Posts Tagged ‘Emmanuel Macron’

Migrant crisis: Italy backs force to police Libya shore — Effort to stem the influx of migrants into Europe

July 29, 2017

BBC News

The Italian navy destroyer Luigi Durand De La Penne in the Mediterranean Sea on 1 October 2015
Libya says Italian plans for a force of ships, planes and sailors led by a frigate would undermine its sovereignty. AFP photo

Italy’s cabinet has backed sending a mission to Libya to try to stem the influx of migrants.

The mission would help Libya “reinforce their capacity to control their borders and national territory”, said Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

It would reportedly comprise ships, planes and at least 700 sailors.

Mr Gentiloni claimed it had been requested by Libya, but the UN-backed government there vigorously denied making any such request.

In an earlier statement, Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj said his administration had agreed to receive only training and arms from Italy.

“Libya’s national sovereignty is a red line that nobody must cross,” he said.

Mr Sarraj, whose administration’s control of Libya is limited, held a face-to-face meeting with Mr Gentiloni in Italy on Wednesday.

Mr Sarraj did acknowledge asking Rome for border guards in southern Libya in that meeting.

More than 94,000 migrants have crossed the Mediterranean to Italy so far this year, according to the UN. But more than 2,370 people have died trying.

Migrants picked up in Libyan coastal waters – and not international waters – can be legally returned to Libya, but aid workers say that conditions in Libyan migrant reception camps are dire.

The Italian mission to Libyan coastal waters would reportedly be led by a frigate.

A Libyan coast guardsman stands on a boat during the pick-up of 147 illegal immigrants attempting to reach Europe off the coastal town of Zawiyah, 45 kilometres west of the capital Tripoli, on 27 June 2017
European states have already been helping to beef up Libyan efforts to prevent migrants reaching international waters, where international law then prevents them being returned to Libya. AFP photo

The mission would contribute, Mr Gentiloni told the cabinet meeting, to Libya’s “path of stabilisation… and Italy feels it a duty to participate”.

The cabinet had “approved what the [Libyan] government requested, no more, no less,” he said. He later clarified that the initiative aimed to “support Libya sovereignty, it is not an initiative against Libyan sovereignty”.

He said full details of the plan would be presented to parliament on Tuesday.

Push-back plan

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said Paris would establish migrant registration centres or “hotspots” in Libya – and in the shorter term in Niger and Chad – to vet asylum seekers prior to their attempt to cross into Europe.

And in a letter to Mr Gentiloni last week, the Visegrad group of four (Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia) pledged financial support for Italian efforts to reduce the flow of irregular migrants from Libya and elsewhere.

Those efforts, the letter outlined, included “EU activities at the southern border of Libya” and the creation of migrant-vetting “hotspots” outside EU territory.

In remarks on 23 June, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán spelled out this view, telling journalists: “If we don’t want people from Libya to set out for Europe, we have to act accordingly – either on Libya’s northern or southern borders.

“Hungary announced that it supports the Italian-German initiative for us to set up check-points and introduce a monitoring system on Libya’s southern borders. Hungary is prepared to contribute to this with personnel or funding.”

Map showing Central Mediterranean migrant routes

A note on terminology: The BBC uses the term migrant to refer to all people on the move who have yet to complete the legal process of claiming asylum. This group includes people fleeing war-torn countries such as Syria, who are likely to be granted refugee status, as well as people who are seeking jobs and better lives, who governments are likely to rule are economic migrants.

Macron’s go-it-alone style raises eyebrows in Europe

July 28, 2017


© POOL/AFP/File / by Valérie LEROUX, Clare BYRNE | Recent unilateral policy initiatives by French President Emmanuel Macron and his government has sparked criticism abroad

PARIS (AFP) – France’s Emmanuel Macron, a europhile who celebrated his election to the strains of the EU’s anthem “Ode to Joy”, has caused surprise by going it alone on migration and picking a protectionist fight with top ally Italy, observers say.Two controversial announcements Thursday — one by the French president, one by his government — have led Macron’s commitment to working with his EU partners on solutions to shared problems to be called into question.

The first was on migration.

During a visit to a refugee shelter Macron announced that France would set up migrant processing “hotspots” in Africa, including in war-torn Libya, with or without the support of other EU member states.

“We’ll try to do it with Europe but we in France will do it,” he declared — his aides later conceding that the scheme was “not possible at the moment” because of Libya’s dire security situation.

In Brussels, officials were caught off guard by the unilateral plan aimed at preventing migrants piling into rickety boats bound for Europe.

European Commission sources said they had received assurances that France’s position was “completely aligned” with that of the bloc — but they still ruled out migrant centres based outside the EU of the type mooted by Macron.

No sooner had that foray by France’s crusading new leader been digested than his government antagonised Italy by announcing the nationalisation of a shipyard that had been promised to a state-run Italian firm.

Rome, already smarting over being sidelined by Macron on a ceasefire deal in its former colony Libya, reacted with fury to the move which stood in stark contrast to the anti-interventionist message that Macron hammered home on the campaign trail.

Macron insisted the move was temporary until the two sides reached a deal on joint ownership of STX that protected French jobs and assured Italy would play a “major role” in the shipbuilder.

But Italy was seething.

“Nationalism and protectionism are not an acceptable basis on which to conduct relations between two leading European countries,” Italy’s finance and economic development ministers fumed.

– European disunity –

Italy’s centrist Corriere della Sera newspaper said the affair had revealed Macron as “a nationalist”, while Germany’s Handelsblatt economic daily said it “cast a new light on his commitment” to Europe.

“How can Europe be united if a European partner is not considered a reliable shareholder?” Handelsblatt wondered, referring to the jobs argument put forward by France.

But in France at home the first nationalisation since 1981 was widely cheered, giving its youngest ever leader a boost after polls showed his ratings tumbling over his planned spending cuts.

Le Monde newspaper called it a “well-timed political act” that would help him win back support on the left.

“But Mr Macron is tarnishing his European image somewhat,” it noted.

A former government adviser said Macron’s EU flag-waving during the campaign masked a belief that Europe served chiefly to enhance France’s standing.

“He is committed to the European ideal, but far less so than to French sovereignty,” the adviser, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP, adding: “Having good relations with Angela Merkel doesn’t change that.”

For Francois Heisbourg, chairman of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Macron is a man in a hurry, who brings to mind ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy.

“Like all new presidents he’s discovering his powers and giving into the temptation to use them to the max,” Heisbourg said.

– ‘Superman if he succeeds’ –

So far Merkel and other EU leaders have embraced the Frenchman’s can-do approach and been content to let him play the role of Europe’s top diplomat with US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

But Stefani Weiss, director of the Brussels office of the Bertelsmann Stiftung foundation, warned Germany was starting to “look a little frustrated by this energetic president who is juggling a lot of balls.”

“We can only hope he is not overwhelmed by all the initiatives and not overestimating what he can do,” she cautioned.

So far Macron’s diplomatic efforts have mostly been crowned in success.

On Tuesday, he got the two rival authorities in lawless Libya to agree a conditional ceasefire.

But stemming the flow of migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe could seriously test his mettle.

“If he succeeds, everyone will say ‘he’s the boss, he’s Superman. But if he fails, they’ll say ‘those arrogant French’. It’s risky,” said Heisbourg.

by Valérie LEROUX, Clare BYRNE

After Trump and Brexit, is this the end for the Anglo Saxon west?

July 28, 2017
Illustration by Nate Kitch
 Illustration by Nate Kitch

‘“You must be from England,” says the shop assistant at the CVS drugstore in Menlo Park, California. When I mention Donald Trump, he says: “Well, don’t get me started on how things are going on your side of the Atlantic. Your Mrs May there in Downing Street is being [expletive deleted] by the bureaucrats in Brussels …”

I can only agree. Having jumped from the Brexit frying pan into the Trump fire, I find myself comparing the two and wondering which is worse. The transatlantic difference is, in the first place, between Britain’s madness of the thing and America’s madness of the man. Theresa May may be wooden, rigid and out of her depth, but compared to Trump she looks like Mother Teresa.

It is the thing itself, Brexit, which is an act of collective madness and national self-harm. Every passing week brings new evidence of just how damaging it will be to almost every area of national life, and most of all to the left-behind working-class Brexit voters. They will be the ones worst hit; by what is already a decline in real earnings.

Trump is one of the few well-known foreigners to have supported Brexit, but now he is holding hands with French president Emmanuel Macron rather than British prime minister May, even he has gone rather quiet on Brexit’s expected glories. That does not mean he has become more restrained or responsible on any other subject. The man we saw in the campaign was a narcissistic, misogynistic, undisciplined, erratic bully. In his first six months as president he has lived down to all those epithets.

As his new director of communications, Anthony Scaramucci, recently observed, you shouldn’t expect a 71-year-old man to change. He still cannot keep his Twitter zipper closed. His Twitter campaign against the well-known MSNBC television presenter Mika Brzezinski described her as “low IQ Crazy Mika” and said she came “to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” That prompted the neoconservative commentator Bill Kristol into an eloquent counter-tweet: “Dear @realDonaldTrump, You are a pig. Sincerely, Bill Kristol”. (I like “Sincerely.”)

The transcript of Trump’s recent interview with the “failing” New York Times reveals the egocentric, superficial stream-of-consciousness disorder of his mind: Leopold Bloom meets the National Enquirer. Asked if he will travel to Britain he says only, “Ah, they’ve asked me,” and then reverts to telling stories about his trip to Paris. So much for the post-Brexit special relationship. Bouncing off a mention of visiting Napoleon’s tomb, he produces my favourite line in the whole interview: “Well, Napoleon finished a little bit bad.”

Most recently, he has been denouncing on Twitter his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, almost as if one of his earliest prominent supporters were now a Clinton. Every day one wakes up and thinks, “How on earth can this trashy mountebank be president of the United States?” It is the character of the man which is the fundamental problem here, more than his ideology and policies, to the extent that one can detect any coherence in them. Surreally, there is now a serious discussion about whether he is entitled to pardon himself.

Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Trump is likely to s.
 Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. Trump is likely to s. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

Be it the madness of the man on one side of the Atlantic or the madness of the thing on the other, some of the symptoms are similar – as are some of the causes. The level of verbal vitriolage is almost unprecedented. Both Washington and London, capitals generally known for reasonably stable and efficient government, are now witnessing an extraordinary confusion.

Most senior positions in the state department, for example, are still unfilled. Scaramucci just effectively accused Trump’s chief of staff of leaking. British cabinet ministers publicly contradict each other. On the Thames as on the Potomac river, there are more leaks, gaffes and sudden reversals than in any theatrical farce.

Small wonder the German chancellor says continental Europeans can no longer rely on their traditional cross-Channel and transatlantic allies. Russia and China were laughing all the way to the G20 meeting in Hamburg, in advance of which China Daily had a front page declaring that “amid concerns about US protectionism and Brexit, China and Germany are expected to lead the charge for globalisation and free trade”.

So is this the end of the west? Or at least, of the Anglo-Saxon west? I first heard the argument that the conjunction of Trump and Brexit marks a secular decline of the Anglo-Saxons from a former Finnish prime minister, and have heard it from several other observers since.

The 19th century belonged to Britain, the 20th century (at least post-1945) to the United States. The neoliberalism which exercised a kind of global ideological dominance between the end of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the financial crisis of 2008 was a characteristic Anglo-Saxon product. It is itself the root cause of the genuine, widespread discontents which populists have exploited to gain power in both Britain and the United States. So the argument goes, not without some schadenfreude – especially in France.

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But be careful, chers amis, what you wish for. You may envisage a post-Anglo-Saxon 21st-century gloriously illuminated by the enlightened policies of Macron and Justin Trudeau. Yet the Fortinbras who commands the stage after the self-destruction of the Anglo-Saxon Hamlet is more likely to have the face of a Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Anyway, this is a clear case of POI (premature overdramatic interpretation), colloquially known as pundit’s disease. Another future is still possible. Last summer, when I asked a distinguished American political scientist how he would react to a Trump presidency, he said it would be a very interesting test of the American political system. When we resumed the conversation on the Stanford University campus last week, we agreed that thus far the constitutional checks and balances seemed to be working. Courts have twice blocked Trump’s travel ban.

It is unthinkable that the independence of the judiciary could be existentially challenged here as it is currently being challenged in Poland. Armed with the great tradition of the first amendment, the free press is doing exactly what the founding fathers intended it to do. The checks and balances are weaker in respect of foreign policy, but a Republican-dominated Congress has just passed legislation extending sanctions on Russia, North Korea and Iran – and deliberately made more difficult for the president to lift them.

So long as Trump does not go to war with North Korea, or some equivalent folly, the United States could yet emerge from four years of a ghastly presidency with both its democracy and its international reputation battered, but not damaged beyond repair. British democracy too is working in its funny old parliamentary way, producing a real chance that we Brits can recover in time from the madness of the thing, to make either a very soft Brexit or – as we should – an exit from Brexit. And it’s not as if those other countries have no problems of their own. So yes, the Anglo-Saxons are down, largely through their own grievous follies, but it’s too soon to count them out.

See also:

Justin Trudeau’s Rolling Stone cover wasn’t received too well by Americans… or Canadians


France to carry out asylum seeker checks in Libya

July 27, 2017


© MAHMUD TURKIA / AFP | Illegal migrants from Africa, rest and eat food at a naval base in Tripoli after they were rescued by Libyan coastguards in the Mediterranean Sea off the Libyan coast, on July 24, 2017.


Latest update : 2017-07-27

France will set up processing centres this summer in Libya for asylum seekers trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean, President Emmanuel Macron announced Thursday.

“The idea is to create hotspots to avoid people taking crazy risks when they are not all eligible for asylum. We’ll go to them,” he said during a visit to a refugee shelter in central France, adding the plan would be put in place “this summer”.

Macron’s announcement came two days after he brokered talks in Paris between the leaders of the two rival authorities in war-torn Libya, who agreed to a conditional ceasefire.

The lawless country is the main launchpad for African migrants trying to reach Europe in rickety boats operated by smugglers that frequently sink.

Macron had said Tuesday he hoped the agreement to try to end five years of chaos in Libya would check the flow of migrants.

Since January, more than 100,000 people have made the perilous voyage from Libya, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Over 2,300 have drowned this year attempting to make the journey, the IOM says.

The vast majority land in Italy — the EU country closest to North Africa — which has complained of a lack of solidarity from its neighbours in dealing with the influx.

From Italy, a fraction push on into France.


Human Rights Watch: French Police Use Excessive Force on Calais Migrants — Used pepper spray on child and adult migrants while they were sleeping

July 26, 2017

PARIS — Human Rights Watch pressed France on Wednesday to end what it described as recurrent police violence against migrants in the northern town of Calais, where hundreds have returned despite the demolition of a sprawling camp once known as “the jungle”.

In a report entitled “Like Living in Hell”, the U.S.-based rights group said police routinely abused migrants in the hope of having them leave the coastal city.

Based on interviews conducted with some 60 migrants in the area, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said police had used pepper spray on child and adult migrants while they were sleeping, regularly sprayed or confiscated sleeping bags and clothing, and sometimes destroyed food and water.

“Such acts violate the prohibition on inhuman and degrading treatment as well as international standards on police conduct,” HRW said.

“Local and national authorities should immediately and unequivocally direct police to adhere to international standards on the use of force and to refrain from conduct that interferes with aid delivery.”

French police evict thousands of migrants living on sidewalks near the reception center for migrants and refugees at porte de la Chapelle, north of Paris, France, July 7, 2017. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Regional prefect Fabien Sudry dismissed the report, saying the accusations were unfounded. Police force was used in a proportionate fashion, he said in a statement.

“The prefect stresses that anyone who believes their rights are threatened has the option of referring it to the relevant judicial authorities. To his knowledge, only three complaints against the police have been submitted since the end of 2016.”

Aid agencies and government officials estimate there are now as many as 600 migrants in the northern port area, where a vast shanty town sheltering up to 10,000 was razed by authorities last October.

Calais provides them with a base from which to try to cross illegally to Britain, the destination of choice for many who speak English or already have family or friends in the UK.

“Since they destroyed the Calais camp last year, there is no place to sleep or eat. It’s like living in hell,” HRW quoted a 29-year-old Ethiopian national as saying.

The allegations of police misconduct echo what other migrants and local associations representatives told Reuters last month.

A local court in June ordered authorities to provide drinking water, toilets and showers to migrants and to allow charities to hand out meals. At the same time, it upheld government decisions to deploy extra riot police and not to build a new reception center.

New president Emmanuel Macron last month promised migrants would be treated humanely after France’s human rights watchdog was fiercely critical of the living conditions they face.

(Editing by Ingrid Melander and Mark Trevelyan)


  (But the ministers are not at work…)

Can Macron’s Libya talks deliver

July 25, 2017
© Khalil Mazraawi, Ludovic Marin, Fethi Belaid, AFP | France’s Emmanuel Macron is hoping to score a diplomatic coup when he hosts Libyan strongman Khalifa Haftar (left) and the country’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj (right) on Tuesday.

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by Brenna DALDORPH

Latest update : 2017-07-25

French President Emmanuel Macron will host talks on Tuesday between Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and his main rival, General Khalifa Haftar, in a landmark meeting all three are hoping to benefit from.

Image result for Khalifa Haftar, photos

Khalifa Haftar

Officials at the Elysée Palace say Macron will be hoping to “facilitate a political agreement” between the head of Libya‘s unity government and the powerful Egyptian-backed commander when they meet at a chateau in La Celle Saint-Cloud, outside the French capital.

The Paris talks follows a first contact between Sarraj and Haftar in Abu Dhabi in May. That meeting was seen as a tentative step towards reconciliation in Libya, which has been mired in conflict and chaos since the 2011 uprising, when longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown by rebels supported by a French-led NATO air campaign.


Currently, Libya numbers two rival parliaments and three governments (the latest was formed in UN-brokered talks and was meant to replace the other two). So far, Haftar has rejected the authority of Sarraj’s UN-backed government as his forces gain ground in the east of the country supported by Egypt and United Arab Emirates.

But, this month, Sarraj set out a new political roadmap for his war-torn country, including the scheduling of presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018. There is hope that weapons could be set aside and a political solution could be reached.

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Libya’s two strongmen: Fayez al-Sarraj meets Khalifa Haftar — File photo from AFP

Priority for Macron

Western intelligence services fear that Islamic State (IS) group jihadists may capitalise on the chaos to set up bases in Libya as they are chased from their former strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

This fear prompted a shift in French policy: in May, Macron’s newly appointed administration said it was reviewing its position on the Libyan conflict and openly called for a united national army — including Haftar — to battle Islamist militants.

Macron promised during his campaign to prioritise the fight against jihadist militants and, in his first week, travelled to Mali to pay a visit to the French troops that make up the Operation Barkhane counter-terrorism force, created to address the threat across the Sahel. He returned to Mali again in July. Macron has said Libya is a priority for his administration.

“The situation in Libya is extremely worrying for the region because it is positioned on the doorstep of Europe — and, thus, France,” said an official at the Elysée palace on Monday. “For reasons of regional stability, the fight against terrorism and the fight against illegal immigration, the president of the republic wanted to immediately take initiatives for Libya.”

Mattia Toaldo, a policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, says there’s another reason that the French president has leapt on this opportunity to arrange talks between Sarraj and Haftar: because it is the easiest of his priorities to tackle.

“If you compare it with the other priority dossiers — Syria, Russia and the Sahel — facilitating the organisation of elections in Libya doesn’t seem like the hardest task,” Toaldo said. “Macron has already achieved a lot just by convening the summit. It’s taken months for anyone else to get the two sides together, but Macron did it quickly.”

There’s another reason why Macron may find it (marginally) easier to work on Libya, according to Toaldo. On June 22, Ghassan Salamé was appointed as UN special envoy to Libya. Salamé is a Paris-based Lebanese academic, Dean of the Paris School of International Affairs and professor of International Relations at Sciences Po.

“Many people in Macron’s team probably had Salamé as a professor,” Toaldo said. “Salamé is basically French. That was one factor that contributed to this meeting coming together much faster than talks that other countries tried to arrange. Macron can enjoy that little win. Then again, I hope France doesn’t have any illusions about how easy it will be after.”

Gains for the leaders

Macron isn’t the only one with political capital to gain during this meeting, Toaldo added.

“One of the things that lured Haftar to Paris is the possibility of a five-minute photo op with Macron,” he said. “It will do a lot for his international standing. Just last year, Haftar was an outcast.”

Back then, it was unclear what Haftar could do militarily: his men’s control was restricted to a region in the northeast of Libya. Now, the tables have turned and it is his opponents whose control has been reduced to a small area, this time in the country’s northwest.

“Haftar is in a more powerful position,” Toaldo said. “The situation on the ground has changed. Haftar is also backed by Egypt and the UAE, who seem to be on the winning side in the region.”

According to Toaldo, Sarraj is also attending the meeting with the hope of gaining standing by getting Macron’s support.

“Seraj doesn’t have real, consolidated support within Libya — he’s just a political figure in a country where political figures don’t matter,” Toaldo said. “He is similar to [the US-backed former president of Afghanistan, Hamid] Karzai. These men are strong only because external powers give them strength.”

Meeting goals

Speaking at a press briefing on Monday, Elysée officials set out a more concrete goal for the talks.

“We want to see a joint declaration tomorrow between the two main actors,” officials said. “That would be the first time that they accept to agree on a vision of diplomatic transition for the months to come.”

For Toaldo, this may be aiming too high. He said the Libyan leaders won’t want to be seen as making too many concessions, fearing a backlash at home. After the meeting in Abu Dhabi, Sarraj bore the brunt of the criticism, he noted, even though some rumours had exaggerated the extent of his concessions.

“My guess is that they will come to an agreement about a framework for further negotiations,” Toaldo said, “But nothing more binding than that. My hope, however, is that it is more substantial than just a Kodak moment for these three leaders.”


Libya’s Top Strongmen Meet in Paris With Macron

July 24, 2017

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and suit

Libya’s two strongmen: Fayez al-Sarraj meets Khalifa Haftar — File photo from AFP

PARIS (AFP) – Libya’s UN-backed Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj will hold talks near Paris on Tuesday with Khalifa Haftar, the powerful military commander based in the country’s east, the French presidency said.

French President Emmanuel Macron will host the meeting, the presidency said in a statement on Monday.

“France intends, through this initiative, to facilitate a political agreement” between the two rivals as the newly appointed UN envoy for Libya, Ghassam Salame, takes office, the statement said.

Tuesday’s talks, which were first reported by France’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday, would be the second between Sarraj and Haftar in the space of three months after they met in Abu Dhabi in May.

Sarraj this month laid out a new political roadmap for his violence-wracked country, including the scheduling of presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2018.

Political rivalry and fighting between militias have hampered Libya’s recovery from the chaos that followed the 2011 uprising that toppled and longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, who was killed in the aftermath.

Sarraj’s Government of National Accord has been struggling to assert its authority since it began work in Tripoli in March 2016. Haftar’s rival administration based in the remote east has refused to recognise it.

Western intelligence services fear that Islamic State jihadists are capitalising on the chaos to set up bases in Libya as they are chased from their former strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

Libya has also become the main springboard for migrants seeking to reach the European Union by sailing to Italy in often flimsy and overloaded boats.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told newspaper Le Monde in June that Libya was “a priority” for Macron and said there was “a security risk because of the trafficking of all kinds, including humans” from Libya.

“In consultation with all its partners, France intends to show its support for the efforts to build a political compromise, under the aegis of the United Nations, which unites… all the different Libyan actors,” Monday’s statement from the Elysee Palace said.

“The challenge is to build a state capable of meeting the basic needs of Libyans and endowed with a regular unified army under the authority of the civil power.

“It is necessary for the control of Libyan territory and its borders, to fight terrorist groups and arms and migrant traffickers, but also with a view to a return to a stable institutional life.”


France to Host Talks With Libya’s Premier Amid Falling Poll Number for Macron, Firing of Top French General, Budget Cuts

July 24, 2017

PARIS — France said it will host talks on Tuesday between Fayez al-Serraj, head of Libya’s U.N.-backed government in Tripoli, and Khalifa Haftar, a powerful military commander in the divided country’s east who has so far rejected his authority.

During the talks, President Emmanuel Macron aims to show France’s support for U.N-backed efforts to stabilize the country, “which would based upon the involvement of all the different factions in Libya,” his office said in a statement.

Unconfirmed reports of the talks had been circulating since last week.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by John Stonestreet)

Image may contain: 2 people, people standing and suit

Libya’s two strongmen: Fayez al-Sarraj meets Khalifa Haftar


Popularity tumbles for France’s Macron: poll

Popularity tumbles for France's Macron: poll
Photo: AFP
A poll out Sunday shows the popularity rating of France’s new President Emmanuel Macron has slumped 10 points to hit 54 percent over the past month.

While Macron has made a strong start on the world stage and won a solid majority in parliament, his first three months in power have not been completely trouble-free.

He was widely criticised by opponents and the press as heavy-handed after a row over budget cuts that ended with the resignation of a highly-regarded military chief.

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President Macron and Pierre de Villiers clashed over the French military’s budget. Now de Villiers is gone and Macron’s poll numbers have slipped

The 39-year-old leader has also backed a controversial bill to toughen France’s security laws that includes measures some rights groups have branded as draconian.

His majority in parliament has drawn concern, with opponents and several newspapers expressing concern over the concentration of power in the presidency.

According to an Ifop poll carried out for Journal du Dimanche newspaper, the number of French people satisfied with his performance fell 10 points from 64 percent in June.

Macron’s Prime Minister Edouard Philippe marked an eight point drop to hit 56 percent of French people happy with him, said the poll of 1,947 adults carried out from July 17th-22nd.

France’s youngest-ever president, who has sought to project an image of authority since taking office in May, made clear during the row with the military boss that he would brook no insubordination as commander-in-chief.

The leftist Liberation newspaper said Macron’s “little authoritarian fit” could be a sign he was drunk on power and said it was time for him “to grow up a bit”.

A relative newcomer to politics who won election on a tide of disaffection with mainstream politics, Macron has enjoyed a honeymoon with voters, drawing particular praise for standing up to US President Donald Trump and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Donald Trump ‘may reverse decision on climate accord’, says Emmanuel Macron

July 16, 2017


PARIS (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said he was hopeful that U.S. President Donald Trump would reverse his decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord, according to weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) on Sunday.

“(Trump) told me that he would try to find a solution in the coming months,” Macron told the paper, referring to meetings the two leaders had this week in Paris.

“We spoke in detail about the things that could make him come back to the Paris accord,” he added.

Trump has said the Paris accord is soft on leading polluters like China and India, putting U.S. industry at risk.

Trump on Friday appeared to hold the door open to a change of position on the 2015 Paris climate change agreement which he pulled the United States out of earlier this year.

The accord, reached by nearly 200 countries in 2015, was meant to limit global warming to 2 degrees or less by 2100, mainly through pledges to cut carbon dioxide and other emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Trump has repeatedly said he would be open to a better deal for the United States.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Michel Rose; Editing by Richard Chang

EU leaders willing to compromise on freedom of movement, says Tony Blair — Key concession that could prevent Brexit

July 15, 2017


LONDON (Reuters) – European Union leaders are willing to change the bloc’s rules for the freedom of movement of workers, opening an opportunity for Britain to avoid a damaging “hard Brexit”, former prime minister Tony Blair said on Saturday.

The election of French President Emmanuel Macron had put reform of the EU on the table, meaning Britain and the EU could meet “halfway” to strike a deal that would keep Britain inside the world’s largest trading area, Blair said.

“The European leaders, certainly from my discussions, are willing to consider changes to accommodate Britain, including around freedom of movement,” the former Labour prime minister said in an article published by his Institute for Global Change.

“The opposition to free movement of people, once you break it down, is much more nuanced. The French and Germans share some of the British worries, notably around immigration, and would compromise on freedom of movement.”

Blair’s comments are at odds with the EU’s negotiating stance, which stresses there can be no “cherry picking” from the benefits of membership of the EU’s single market without accepting freedom of movement for EU workers.

Blair lamented that both Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party and the opposition Labour Party had set their minds on leaving the single market, without exploring the alternatives.

“Given what is at stake, and what, daily, we are discovering about the costs of Brexit, how can it be right deliberately to take off the table the option of compromise between Britain and Europe so that Britain stays within a reformed Europe?” he said.

Blair was prime minister for 10 years until 2007. He wanted to take Britain into the euro zone and believed Britain should lead the way in the EU rather than withdraw from it.

Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Dale Hudson


EU leaders willing to give UK control over immigration to prevent Brexit, Tony Blair says

Tony Blair CREDIT: PA

EU leaders would be willing to give Britain control over freedom of movement if the UK stays in the single market, Tony Blair has revealed.

The former Labour Prime Minister said political changes on the continent, including the election of Emmanuel Macron, have made an alternative to so-called hard Brexit more likely as he called on Jeremy Corbyn to end his support for leaving the single market.

Control over immigration has been one of the key sticking points of Brexit so far, as Eu leaders have made clear that single market membership requires freedom of movement of citizens across the EU.

Tony Blair
Tony Blair CREDIT: AFP

Mr Blair said it is “possible” that the will of the British people will change, leaving the door open to the UK remaining in the union but with a much better deal – including control over freedom of movement.

Mr Blair, a strong critic of Brexit, said: “The Macron victory changes the political dynamics…

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