Interviews

  • 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

    By
     © 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

    By

    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

    By

    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

    By

    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

    By

    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.

  • L'ex-premier ministre libyen voulait parler au juge Van Ruymbeke

    By and

    Extradé en Libye dimanche par le gouvernement tunisien, l'ancien premier ministre Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi avait pris contact via son avocat, vendredi, avec le juge de l’affaire Takieddine. « Il allait être amené à parler des financements des campagnes électorales et des questions d’enrichissement personnel », explique son avocat, Me Ceccaldi, à Mediapart.

  • Poo! The Louvre hosts Belgian enfant terrible Wim Delvoye

    By

    After three years of horse-trading - or should that be pig-trading? - the Louvre is finally letting Belgian artist Wim Delvoye show some of his slightly less shocking works. His ‘poo machine’ and live tattooed pigs have been vetoed, but his 36-foot ‘Suppository’ is now sticking straight up into the apex of the Pyramid entrance to this pre-eminent Paris museum. There are also some stuffed, carpeted piglets, contorted crucifixes, and a selection of subversive Gothic-style sculptures on display in the Decorative Arts section this summer. Global meets local, high-brow meets low-brow, in the Wim Delvoye show now on at the Louvre until September. Hugo Vitrani reports.

  • Rust and Bone author Craig Davidson on life, fights, fatherhood and Audiard's 'beautiful' adaptation

    By
     © Roger Arpajou, Why Not Productions © Roger Arpajou, Why Not Productions

    French film director Jacques Audiard has met with widespread acclaim at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Rust and Bone ( De rouille et d'os), an adaptation of Canadian author Craig Davidson’s collection of short stories by the same name. As the film appears poised for a huge box-office success, Mediapart’s Christine Marcandier interviews Davidson about how the project with Audiard began (in a meeting when he spilled water over the celebrated director’s “lovely” felt hat), what he thinks of the film, and his approach to writing - which he admits has seen him go “a little crazy” in living out the pains of his characters.