French press review 20 July 2012
Can diplomacy stop the violence in Syria? Is the French government being nasty to Peugeot-Citroën? Can France end prostitution? Should France accept the EU's stability pact? Can Ramadan help interfaith dialogue? Is Europe dividing into two? And why did French MPs whistle the housing minister?
Le Monde, goes big on the bomb which it claims has precipitated Syria’s destiny. According to the newspaper, the 18 July bombing has taken the civil war right into the heart of Damascus exposing the fragility of the regime.
As Damascus burns, Le Monde says a foot-dragging race being run at the United Nations headquarters will be of no consequence as 16 months of diplomacy by former UN chief Kofi Anan has proved incapable of impacting on the Syrian crisis.
Le Figaro gives pride of place to the counter-attack launched by Thierry Peugeot, heir to the French automaker, in response to criticism by Industrial Renewal Arnaud Montebourg on PSA Peugeot-CitroÊn's corporate strategy. Montebourd was due to meet the carmaker's chief for talks on 8,000 jobs cuts and the closure of the historic Aulnay plant north of Paris.
Le Figaro highlights the blunt statement issued by the Peugeot family. Thierry Peugeot who chairs the company’s board of directors put out a press release on Thursday stating that the Peugeot family has always given priority to the group's development and strategy, not hesitating to dilute its stake when the situation demandS, a statement Le Figaro considers as further proOF that there isn’t much the government can do to force the company scrap its plans to lay off 4,000 workers.
Libération takes up the debate entertained here in France about the legal status of prostitution in the country of human rights. Libé says the government is not yet ready to enact any legislation on of the "oldest profession", despite the agitation of the new and very youthful Women’s Rights Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.
The position of people clamouring for a ban is untenable, according to the paper, because abolition infringes on the freedoms of sex workers and their clients who as adults have the right to decide the life they want to live and decide on the profession and sexual practices of choice. The paper warns that banning prostitution could push prostitutes into a clandestine life, rendering them more vulnerable to underground networks.
Today’s issue of L’Humanité launches a petition to back its call for the holding of a referendum on whether or not France should sign up to the European budget stability pact. The Communist Party newspaper is opposed to the proposed reform and reiterates its position that it is up to the people to decide as sovereignty lies only with them.
La Croix welcomes an “opportunity for dialogue” between Catholics and Islam as Muslims begin the holy season of the Ramadan. The Catholic daily says this period of Muslim fasting “opens new doors” for frank and fruitful exchanges and a will on both sides to “tackle the tensions and difficulties steering the religions in the face”.
Les Echos reexamines the debt crisis affecting Europe and warns that the “markets could split the monetary zone into two halves” due to the debt problem.
The economic newspaper bases its assumptions on France’s ability to raise 8.9 billion euros as unprecedentedly low interest rates while Spain recorded its worst bond auction since the seven per cent borrowing level imposed on secondary markets in January.
Aujourd’hui en France/Le Parisien wonders whether the “male chauvinism typical of French society is anywhere close to ending”, after whistling by opposition lawmakers drowned out a statement in parliament on Wednesday by Housing Minister Cécile Duflot.
The catcalls were provoked by the fact that Duflot was wearing a dress for the first time since her much criticised appearance in jeans at the government’s first cabinet meeting last month.
Le Parisien cites the fact that women earn 30 per cent less than male colleagues on the same job, as evidence that the road to gender parity is long and winding.
The 14-million euro annual salary of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paris Saint Germain’s latest signing this season continues to draw reactions here in France, including exclamations from cabinet ministers and an editorial in the very holy La Croix.
The paper says that while the PSG officials are hoping to recover the money in record time, through the sale of promotional items, Zlatan’s pay check is causing “indignation and a malaise to many in this country where salary scales never get close to excesses of this magnitude”.