Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola in Nigeria: First death outside of Lagos

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Niger : Top Oppostion figure to be questioned in baby trafficking scandal

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Liberia: President dismisses top officials who ignored call back

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000 (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

How to Stop Ebola: WHO Says Cases Could Exceed 20,000

Read more

WEB NEWS

'Ice Bucket Challenge' angers anti-abortion activists

Read more

#TECH 24

Tomorrow's Transport Today

Read more

FOCUS

Mothers and children leaving Honduras at all costs

Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

  • Russian troops have entered Ukraine, says Kiev

    Read more

  • PSG face Barcelona, Ajax in tough Champions League draw

    Read more

  • In pictures: Billions of locusts invade Madagascan capital

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • Erdogan sworn in as Turkey's president

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • New Ebola case in Nigeria brings death toll to 1,552

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

  • Air France pilots announce week-long strike in September

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

Sarkozy betting on Damascus

Latest update : 2008-09-03

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has landed in Damascus for talks aimed at improving ties between the two countries. It is the first such visit by a French leader since Jacques Chirac's trip in 2002.

Read Armen Georgian's commentary ahead of Sarkozy's visit to Damascus.

 


The Franco-Syrian reconciliation, like the rifts of the past depend on the intricacies of Lebanese politics. French president Nicolas Sarkozy is looking to benefit from the American absence in order to establish himself in the regional game.


In an interview with the Syrian paper Al Watan, Nicolas Sarkozy spoke of "rupture" in the French policy toward the Middle East. Coming from him, the word is never neutral. Sarkozy wants to break away from the policy of his predecessor Jacques Chirac who distanced himself from Syria after the assassination of former PM Rafik Hariri in February 2005.


But Sarkozy’s change in approach shouldn't be exaggerated either. His trip to Damascus isn't a first; his predecessor went on an official visit in 2002. Chirac was the only western head of state to attend the funeral of Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Assad in 2000. He was convinced Syria played a central role and represented a great opportunityfor French diplomacy.


Last winter, Nicolas Sarkozy himself broke off high-level relations with Syria to protest what he called a sabotage of the presidential electoral process in Lebanon. In fact, relations between Paris and Damascus depend a bit on the personality of the French president, and more on the intricacies of Lebanese politics.


In the end, the most important moment of Sarkozy's trip will be less his meeting with Bashar al-Assad than the four-way summit on the peace-process, which will briefly bring the two men together with the emir of Qatar and prime minister of Turkey. The summit is small in terms of length (90 minutes), but crucial in terms of the participants: Turkey is the mediator of this new series of negotiations between Israel and Syria, and Qatar, to great surprise, was able to reconcile the Lebanese factions. A wind of goodwill (it's too early to speak about peace) seems to be blowing through the Middle East with—and maybe thanks to—the appearance of new players like Qatar and Turkey.


France would like to be a part of this movement, benefitting from the absence of the United States during the US presidential election. Maybe that's the real rupture and a kind of paradox: in Georgia, as in Syria, the pro-American Sarkozy is now entering into competition with American diplomacy, much more openly and actively than his predecessor.

 

Date created : 2008-09-03

COMMENT(S)