Cablegate: Media Reaction Report - Syria Trade Unesco - Cultural
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 007249
DEPT FOR INR/R/MR; IIP/RW; IIP/RNY; BBG/VOA; IIP/WEU; AF/PA;
EUR/WE /P/SP; D/C (MCCOO); EUR/PA; INR/P; INR/EUC; PM; OSC ISA
FOR ILN; NEA; WHITE HOUSE FOR NSC/WEUROPE; DOC FOR ITA/EUR/FR
AND PASS USTR/PA; USINCEUR FOR PAO; NATO/PA; MOSCOW/PA;
ROME/PA; USVIENNA FOR USDEL OSCE.
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OPRC KMDR FR
SUBJECT: MEDIA REACTION REPORT - Syria Trade UNESCO - Cultural
PARIS - Monday, October 24, 2005
(A) SUBJECTS COVERED IN TODAY'S REPORT:
3. UNESCO - Cultural Diversity
B) SUMMARY OF COVERAGE:
Most front pages and editorials are devoted to the
government's decision to partially privatize EDF, the nation's
power company. The state is to retain 85 percent of the
capital. Editorialists in the specialized and general press
are overwhelmingly favorable to the government's decision.
Hurricane Wilma was a major weekend story. Today's popular
France Soir predicts on its front page: "The Infernal Cycle of
Catastrophes," devotes several pages to "An Angry Planet of
Tsunamis, Cyclones and Earthquakes" and to the deteriorating
situation in Pakistan. France Soir reports on the al-Qaeda
videotape calling for Muslims to help Pakistan. In Le Figaro
Francois Hauter comments: "Al-Zawahiri's call is hardly
innocent: in the tribal zones of Pakistan and Afghanistan, al-
Qaeda is being threatened by the Pakistani army which has been
taking over the region. Pakistan is al-Qaeda's natural base
but it needs to strengthen it position and the earthquake is
presenting it with a great opportunity."
Syria in the aftermath of the Mehlis report is one of today's
major international stories. One report in Le Figaro analyzes
the impact of the report on Israel, while over the weekend Le
Figaro featured a story on Syria's exit strategies. (See Part
The fallout from France's opposition to Europe over
agricultural tariffs elicits an op-ed in Liberation "shaming"
France for its position. (See Part C)
Cultural diversity and the convention adopted at UNESCO is "a
beautiful victory for France" according to editorialist Jean-
Paul Mulot in Le Figaro, (See Part C) which also carries an
open letter from a group of international film industry
figures titled "We Must Defend Cultural Diversity."
(C) SUPPORTING TEXT/BLOCK QUOTES:
"Two Scenarios For an Exit Strategy"
Georges Malbrunot in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/22): "The
involvement of Syrian intelligence in the assassination of
Hariri gives el-Assad the perfect opportunity to break away
from the intelligence grip which has kept him from his own
plans for economic and political reforms. This is the scenario
that most Syrians and France would like to see enacted. But
the price to pay is high. It implies new alliances in a system
that is dominated by the Alawi minority. It means breaking
with a tradition of endemic corruption, which benefits the
Syrian President's close entourage. The question is whether el-
Assad has the means to do battle with his own camp. Whether he
has the courage to play his poeple against his own family.
Until now no one thought he might sacrifice one of his own.
But today, el Assad's back is against the wall. The second
scenario says that he will ignore the conclusions of the
Mehlis report and will decide to entrench himself behind his
family, while continuing to rule with an iron hand. This is a
North Korean-style scenario that implies an even greater
regional and international isolation of Syria, with, at the
end of the road, possible international sanctions . During the
next three months Syria will try to negotiate, using its so-
called position to stabilize Iraq, Lebanon and the Middle
East, as a negotiating chip. But is there room for
"The Israelis Uncertain About Syria"
Jean-Luc Renaudie in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/24):
"Israel and its leaders are divided over Syria. But in spite
of their differences, all experts in Israel believe that the
future of Syria is in the hands of President Bush."
"WTO: Shame on France"
Esther Dufilo in left-of-center Liberation (10/24): "Because
the decisions of the WTO must be unanimous, France is in a
position to impose its veto on any decision that does not meet
its demands and is therefore in a position to make the
negotiations in Hong Kong fail. This is indeed where we may be
heading. This attitude is outrageous, specifically as far as
developing nations are concerned. The Europeans and the
Americans are protecting their farmers through subsidies and
tariffs. The U.S. is playing it safe when it says that it will
not touch its subsidies except as part of a general agreement,
which it knows will not happen because of the French.
Meanwhile at the UN France's hypocrisy was obvious when it
proposed a tax on air travel to help developing nations."
UNESCO - Cultural Diversity
"France's `Genius' in Question"
Jean-Paul Mulot in right-of-center Le Figaro (10/24):
"UNESCO's convention on cultural diversity is a beautiful
victory for France. But this victory would not have been
possible without Europe's team spirit. In spite of our
quarrels, the Paris-London axis won. America's protest did not
influence Blair. For once, the European Union spoke with one
voice. Yet, the American administration did all it could to
keep the text from being adopted. Secretary Rice took pen and
paper to sermon her allies while putting some extra friendly
pressure on smaller countries. All was for naught and the
State Department simply took note of its isolation and
expressed its `disappointment.' We dearly hope that this will
not be an opportunity for Washington to question its
contribution to UNESCO - which is close to one fourth of the
organization's budget. But as the Bush administration pointed
out, the convention can have a perverse effect and allow
certain un-democratic regimes to hide behind the convention in
order to justify censorship and proselytism. While we share
President Chirac's optimism. we also hope that France's
`genius' will be able to impose itself not just because it
symbolizes the era of enlightenment, but because it can win
without cheating." STAPLETON