'Sleeping' finance minister slams 'French-bashing'

24th April 2013, Comments 0 comments

Accused of nodding off during lengthy EU talks to bail out Cyprus, France's Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici took to Twitter on Wednesday to slam what he called "French bashing".

Media had seized on his apparent nap to question France's role and diminishing authority in the 27-nation bloc, gripped by a debt crisis and disagreements over economic reforms.

"No I was not sleeping during the negotiations and (IMF chief) Christine Lagarde did not wake me up. Yes France has a voice and weight: stop French bashing," a riled up Moscovici tweeted, sparking a wave of sarcasm on the social media network.

Some media, such as French daily Le Monde, cited witnesses who said Moscovici had "dozed off lengthily" during laborious overnight talks in Brussels on March 24.

According to the reports, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde had to nudge him awake.

"Now I understand why we don't hear France's voice," Lagarde, Moscovici's predecessor as France's Finance minister, is reported to have said.

In a separate tweet the minister added: "Inventing a story and then romanticising it from false information to denigrate a country: that is French bashing".

Moscovici had conceded that he drifted off during a break in discussions.

The issue was raised again in French media on Wednesday as Moscovici held a press conference to highlight his country's role on the international scene.

Referring to a G20 meeting of the worlds rich and emerging nations in Washington last week, he praised a change of direction by an international community now prioritising economic growth over austerity.

Moscovici said this shift was made "around our own vision of the economic stakes", amid criticism France was not weighing-in enough over an excess of austerity measures.

The minister also hailed "giant steps" taken to fight against banking secrecy and fiscal fraud, an urgent French concern after budget minister Jerome Cahuzac was forced to resign after admitting tax evasion.

© 2013 AFP

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