French press cautiously welcomes Rice doctrine

9th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 9 (AFP) - French press commentators on Wednesday gave a broad welcome to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Paris speech on transatlantic relations, but many warned that talk of a hopeful new dawn may prove to be premature.

PARIS, Feb 9 (AFP) - French press commentators on Wednesday gave a broad welcome to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's Paris speech on transatlantic relations, but many warned that talk of a hopeful new dawn may prove to be premature.

"Can we trust Rice?" blazoned the popular daily France-Soir across its front page, reflecting the widespread view that while her appeal for cooperation and mutual respect was fine and good - time alone will show if it had substance.

The conservative daily Le Figaro was the most positive about Rice's address, seeing in it a sign of "real change" in the attitude of President George W. Bush's second term administration towards its European allies.

"The time when Madame Rice wanted to 'punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia' is clearly over. Now her view is of our 'interconnected history' and 'shared future.'

"On both sides it is the moment to dilute our quarrels and bring to its conclusion a crisis whose prolongation would bring ever greater difficulties," it said.

But many other newspapers were more cautious. The left-wing Liberation was in no doubt that Rice had made an excellent showing. For the accomplished pianist that she is, it was a "faultless recital", the paper said.

But it went on - in English - "She talks the talk, but can she walk the walk?"

"There is no doubt that George W. Bush - her boss - has put at the top of the agenda the repair of the diplomatic crockery that he smashed elephant-like in his first term.

"But it is still fair to doubt whether he has in reality made a conversion to multilateralism and dialogue, and whether this is not simply a tactical adjustment born of his difficulties in Iraq," it said.

Many regional papers - which together have a far greater circulation in France than the nationals - took up the theme.

"Before we start celebrating Franco-American reconciliation, let us separate things out," said La Republique du Centre.

"Sure, 'Condo' spoke positively of a new chapter in relations. Sure, Jacques Chirac has said how glad he is at the resumption of constructive dialogue with the US. But we still have the task of reforging a true relationship of trust between a France that loves to argue and a US that likes to impose its certainties," it said.

L'Est Republicain agreed. "Behind this gesture of appeasement there is nothing to suggest there is any less bitterness or any more respect in the relation between Paris and Washington," it said.

"Before declaring that the quarrel is over ... we have got to convince the American hyperpower that transatlantic cohesion means offering friends - even the most difficult ones - something more than just a seat in the corner, where they can watch the debate without deciding a thing."

© AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article