Interviews

  • The dire consequences of the secret treaty to deregulate the global financial markets

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    Beginning in 2013, representatives of the United States, the European Union on behalf of its 28 member states, along with more than 20 other countries have been regularly meeting in Geneva to secretly negotiate a future treaty for the liberalization of the international services market, called the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). By far the largest single sector of this market is that of financial services, which the treaty plans to deregulate on despite all the evidence provided by the global financial crisis of the folly of such a move. The details of the treaty have until now been kept secret from public scrutiny, but for the recent revelation by WikiLeaks of the draft text of the treaty’s Financial Services Annex. To understand the full implications of the opaque dealings in Geneva, Martine Orange turned to Dominique Plihon, a former advisor to the French government on economic issues, alter-globalization militant and a professor with Paris-XIII university specialized in the financial economy.

  • 'The Front National's enemy is no longer the Jew but the French Muslim'

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    Lors d'un meeting à Marseille, le 20 mai. © Reuters Lors d'un meeting à Marseille, le 20 mai. © Reuters

    France's far-right Front National party won a quarter of the popular vote in May's European elections, albeit on a low turnout, as xenophobic, nationalist parties across Europe made significant gains. The result seemed to vindicate FN president Marine Le Pen's strategy of trying to change the party's image, shedding the anti-Semitism of the past and donning a cloak of respectability. But in a detailed history of the Front National published last month, researcher Valérie Igounet shows that the new image is just a veneer that cracks whenever the ghosts of the party's past rear their heads. Meanwhile the party has simply replaced Jews with Muslims as the principal target of its attacks. Igounet explains her findings to Mediapart’s Joseph Confavreux and Marine Turchi.

  • 'When I look at France, I see greatness that has become hysteria'

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    Belgian political thinker, historian and award-winning writer David Van Reybrouck believes that France has the most ossified political system in Western Europe, a “paternalistic republic invented by Charles de Gaulle as if he were presiding over a Sunday lunch” and in conflict with major societal trends. In this interview with Joseph Confavreux, one of a series presenting foreign commentators’ views on French society, Van Reybrouck says that in France “you can vote or demonstrate, but there’s not much in between”. He says the country would do well to look with interest - “rather than condescension” - at recent democratic innovations in smaller countries like Belgium, Ireland or Iceland.

  • European elections special: where the candidates to head the EU Commission stand on the controversial transatlantic trade treaty

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     © Reuters © Reuters

    The free trade treaty currently being hammered out between the European Union and the United States is a major issue in this week’s elections of members of the European Parliament, which in France will be held on Sunday. For this year also sees the departure of EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso, and for the first time the new head of this key EU body will be appointed from the political grouping that does best in this week’s continent-wide elections. Here, Mediapart's Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant questions all of the parties’ declared candidates for the post of Commission president - Martin Schulz, Guy Verhofstadt, Alexis Tsipras, José Bové and Jean-Claude Juncker – and hears their conflicting views on the transatlantic free trade deal.

  • Behind the mask of France's jihadists

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    A raft of new measures aimed at preventing the growing number of French nationals joining jihadist movements in Syria was approved at a meeting of the French cabinet on Wednesday. Official estimates are that 700 French citizens and residents have joined jihadist groups engaged in the three-year old civil war against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, some of them teenagers. The issue was highlighted during the release last weekend of four French journalists who had been kidnapped in Syria by an al-Qaeda-linked group, when they said they had identified francophones among their captors. To understand more about just who the French jihadists are, and what motivates them, Mediapart Arab affairs correspondent Pierre Puchot turned to Radio France International journalist David Thomson, who carried out in-depth interviews with 18 of them for his recently-published book Les Français jihadistes.

  • 'France has withdrawn into itself'

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    Todd Shepard Todd Shepard

    France's local elections in March were a débâcle for President François Hollande's socialist government, resulting in a reshuffle and the appointment of a new prime minister, Manuel Valls. But the current disaffection with politics runs even deeper. Both the Left and the Right are divided, high unemployment persists, the economy is flat and the far-right Front National has made electoral gains. How does all this appear from the outside? Mediapart's Joseph Confavreux interviewed American academic Todd Shepard, an expert on modern French history, who believes that France's colonial past is still shaping its present, and not for the better.

     

  • French police accused of joining in Spain's dirty war against Basque separatists

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     © DR © DR

    During the 1980s, the Spanish government launched a dirty war against members of the Basque paramilitary separatist group ETA by creating an assassination organization that hid behind the name of GAL (for Anti-terrorist Liberation Groups). Between 1983 and 1987, the GAL killed 27 people and wounded 30 others, including innocent bystanders, in a campaign of assassinations and car bombings that spread terror across the Basque regions of northern Spain and south-west France. While it was later established how the GAL were led and funded by the Spanish government and police services, it is now alleged that numerous French police officers were recruited into the GAL hit squads to carry out murders on their own patch. Former Spanish deputy police commissioner and convicted GAL operative José Amedo Fouce has published a book in which he recounts terrorist actions committed by French police officers, and how their covert roles were covered up on high. He provides further detail in this interview with Karl Laske, including the key role of a French officer in a number of killings and whose true identity remains a secret today.

  • Making themselves heard: why sacked workers David and Stéphanie will vote for the far-right Front national

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    David et Stéphanie Stephan © Rachida El Azzouzi David et Stéphanie Stephan © Rachida El Azzouzi

    When abattoir employees David and Stéphanie watched TV reports of workers in bitter disputes with bosses over factory closures, they insisted it could never happen to them. Their abattoir in Brittany was reputed to provide 'jobs for life'. But then last October the news struck that the plant was to close, leaving David, Stéphanie and more than 800 other workers out of a job. Here the couple tell Mediapart's Rachida El Azzouzi about their shock at being thrown out of work, their anger at the government in Paris and explain why for the first time they intend to vote for Marine Le Pen's far-right party.

  • Gaddafi-Sarkozy corruption affair: ex-spy chief 'ready to help French investigation'

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    Abdallah Senoussi, le 21 août 2011 à Tripoli.  © Reuters Abdallah Senoussi, le 21 août 2011 à Tripoli. © Reuters

    Colonel Gaddafi's former intelligence chief is said to be ready to cooperate fully with French judges who are probing claims that the Libyan regime illegally funded Nicolas Sarkozy's successful presidential election campaign in 2007. Abdullah Senussi's daughter told Mediapart: 'My father can help the judges find the proof.' Anoud Senussi has been in Paris to ask officials at the Elysée Palace to intercede on behalf of her father, who faces the death sentence in Libya where he is currently held on war crime charges. Fabrice Arfi reports.

     

  • The grim reality behind the 1983 'march for equality and against racism'

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    December 3rd marks the 30th anniversary of the arrival in Paris of the March for Equality and Against Racism, a milestone in the history of anti-racist movements in France. It was the triumphant end of a 1,500-kilometre trek across the country's towns and cities, beginning in  Marseille, and which vented the anger of France’s population of North African origin at the prejudice and violence they were regularly the target of. Moroccan immigrant Abdallah Moubine (pictured) was 29 years old at the time, and remembers the marchers’ arrival in the French capital as a “magnificent” event. Moubine, a trade unionist who battled for equal rights for North African immigrants in the French car industry, tells Carine Fouteau about the explosive racist climate of the early 1980s, and reflects on what’s changed since that historic day in December 1983.