Blair praises French right-winger Sarkozy

2nd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 2, 2007 (AFP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a French magazine interview to be published Thursday he had learned to like and respect Nicolas Sarkozy, the right-wing frontrunner for the presidency.

PARIS, May 2, 2007 (AFP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a French magazine interview to be published Thursday he had learned to like and respect Nicolas Sarkozy, the right-wing frontrunner for the presidency.

Asked to speak out in favour of one of the two candidates -- Sarkozy or his Socialist rival Segolene Royal -- the centre-left leader told Paris Match "that is the decision for the French people. That is your election.

"Look, I am in a special position I have not met Segolene Royal and I obviously know Nicolas Sarkozy well," he said.

"We have worked closely together on a number of issues. So I got to know him well and I liked him very much and respected him very much.

Asked what he appreciated in the former interior minister, Blair replied:   "He is decisive, he is clear."

"I noticed when we had a difficult situation we needed to resolve when he was the interior minister and the whole business to do with... clandestine immigration, I just found him very open and very helpful.

Sarkozy has been attacked at home for what his critics say is a hard-line approach to immigration issues.

Blair described himself as a "fan" of France, saying the country "has a tremendous opportunity to play a big role on the world stage to get its economy really moving."

Arguing that France and Britain shared "the same values", he said it was "essential for young people that Britain and France have a common future" within Europe.

Switching briefly to French, Blair commented on the left-right divide saying "Everybody now wants to find another way, because we know that it's impossible to be split between the ideologues of left and right.

"For us in Britain it was very important to combine prosperity and social justice," he said, arguing that it was impossible in today's world "to protect jobs through more regulation".

Despite their age difference and much-reported clashes on the European stage, Blair said his relationship with the 74-year-old President Jacques Chirac was "better than was often written" and that he would keep "a lot of respect" for the outgoing leader.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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