In light of the current developments in Europe, a recent letter comes to mind addressed by the Polish-born Head of the European Council, Donald Tusk, to the Heads of the EU Member States: "It must be made crystal clear that the disintegration of the European Union will not lead to the restoration of some mythical, full sovereignty of its member states, but to their real and factual dependence on the great superpowers: the United States, Russia and China". It shows that Tusk regards the United States, Russia and China as a threat to the European Union.
Basically, it's a refusal to do any self-scrutiny, since the main threat to the EU obviously comes from the EU itself, from its rules that ignore the interests of the member nations, from its ideology which vests EU bureaucrats with the power to decide for entire states, from its anti-Russian sentiment that prevents it from collaborating with Russia on the issues vitally important to the continent. As a result, Donald Tusk has been gripped by existential fear, while trying, nevertheless, to pin the blame on the US, Russia and China. The letter itself proves that the European Union is growing weaker year after year. It's not surprising then that the EU is so anxiously watching the presidential race in France. The outcome of the election will determine a lot of things in Europe. Anastasia Popova is reporting from France.
The center of Nantes has been seized by anarchists. They are trashing shop windows and showering the police in Molotov cocktails and flares. The law enforcement officers are also targeted with stones and wood boards. Streets are shrouded in smoke and tear gas. That's how nearly two thousand people show their disapproval of Marine Le Pen's visit.
On the opposite side of the country, the atmosphere is entirely different. Bernard had served in the army for more than 30 years, but now, as a civil servant, he can only watch with sadness the helplessness of the police, the rapidly growing crime rates in urban areas and the rapidly changing face of France. "If the situation doesn't change, it will mean the end of France as we know it. And it's scary. Nowadays, French people get nothing and migrants get everything".
When migrants were about to move into Allex, a small town with the population of 2,000 people, the residents had taken to the streets demanding a referendum. The prefect said no. A directive from Paris left no room for democracy. Fifty immigrants were moved to the south of France from the cold and maladapted "jungles" of Calais. Now they live in a 19th century luxurious castle, Chateau de Pergaud, among centuries-old pines. Assimilation efforts have been made since September, but old habits die hard. An amateur theater group, a bicycle repair workshop, the care provided by multiple volunteers, two doctors and six nurses, footfall practices and intensive French language course, tours to nearby villages – full immersion into French culture.
A young man from Afghanistan lost his mind, explains his fellow countryman Ahmad in English to volunteers. They were cooking a traditional meal together in the kitchen, but something went wrong. Ahmad likes it here and doesn't hold a grudge against local people who have been far from welcoming. "People think that refugees are going to become thieves, to steal their jobs. But that's not true. It's just that our homeland is in a lot of trouble". "The French are not happy. Many of them don't know how to support themselves or where to live, while we give everything to outsiders. This injustice really hurts".
To provide for refugees, France spends 70 billion euro every year. Everything is covered: accommodation, allowance, education. Meanwhile, 1 in 10 French citizens has no job, farmers are facing bankruptcy because of the exorbitant taxes and loans, and professional medical help can be received only in the nearest big city.
The subject of immigration dominates the National Front program. No wonder then that people of all ages come to meet Marine Le Pen in a town of Pierrelatte. Restoring the borders, pulling out of the Schengen agreement, reinforcing the police, protecting French businessmen – a solid 5-year program to make France the biggest economy in Europe, instead of the second one after Germany. Le Pen: "Germany is in fact strong but only because of cheating. It's cheating with the currency it created for its own benefit. As soon as we get our national currency back, we'll get the opportunity to compete, the opportunity that we should never have lost in the first place. Can you be a Donald Trump for France? I can be much better than that".
At a press conference in Paris, Marine Le Pen stressed once again that the cooperation with Russia is crucial for France. Her speech was briefly interrupted by an activist from the disbanded movement FEMEN. The need to have a dialogue with Moscow was also directly pointed out by the center-right candidate François Fillon. That was in the morning, and in the evening, shortly before Fillon came on stage, the prosecution authorities officially opened an investigation into his wife Penelope. In any case, it's going to last for months and won't be finished before the election. Fillon: "You are my companions, and our joint efforts will allow us to win. Our determination to revive France is as strong as ever".
The scandal around François Fillon and the refusal of Marine Le Pen to testify on the case of the European Parliament assistants were thoroughly relished by the French media. But the information about Yacine Chaouat, the assistant to the Socialist senator, being charged with defending terrorism and having a previous record of tying his wife to a radiator and beating her up to make her follow sharia, was left unnoticed. It would be impolite to cast a slur on the senator who is an avid supporter of Emmanuel Macron. "Macron has been in politics since 2011. He was responsible for our economy, And now he's being passed off as a non-systemic candidate, despite using the same mechanisms as everyone else. It's a purely marketing project. He's supported by the media and financial elite, by the Rothschild bank. It's quite possible that François Holland arranged the transfer of power this way just to punish those party members who betrayed him. Holland is a good student of Mitterrand and a strategic thinker".
At a dinner party in Paris, Holland and Macron exchanged a warm embrace, although up until recently the 38-year-old Minister of Finance was thought to be a betrayer of the left. Emmanuel Macron rallies are always well organized. Flags and banners are put on every chair beforehand. A French flag... and of course a European one, since this is the most pro-EU candidate. There are also people in white T-shirts with the words Emmanuel is the President.
- What do you do here?
- My job here is to make sure that everybody has a seat. I also answer their questions and collect donations.
The audience of about a thousand people erupts with applause. These people can forgive almost everything to their candidate, Emmanuel Macron, including being 2 hours late.
With no clear program to this day, he's adjusting his views depending on the region and on what he's expected to say. His team is collecting and analyzing the best ideas of both left and right parties. The synthesis will be made public next week. Marine Le Pen is a clear leader in the first round. Against all odds, François Fillon is catching up with Macron. New posters, however, appeared on the streets calling to vote Barack Obama into presidency in France. Even though he's not a French citizen, the authors of the idea are certain, he's the only person still capable of teaching the planet a lesson of democracy.