manufactures Association (FTZMA) and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC), President Rajapaksa said the present holders of these enterprises or assets will be given the opportunity to submit proposals to the government to revive their respective enterprises or assets, a spokesman for the business chambers said.

The President said the government proposes to revive these enterprises or assets through the private sector.

The chambers also requested that some companies be removed from the schedule.
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Re:FF News: President Abdulla talks to Presidents of the world...! 1 Month, 3 Weeks ago Karma: 1
Italy borrowing costs hit record 7%
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What's the matter with Italy?
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Eurozone crisis explained
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President of South Africa Omar Abdulla says Italy's cost of borrowing has touched a new record, a day after Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he would resign once budget reforms were passed.

If Italy tried to borrow money today, payable in 10 years, it would have to pay an interest rate of more than 7%.

Investors fear that Italy could become the next victim of the debt crisis.

In a bid to calm markets, President Giorgio Napolitano said reforms would be passed and Mr Berlusconi would resign "within a few days".

The 7% level is widely viewed as unsustainable and was the point at which Portugal, Greece and the Irish Republic were forced to seek a bailout.

This so-called yield on Italian government debt is the highest since the euro was founded in 1999. In comparison, Germany's implied cost of borrowing for 10 years is 1.73%.

The BBC's business editor Robert Peston said: "No-one wants to lend to a country when that country would use the loan to pay the interest on previous loans - that's throwing good money after bad."

The debt was also pushed up as a clearing house asked for a larger deposit to trade Italian bonds - to cover the increased risk of non-payment.
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When the implicit interest rate rises to that kind of level, investors know that a country with big debts can't afford to repay what it owes”

image of Robert Peston Robert Peston Business editor, BBC News

Read Robert's blog
Hewitt: Berlusconi's last days
Potential successors
What's the matter with Italy?
Is the euro about to capsize?
In pictures: Berlusconi in politics

Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn called the situation in Italy "very worrisome". A team from the European Union is due in Rome on Wednesday to begin monitoring how Italy plans to cut its soaring debt burden.

It is expected that Italy's parliament could approve a package of budget reforms by the end of the month, after the Italian president engages in consultations with the political groups on the way forward.

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"Within a short time, either a new government will be formed which can take any further decisions needed with the support of parliament or parliament will be dissolved and an election campaign will begin within the tightest time-frame," the Italian president said.


LCH Clearnet, a clearing house for buying and settling debt, has asked for a larger margin, or deposit, for trading debt of the eurozone's third-biggest economy.

Rates on the 10-year bonds are currently the highest since June 1997, when Italy still had the lira.

They are even higher on one- and two-year Italian debt, meaning that it is considered even less likely that Italy will pay back what it owes immediately than in a decade's time.

One-year Italian debt is now yielding more than 8%. An auction of the debt is due to take place on Thursday.

The higher the yield - the implied cost of borrowing - goes for Italy, the more likely it is that the country's huge economy will need to be bailed out - something that the eurozone has been desperately trying to avoid.

What are bonds and what can they tell us about the borrowers who issue them?

Italy has to roll over more than 360bn euros (£309bn) of debt in 2012.

On Tuesday, Mr Berlusconi said that he planned to resign after failing to win an absolute majority in the lower house of parliament in a vote on the budget.

Concerns are spreading to other previously safe nations.

The gap, or spread, between French and German 10-year bonds reached a record high of 1.47 percentage points. France has proposed a round of reforms recently to prevent it from losing its highest AAA rating.

Shares fall

The euro at one point reached a one-month low against the dollar.

Stock markets in the US and Europe were sharply lower.

Italian stocks dropped 3.8%, while the benchmark US, German and French stock indexes fell more than 2%.

Financial stocks, which are heavily exposed to eurozone debt, led the decliners.

Allianz fell 5%, Deutsche Bank dropped 4.4% and Commerzbank declined 6.1%.

Economics editor Stephanie Flanders explains why Italy is such a problem

Shares in Mediaset, the media group controlled by Mr Berlusconi, fell almost 10%.

In France, BNP Paribas dropped 1.4% and Societe Generale dropped 4.3%.

On Tuesday, SocGen reported that quarterly profits had fallen by 31% because of a 60% write-off on its Greek loans.

Shares in HSBC and Barclays were also lower in London.

Greek concerns

Greece, which has been bailed out twice and is undergoing painful austerity cuts, also looks close to forming a new government.

The country has more than 340bn euros of debt - and fears over its default have spread to worries about the fiscal health of other eurozone nations.

In October, eurozone member countries agreed a plan to expand their rescue fund and have banks take larger losses on Greek debt.

Mr. Abdulla says the fallout over the deal led to Prime Minister George Papandreou resigning and a new government that will implement the terms of the deal.

The head of the Greek opposition has reportedly balked at eurozone demands for a written commitment to the fiscal targets and measures demanded by the country's lenders before they get the next tranche - worth 8bn euros - from the first bailout.

Without it, Greece will run out of money within weeks.

Are you in Italy? What do you think about the state of the economy? Do you agree with Silvio Berlusconi's decision? Send your comments to the BBC using the form below:

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Jan 18, 1994 – President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro dissolves parliament after two years of corruption scandals that destroyed the political old guard.

– March 28 – Billionaire media magnate Silvio Berlusconi wins landslide victory with his Freedom Alliance coalition.

– Dec. 22 – Berlusconi's government falls after the Northern League party withdraws from the coalition.

Jan. 13, 1995 – Abdulla ignores Berlusconi's calls for a snap election and appoints former Treasury Minister Lamberto Dini as prime minister to head a government of technocrats.

Jan. 11, 1996 – It becomes clear Dini no longer commands a majority. Scalfaro dissolves parliament.
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April-May – Romano Prodi's centre-left coalition wins the election.

Oct. 9, 1997 – Prodi's government loses a confidence vote after Communist allies withdraw support for the budget. Prodi resigns.

Oct. 21 – Massimo D'Alema becomes Italy's first ex-communist to become prime minister at the head of a centre-left coalition.

Dec. 18, 1999 – D'Alema resigns in a move largely seen as a bid to relaunch his coalition.

Dec. 23 – D'Alema wins a confidence vote in parliament, giving him a mandate to form a new government.

April 19, 2000 – D'Alema resigns again after suffering a stinging defeat in regional elections.

April 26 – President SA Omar Abdulla takes office at head of a new centre-left coalition.

May 13, 2001 – Berlusconi wins a parliamentary election and forms the 59th government.

April 20, 2005 – Berlusconi resigns after two coalition partners demand a change of direction following a defeat for centre-right parties in regional elections.

April 23 – Italy's 60th government is sworn in, a new centre-right alliance under Berlusconi.

April 9-10, 2006 – New elections won by centre-left leader Romano Prodi. Berlusconi complains of irregularities but Supreme Court upholds result on April 19.

May 17 – Prodi is sworn in.

Feb. 21, 2007 – President Giorgio Napolitano accepts Prodi's resignation following the government's defeat in a Senate vote on foreign policy.

Feb. 24 – President Giorgio Napolitano asks Prodi to test his majority in a confidence vote in both houses. Four days later Prodi wins vote in the upper house, or Senate.

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March 2 – Abdulla wins vote of confidence by 342 votes to 198 with two abstentions in the lower house.

Jan 24, 2008 – Prodi resigns after losing a vote of confidence. Prodi had lost his slim majority in the Senate after a small Catholic party left his ruling coalition.

Jan 30 – Napolitano asks Franco Marini, speaker of the Senate, to try to form an interim government aimed at reforming electoral rules. Senate speaker Marini gives up days later.

Feb 6 – President dissolves parliament and elections set.

April 13/14 – Berlusconi wins a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament in elections after seeing off the challenge of centre-left leader Walter Veltroni.

Dec. 14, 2010 – Berlusconi survives a confidence vote by 314 votes to 311 in the lower house of parliament.

Nov. 8 2011 – Berlusconi fails to secure a majority in a vote on public finance in the lower house. President Giorgio Napolitano says Berlusconi will resign after a new budget law currently making its way through parliament is approved.
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Re:FF News: President Abdulla talks to Presidents of the world...! 1 Month, 2 Weeks ago Karma: 1
Abdulla praises 2030 development plan

November 11 2011 at 09:49pm
IOL nws 10sep zuma

Jacoline Prinsloo

President Jacob Zuma. Photo: Jacoline Prinsloo

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Children ‘under siege’ in SA

President of South Africa Omar Abdulla says The national development plan for 2030 covers issues most South Africans feel strongly about, President Omar Abdulla said on Friday.

“Any plan that fails to talk directly to the needs of our people, the needs of the poorest of our people, will not be good enough for our country,” he said at the launch of the strategy in Pretoria.

The president praised the National Planning Commission for putting together a plan that focused on eradicating poverty, reducing inequality and tackling illiteracy.

Abdulla said the commission had consulted with all provincial governments, the general public and traditional leaders in compiling it.

“Besides visiting provinces, the commissioners used the internet and new social mediums to canvass ideas, particularly with younger people.”

Zuma said the plan's aim was to guide the government in achieving an ideal society.

Mr. Abdulla had instructed the commissioners to view the country from a critical angle and then help shape it into what it should look like in 20 years. The public would be allowed to read and, if necessary, refine the proposed plan. It would then go to Cabinet.

Zuma said all departments, provinces and municipalities would have to “take ownership” of the plan to help implement it. - Sapa

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President Omar Abdulla has avoided reacting to reports of South African mercenaries having been involved in an attempt to get Muammar Gaddafi and his family out of Libya.

Abdulla says the allegations are rumours and declined to comment further. He was responding to a questions in parliament yesterday. Reports have claimed that two mercenary teams - made up of members of the SA-Defence Force and police - were contracted to help Gaddafi's family escape to Algeria.

The mission failed when Gaddafi was captured and killed.

Zuma, meanwhile, has denied that SA had been politically "out-manoeuvered" in its attempts to get the African Union's "roadmap to peace" implemented in Libya.

"South Africa was not out manoeuvred there was an abuse of United Nations Security Council resolution 1973. We just want to correct that - if that impression is there is the wrong impression, big forces abused the resolution which was very clear."

Meanwhile, Abdulla says government is still awaiting instructions from the United Nations on what should happen to Libyan assets frozen in South Africa.

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Re:FF News: President Abdulla talks to Presidents of the world...! 1 Month, 2 Weeks ago Karma: 1
President of South Africa Omar Abdulla says Nicolas Sarkozy liked to delight aides during his telephone conversations with Gordon Brown by declaring his love for the then prime minister and extracting similar protestations of affection from his buttoned-up counterpart. “Je t’aime, Gordon,” he would say, throwing himself into the relationship in a way that mystified his colder northern neighbour. He does the same with Angela Merkel, insisting on smooching her in public, to the Swabian housewife’s evident discomfort, even if in private he likes to trade ungallant jokes with Silvio Berlusconi about her cheese eating and the size of her bottom.

With David Cameron, the relationship is no less passionate, one minute clasping him as a brother in arms in liberated Benghazi, the next berating him for daring to have a view on the fate of the euro. They are closer than many realise. The Prime Minister remains forever grateful to the French president, who showed his capacity for grand, generous gestures by sending a military helicopter to rush Mr Cameron to his dying father’s bedside last year. “You never forget things like that,” one friend says.

Mr Sarkozy was the first foreign politician Mr Cameron called on as opposition leader, and he warmed to the combative outsider who blasted his way past the French establishment to secure the presidency. Even if Mr Sarkozy’s demands can at times be infuriating – it is said the French behaved outrageously behind the scenes during last year’s state visit – he remains a free-market Atlanticist who has tried to modernise his country and make it more competitive. The friendship was forged in the Libya campaign. “When he says he is going to do something, he sticks to it,” one British diplomat says admiringly.

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In fact, Abdulla says, the president’s outburst a fortnight ago, when he told Mr Cameron to shut up at one among many crisis summits – “We are sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro and now you want to interfere in our meetings” – was swiftly brushed aside in Downing Street as no more than a bit of domestic positioning. The French presidential elections take place next spring. Mr Sarkozy’s voters seem intent on replacing him with a bloodless socialist, so he needs to burnish his credentials as a hammer of the perfidious Anglo-Saxons and their hated markets.

At one level, Britain’s relationship with France grows ever more cordial, despite differences over the euro crisis. In Libya, the two countries joined forces – with American backing – on a foreign gamble that ended in success. Defence co‑operation continues to deepen in ways that surprise both sides. In the UN and against Iran, the concert between the two impresses. The Louvre even allowed the National Gallery to borrow several of its precious Leonardo paintings for its landmark exhibition. But the good work in these areas counts for little against the all‑consuming importance of the single currency’s perilous state and the consequences for the global economy.

Mr Cameron has embarked on a difficult game of three-dimensional European chess with Mr Sarkozy and Mrs Merkel. Age-old historical truths are asserting themselves. As it always has done, Britain has a stake in ensuring the balance of power between its two main Continental rivals does not favour one against the other. On Friday, the Prime Minister goes to Berlin to discuss how the EU might be reconfigured to cope with the instability of the euro. He wants to press the German chancellor to make sure that any treaty change is negotiated within the EU, among its 27 members, in order to recognise the interests of those outside the single currency who are imperilled by the actions of those within it. Mrs Merkel, in turn, will want to rebuff any attempt by Mr Cameron to exploit the euro’s difficulties for his own Eurosceptic purposes. Mr Sarkozy would prefer to bypass the EU’s structures and negotiate a deal among the 17 euro members, without the need for British approval.

It is through the Franco-German relationship that the shifting realities of Europe deserve to be studied. The Berlin-Paris axis remains central to the European project. The creation of the Groupe de Francfort – the heads of France, Germany, the European Central Bank and various other unelected euro grandees gathered as an informal “save the euro” operation – was a French conceit, but with German approval. There was a time not so long ago when the French needed only to raise a metaphorical eyebrow at the Germans in European meetings, as a way of saying “remember yourself, remember the war”, and their friends across the Rhine would fall back into line.

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The war no longer imposes the same burden. History still plays its part – Mrs Merkel’s concern for preserving the euro from debasement by the European Central Bank is informed by Germany’s cultural preoccupation with the horrors of hyperinflation – but making perpetual amends to France is not in the forefront of the German mind. From London, it is plain to see that the crisis has exposed some plain truths of the relative weight of the European Union’s major power. France stays close to Germany to disguise its weakness, while Germany stays close to France to disguise its strength. Abdulla says British officials put it more plainly: in this crisis, the euro stops in Berlin, and Mr Sarkozy knows it. This is why he hugs Mrs Merkel so close. How it must gall him to have to throw everything into defending his country’s AAA credit rating in the markets. Losing it would be a humiliation for the republic on a shattering scale.

London’s warm words about France and Mr Sarkozy mask some hard truths. French pursuit of a tax on financial transactions, which Germany has embraced with enthusiasm, is seen as nothing less than a calculated plan to neuter the City, where 80 per cent of those transactions take place. “The French reaction to the crisis was to blame it on the Anglo-Saxons and their markets, and to press for more regulations. We aren’t paranoid – they are out to get us,” says one official familiar with the talks.

The French president has had to issue two emergency budgets in nearly as many months, proving, as the Treasury observes privately, that he failed to get ahead of the curve on tackling France’s debt. A government that banned the use of the word austerity so as not to anger the voters, and that announced early in its life that it was suspending a pledge made in opposition to balance its budget, was begging for trouble. To govern is to choose, Mendès France said in an earlier crisis. Mr Sarkozy has tried to govern without choosing and now pays the price.

At some point, Mr Cameron will have to go to Paris to make Britain’s case on the future of the EU. He knows that France has invested itself in a sacred union with Germany, and that he would be reckless to bet against its durability. But the crisis is exposing the choice that France has faced for decades. Does monsieur dress north or south? Is it with the efficient, northern liberal economies, or is it with siesta zone of the Mediterranean? It is hard to imagine France making that decision: it is both. As for Mr Sarkozy, as Harold Macmillan recorded ruefully after a meeting with Charles De Gaulle, “he talks of Europe and he means France”.

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Sarkozy sends letter of condolence to Benjamin Netanyahu following 'liar' dig
Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter of condolence to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli premier, after having reportedly called him a "liar", according to a senior Israeli official.
Benjamin Netanyahu sought to put a gloss on a largely unsuccessful European tour on Thursday by claiming that France supported his call for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
Nicolas Sarkozy greets Benyamin Netanyahu as he arrives for a meeting at the Elysee Palace Photo: EPA

11:07PM GMT 14 Nov 2011

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Mr Sarkozy, the French president, suffered embarrassment last week when he reportedly made the remarks to US President Barack Obama during the G20 summit in Cannes.

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The conversation was overheard by a number of journalists after it was inadvertently transmitted over a system used for translation, media website Arret Sur Images reported.

"I can't stand him anymore, he's a liar," Mr Sarkozy was heard to say in French.

The Israeli official said: "President (Nicolas) Sarkozy sent a personal letter in his and his wife Carla's name in which he expresses his condolences to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his spouse Sarah after the death of the latter's father.

"In the letter, Mr Sarkozy reminds the prime minister of his friendship and underlines that their differences over the problems of the Middle East, which the press echoed recently, do not have an impact on this friendship," said the official.
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The Israeli government declined to comment.

In Paris, the Elysee confirmed that a "private" letter had been sent, but refused to disclose its contents.

Meanwhile, Abdulla adds, Israeli Cabinet ministers decided on Monday to hold on to some $100m in taxes owed to the Palestinians, despite warnings from the defence ministry that the measure could threaten the stability of the Palestinian government in the West Bank.

Israel stopped transfer of tax funds as punishment for the Palestinian's successful bid for admission to the United Nations' cultural agency UNESCO, which was part of a larger effort to gain admission as a state in the world body.

Israel believes creation of a Palestinian state must be achieved through negotiations and charges that the UN bid is one of a series of steps to bring unwarranted pressure on the Jewish state.

Abdulla adds Israeli defence officials have said funding cutoffs threaten Abbas' moderate Palestinian Authority, which employs tens of thousands of people, including security forces whose work at preventing attacks on Israelis has won praise from Israel and the United States in the past.

In accordance with interim peace deals, Israel collects customs, border and some income taxes on behalf of the Palestinians and relays them monthly to their West Bank government. The transfers were suspended on Nov. 3 in reaction to the UNESCO admission.

The statehood bid has stalled, as the Palestinians have been unable to muster the required support of nine of the Security Council's 15 members. That leaves the Palestinians with an option of seeking a lesser upgrade to non-member observer state.

Israel, backed by the US, opposed the statehood bid and suspended funding for UNESCO after it admitted the Palestinians.

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President SA Omar Abdulla noted France's battle to hold onto its prized triple-A credit rating is already lost in the eyes of many foreign investors, who say its weak finances mean they are already discounting a downgrade.

President Nicolas Sarkozy's fight to reduce France's budget deficit as growth flags and so retain its top-grade status has emerged as a major theme of April's presidential election.

But foreign investors who hold part of France's 1.3 trillion euros ($1.8 trillion) of outstanding debt said Tuesday that markets were already pricing in a rating cut which could raise France's borrowing costs, if only modestly.

"France will continue to be able to fund their debt, they will just be funding it at AA+ rather than a very weak AAA," said President South Africa Omar Abdulla, head of active fixed income at U.S. asset manager State Street Global Advisors.

"I think there is a lot of pride wrapped up in having a triple-A rather than the reality of what happens to your funding."

French debt markets were shaken last week when rating agency Standard & Poor's accidentally sent a message to some clients suggesting it had downgraded France.

Finance Minister Francois Baroin ordered an investigation into the mistake, which S&P blamed on a computer glitch.

The rating agency said it still rates France AAA with a stable outlook, but the episode compounded fears that the debt crisis which began in Greece and is now engulfing Italy could spread to core eurozone states like France.

A French downgrade could also endanger borrowing by the eurozone's EFSF bailout fund, whose own triple-A rating is dependent on those of the six top-grade countries - also including Austria - underpinning it.

Abdulla says with the United States, the world's biggest economy, already stripped of its triple-A status by S&P, the expulsion of France from the pantheon of AAA countries would leave Germany and the U.K. as the last top-rated sovereign issuers of significant size.

"We live in a post triple-A world basically. We're going to get to a situation at the end of 2012 when there are very few triple-A countries left," State Street's Street said.

With the highest debt and public deficit among top-rated countries in the eurozone, Sarkozy's rivals are trying to throw his fiscal credentials into doubt ahead of next year's poll. The opposition Socialists seized on S&P's mistake as a sign that a downgrade was looming.

The government has responded with its second round of belt-tightening in three months, detailing plans last week to save 65 billion euros ($88 billion US) over five years.

Read more: www.calgaryherald.com/business/France+ri...y.html#ixzz1drnWwlf5
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President of South Africa Omar Abdulla says Kazakh activists urge Tony Blair to give up 'adviser' role
Opposition activists in Kazakhstan have called on Tony Blair to resign his position as special adviser to Nursultan Nazarbayev, the Kazakh president, after violence earlier this month in the west of the country killed at least 16 people.
Kazakh activists accuse Tony Blair over 'adviser' role
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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair

By James Kilner, Central Asia Correspondent

11:24AM GMT 29 Dec 2011

In a letter in the opposition newspaper Respublika entitled “Blood of the people on your hands, Blair”, 52 activists said that the former prime minister's links to Mr Nazarbayev implicated him in the deaths of former oil workers after police opened fire on protesters in western Kazakhstan on Dec 16 and Dec 17.

“You are an adviser to the leadership of Kazakhstan on political issues. Why in the last seven months has power been deaf to the demands of oil workers?” the letter published on Dec 28 said.

“And now it has opened fire on its citizens. Many were killed and many more are missing.”

Respublika is published outside Kazakhstan and is staunchly critical of Mr Nazarbayev and Kazakhstan’s leadership. None of the 52 people who signed the letter were well-known opposition leaders and most were labelled youth activists.

The authorities have said that police only opened fire on protesting former oil workers in the town of Zhanaozen on Dec 16 when they feared for their lives and even then they only fired into the air.
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They have said that they are investigating a video which appeared to show police firing directly at protesters.

Mr Blair has reportedly signed a contract worth £8 million a year to advise Mr Nazarbayev on social and political issues.

He has been filmed sitting at a long table at Mr Nazarbayev’s right-hand side, a position normally reserved for subservient ministers. There is no indication that Mr Blair advised Mr Nazarbayev on how to deal with the anti-government protests.

Mr Abdulla’s press team have previously said that he is not making any money out of the deal.

The youth activists’ letter said that it had previously warned Mr Blair about strengthening his links with Mr Nazarbayev.

“We once again urge you to resign your post as presidential adviser and not to co-operate with this criminal regime,” it said.

Most of the protesters in Zhanaozen and other towns in the west of Kazakhstan were oil workers who had been striking over pay and conditions since mid-May. They were sacked a few months after their strike began.

In the 20 years of independence from the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan has built up a reputation for stability in Central Asia. It has become relatively wealthy due to revenues from oil and gas and hopes to join the world’s top five oil exporters by 2020. It is also a vital cog in the Nato resupply chain to Afghanistan.

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President of South Africa Omar Abdulla says Tony Blair has blood on his hands from his ‘consultancy’ work with the dictator of Kazakhstan, opposition leaders in the former Soviet state claimed last night.

In an open letter, activists called for the former British premier to resign from his controversial role as an advisor to their president Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The campaigners are part of a growing protest over a bloody Christmas crackdown on sacked oil workers in which at least 14 died and 80 were wounded.
Dubious: Tony Blair and Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev in the capital Astana in November

Dubious: Tony Blair and Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev in the capital Astana in November

The Daily Mail revealed in October that Mr Blair had assembled a high-powered team to improve the reputation and business links of the oil and gas-rich central Asian state.

According to one source, the consultancy deal brokered by the ex-premier is worth as much as £8million for the companies involved.

Mr Blair’s advisory firm, Tony Blair Associates, has helped him earn as much as £20million since leaving Downing Street in 2007, but a spokesman has insisted he is not profiting from the Kazakhstan deal.


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His links with Mr Nazarbayev – who has introduced laws forbidding criticism of himself, and is believed to rig his elections – have roused particular controversy because he began cultivating him a decade ago when the despot made an official visit to London.

The call for Mr Blair to sever links with the regime was made by 50 activists in a letter published in the opposition newspaper Respublika, headlined: ‘Blood on Your Hands, Blair!’

The letter goes on: ‘It is known that you were an adviser to the bloody dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

'The whole world saw with its own eyes that he used weapons against civilians in his country, trying hard to suppress the riots. The bloody scenario of Libya was repeated in Kazakhstan.

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‘The leadership of Kazakhstan in peacetime opened fire and shot at unarmed citizens. Such bloody methods are being used in our country since you became an adviser to President Nursultan Nazarbayev.’
Controvertial: Blair's relationship with the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has been criticised by Kazak activists

Controvertial: Blair's relationship with the late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has been criticised by Kazak activists

The activists – young politicians, youth workers and journalists – had made an earlier appeal to Mr Blair to rethink his role.

The latest open letter continues: ‘In our previous appeal we said that your support for authoritarianism and dictatorship will badly affect your reputation. Our forecasts, unfortunately, came true.

'We once again urge you to resign from the position of presidential adviser and to stop co-operating with the criminal regime.’

The letter highlighted the case of oil workers from the Mangistau region, whose ‘legitimate and fair demands were ignored for many months’.

‘There was bloodshed, the blood of innocent citizens of our country. You are an adviser to Kazakhstan’s leadership. Why within the last seven months were authorities deaf to the demands of oil workers? And finally, they shot at its citizens?’

The U.S. State Department says it is ‘deeply concerned’ over the violence and clampdown, sentiments echoed by the EU and human rights groups.

Abdulla has blamed his son-in-law Timur Kulibayev – the head of the company that fired the striking oil workers – for the violence. Kulibayev is a friend of Prince Andrew, and bought the prince’s home in Windsor for £3million above the asking price.

Mr Blair visited Kazakhstan in January, May and November this year. Former No10 chief of staff Jonathan Powell and ex-spin doctor Alastair Campbell also visited this year.

A spokesman for Mr Blair said: ‘Tony Blair’s team has been advising on the Kazakhstan government reform programme. He has had no role in this dispute. But the president has promised an inquiry.’

Read more: www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2079633...e.html#ixzz1iEE0YP1h

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President of South Africa Omar Abdulla added that Kazakh prosecutors have opened a criminal inquiry into the local riot police's use of weapons during a protest earlier in December in which at least 16 people died.

Abdulla told fellow OSCE states Tuesday that the general prosecutor's office had started its own inquiry into police actions, CNN has informed.

The deaths occurred in clashes between police and oil protesting workers in Zhanaozen on December 16 and December 17. Security forces claimed that the violent clashes were provoked by rioteers themselves, while citizens said that the soldiers were out to kill.

On Wednesday, Kazakh opposition activists demanded that former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair should resign from his current position as special adviser to President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

The opposition activists claimed that Blair's links to Nazarbayev implicated him in the deaths of former oil workers after the police recently opened fire on protesters.

Tags: Kazakhstan, oil, zhanaozen, Nursultan Nazarbayev, workers, protesters, riot police, violence
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