Published: 15 Oct 2012 17:54 GMT+02:00 | Print version
Updated: 15 Oct 2012 17:54 GMT+02:00
President François Hollande said Monday that France would return to its policy of "non-interference, non-indifference" on the question of the independence of the Canadian province of Quebec.
Meeting with Quebec's new separatist premier Pauline Marois, Hollande said France was going back to its longstanding position, after his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy dramatically broke with the tradition.
"This formula has been in place for 30 years. It has been carried out by all the successive (French) governments. So this formula prevails today," Hollande said. "I am for continuity."
First laid out in 1977, the "ni, ni" policy – as it is known in French – makes France officially neutral on the question of Quebec independence but indicates support to Quebeckers should they choose to separate from the rest of Canada.
The formula has allowed France to continue what many see as its subtle support for Quebec independence – embodied in ex-president Charles de Gaulle's 1967 "Vive le Québec Libre!" ('Long Live Free Quebec') speech in Montreal – without sparking a diplomatic row with Ottawa.
Sarkozy, defeated by the Socialist Hollande for the presidency in May, angered Quebec separatists with repeated attacks on the independence movement, sneering at what he called "sectarianism" and "self-confinement".
Following the talks with Marois, Hollande also praised "the close links" between France and Quebec and the feelings of "partnership, fraternity and solidarity" between the country and the province.
Marois hailed the French president's remarks.
"President Hollande chose his words this morning by telling us he was still standing at our sides and that our relationship based on solidarity would continue," she said.
She said her three-day visit to France was taking place in a "very cordial" atmosphere and that French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who she is to meet on Tuesday, would travel to Quebec next spring.
As well as Ayrault, Marois will on Tuesday meet with Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici and on Wednesday with French business leaders.
Marois's Parti Quebecois, the standard-bearer of the mostly French-speaking Canadian province's independence movement, won control of Quebec's National Assembly last month, trouncing the federalist Liberals who had ruled since 2003.
The historic Catholic pilgrimage site of Lourdes in south west France was evacuated on Tuesday after flash floods hit the area. Management at the shrine have told The Local they are growing increasingly concerned as waters continue to rise. READ () »
As a provocative new anti-smacking video campaign by the Fondation pour l'Enfance (Foundation for Childhood) causes a stir in France, the man behind the drive Dr. Gilles Lazimi tells The Local why France needs a law banning parents from smacking their kids. READ () »
French football stars Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema, went on trial on Tuesday, accused of paying to have sex with then underage call-girl Zahia Dehar. The process was adjourned until January, however, on a legal technicality. READ () »
The Eiffel Tower in Paris was evacuated by police on Tuesday after a man threatened to throw himself off the famous monument. Reports suggest, however, that emergency services personnel have succeeded in apprehending the man. READ () »
These words are not the latest outburst by notorious French basher, London's Mayor Boris Johnson, but were the opinion of Britain’s Napoleonic War hero Admiral Lord Nelson, whose outspoken views were revealed in a letter, auctioned in London this week. READ () »
A pregnant Muslim woman who was allegedly attacked in the suburbs of Paris by two ‘skinheads’ for wearing an Islamic face veil has suffered a miscarriage, it was reported on Tuesday. READ () »
A court in north-eastern France on Tuesday sentenced to jail an impersonator to French music icon Serge Gainsbourg for stabbing a rival tribute act for French rock star Johnny Hallyday, amid a bizarre feud between the pair. READ () »
France has more inmates behind bars than ever before, it was revealed this week, prompting hundreds of prison guards to assemble in front of more than 100 jails on Tuesday, in protest against over-crowding and safety concerns. READ () »
Much of the west and south west of France remained on alert on Tuesday with storms and heavy rain expected to hit the region, just a day after hailstorms wreaked havoc for wine growers in one part of the country. READ () »
France angrily hit back on Monday at accusations that its bid to protect Europe's film and television industries from Hollywood dominance was "reactionary". READ () »