Interviews

  • Good business, Bad business: Bill Emmott on the crisis in Italy

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     © Justine Stoddart © Justine Stoddart

    In 2001, British weekly magazine The Economist published an investigation into tycoon-turned politician Silvio Berlusconi’s shady business empire under the headline ‘Why Silvio Berlusconi is unfit to lead Italy’. It earned the magazine and its then-editor, Bill Emmott, the full wrath of the Italian leader and several legal suits for defamation, all of which were ultimately thrown out. This year Emmott published an in-depth analysis of modern-day Italy, called Good Italy, Bad Italy, in which he argues why the country, now rid of Berlusconi, has reached a crucial societal and economic crossroads that allows no turning back to its past structure, and where the future path for change it will take is all but certain. Here he tells Mediapart’s Philippe Riès how the eurozone's third-largest economy was suffocated by “the desire of business to seize the state and to use it to serve its own selfish interest”.

  • Kadhafi « exécuté » : les révélations d’un agent libyen

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    Obeidi, à gauche. © (dr) Obeidi, à gauche. © (dr)

    Dans un entretien à Mediapart, Rami El Obeidi, ancien coordinateur du renseignement extérieur auprès du Conseil national de transition (CNT) libyen, assure que « des agents français ont directement exécuté Kadhafi ». Selon lui, « la menace d’une révélation d’un financement de Sarkozy en 2006-2007 a été suffisamment prise au sérieux pour que quiconque à l’Élysée veuille la mort de Kadhafi très rapidement ». L'attaque aérienne ayant visé le convoi de Kadhafi était « dirigée par la DGSE et des responsables à l’Élysée ».

  • More of French PM's interview with Mediapart: the TSCG, making EU more democratic, cabinet splits and Muslim anger

    In this second and final part of his exclusive interview with Mediapart, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault answers the suggestion that he is railroading the democratic process with the adoption of the European Treaty on Stability, Cooperation and Governance (TSCG), sets out his position on the widespread use of tax havens by big banks and corporations, and for greater representation of national parliaments in EU decision-making. He also answers questions on recent domestic issues, including his government's decision to ban demonstrations in protest at the publication by a French magazine of cartoon caricatures of Prophet Mohammed, and the calling to book of his interior minister over his out-of-step comments on racial profiling and the right to vote of of non-EU nationals.

  • French PM Ayrault slams 'lack of vision' over euro crisis, calls for breathing space for Greece and defends fiscal compact

    Jean-Marc Ayrault : " l'Europe est un combat " © Mediapart

    In this first part of a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Mediapart, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc pledges his government will do its all to keep the euro alive, argues that a delay should be given to Greece to meet its deficit target and answers mounting criticism that he and President François Hollande have capitulated their pro-growth policies with the adoption, without any compromise, of the austerity-promoting European Treaty on Stability, Cooperation and Governance, the TSCG. The French Prime Minister, in an interview conducted in French and translated here into English, calls on the treaty’s opponents to come clean that they want to leave the euro, and claims the election of President Hollande has announced a re-orientation of European policy-making. “I am convinced there has been an enormous degree of political weakness and lack of vision since the start of the crisis,” he comments, adding that European leaders are “beginning to be conscious of the major risks into which we will be plunged if Greece leaves the euro.”

  • French intelligence chief 'lied' in cover up over Toulouse gunman

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     © Reuters © Reuters

    The father of one of the victims of a series of shootings in south-west France in March this year which claimed the lives of four adults and three children, says new evidence suggests that the suspected gunman, who was shot dead by police, was used as a double-agent by the French intelligence services and that the authorities have deliberately misled public opinion describing him as a “solitary” terrorist. In an exclusive interview with Mediapart, Albert Chennouf accuses the former head of the French domestic intelligence agency, Bernard Squarcini, of lying about his agency’s links with the gunman, Mohamed Merah. Chennouf says he believes Merah was killed to prevent him revealing the true nature of his dealings with the agency, and has told Mediapart that his family received death threats after he filed a lawsuit against Squarcini and former president Nicolas Sarkozy for ‘failure to render assistance to persons in danger’.

  • Greenpeace dismay over French government's 'negative' signals on the environment

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    Just weeks before a high-profile government conference on the environment, activist group Greenpeace has expressed its dissatisfaction with the stance taken by the new administration on green issues. In an interview with Mediapart, the organisation’s director Jean-François Julliard says he was “astonished” to hear that the prime minister has not ruled out the exploitation of shale gas in France. He also claims the government has so far shown “no strong commitment” on environmental issues as a whole, and says he fears ministers are proving vulnerable to lobbying from the oil industry. Jade Lindgaard reports.

  • The 'double heritage' behind the crisis in Greece

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    Following the creation of an independent Greece in 1830, the country’s administration has been significantly shaped by European models, while its cultural, religious and historical heritage, along with its geographical situation, have given the country, the first European state to have emerged from the Ottoman Empire, an exceptional political and economic destiny. In this interview with Joseph Confavreux, Geneva-based historian Dimitri Skopelitis offers a historical insight into the nature of the current turmoil in Greece, tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, its future within the European Union still uncertain, and the complex relationship between the population and the State.

  • The myths and destruction of the tombs of Timbuktu

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    The name Timbuktu has taken on an almost mythical status in Western thought, one fuelled by the remoteness of the town in Mali. In destroying tombs recently in this “pearl of the desert” an Islamist group has both launched an attack on the holy sites of other Muslims and thrown down a challenge to the West, who recently put the famous town on the UNESCO list of endangered World Heritage sites. In an interview with Joseph Confavreux, French historian Charles Grémont gives the background to current events in Mali and the threat posed to Timbuktu.

  • How Sarkozy's UMP gave legitimacy to the far-right Front National

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    After the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party in France's presidential and parliamentary elections, various prominent party figures have publicly questioned the former president's tactic of lurching to the right in a bid to poach votes from the far-right Front National (FN). Joël Gombin, a researcher at the University of Picardy who specialises in studying the FN's electorate, says this policy should be abandoned, not only because it so manifestly failed - but also because it legitimised the Front National. He spoke to Marine Turchi.

  • Life on the Smic - how people in France cope on the minimum wage

    The French minimum wage, the Salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance or Smic, went up by 2% on July 1st, causing a political row. Some say the rise is an extra burden on businesses. Critics on the Left say the increase is far too small. But what impact will it have in practice on the purchasing power of those on or slightly above this basic level of income? How do you live on little more than 1,000 euros a month? Mediapart interviewed people living in different parts of the country on or close to the minimum wage to find out. Valentine Oberti, Ellen Salvi and Rachida El Azzouzi report.