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French report French report
by Euro Reporter
2010-08-05 09:36:03
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Tax break for artist legacy

French Labour Minister Eric Woerth was subject to yet more allegations of financial wrongdoing on Wednesday, in connection with the will of French artist Cesar Baldaccini. Left-leaning daily Liberation claims letters dated from April 2008 show “Woerth unambiguously used the full weight of his ministerial position” to get a 27-million-euro tax reduction on the inheritance of the world-famous sculptor.

Known universally as Cesar, the artist was at the forefront of the Nouveau Réalisme movement with his radical compressions (compacted cars and scrap metal), expansions (polyurethane foam sculptures), and representations of animals and insects. France’s annual Cesar Award for film is named after the artist, who designed the trophies. Cesar died in Paris in 1998.

Following his death there was an extended dispute over his will between his widow and daughter on the one hand and Stephanie Busuttil, his partner at the time of his death on the other. Woerth’s intervention, according to the newspaper, followed discussions with the executor of the will, Alain-Dominique Perrin, who is president of the Fondation Cartier modern art gallery in Paris.


Fight against terror

French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on Monday to step up his country's fight against terrorism, during a visit overshadowed by a spat between Pakistan and Britain. Western concerns over the reliability of Islamabad's support in the conflict against the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan have been heightened by the recent leak of classified U.S. military reports by the WikiLeaks website. Comments by British Prime Minister David Cameron during a visit to India this week suggesting that Pakistan was not doing enough to fight terrorism prompted outrage in Islamabad, which summoned the Britain's envoy on Monday. However, French officials said Sarkozy was conciliatory in the talks with Zardari, which did not touch on either the leaked military documents, or Cameron's comments.

"(Sarkozy) encouraged Pakistan to continue the efforts it has already made and to extend them further," a senior French official told journalists after the meeting. "Pakistan's support is necessary to succeed in Afghanistan and it's also in the interest of Pakistan that we succeed in Afghanistan," the official said. Forty-five French soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to oust the Taliban. France's ties with Islamabad have been clouded by a French law last month banning Muslim women from wearing a veil covering their faces in public, which prompted protests by hundreds of Muslims in the Pakistani city of Karachi.

Zardari, who travels to Britain on Thursday for a long scheduled meeting with Cameron, said Sarkozy pledged support for Pakistan and would visit the country before the end of the year. "France feels that Pakistan is a responsible partner with them in the world," Zardari told reporters.


Immigrants' citizenship

Opposition politicians and elements of the media have rounded on French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s proposals to strip French nationals of foreign origin of their citizenship if they endanger the lives of police officers as a cynical attempt to divert attention from recent political scandals. Sarkozy outlined the proposals on Friday in the south-eastern city of Grenoble, after violent clashes between local youths and the police rocked the Alpine community.

The violence was triggered by the shooting of a local resident by the police who was fleeing from an armed robbery at a casino. Officials have reported that some youths fired on the police in the ensuing unrest and cars were set ablaze. Keen to be seen to be taking a firm hand, the French president declared that "French nationality should be earned. One must know how to be worthy of it." He went on to say that French nationality should be revoked "from any person of foreign origin who voluntarily threatens the life of a police officer" or other public authority figures.

Sarkozy said a bill would be presented to the lower house of parliament in September. Exactly how “foreign origin” would be determined, what process would be used to remove someone’s citizenship, and whether it would be legal under France’s constitution remain unclear. Earlier in the week, Sarkozy stirred up a storm when he took a similarly tough line on France’s immigration law, seeking to make it easier to expel Gypsies, or Roma, who are in the country illegally.

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