PARIS – French President François Hollande said in Paris on Thursday that he
wishes to put an end to the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and to
strengthen the European Union politically and economically.
“We have to
convince Russia that in the interest of the region, in the interest of peace, we
have to put an end to Bashar Assad’s regime,” Hollande said, referring to
Moscow’s opposition to taking steps against Damascus.
Also at the press
conference, which he held to mark the completion of his first year in office,
the president proposed the establishment of “an economic government for Europe
which will meet every month... with a real long term president... in order to
get Europe out of its stagnation,” saying he hopes to complete this task in two
years. “Year two of [my presidential term] will be on the
In the opening remarks of his speech, Hollande focused on the
economic recession in France and its social consequences, but also its effects
on Europe as a whole. On Wednesday, Hollande was in Brussels for a meeting with
the Executive Board of the EU.
As a solution to the crisis of the euro
zone, Hollande announced a four point initiative: the “economic government,”
more help to tackle youth unemployment, EU support for the development of new
energy sources and a “new stage of integration” for the members of the European
“The Franco-German couple is vital to the functioning of Europe”,
the French president said, responding positively to Germany, which had demanded
more political cooperation between the 27 EU countries.
In response to a
question from a British journalist about the possible referendum to be held in
the UK over leaving the EU, Hollande responded: “The EU has existed before UK
became a member, but I wish they will remain a member.”
more-than-twohour press conference, Hollande was criticized by the media and
“Who believes him? It is the first time that a president of
the Republic is ‘invited’ to Brussels to give an account of his actions,” said
Valerie Pécresse, the former budget minister under president Nicolas
Marine Le Pen, president of the far-right National Front Party,
commented that Hollande is “just a little spokesman of the Brussels commission,”
François Delapierre, from the Left Party, said the content of the press
conference was “old soup with Sarkozy inside and a lot of Merkel” made by “a
self important president without imagination.”
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