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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Chirac's NATO swansong

The NATO summit, which has just finished, will almost certainly be Jacques Chirac's last as French President. True to form he has been the centrepeice of attention, causing offence, blocking proposals, and generally making a nuisance of himself:

  • First of all he annoys the Latvians by inviting over his mate Vladimir Putin to Riga to celebrate his 74 th birthday. He didn't come in the end but Le Figaro noted that it would have been the first visit by a Russian leader to the Baltics since 1991 and was seen as “a real provocation” by France which had "brought a cold chill" to the country.
  • He then provoked a bust-up with the Americans by attempting to block plans for partnership agreements with countries like Australia, Japan and New Zealand. Curiously he argued that NATO shouldn't "reward troop providers". Instead Chirac called for NATO to give Iran a greater role in the rebuilding of Afghanistan.
  • To be even-handed Chirac then annoyed his Central European counterparts by dismissing their pet plan to increase NATO's role in energy security.

Political summits will certainly be less colourful without Chirac's remarks about British food and refusal to listen to speeches in English. On the other hand, with Le Bulldozer gone a little more might get done...

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