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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07PARIS921 2007-03-09 16:04 2010-12-01 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
DE RUEHFR #0921/01 0681619
O 091619Z MAR 07
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 PARIS 000921 



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/01/2016 

REF: A. PARIS 777 

Classified By: PolMC Josiah Rosenblatt for reasons 1.4 (B & D). 

1. (C) SUMMARY: Foreign policy has not and probably will not 
play a prominent role in the French presidential election 
campaign, and neither Nicolas Sarkozy nor Segolene Royal has 
enunciated a fleshed out foreign policy vision. (This 
message does not discuss emerging "third man" centrist 
Francois Bayrou, whose views fall somewhere between those of 
Sarkozy and Royal.) While it is likely that French policy 
overall under a Sarkozy or Royal presidency would be largely 
marked by continuity, signs are already emerging that the two 
candidates would -- initially at least -- adopt somewhat 
different approaches to the U.S., the Transatlantic 
relationship, and Europe. Sarkozy favors a relationship of 
confidence with the U.S. based on trust and with each side 
free to disagree (a position which is hurting him with 
voters), whereas Royal's natural reflex is to adopt a more 
distant and critical approach. If both worry that a NATO 
built on global partnerships risks undermining the UN, 
Sarkozy at least explicitly endorses a transatlantic alliance 
built on shared values and emphasizes the complementarity of 
NATO and the EU. If not inherently more pro-European than 
his counterpart, Sarkozy's prescription for moving Europe 
forward on the basis of a simplified treaty is generally 
considered as more realistic (i.e., attuned to European 
realities) than Royal's for a new treaty with an enhanced 
"social(ist)" dimension. 

2. (C) SUMMARY CONT'D: Both candidates favor restoring the 
place of human rights and democratization as a foreign policy 
standard, although it is not clear to what extent this would 
mean increased criticism of Russia or China in practice. 
Sarkozy is more openly supportive of Israel than Royal (which 
could make a difference with respect to current GOF 
consideration of contacts with a Palestinian NUG), but both 
see resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the key 
to increased stability across the Middle East. Both 
candidates are committed to France's current policy on 
Lebanon, although without the intensive personal engagement 
of Chirac. Sarkozy is tough on Iran, and Royal was initially 
tougher -- but she has moderated her tone of late, perhaps 
under the influence of new advisors. Chirac's departure 
might open the way for either Sarkozy or Royal to engage more 
positively on Iraq reconstruction. We would expect both to 
remain serious about NATO's engagement in Afghanistan. On 
Africa, while Sarkozy and Royal alike would put an end to the 
Chirac model of personal diplomacy with his counterparts, it 
is not clear what this would mean in practice. Chirac's 
departure will offer a welcome opportunity to reevaluate 
French policy in Africa in particular, including current 
troop deployments. END SUMMARY. 

--------------------------------------------- - 

3. (C) Foreign policy issues so far have not played a 
prominent role in the French presidential election campaign, 
and there is little chance this will change substantially in 
coming weeks. French voters are focused primarily on whether 
and to what extent France needs to reform in order better to 
adapt to globalization, particularly with respect to the 
price to be paid in lost jobs and social protections. From a 
U.S. perspective, of course, what counts most will be the 
foreign policy orientation of the new president. Both the 
leading candidates -- Nicolas Sarkozy of the Union for a 
Popular Movement (UMP) and Segolene Royal of the Socialist 
Party (PS) -- have in recent weeks outlined views on foreign 
policy and defense issues (refs A and B) and offer some clear 
indications of what can be expected. (This message does not 
discuss centrist Francois Bayrou, the "third man" 
neither-Sarkozy nor-Royal candidate whose views fall 
somewhere between those of Sarkozy and Royal, although he is 
widely regarded as the most pro-European of the three.) 

4. (C) Sarkozy is above all a pragmatist (witness his recent 
reversal on Airbus, where he originally favored a business 
approach to the issue that he quickly dropped for more state 
intervention in response to popular pressures). In contrast, 
Royal leaves an impression of greater rigidity and 
ideological orthodoxy. This said, neither Sarkozy (although 
he came close in his recent press conference, ref A) nor 
Royal (despite her remarks on defense, ref B) has delivered a 
formal address on foreign and security policy, and it also 
bears repeating that what the candidates say in the heat of 
an election campaign may differ substantially from what they 
might actually do or not do once elected. It is likely that 

PARIS 00000921 002 OF 005 

French policy under a Sarkozy or Royal administration would 
largely be marked by continuity. We believe nonetheless that 
it is possible to draw a few preliminary conclusions about 
each candidate's leanings or "reflexes," particularly with 
respect to the U.S. and the transatlantic relationship; 
market liberalization; Europe, human rights and 
democratization; and Africa. 


5. (C) As their public positioning makes clear, Sarkozy and 
Royal differ perhaps most in their approaches to the United 
States, primarily in tone if not substance, although the one 
invariably bleeds into the other. Beginning with his 
September 2006 visit to the U.S., Sarkozy has deliberately 
and systematically spoken in favor of putting the U.S.-France 
relationship on a new footing based on mutual confidence and 
trust. Not only in response to (demagogic) accusations from 
the left that this shift risked turning him into an American 
"poodle," Sarkozy at the same time has made clear that the 
relationship would have to be based on equality, with France 
also free to differ with the U.S. -- he cited his opposition 
to Turkey's EU accession as one salient example. Significant 
is not that Sarkozy has abandoned Gaullism -- he has not -- 
but that he has attempted to define it in a way that is more 
explicitly America-friendly or at least America-compatible. 
Above all, he has spelled out the need for active engagement 
with the U.S. at all times; the assumption is that France 
should be able to work together with the U.S. unless, in a 
given situation, our views are fundamentally incompatible. 
In cases of disagreement (e.g., Iraq), the clear implication 
is that France would stand aside rather than actively seek, 
as Chirac did in 2003, to marshal a coalition against the 
United States. Sarkozy's pro-Americanism is an electoral 
liability for him, and his opponents, Royal foremost among 
them, are using it as a campaign issue against him. 

6. (C) Royal has yet to enunciate with anything approaching 
the same degree of clarity the kind of relationship she would 
seek with the U.S., owing at least partly to her relative 
inexperience. But she leaves the lingering impression of 
someone who reflexively wants to keep her distance from the 
U.S. In part this is the product of a lack of direct and 
personal experience with the United States. It also reflects 
the accumulated weight of traditional leftist preconceptions 
-- not to say prejudices -- of the U.S. as a hegemonic and 
unilateral power (leaving aside hot-button and publicly 
popular issues such as environmentalism, climate warming, 
globalization, and our more limited social safety net). 
Emblematic of this distancing has been the relatively greater 
difficulty we have had in setting up meetings with her and 
her staff, or her initial inclination -- before she abandoned 
the idea altogether -- to travel to the U.S. and meet only 
with certain members from the Democratic Party and none from 
the Administration. Moreover, in her public utterances, 
Royal has explicitly accused the U.S. for contributing to 
global instability. The clear implication is that the French 
role in international affairs, more than working with the 
U.S., should consist of presenting alternatives to our vision. 


7. (C) These differences of approach are well illustrated in 
the candidates' attitudes toward the NATO Alliance and 
European Security (ESDP). As Chirac before them, Sarkozy and 
Royal alike object to NATO's evolving global role, and both 
cite the argument that the U.S. vision for NATO, through 
global partnerships and assuming out-of-theatre missions that 
go beyond its traditional military role, could lead NATO to 
become a competitor for the UN. Both candidates also insist 
on the importance of increased EU autonomy and cooperation on 
defense (ESDP), as well as on the capability of taking 
independent action outside NATO. But they appear to differ 
significantly in their basic attitudes toward the Alliance. 
Sarkozy explicitly referred to the transatlantic relationship 
as indispensable for being based on common values; he also 
called for retiring old arguments over the pre-eminence of 
the one the other, calling them mutually complementary and 
noting that not all EU member states are NATO Allies and vice 
versa (which may also be convenient in the case of Turkey). 
Although committed to the idea of a political Europe as 
independent actor, Sarkozy's envisions Europe acting jointly 
with or in parallel with the U.S., but not as an alternative 
or counterweight to the U.S. Royal's departure point is that 
Europe needs to evolve and to reinforce its security 
capabilities in order to present an potential alternative to 
the U.S., although beyond her distaste for the use of 

PARIS 00000921 003 OF 005 

military force, she has offered few prescriptions as to how 
that would occur. 

8. (C) The two candidates also differ with respect to the 
importance of defense. While Royal and Sarkozy have voiced 
support for maintaining defense expenditures at two percent 
of GDP, Sarkozy insisted that it should be "at least" two 
percent. In public debates and discussions, Royal has 
moreover indicated a willingness to reassess France's defense 
budget and programs, most notably questioning the need for 
the construction of a second aircraft carrier. Sarkozy, for 
his part, has made it clear he supports a strong defense and 
that the planned construction of a second carrier must go 


9. (C) Sarkozy does not have a reputation as an avid 
pro-Europeanist, and he has not hesitated on occasion, like 
Chirac, to blame the EU for some of France's problems, mainly 
in connection with trying to prevent the migration of money 
and jobs to the newer member states with fewer social 
protections, or promoting a level of political control over 
European monetary policy. He has criticized "fiscal dumping" 
by newer member states with lower cost and other barriers to 
investment. Sarkozy has also advocated EU-wide coordination 
on domestically sensitive issues such as immigration. Royal 
represents a party that traditionally is viewed as more 
pro-European, although many of her positions do not differ 
dramatically from Sarkozy's on the surface (although Sarkozy 
has been much more strident in calling for a coordinated EU 
immigration policy). However, mainly to satisfy that part of 
her electorate which voted against the EU constitutional 
treaty despite its pro-European tradition, Royal has put more 
stress on promoting a more "social" Europe that would adopt 
EU-wide standards for social protections and labor rights. 

10. (C) Indeed, where the candidates diverge most is in the 
remedies they would prescribe for overcoming the current 
impasse on the EU constitutional treaty. There is already 
evidence that Sarkozy's pragmatic proposal for a "simplified 
treaty" (formerly referred to as a mini-Treaty) that would 
focus on institutional reforms and not require ratification 
through popular referendum has made inroads even with the 
Germans, notwithstanding the official German position on 
retaining the existing draft constitutional treaty. By 
contrast, the Germans have privately expressed to us, and 
French press reports corroborate this view, considerable 
concern over Royal's calls for a new referendum on an 
improved treaty, which they see as a recipe for another 
French rejection. Royal has argued that a referendum could 
be successful if a revised treaty were to include additional 
social protections, but it seems likely that this would make 
the treaty unacceptable to a number of other European 
partners (in particular the UK), and would lengthen the 
negotiating process in any case. In sum, although Royal may 
be more pro-European in theory, in practice Sarkozy seems 
more likely to move the European project forward over the 
short term. 


11. (C) Although Sarkozy is viewed by many French voters as 
a radical free-market "liberal," in fact his differences with 
Royal may be less significant than labels would indicate. As 
the Airbus controversy has shown, Sarkozy does not hesitate 
to shed his free-market rhetoric when he believes the market 
is not looking after France's interests. Both Sarkozy and 
Royal support "economic patriotism," even if Sarkozy 
rhetorically speaks more of European than strictly French 
champions. That said, partly out of necessity in order to 
help reduce France's high debt, Sarkozy would remain more 
interested than his Socialist counterpart in privatization of 
state-owned enterprises. Unlike Royal, he also supports 
cutting corporate tax rates, cutting all payroll taxes on 
overtime beyond the statutory limit of 35 hours, and ending 
France's two-tiered labor market as a means of tackling 
France's chronic unemployment. As noted earlier, however, 
Sarkozy's "liberalism" has often in the past been trumped by 
political expediency -- which would likely be the hallmark of 
a Sarkozy presidency. His demand for more European-wide 
coordination on fiscal policy as a means of reducing 
relocation of French jobs to other EU member countries is 
emblematic of bending liberal principle to accommodate French 


PARIS 00000921 004 OF 005 


12. (C) Both Sarkozy and Royal have called for restoring 
more prominence to human rights and democratization as a 
means of remaining true to France's heritage and its 
universal mission. How far either candidate would be 
prepared to make transformational diplomacy a cornerstone of 
his or her foreign policy in reality remains an open 
question, however. It is likely that Royal would take a more 
principled approach to human rights questions than her 
counterpart, and it is telling that Sarkozy justified his 
criticism of Russia's human rights record in Chechnya 
primarily by arguing that, in the modern media age, it is no 
longer possible to hide human rights violations as before, 
which in turns creates public pressures that cannot be 
ignored. At this stage of the campaign, the jury is still 
out on whether human rights considerations would become a 
main driver of French foreign policy. What seems certain is 
that neither Sarkozy nor Royal will be driven by the 
sometimes sentimental approach of Chirac, whose admiration 
for countries with their own long histories and traditions 
(e.g., Russia and China) with a skepticism of the 
applicability of Western notions of democracy and human 
rights to other countries and civilizations. 


13. (C) Similar considerations also apply toward both 
candidates' likely approaches to the Middle East and Africa. 
Sarkozy differs dramatically from Royal in his insistent 
emphasis on the need to take Israeli security interests into 
account. This might eventually affect Sarkozy's policy on 
dealing with a Palestinian national unity government, where 
the GOF of late has argued that it would be a mistake to 
isolate Hamas completely if it fails to explicitly accept the 
Quartet conditions. Sarkozy has indirectly criticized Chirac 
for his overriding attachment to maintaining stability for 
its own sake, which encourages authoritarian rule. That 
said, both candidates accept the conventional wisdom that the 
key to resolving the range of conflicts and tensions in the 
Middle East is to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian 

14. (C) Both candidates are also committed to maintaining 
current French policy toward Lebanon, although neither will 
be driven by Chirac's loyalty to the memory of former PM 
Rafic Hariri -- both in terms of personal involvement, and 
Lebanon's centrality to French policy on the Middle East. 
Sarkozy and his foreign policy advisors are tough-minded on 
Iran. Royal initially was tougher, demanding that Iran be 
prevented from developing a civilian nuclear capacity, as 
permitted under the NPT. This demand was notably absent from 
her most recent foreign policy remarks. (This may reflect 
increasing influence of former Foreign Minister Hubert 
Vedrine, who is far more dovish with regard to an Iranian 
nuclear capability, including military.) We would expect 
Sarkozy or Royal to maintain France's commitment to NATO's 
engagement in Afghanistan. Finally, Chirac's departure from 
the scene should result in greater openness to opportunities 
to assist in Iraq's reconstruction. 


15. (C) On Africa, both candidates have indicated that they 
would like above all to change the manner in which France 
does business in Africa, with Sarkozy going so far as to 
stress France's desire to reduce its military footprint 
(except in coordination with the AU or under the authority of 
the UN). But this does not mean withdrawal, and France will 
continue to want to leverage its influence to the greatest 
extent possible -- perhaps through an increased EU role -- 
even as it competes with the growing influence of the U.S. 
and China. But both candidates understand they will no 
longer be able to rely (nor do they appear to want to) on the 
kinds of personal relationships that Chirac developed over 
many years with a number of African leaders. The departure 
of Chirac will allow the French foreign policy establishment 
a welcome opportunity to reevaluate French policy toward Cote 
d'Ivoire, Chad, and the Central African Republic. 
Inevitably, troop redeployments across Africa will come under 


16. (C) Whoever is finally elected, we believe that the 
bilateral U.S.-France relationship will eventually settle 

PARIS 00000921 005 OF 005 

into a kind of normal balance based on our enduring shared 
interests and values and the intertwined nature of our 
economies on the one hand, and the requirement of a distinct 
French voice and authentically independent positions in the 
international arena, on the other. In the case of Sarkozy, 
we believe it will be important not to set our expectations 
too high, since even his pragmatism will always be tempered 
by the Gaullist imperative of a French "difference," in 
particular vis-a-vis the U.S. As for Royal, although we 
would expect her, at least initially, to maintain more of a 
distanced approach to the U.S., there is no reason to believe 
that she would be anything but pragmatic over the longer 
term. In all likelihood, her personal comfort level would 
rise with increased contact and experience, and foreign 
policy under a Royal presidency would be characterized by the 
signature French mix of strategic convergence with the U.S., 
heavily marked by strategic differences and tactical 

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