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French report French report
by Euro Reporter
2010-11-25 07:24:11
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Sarkozy calls journalists paedophiles

“See you tomorrow, paedophile friends!” was French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s surprising farewell to reporters at a briefing during the Lisbon Nato conference Friday. Sarkozy lashed out at journalists when questioned about alleged kickbacks for submarine sales to Pakistan in 1995. In remarks at an informal briefing which hit the web Monday, Sarkozy called questions on the so-called “Karachigate” scandal crazy.

Infuriated by allegations that the 1995 presidential campaign of Edouard Balladur, for which he was spokesperson, benefited from a share of bribes paid to encourage the sales, Sarkozy accused the media of reporting the charges without having proof. Former defence minister Charles Millon last week claimed that he was absolutely convinced that bribes were paid.

“Not a single one of you believes that I organise kickbacks for submarines in Pakistan. It’s incredible and it gets on television,” Sarkozy declared in a 10-minute outburst at Friday’s briefing. Turning to a journalist, he continued, “You, I’ve got nothing against you. Apparently, you’re a paedophile [...] who told me? I’m absolutely convinced […] can you explain yourself?” The briefing was recorded on the internal recording system of the summit, according to L’Express magazine, which says that presidential aides insisted that the tapes be wiped on the grounds that the briefing was off the record. The Elysée presidential palace denies that Sarkozy made the alleged comments.


Controversial bill to rise retirement age becomes law

French President Nicolas Sarkozy's reform rising the retirement age from 60 to 62 has become law after months of protests by unions. The law was published in the government's Journal Official on Wednesday, meaning Sarkozy has signed it and it has formally gone into effect. The constitutional watchdog approved the plan a day earlier, and France's parliament gave the measure its backing on Oct. 27.

The reform sparked weeks of street demonstrations and nationwide strikes that caused gasoline shortages and havoc for travellers.

The opposition Socialists have opposed the conservative government's measure. Like many heavily indebted European governments, France is trying to
cut back on spending.


Doubt cast on link between French bribes and Karachi bombing

It’s the latest twist in a maze-like international corruption scandal that has sent tremors through the French political establishment and seen some of France’s top public figures accused of having blood on their hands.

Michel Mazens, former chairman of private French armaments agency SOFRESA, has denied any link between bribes paid to Pakistan in a 1994 arms sale and a suicide bombing in Karachi that killed 11 French engineers in 2002. The claim by Mazens, published on Monday in an interview in French left-leaning daily Libération, directly contradicts media reports that the attack was likely retaliation against France for halting the bribes.

The “Karachi affair,” as it has been named in France, has ensnared a handful of players from the top ranks of the French ruling class: a judge is investigating whether the bribes included illegal kickbacks used to fund the presidential campaign of then-Prime Minister Edouard Balladur; the director of Balladur’s 1995 bid for the presidency was none other than current President Nicolas Sarkozy; and former President Jacques Chirac, as well as former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, are facing a civil suit that accuses them of endangering the lives of French citizens abroad by cutting off the suspected cash flow to Balladur and thus inciting the 2002 attacks.

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