Depardieu campaigns for EU constitution

9th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 9 (AFP) - The French government on Monday harnessed the star power of one of the country's most famous actors for its campaign in favour of the European constitution, less than three weeks before a crucial referendum.

PARIS, May 9 (AFP) - The French government on Monday harnessed the star power of one of the country's most famous actors for its campaign in favour of the European constitution, less than three weeks before a crucial referendum.  

"I'm voting yes!" Gerard Depardieu, star of such international hit films as "Cyrano de Bergerac" and "Jean de Florette", told reporters.  

The government of centre-right President Jacques Chirac called upon Depardieu to help commemorate Europe Day - May 9, 1950 - when then French foreign minister Robert Schuman urged closer European integration.  

"The day will come when... all of you, nations of the continent... you will merge into a greater entity and you will constitute a European brotherhood," the actor read from a classic speech delivered by Victor Hugo in 1849.  

Europe Day provided the perfect opportunity for Chirac's administration to infuse its campaign for the EU constitution - which is slowly gaining momentum - with a bit of glamour.  

Depardieu delivered the Hugo speech at the French foreign ministry, which opened its doors to the public - a rare event - in a bid to better explain the merits of the landmark EU charter to unconvinced voters.  

After weeks of opinion polls showing opponents of the constitution in the lead, the government is trying to capitalize on the most recent surveys which show that the 'yes' camp has pulled back to an even split with the 'no' camp.  

Earlier, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier launched a charm offensive with his Spanish counterpart Miguel Angel Moratinos to capture the female vote, meeting with 100 women at a cafe in northern Paris.  

"The treaty does not take anything away. It only will bring progress," Barnier said, reminding his audience not to turn the May 29 referendum into a protest vote against Chirac and his government's policies.  

All 25 EU member states must approve the constitutional treaty for it to come into effect. If such a heavyweight EU member as France were to reject the constitution, some observers believe the treaty would be stopped in its tracks.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

 

 

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