Feb 24, 2008

Pork Barrel Politics French Style

Are they not a lovely couple?
We will come back to the photo in a minute as there is a New Zealand angle which we suspect the NZ media will allow to fly by.
Anyway Monsieur Bruni has proved that not much has changed in French politics apart from the sleeping arrangements. He has let rip at the WTO agriculture text. Speaking at the opening of the Paris agriculture fair Sarkozy said Europe shouldn't bow to pressure from the World Trade Organization to cut farm subsidies.

``Europe must show much greater resolve to defend its interests, instead of always making bigger concessions without any hope of regaining the ground it loses.''
``They should not count on my signature,'' Sarkozy said. Europe must defend its interests as its ``American friends'' defend their own, he said.
In case readers had not registered this, one of the reasons for rapid progress being essential now, rather that later in the year in the WTO negotiations is that France moves into the EU Presidency in June. What are Sarko's priorities for the Presidency? They don't sound that helpful to the resolution of the Round.
Sarkozy pledged to begin overhauling the Common Agricultural Policy as soon as France gains the EU presidency. He said discussions would focus on maintaining food supplies, increasing production, fighting climate change, and protecting farmland.
Anyway back to the photo. It is of Sarko's new bride's first official engagement. Sarkozy and Bruni are photographed while meeting with the family of Columbian politician Ingrid Betancourt. Betancourt is now in her sixth year of captivity in Columbia where she tried to run for the Presidency. Where is the NZ angle - she used to live here. She and her former husband were stationed here on assignment with the French foreign service in the 1980s. She has quite a few NZ friends. After she returned to Columbia and death threats started to be made she had to send her children to New Zealand for their safety. Our question - why is NZ not more active on her behalf? Her continuing incarceration is an outrage.
As an aside we note that in New Zealand the Marxist rebels would be unlikely to kidnap a leading Green politician - the parties have merged.