Sarkozy tells central Europe to focus on future
14 September 2007, BUDAPEST (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a Hungarian newspaper that his visit Friday to Budapest was a message to central Europe to forget past differences and focus on a common future in the EU.
14 September 2007
BUDAPEST (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy told a Hungarian newspaper that his visit Friday to Budapest was a message to central Europe to forget past differences and focus on a common future in the EU.
The comments published in the daily Nepszabadsag were a thinly veiled reference to the chill in relations in 2003 between Paris and central European countries over the US invasion of Iraq.
"This (trip) is also a signal to central Europe to dispel any possible misunderstandings of recent years," Sarkozy told the centre-left daily.
In 2003, French President Jacques Chirac said the countries of the former Soviet bloc, which went on to join the EU in 2004, had "missed a good opportunity to keep quiet" when they lined up to support the US attack.
Sarkozy said he now wants to improve ties with central Europe ahead of France taking over the EU presidency in the second half of 2008.
Striking a personal note, Sarkozy said he was "deeply moved to arrive as head of state to Hungary," the country his father left after World War II.
Although he speaks no Hungarian and has had little contact with the country, many here are proud that the son of a Hungarian immigrant made it all the way to the Elysee Palace, the seat of the French presidency..
One of Sarkozy's last distant relatives in Hungary, his 92-year old great-aunt Mariann Sarkozy, will be in attendance when the French president addresses parliament later Friday but they are not scheduled to meet.
During his one-day visit, Sarkozy will meet his Hungarian counterpart Laszlo Solyom, socialist Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany and the leader of the main right-wing opposition party, Viktor Orban.
Subject: French news