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French report French report
by Euro Reporter
2011-03-02 10:14:58
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Greenpeace warns on France-SA nuclear deals

International  environmental activism group Greenpeace yesterday warned that President Jacob Zuma should not "fall into a dangerous trap" by signing deals with the French nuclear industry. Mr Zuma is in France with Energy Minister Dipuo Peters for government and business talks. French President Nicolas Sarkozy will today receive Mr Zuma and a delegation of five Cabinet ministers, and business representatives .

Mr Sarkozy holds the rotating presidency of both the Group of Eight and the Group of 20 states, and Mr Zuma leads the newest member of the Bric bloc of states — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and SA. France, where 80% of electricity is nuclear-generated, was involved in the development of the nuclear energy capacity SA already has, and is one of several countries hoping to benefit from SA’s decision to install a new nuclear reactor by 2022-23, and to generate 10000MW from nuclear by 2030.

Energy was one of the sectors earmarked for co-operation with France and a session was scheduled for "interaction" with business tomorrow, said Depart- ment of Trade and Industry spokesman Sidwell Medupe. But Greenpeace energy campaigner Rianne Teule said Mr Zuma’s delegation should learn from France’s nuclear failures and seek investment in renewable energy. He said the French nuclear industry was "on the verge of collapse" and SA could ill-afford investment in "such risky, old- fashioned technology". The French embassy had no comment at this stage, said spokesman Matthew Wate.


French diplomacy questioned by uprisings

When a French evening TV program recently debated how well the nation's diplomatic service handled the uprisings around the Middle East, the show's host found himself inundated with caustic viewer comments and e-mails. Most centered around one uncomfortable question: How did France, with its close historical, economic and political ties to North Africa and the Middle East, miss the warning signs that revolution was brewing beneath the calm surface of countries where many French were pleasantly spending their winter holidays?

Even Michele Alliot-Marie, the now-retired French foreign minister, had to admit in early January that the French government had no idea trouble was in the works. "As politicians, we were all surprised by the rapidity of the sequence of events," she said of the Tunisian uprising, "by the speed of this Jasmine Revolution, but so were journalists, analysts, diplomats and researchers. "A priority of my department will be the need to strengthen its capacities to better anticipate situations."

Alliot-Marie departed her post Sunday after she was criticized for her ties to ex-Tunisian President Zine Ben Ali and a remark that she made when rioting began in Tunisia that law and order might be maintained with French know-how -- suggesting to some that she was in favor of sending French troops to prop up the Ben Ali regime. Alliot-Marie may have gone but it seems very likely that priority she identified will remain -- especially since there has been withering criticism of French diplomacy in recent months over a number of problems.


Le Pen in court accused of inciting racial hatred

Far-right National Front politician Jean-Marie Le Pen finds himself in court again on Tuesday. In the latest controversy to hit the scandal-prone Le Pen, French NGO Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples (MRAP) has accused him of inciting racial hatred by using anti-Muslim campaign posters during regional elections in February 2010.

The poster displayed a burqa-clad woman next to a map of France covered by an Algerian flag and missile-shaped minarets, accompanied by the tagline: “No to Islamism”. The posters drew angry reactions from French anti-racism associations, as well as protests from Algeria. In early December, the correctional court of Paris had acquitted Le Pen, stating that he was “neither the author of the poster in question, nor responsible for the Web sites on which the poster was displayed”.

The new trial will begin Tuesday afternoon at the correctional court of Paris-area suburb Nanterre. Le Pen headed the National Front party from 1972 to 2011 before handing the reins over to his daughter, Marine, who won party elections early this year.

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