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France: Bling-Bling Presidency Unfazed By Frowns Over Swank Plane …

  • October 30th, 2010
  • Posted by 7thmin

airbus-a300-200.jpgCOMMENTARY: The week just ended has seen strikers return to work at French oil refineries, as Head of State Nicolas Sarkozy readied himself, controversially, to take delivery of a new Presidential jet.

MILE HIGH CLUB

sarkozy-bruni-europe1fr.jpgNothing if not ambitious, Mr Sarkozy has set himself up to rival President Barak Obama, and Air Force One, in the opulent travel stakes, when world leaders go to Seoul for the G20 Summit (11-12.11.10).

He has been expected to arrive there in the new luxuriously appointed Airbus A300-200, this week in pre-delivery testing, nick-named “Air Sarko One”.

That aircraft, backed up by two executive jets also on order for the VIP fleet, is to take over from a pair of more modest Airbuses currently in use.

The plane, costing some A$300-million,  comes with a double bed and “hi ‘n hers” ensuite fitout, executive offices, seating for an entourage of 60 persons, and even special ventilators to deal with cigar smoke.

DIVIDED COUNTRY

france-strikes-2010-socialist-aotearoa.jpgNot much liked by French voters at this time, with approval ratings showing two-thirds of them unimpressed, Mr Sarkozy pushes through anyway with what he intends.

Last week saw the final passage of austerity legislation through the Senate and National Assembly, to extended the retiring age and put stricter limits on access to state pensions.

In that context the new aeroplane has started to become much-reviled, as an untoward splurge.

It is been noticed, and commented on often enough, that pensioners, and those working towards their final years in the workforce, will be faced with more difficult options than the high-flying President – widely called “Bling-Bling” on account of his suave ways.

The millions who went on strike over the last week, against the legislation, took part in public protests or got into debates in the news media, have been standing-down their activities, now that it is going into law.

Union leaders are preparing a longer-term phase in the campaign, working to keep the fire going until elections, and a chance to see the man and his government removed.

MOVING ALONG

Moving along in the meantime, the President this week is set to visit Prime Minister David Cameron in London, with the Financial Times there reporting they will agree on a new bi-lateral defence treaty.

It says the idea of sharing aircraft carriers has been re-born, in the shape of an agreement to keep ships on station at all times – looking ahead a decade to a time when they may only have two carriers between them.

The strategy fits with austerity budgets in the United Kingdom, responsible doubts over orders for new ships, or delays in aircraft purchases that could see carriers going to sea for a time, with no jet aircraft on board.

The foreshadowed treaty, designed to guarantee that cooperation will continue into the future, is also said to include plans for closely coordinated side-by-side infantry operations.

Pictures

Airbus A300-200; Sarkozy on an earlier overseas trip with his girlfriend, now wife Carla Bruni; strikers protest.

Reference

Peter Allen, “Nicolas Sarkozy ‘warned by Angela Merkel to delay taking Air Sarko One”, Daily Telegraph, London, 28.10.10. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/8094046/Nicolas-Sarkozy-warned-by-Angela-Merkel-to-delay-taking-Air-Sarko-One.html, (30.10.10).

James Blitz, “UK and France to sign formal defence treaty”, Financial Times, London, 30.10.10.  http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/ac1cb7d6-e398-11df-8ad3-00144feabdc0.html, (30.10.10).

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The Australian, Sydney, (The Times), “President Nicolas Sarkozy’s jet becomes sitting duck”, 30.10.10. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/president-nicolas-sarkozys-jet-becomes-sitting-duck/story-e6frg6so-1225945324296, (30.10.10).

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