Sarkozy takes the reins in France

16th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

16 May 2007, Paris (dpa) - Nicolas Sarkozy was installed Wednesday as the 23rd president of France in colourful ceremonies at Elysee Palace, and prepared for his first act of statesmanship, talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In the ceremonies as he took over the office from Jacques Chirac, the 52-year-old Sarkozy said he wanted to unite France, a nation that needed to fight against its fear of the future and "rehabilitate the values of work, effort, merit and respect. "France needs to ta

16 May 2007

Paris (dpa) - Nicolas Sarkozy was installed Wednesday as the 23rd president of France in colourful ceremonies at Elysee Palace, and prepared for his first act of statesmanship, talks in Berlin with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

In the ceremonies as he took over the office from Jacques Chirac, the 52-year-old Sarkozy said he wanted to unite France, a nation that needed to fight against its fear of the future and "rehabilitate the values of work, effort, merit and respect.

"France needs to take risks and needs to take initiative," the 52- year-old conservative said at the solemn ceremony in the Elysee Palace in Paris. "It has never been more important to fight against the fear of the future. We must find new solutions.

After the ceremonies, Sarkozy rode through the streets of the French capital in an open-air limousine, waving to well-wishers and stopping first at the Arc de Triomphe to lay a wreath at the "eternal flame" memorial grave of the unknown soldier.

Sarkozy briefly mixed with a crowd of bystanders before then heading to the Charles de Gaulle monument to pay tribute to the founder of the modern Fifth Republic.

In a further symbolic act, Sarkozy stopped in the Bois de Boulogne park to pay tribute to 35 French resistance fighters who were executed there by German Nazi occupiers in August, 1944.

Sarkozy read out the names of the 35 resistance fighters and also quoted from the farewell letter of the communist resistance figure Guy Moquet who had been executed in 1941.

In his "first decision as president" Sarkozy called for this letter to be read out in every school classroom at the beginning of the new school year. In the letter, Moquet had said "no to humiliation" and had not accepted that France should deny its history, Sarkozy said.

In Berlin, Sarkozy was expected to discuss with Merkel the forthcoming European Union summit to be hosted by Germany and which is to be devoted to issues of reform in the 27-nation EU.

Observers saw the fact that Sarkozy's first foreign trip as the new president is to Germany underscores the deep ties forged between France and Germany since World War II which are also the linchpin for the European process of reconciliation and integration.

In his inaugural speech which was unexpectedly programmatic, Sarkozy pledged to make human rights and the fight against climate change priorities in the foreign policy of his government.

In Europe, where he opposes unbridled liberalisation, he vowed: "I will fight fight for a Europe that protects," adding that the European ideal ensured the protection of its citizens.

He also promised to work for the formation of a Mediterranean union and signalled France's support for the development of Africa, the fate of which was incontestably linked with Europe, he noted.

Sarkozy spoke after Jean-Louis Debris, the head of the constitutional council proclaimed him the 23rd president of France.

He had earlier been greeted with a 21-gun salute on his arrival at the 18th century palace, where Chirac waited on the steps to usher his successor into private talks and the handover of secret codes for France's nuclear weapons.

Hundreds of invited guests, including Sarkozy's wife Cecilia and the couple's children were gathered along the red carpet at the Elysee Palace.

Sarkozy won elections on May 6, defeating his nearest rival, socialist Segolene Royal to become France's leader for the next five years.

DPA

Subject: German news

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