French press review 23 August 2012
Can Afghanistan's army flush out Taliban infiltrators? Will Hollande keep his promises? Why is the number of old people committing suicide rising? And who's buying French vineyards?
On its international pages, Le Figaro’s Afghan correspondent looks into a growing phenomenon in the Afghan Army, infiltration. At least 40 coalition soldiers died this year from what are called “green on blue”, or “insider” attacks. Four of them were French.
The problem has grown to such proportions that President Hamid Karzai has ordered a
clean-up operation to rid the army and the police of infiltrators.
The paper reports the measures which have been enacted by the president and the chief of the armed forces. Dozens of intelligence agents will be dispatched to police and army bases across the country to “identify dangerous elements”. Soldiers’ phone conversations will tapped on a massive scale.
The Taliban seem to be very pleased to have found a new and efficient way to kill more coalition soldiers. In a phone interview with Le Figaro’s correspondent, the Taliban spokesperson says that this year the organisation has decided to inscribe the infiltration strategy into the “al-Faruk agenda”, a sort of war manual for talibs.
The author notes that it has become very easy to infiltrate the security forces since the government is spreading the net wide for recruits. It’s not surprising, says the author, since the transition plan requires 325,000 new Afghan soldiers.
“Will Hollande keep his promises?” asks the impatient Aujourd’hui en France on its front page. The tabloid says that, now that the government is back to work after the summer holidays, it will have to deliver on President François Hollande’s campaign promises.
And the list is quite long: freezing the petrol prices, taxation of high earners or the end
of cumul des mandats (holding several elected positions at once).
“The government has no room for manoeuvre,” a prominent French economist tells the paper. He warns that next year the French will definitely have to tighten their belts.
Christian paper La Croix looks at a very sad question - suicides by the elderly. Three thousand old people commit suicide each year, to general indifference, says the paper.
One of the reasons cited is the increase in life expectancy in recent years. But paradoxically, a longer life also means a “feeling of uselessness much more acute than in the past”. While the government announces a series of measures to stem the phenomenon, the paper tells a story which inspires hope. An NGO called Tomorrow Together introduces elderly people to children between three and 15 years old. They read, write poetry and stage plays together.
And finally, the foreign takeover of French vineyards is continuing. Another fine 12th-century French château surrenders to a foreign purse. This time it’s in Burgundy where a Chinese investor has blown eight million euros on a château which produces 10,000 bottles of what some say used to be Napoleon’s favourite wine. It looks as if, after the acquisition of about 20 of France’s finest vineyards, the Chinese are still thirsty for French wine.