Interview with Mrs. Catherine Dumas, french politician member of the UMP

The beginning of 2015 was marked by horrific events, the Islamist attacks against the newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, for publishing drawings of the Prophet Muhammad. The repercussion of these facts has been considerable, in France and abroad. Over four million people have manifested after the drama on the French territory, forty-four heads of state paraded on January 11th with more than one and a half million people, and many gatherings solidarity took place all around the world.

I had the honor and the privilege to interview Catherine Dumas on these terrorist acts and more particulary on security measures adoptedSénatrice et conseillère de Paris, Présidente du Club parlementaire de la Table française by the government to avoid new tragedies.

Since 1983, Madam Catherine Dumas was elected for mayor of the 17th district where she is Vice President of the UMP group. In the council of Paris since 2001, she was elected Senator from 2007 to 2011. She is also a regional councilor for Ile de France.

Following the attacks, a key issue had to be discussed; how to fight against this terrorism that continues to grow? Ms. Dumas explained me that the government had immediately responded by strengthening security measures, and also the Plan Vigipirate which is a tool of the fight plan against terrorism.

To do this, the Paris area and several departments of France were placed under surveillance, and public buildings, Jewish and Muslim religious places, public transport and department stores. These are more than one hundred twenty-two thousand soldiers, police and gendarmes were mobilized and according to her, it is a real effort from the law enforcement.

Then, I asked her if the anti-terrorism laws adopted by the government were quite beneficial for France. We have discussed a fundamental law, that of “fight against terrorism” admitted in January 2006, which aims to consolidate the French security through many means, for example, strengthening the control of communications or presence of surveillance in public places. In 2008 this law was completed by new measures.

Last November, another anti-terrorism law was passed, introducing a ban on leaving the territory to prevent the departure of French candidates for jihad in Iraq and Syria, by depriving them of their passport and identity card.

But with the aim of these terrorist acts, these laws should not be further strengthened? The government should not proclaim others? Ms. Dumas said me that shortly after these actions, the Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, wanted to take further steps in improving the information in prison and generalizing isolation in prison of the radical Islamist detainees. Then, Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the UMP, wished to establish measures of ban on French’s territory of return of jihad in Syria.

With all her answers and explanations, I understood that the laws were not absolutely fixed, they evolved, and that news was created permanently with their time, so that the population feels in total safety in their country.

Finally, we talked about a current topic, these Europeans who are increasingly leaving to join Islamic State. I asked Madam Dumas several questions: how much is there from French present in Syria and in Iraq? How much of them are involved by the jihadist recruitment? And, why these people are they attracted by the ideologies of the jihad?

She learnt me that 15 000 people from 80 countries have joined Iraq and Syria. At European level, 3000 people have left their country. The Europeans killed in these two countries are estimated at 120 since the beginning of the conflict in 2012.

More than a thousand French nationals were involved in the jihadist sectors. By teaching me that actually, 260 French people expressed their desire to go join the Islamic State, I felt that Mrs. Dumas was confused.

For her, there really is no typical profile among French jihadists. The common point for many is to have made a return to Islam or a recent conversion. Concerning the recruitment, it made the most of the time on the Internet, social networks and dissemination of videos. These shocking images, the rhythms and catchy music, she qualifies them as indoctrination. They use even very brutal video games to attract as many young as possible.

Two hundred French people already came back from Syria and Irak because they were disappointed and very tired. So, how the French authorities react to these departures ? The parliament adopted an anti-terrorism bill which allows the families to report to the authorities the behavior of their close friends when they have doubts. Many departures were prevented and the police received more hundreds of reports. «This is another step forward» said Catherine Dumas.

Alexandra Peytel

A french diplomat on the current European affairs

After a intensive month with the visit of the French President and Prime Minister in Spain, Philippe Richou, the press and communication counsellor of the French ambassador in Spain has accepted to answer to some of my questions focused on Europe.  I wanted to cover three important topics: Terrorism, Anti-Europeanism and The Ukrainian conflict, with the point of view of the French State.

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The press and communication councellor, Philippe Richou.

First of all, as a civil servant, Mr Richou wanted to insist on the fact that it was not his role to comment the current events but to inform on the action of his country and the relation between Spain and France.

 On the question of the terrorist threat, the counsellor answered that we need to preserve our democratic model.  After the attack of “Charlie Hebdo”, an old debate emerged in the French society on freedom and fighting against terrorism. The French authorities want to preserve the model of public freedom and face terrorism. “We have to get tools as efficient as possible in order to restrain the terrorist menace and warranty freedom and security.” One of the main ideas of the government is to enable a register in the Schengen Zone for the plane passengers and exchange better data with other countries. This measure is discussed at the European level, and “France hopes that this project is going to progress in the European Parliament”.

But for fighting against terrorism, European member States also have to focus on what is going on outside. Some countries are participating to military interventions against terrorist movements in other continents. Mr Richou reminded that it is the case of France in Sahel or, in Iraq, in the framework of the international coalition against ISIS. Since the 9/11, the fight against terrorism has become more important.  Today, countries are cooperating at a European and Extra-European level. In Our continent, some work has been done but there is still a lot to do. The French position is “that Europe has to be more efficient and improve this coordination.”

After what occurred in Denmark and the attack of a French ambassador, I also wanted to know if embassies changed their security measures. Philippe Richou answered that embassies are open places and their objectives are to create cooperation with different countries but security measures are taken in order to protect this administration.

On the difficulties of the European Union and Anti-Europeanism, the diplomat reminded what he said before “It is not my role to judge or qualify a legal political movement”. There is a big expectation of the European citizens, the results of the previous European elections showed that some citizens don’t trust Europe and are convinced that things are not working in the economic plan.  In answer to these expectations, “the position of the French government is that austerity cannot be the only answer to the crisis and Europe has to be factor of growth”.  With the Junker plan, Europe points out one of its basic principles that is helping States, this is why the French government supported it.  What is sure is that electors are worried and vote for parties against this system.  As a civil servant, he wanted to add: “But we must not judge the electors, it is important to understand why these citizens make these choices.”

On the Greek situation, the French position is to hear the democratic claims of the Greek population, but also to remind that the Greek State underwrote commitment with the members of the European Union. “We have to find “la Sintonía fina”, as the Spaniards say, so as to find a deal between the democratic demands and the European rules accepted by the Greek.”

To finish, on the Ukrainian conflict, the counsellor said that in the case of the cease fire between Ukraine and rebels, European Countries such as Germany or France have played a role. Third parties as our countries “can manage to reunite the belligerents, and try to propose realistic propositions in function of the interests of the different concerned parties. “ But this ceasefire cannot last if there is not interest to stop the hostilities. This agreement is meaningful if the belligerents take advantage on the peace so as to find solutions to the problems that were at the origin of the conflict. The role of member countries of the European Union is to do their upmost in order to create a dialog and end this conflict. “The ceasefire is provisory, it is almost in the domain of the” tactical”, after there is the “strategic” issue and, for us, this strategic issue is peace.”

Nicolas MARTIN

The Transatlantic Treaty

It’s been a few months we hear about the Transatlantic treaty and negotiations are at stake but many people wonder if this treaty is good for the European Union.

The creation of a single European economic space based on a common market was at the outset, the key objective of the Treaty of Rome. By establishing a common market and progressively approximating the economic policies of the Member States, the Community aims to promote harmonious development of economic activities. But, these things can be transformed with the arrival of several reforms about the Transatlantic Treaty. It is a treaty of free trade currently still in negotiation since July 2013 between the European Union and the United States. It aims to lower customs duty but no only, it also regularizes trade barriers. This treaty is the subject of many critics, we think that it is not appropriate for the European market and it is very difficult to understand the treaty as a whole.

Indeed, little understanding on the part of several experts about this treaty could remind us the debates of the European constitution. In our time, when euroscepticism increases, the transatlantic treaty is not adequate because it can favor the ascent of the populism. So, the Europeans will feel betrayed and the European elites will be denounced because they are always the ones who make the decisions. This is what happens in Greece with the election of Alexis Tsipras, member of the radical left coalition known as Syriza.

Moreover, the idea of opening a new market between us and European Union is very present. But the question is to know if it is really useful, and if it is going to be a success. The process of creating a new market and creating a new area is already complicated in Europe. For the first time, the European Union has to face an economic crisis. This idea of a united continent is already hard to achieve, and maybe this treaty of the European Union with another continent. Before having negotiations with the US, Europe has to solve its own problem if we cannot be sure that there are no inconvenient to this treaty.

To finish, there is a risk modify, but also to deregulate the economies of the two continents, and especially Europe. These continents don’t have the same economic model. Lots of experts put forward that this treaty was influenced by the big companies. It will allow big corporations to sue governments before secretive arbitration panels composed of corporate lawyers. We can observe this phenomenon in Australia, the country is sued by the company PhilipMorris. This idea of “secretive” is very risky for the European Union. It is already a complex economic system, and it would be dangerous to make it more opaque.

In conclusion, the Transatlantic treaty is not good for Europe because it will foster euroscepticism, the situation may become even more critical and companies will have powers that can be dangerous for consumers.

Europe against Russia in Ukraine

European Union hopes to end the bloody conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists ravaging eastern Ukraine for nearly 10 months.

Last Saturday, western countries asked the Russian President Vladimir Putin to take action and bring back peace in Ukraine. They are pressing Kiev to accept the decisions taken together.

German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande are trying to be the mediators between Ukraine and Russia in this major conflict. This crisis is at the heart of discussions during the security conference in Munich, which ended on February 8. When Angela Merkel compared the Ukrainian conflict with the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, participants in the Munich Conference understood that a turning point had been reached in this crisis, which has deteriorated more and more over the last year. By establishing a parallel with the Cold War, chancellor Merkel set the tone of the conference.

The implementation of the Minsk Agreement is the only way to resolve the conflict, insisted the Ukrainian President. Petro Poroshenko reminded the lines of the peace plan, starting with the establishment of a cease-fire.

The French president Francois Hollande said that a failure would have serious consequences. “If we fail to find, not a compromise but a lasting peace agreement, well, we know perfectly the script, it has a name, it is called the war,” said the French president. After visiting Kiev and Moscow, Merkel and Hollande united Russian and Ukrainian presidents this Sunday on the phone with the hope of finally reaching an agreement.

Since November 2013, Ukraine is going through a long period of conflict whose prospects are difficult to decipher. After important demonstration and the demission of the Pro-Russian President Viktor Ianoukovitch, Ukraine seemed more open toward European Union. Ukraine is home to a large pipeline network that supplies the entire European natural gas from Russia, which could decide to close the valves to pressure the European Union. It will not accept a state could serve as an instrument of pressure and does not want to give up its agreements with Ukraine .

Vladimir Putin decided to invade the east part of Ukraine, the Crimea. Indeed, Ukraine is home to a large pipeline network that supplies the entire European natural gas from Russia, which could decide to close the valves to pressure the European Union. It will not accept a state could serve as an instrument of pressure and does not want to give up its agreements with Ukraine. Now, both parts of Ukraine are divided, and the international community watches the conflict that became military between the two parts of Ukraine. Officially, nobody helps any camp, but in fact Europe and USA support the West part and Russia the East, by giving military support.

A New Treaty of Versailles?

A week after the election of Alexis Tsipras, Germany and Greece are arm wrestling over the debt situation and some politicians do not hesitate to assimilate the policy of Angela Merkel with the third Reich.

La Grèce peut-elle changer l'Europe ?

Picture taken from the website “Latribune”

Hopes are high among the Greek population, after the victory of a radical left leader. The inhabitants expect the situation is going to evolve in a country with a 175% of GDP debt and a 26 % rate of unemployment. These last years, Greece has been negotiating with the European Union, and especially Germany, so as to reduce the debt. The negotiations are increasingly strained.

As the “Washington Post” reported, Tsipras traveled on the memorial site at the range Kaisariani, where in 1944 Nazi soldiers executed some 200 Greek militants in retaliation for the death of a German officer killed in a Greek ambush. It was his first act as Prime minister. Syriza has been outspoken about the need for Germany to atone for his past in Greece, or at least show a little more leniency now as compensation. “We will ask for debt reduction, and the money in Germany we must start from the Second World War, including repairs,” he said earlier this month. It was total war global dimensions, a war of extreme violence in which entire populations were destroyed through the establishment of a systematic extermination policy.

One of the main factors of WW2 was the Treaty of Versailles. In “The Economic Consequences of the Peace”, John Maynard Keynes demonstrated that the problem was that the reparations Germany had to pay were so big that the country would not be able to pay for it. He said that the treaty of Versailles would feed the German nationalism and would be dangerous. Finally, Germany did not pay for WW1. Today, we also know that the peace of 1919 was a time bomb and yesterday’s Germany is the Greece of today.

It is evident that today the roles have changed. Germany became the most powerful country in the European Union and defeated Nazism. The recent event makes us take conscience that history repeats itself. The situation Greece is facing today is very similar to Germany’s situation during the 20’s. The population suffers from rules established by other countries and this idea led Germany to a totalitarian government. The “German bashing” in Greece is really threatening and Germany knows better than others that it is dangerous to impose rules to a population. It is evident that the European Crisis will be solved by encouraging dialog between Germany and Greece because both ways of behaving are risky, but also with the rest of the European Union, so as to avoid the dangerous lack of communication like during the 20’s.