What to expect from Sarko tonight

Tonight, Nicolas Sarkozy will address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Yesterday, a few of us from FP attended Sarkozy’s address to the French-American Business Council, where the French president touched on a number of themes you’re likely to see in tonight’s speech. The bottom line? Here’s a man on a charm offensive. Some ...

598305_071107_sarko_05.jpg
598305_071107_sarko_05.jpg

Tonight, Nicolas Sarkozy will address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Yesterday, a few of us from FP attended Sarkozy's address to the French-American Business Council, where the French president touched on a number of themes you're likely to see in tonight's speech. The bottom line? Here's a man on a charm offensive.

Some highlights:

Sarkozy is looking to build bridges with France's socialists. "I want major reforms and for that I need a vast majority", he said. Expect the unity theme to reappear again in his comments on the Franco-American relationship. 
Building on that topic, Sarkozy will also likely speak of France's own special relationship with the United States. Expect him to mention the portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette that hangs in the House chamber and the "eternal debt" France owes to the United States for its role in both world wars.
Seven of the 15 ministers in Sarkozy's cabinet are women, a fact he emphasized in yesterday's meeting, describing the United States as a model of inclusion. Expect him to congratulate Nancy Pelosi on her position as Speaker of the House.
Sarkozy is also likely to speak on the need for reforms in the world's international organizations. "The UN, IMF and G8 are all organizations of the twentieth century," he said yesterday, and it is likely that he will call for changes that would take into account the emerging powers of the developing world.
On trade, expect Sarkozy to emphasize the need for free trade but a fair playing field. In other words, while Sarkozy may portray himself as a champion of the free market, expect France to continue to protect its domestic industries, especially agriculture.
On Iran, the French President said that it is "unacceptable" that Iran be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon but that the country, like all others, did have the right to civilian nuclear power; he even dubbed nuclear energy the "technology of the future". He admonished those who are opposed to meeting with Iran's leaders, saying, "there's no contradiction between firmness and dialogue."

Tonight, Nicolas Sarkozy will address a joint session of the U.S. Congress. Yesterday, a few of us from FP attended Sarkozy’s address to the French-American Business Council, where the French president touched on a number of themes you’re likely to see in tonight’s speech. The bottom line? Here’s a man on a charm offensive.

Some highlights:

  • Sarkozy is looking to build bridges with France’s socialists. “I want major reforms and for that I need a vast majority”, he said. Expect the unity theme to reappear again in his comments on the Franco-American relationship. 
  • Building on that topic, Sarkozy will also likely speak of France’s own special relationship with the United States. Expect him to mention the portrait of the Marquis de Lafayette that hangs in the House chamber and the “eternal debt” France owes to the United States for its role in both world wars.
  • Seven of the 15 ministers in Sarkozy’s cabinet are women, a fact he emphasized in yesterday’s meeting, describing the United States as a model of inclusion. Expect him to congratulate Nancy Pelosi on her position as Speaker of the House.
  • Sarkozy is also likely to speak on the need for reforms in the world’s international organizations. “The UN, IMF and G8 are all organizations of the twentieth century,” he said yesterday, and it is likely that he will call for changes that would take into account the emerging powers of the developing world.
  • On trade, expect Sarkozy to emphasize the need for free trade but a fair playing field. In other words, while Sarkozy may portray himself as a champion of the free market, expect France to continue to protect its domestic industries, especially agriculture.
  • On Iran, the French President said that it is “unacceptable” that Iran be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon but that the country, like all others, did have the right to civilian nuclear power; he even dubbed nuclear energy the “technology of the future”. He admonished those who are opposed to meeting with Iran’s leaders, saying, “there’s no contradiction between firmness and dialogue.”

While he praised the United States, Sarkozy’s overall message, like that of many recent French presidents, is one of restoring France to its former position of international grandeur. But this French leader brings a new twist:

If you want to be an example, you have to behave like an example. We’ve fallen too far behind, but we’re catching up.”

Editor’s Note: This post coauthored by Joshua Keating.

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