How is Sarkozy viewed around the world?

 Following French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s announcement that he will run for re-election, we asked our Observers around the world what they think of France’s foreign policy over the past five years. Here are their answers.  


Photo posted on Flickr by Draket.


Following French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s announcement that he will run for re-election, we asked our Observers around the world what they think of France’s foreign policy over the past five years. Here are their answers.


Tell us what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

"Sarkozy has done nothing for the Syrian people"



Omar Shakir is a Syrian activist. He lives in the restive city of Homs, which has suffered intense bombardments from Bashar al-Assad’s army.


I hope Nicolas Sarkozy loses the election. He has done nothing for the Syrian people except talk. I don’t know why he chose to help Libya but not Syria. The situation here is very serious. We need the international community to establish at least one no-fly zone in order to bring an end to the bombardments.


The people here had high expectations of France. We are grateful for what France did in Syria when the country was under French administration [Editor’s note: Syria was under French mandate from 1920 to 1946]. The French developed our infrastructures and our economy…But now it seems that they’re not interested in us. We no longer have any faith in Sarkozy.”


"Sarkozy helped our people overcome 42 years of tyranny"



Hamid Ahmed lives in Tripoli, Libya.


Libyans are very grateful to France, which supported our fight for freedom from the very beginning.


We really appreciated the steps taken by Mr. Sarkozy who was the first president to recognise the legitimacy of our National Transitional Council (CNT). Other countries soon followed France’s example and recognized the CNT as the sole representative body of the Libyan people, and that is what pulled the rug from under (Muammar) Gaddafi’s feet.


Libyans will remember Sarkozy’s France as the country which helped us overcome 42 years of tyranny and dictatorship, and helped us create a democracy. In June we are going to hold elections for the first time since 1952. I’m really looking forward to voting for the first time…”


"France is really helping us to rebuild our country"



Yunos Bakhshi is an astronomer who lives in Kabul.


In the eyes of Afghans, France – as good a country under Sarkozy as it was under Chirac – has a good reputation, especially compared to the British or the Americans. This is because the French who are in Afghanistan are really working to rebuild our country, from the education system to irrigation projects in rural areas. Afghans believe that the French don’t interfere in our internal affairs as much as other members of the international community.


The death of four French soldiers last month was a horrible tragedy, and I hope that this will not affect the French presence in Afghanistan. It would be a shame if the next president decided to recall French troops earlier than planned. They are playing an important role in the development of our country. Even if some people complain about the presence of foreign troops, everybody knows that life could be more difficult when they leave.”

"Greeks think that Sarkozy has become Angela Merkel’s lapdog"



Pol Bouratsis is a student living in Athens. He has taken part in several demonstrations against the austerity measures.


In Greece, people think that Nicolas Sarkozy has become the lapdog of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and that he agrees with her on all matters concerning Europe. And the Greeks have turned against Germany. We feel that we are shot down at every opportunity.


Presidential candidate François Hollande seems to be defending Greece in his speeches but it remains to be seen whether he will really defend us. I feel that this is primarily a communication strategy because, unfortunately, France does not play a particularly important part in this story. If he replaces Sarkozy, François Hollande might be able to help us a little but, at the end of the day, it’s the big banks and financial institutions who will decide our fate.”

"Sarkozy’s France has been too paternalistic"



Israël Yoroba Guebo is a journalist and blogger. He leaves in Abidjan.


At the beginning of his mandate, Nicholas Sarkozy talked about a ‘rupture’ in relations between France and Africa. He said that African countries must stop being France’s subordinates and become its partners. But in light of what has happened, I don’t think this break was made during his time in office.France’s involvement in the outcome of the election crisis in Ivory Coast was, in my opinion, too paternalistic.


I think France should have tried to bring the two different camps together [Editor’s note: the former president Laurent Gbagbo and the new president Alassane Ouattara], and acted as a mediator, instead of taking sides. France should have let international and African organisations solve the problem of military intervention. Ivorians are very divided over Sarkozy: those who support the current government say that Nicolas Sarkozy is the best thing that has happened to Ivory Coast; those who supported Laurent Gbagbo say he’s the worst…


Whether Sarkozy remains in office or not, I hope that the next president of France will work towards a political and economic partnership between two equals, not between dominant and dominated.”

"He turned a blind eye throughout the Tunisian revolution"



Youssef Fayla Cherif is a blogger who lives in Tunis.


When I hear the name ‘Sarkozy’, I instantly think of the images of him shaking hands with Ben Ali [Editor’s note: the former president of Tunisia who was forced to step down in January 2011 due to popular protests]. Nicolas Sarkozy always turned a blind eye and said that everything was fine in Tunisia, right up to the end. His government even offered to send armed forces to help crush our revolution. So now many Tunisians abhor anything related to Sarkozy.


Obviously, the French government has had to change sides since the revolution and relations between our countries are now more or less normal. But the reaction of Sarkozy’s government to the success of the Islamist party Ennahda in the elections shocked many Tunisians. French leaders accused Ennahda of having bad intentions, simply because it’s an Islamist party. Compared to Ben Ali’s regime, it’s much better. I can’t imagine our new government turning into a dictatorship.


Ideally, we’d like to see a new head of state in France so that we can build a new relationship between our two countries.”



"He’s perceived as weak and indecisive"




Sui is a student and lives in China.


“In my opinion, Nicholas Sarkozy is simply bad at foreign policy. During the Tibetan unrest in 2008, many foreign leaders criticized the Chinese government. But China attacked France in particular for having supported the Dalai Lama’s “clique”. Across the country, young Chinese people boycotted the outlets of French supermarket Carrefour. Then Sarkozy tried to apologize by sending one of his representatives to China, but this just made him seem weak and indecisive.If Sarkozy is re-elected, he must learn how to strike a balance between his criticisms and French interests.


However, I appreciate the fact that he is critical. China has a lot of problems and its policies deserve to be called into question. It’s just about knowing how to be strategic in order to avoid reprisals.”