Tag Archives: Hollande

How the NSA poisoned relations between Merkel and Hollande; and recruited news agency informants to spy on key European economic figures

25 Jun
NSA spoof sticker

National Spying Agency – ‘You talk, we listen’

translated from the German in ‘die Welt’



Für Hollande war Treffen mit Merkel angeblich “Show”


Enthüllungen von Medien und Wikileaks sollen belegen, wie die NSA Frankreichs Staatsspitze abhörte. Dokumentiert ist offenbar auch Misstrauen gegenüber der Griechenland-Politik von Kanzlerin Merkel.


The NSA has, according to information from Wikileaks, also (in addition to Angela Merkel), kept the last three French Presidents under surveillance. Top secret reports as well as technical documents relate also to François Hollande.

A definite proof, that the NSA had spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel, could before long be provided. There are actually hints or references, and Washington denied any association with the report. A call log or similar has however not emerged.

There seems to be something else on France’s head of state. The (freedom of information) platform Wikileaks released several secret documents, which stem from the surveillance activities of the NSA between 2006 and 2012…

Those affected were… high-ranking French politicians, among them the three French Presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande. Yet also from the German perspective the reports were explosive: the targets are marked through the appropriate local agents – (an issue) which currently present such major tensions between the USA and Germany. And in one of the documents there are details of the tough wrangling between France and Germany over the Greek question.

Tensions between Merkel and Holland

One of the reports published illuminated the bargaining position of the French in May 2012. Hollande had by then already replaced Sarkozy as president. By the middle of the month he had travelled to Berlin. All heads of state were going to the meeting on the Euro crisis. Greece loomed much like today on the abyss.

Merkel and Hollande’s predecessor Sarkozy had established similar positions on the Euro question, despite their differences. Germany and France set the course in Europe. This alliance was now showing cracks. Hollande was showing himself open to changes to the European fiscal pact. Merkel was holding firm on this. In principle though Holland and Merkel were united: in view of the dramatic developments in Greece, they spoke of a way to re-situate it out of the Eurozone countries. They would do all they could to boost the economy. So said the official statements.

However now an official document shows, that much remained unspoken. The secret NSA Protocol dates from the 22 May 2012. The analysis looks behind the scenes and gives insights into the different negotiating positions. It is an indication what Americans might mean, when they say that they are collecting information, for them and their allies “so they can have early warning of financial crises that threaten.”

Hollande felt the meeting with Merkel was a “show”

The note deals with the Euro crisis and a possible Greek exit from the currency area. The subject of the secret NSA documents will be the communication between top officials. Hollande accordingly felt the meeting with Merkel was “Show,” of which nothing was going to come. The President complained of her rigorous adherence to the fiscal pact, which should hold the debts confined.

The French side then wanted apparently a possible Greek exit from the Euro and to discuss the possible consequences for the French economy. Hollande had passed on confidential interviews. He was becoming worried, that the deliberations would permeate to the public and the crisis could tighten.

In the NSA analysis is also a conversation showing, that the French side after what in their view were disappointing talks with Merkel, were planning a secret meeting with the SPD-Spitze, what was then the biggest opposition party in Germany. Themes would be the crisis and a possible Greek exit from the Euro-area.

The middle of June it was finally open. A troika consisting of party leader Sigmar Gabriel, Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Peer Steinbrück travelled to Paris. Such a visit of a collection of the principal opposition figures to the President had never before been given. Secret, though, the meeting was not. Together the Social Democrats and French Socialists wanted to increase the pressure on Merkel.

With the new publications emerged further secret documents on the core workings of the NSA from outside. The origin of the information remains however unclear. Only four days before the finalisation of the NSA note, Holland met with US President Barack Obama in the White House. From the 18th to the 19th of May 2012 the G8 met in Camp David. The dominant theme there was also the debt crisis.

It was also noted, that the host of the International Summit for Communication interested those present. The ‘Guardian’ had reported for about two years, how the British intelligence monitored top diplomats culminating in 2009.

No hint of support from the BND

“Mediapart” has in its reporting about the revelation starting using the term ‘foreign satellite.’ By that meaning, that the phone tapping and the technology did not originate in America. Also if the French journalists afterwards hint on the current allegations against the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) – nothing in the documents indicates, that the German news service was involved in the monitoring of the French.

In the past week it has become known, that the NSA had for years select BSD telephone numbers or email addresses transmitted. Assisting with research for these searches, on the communication in crisis states, was Bavarian Bad Aibling. According to the Federal Government, of the thousand of those approached each one was working against German interests: they took, for example, European businesses or ministries in sight.

(links to article on this here http://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article142742086/Kanzleramt-will-von-Selektoren-nichts-gewusst-haben.html)

Hollande at least tried. Afterwards the ever-professional Frenchman stated: “We have made things clear. The mutual trust is restored.”


Unanimous tribute to ‘Charlie Hebdo’: a ‘counter-sense’?

11 Jan

Translated from Le Monde (link to real article below)


On the day before the coordinated tributes to the victims of Charlie Hebdo, and as the French had already started to assemble throughout France, certain cartoonists and journalists of the weekly satirical expressed their surprised in the face of such a wave of emotion. Of demonstrations of support which can seem strange, towards a magazine which has always cultivated irreverence and the art of not doing the same as its friends.

“They sounded the bells of Notre-Dame for Charlie, I must be dreaming!” exclaimed on Friday Gérard Biard, editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo, to underline the irony of the situation for an anticlerical magazine to be universally celebrated, even in the most famous Parisian cathedral”.

A Magazine which has Suffered Criticism from all Quarters

Several members of the editorial team have received with a little bitterness these marks of solidarity towards a paper which in other days had little support. Among them, the writer/editor Zineb El Rhazoui, who explained to the Monde :

“I would have liked that those who died benefitted from so much support while they were living. And that was not at all the case. ‘Charlie Hebdo’ is a paper which has been criticised by almost everyone. And what has happened, you could have predicted. We received threats all the time and certain of us said that it was almost like we were looking for it…”

Others were bluntly not going to demonstrate, behind the image of Laurent Léger, investigative journalist at Charlie Hebdo:

“I am not going to the demonstration on Sunday but I think I am the only one on the team at ‘Charlie Hebdo’ to have made this choice. I do not like demonstrating in general, I think that ‘Charlie Hebdo’ could be absent from the procession where they would be all sorts of politics and on the subject of which there has been a controversy with the FN. However, I think that the wave of real support is formidable and I hope that there are lots of people at the Sunday demonstration.”

‘Charlie Hebdo’ has always remained apart. Now ‘Charlie Hebdo’ is becoming mainstream. We have become part of the establishment, for a week or two. It’s new. But this is a necessary transition, I am not against it. And I know that in a few weeks, a new story will drive out this one and we will be alone… We have been a bit superseded: it is for nothing more than ‘Charlie’ that people are marching for. That is clear.”


“We vomited on all these people who, suddenly, call themselves our friends”

Cartoonist Luz, survivor of the attack of the 7 January, told magazine ‘the Inrocks’ that he believed for his part that “the huge symbolic weight is all that Charlie has always worked against.” He added:

“It’s incredible that the people support us but it is in a counter-sense (contre-sens) to the drawings of ‘Charlie…. This unanimity is useful to Hollande to reunite the nation. It is useful to Marine Le Pen to demand the death penalty.

People speak of the memory of Charb, Tignous, Cabu, Honoré, Wolinski: they would have reflected this attitude.”

The Dutch cartoonist Willem, real name Bernard Holtrop, spoke the most condemnatory words to Le Point. Reacting to the support of the head of the Netherlands’ extreme right party, Geert Wilders, he exclaimed: “We vomited on all these people who, suddenly, call themselves our friends.”

And on the global support and sympathy for the paper:

“They had never read ‘Charlie Hebdo’. A few years ago, thousands of people descended into the streets of Pakistan to demonstrate against ‘Charlie Hebdo’. They didn’t know what it was.

Now, it’s the opposite, but if people are demonstrating to defend freedom of speech, obviously it’s a great thing.”


French vs German pricing indexes – don’t believe the hype

23 Nov

Europe’s Teutonic juggernaut could be more unstable than it looks, figures revealed this week. For once, France has overtaken Germany in the two-horse race that unfolded in the release of Markit’s Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI). Why have German service providers suffered a lag, while France’s PMI rose from 45.5 to 46.2?

The answer to the diminution of Germany’s service sector, from 48.4% to 48%, could be simply that managers are reacting pre-emptively to pessimistic outlooks for the future. Demand for contracts has fallen in recent months, and managers have slashed jobs in response, and because they believe – as does the Bundesbank – that Germany will continue to experience sluggish growth.While last year it expanded by 3%, in 2012 economic growth for Q2 was 0.2%, rising to just 0.3% in Q3.

Markit said: “Reports from survey respondents overwhelmingly cited weakness in export markets, especially southern Europe. A number of firms also mentioned subdued demand from the automobiles sector. Some panel members pointed to signs of a slowdown in Asia, especially for investment goods.”

However the IFO business climate index for industry and trade, key indicator of the health of the German economy, paints a different picture. The figures are still negative, but less so than the figures for October: trade and industry, -4.2; manufacturing,  -6.5; construction still flagging at -7.5, while the wholesaling index entered positive integers at 4.9. President of the IFO Institute Hans-Werner Sinn explained that it had risen “again after six successive decreases. Companies expressed slightly greater satisfaction with their current business situation. They were also far less pessimistic about future business developments.” Perhaps the price index simply reflects a prudent caution towards the start of 2013.

And France’s bullish outlook is not necessarily based on concrete fact. In fact, the report indicates that its economic situation is probably worse, with unemployment still rife in manufacturing and services provision – though improved from September’s 33-month low. Its principal problem is lack of confidence and uptake by external investors. Markit reveals: “There were reports that clients, especially some firms in the autos sector, had postponed orders and reined in investment,” due to concerns over “domestic weakness.”

These fears over the climate fostered by Hollande’s government are unlikely to be allayed by the election of right-wing firebrand Jean-François Copé to the head of principal opposition party, the UMP (Union pour une Mouvement Populaire). The UMP has recently adopted a new ‘Islamic Charter’ which talks of reclaiming France’s Judaeo-Christian roots and Latin heritage by prohibiting muslims from praying in public, and from minarets, and from having a distinct voice in local government. If socialism fails, so it seems will social cohesion.

Juggernaut vs the Hulk

Clash of Central Europe’s Economic Titans

On the other hand, there is talk of taking the prestigious university Ecole des Sciences Po, which trains state functionaires, back under state management. So if the private service sector flags, France will not at least be deficient in civil servants.