Topic: Our Man in Paris
Our Man in Paris - In the Old Country
In the Old Country
Our Man in Paris is Ric Erickson, editor of MetropoleParis. Here's his latest letter from Paris - in the manner of the 'Letter from Paris' the late Janet Flanner used to write for the New Yorker. Ric is just back in Paris after a month in New York, oddly enough. Over here we're all arguing about the war - and just what is the reality of the situation. There? He explains.
Paris, Tuesday, September 26 - While reality is biting all and sundry in the New World - lunging at the restraining chains, white fangs bared, barely held in check by helmeted agents in sinister black suits - here in the Old Country we are fiddling as usual. Today in Brussels, hochburg of Eurodom, our Euro leaders announced that Romania and Bulgaria will be invited to join the European Union on Monday, January 1, 2007. The addition of these two Balkan lands, a couple of the poorest in Europe, will bring the membership total to 27 countries. EU head José Barroso said tonight on TV-news that we can't go on adding crazy countries forever. Institutional reform is more necessary than ever, especially if Europe intends to cut down the babble and take over the world.
With an estimated population of 461 million, the European Union has scant need of 22 million Romanians and 8 million Bulgarians, including their minorities of Turks, Hungarians and Gypsies. However an EU total population of 490 million will be nothing to sneeze at, especially when voting for the annual European Song Contest.
Per capita income in the EU is about $28,000, three times the current rate in both Romania and Bulgaria. Contrast this with the United States with a population of 300 million and a per capita income of $41,400, the world's third highest, just before Ireland, right after Luxembourg and Norway.
Some political leaders in France are not dancing in the streets tonight. But it could be worse. Both right-wing leaders Jean-Marie Le Pen and Phillippe de Villiers are violently opposed to Turkish membership in the EU, which has, geographically at least, just inched closer.
France's busy interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy, could not be reached for comment on the EU's enlargement. He is thought to be sulking because of Ségolène Royal's visit to Senegal, which was reported on all of tonight's TV-news programs. No country, no matter what its GDP, is too distant for the candidates for president to visit.
In other news yesterday's Le Parisien carried poll results indicating that French voters do not want any major 'rupture' with current policies, with the way France is run. The usual 1004 citizens who were questioned said they would prefer gentle 'reforms' rather than major upheavals. Only about a quarter of the French were inclined to see France dumped on its head and when it came to Sarkozy's own party, the figure was only 21 percent.
Another recent poll claimed that 42 percent of all 'men on the street' polled are habitual liars. The other 58 percent had no opinion.
Coming to cinemas throughout France tomorrow, 'Les Indigènes,' is a film with a message for society that has been heard before the public gets to see it. Crowned with glory at Cannes earlier this year, the story traces the path of soldiers recruited - conscripted! - into the French army in Africa in World War Two, as they battle to liberate France from the occupying Nazis.
In real life the surviving veterans, Algerians, Moroccans, Senegalese, have been receiving pittances as military pensions, and many are living in total poverty. Pre-release publicity has tripped the consciousness of the French and President Jacques Chirac announced that the pensions would be brought closer into line with French military pensions. He is not, not officially, running for re-election.
Copyright © 2006 - Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis
Posted by Alan at 16:41 PDT
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Updated: Tuesday, 26 September 2006 16:44 PDT home