G8 gives unpopular host Nicolas Sarkozy a platform to polish his image
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is keen to show leadership prowess at the two-day Deauville summit ahead of 2012 elections in France.
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“The Internet revolution doesn’t have a flag, it belongs to everyone,” Sarkozy said in an address to the e-G8. Having praised the Arab rebels who used Facebook and Twitter to coordinate their actions, Sarkozy went on to insist that the Internet was not a parallel universe. “Nobody should forget that governments are the only legitimate representatives of the will of the people in our democracies.”Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures G8 summit in France 2011
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France is known for its tough stance on cybercrime; it’s the only European country that cuts digital pirates off from the Internet. But particularly the US looks with suspicion at any plans to impose rules on the medium.
It’s unlikely the Deauville communiqué will contain anything more concrete than references to protecting e-business and copyrights, says Mr. Moreau Defarges. “This is a PR event, an opportunity for Sarkozy to present himself as a modern president, have his picture taken next to all these Internet pioneers.”
The nuclear question
On the nuclear issue, the front lines are different – it’s Germany against the rest.
Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose government is committed to phasing out nuclear energy altogether, asked her G8 colleagues this morning to join her call for mandatory stress tests on nuclear power stations around the world.
On Wednesday, the EU agreed on such safety tests for its 143 power plants, but France, which gets almost 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors, says it is unlikely to reduce its reliance on atomic energy.
Then there's the post of the IMF managing director. After Dominique Strauss-Kahn – up until two weeks ago not just head of the IMF but also a powerful potential rival in the candidacy for French president – had to quit his job over allegations of sexual harassment and rape, the EU countries agreed on another Frenchman for the job: Finance Minister Christine Lagarde.
The G8 will not decide on her candidacy, but Europe, and particularly Sarkozy, will be using the occasion to lobby for Japanese and US support. They will need it, given that the emerging market economies have made clear that it is time for one of theirs to get the prestigious post.
So, can Sarkozy profit domestically by successfully hosting the 2011 G8 summit? Moreau Defarges is skeptical: “Deauville is short and the elections are a year away. Much can happen in a year.”