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'Fact: François Hollande is a great world leader'

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'Fact: François Hollande is a great world leader'
Photo: AFP
14:59 CEST+02:00
He might be flailing at home but President François Hollande has won plaudits for his efforts in foreign countries and Time magazine has lauded him for it.

The magazine names Hollande among the most influential people on the planet, which may come as a surprise given his struggles to influence the French economy and the rate of unemployment.

But as Time rightly points out Hollande has enjoyed different results outside his own country.

So while French voters won't miss him if he's booted out of the Elysée in next year's election, the rest of the world might do.

Hollande has been at the forefront of securing a global climate deal and after the Paris attacks he persuaded Europe and the US to step up the fight against Isis. France has also played a key role in the easing of tensions between the west and Iran.

The magazine carries a gushing tribute to the beleaguered president, from French intellectual Bernard Henri-Lévy, the man who famously persuaded Hollande's predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy to intervene in Libya.

We'll just let Henri-Lévy say his piece:

"President François Hollande is the anti-Obama. One man leads from behind, the other from ahead. Hollande has been at the fore of international issues such as the war in Syria, the spread of terrorism in Africa and the containment of Putin in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

"I cannot forget August 29th, 2013, when French planes were ready to tell Bashar Assad that he had crossed the line. If Obama hadn't stopped everything, if Hollande had prevailed, maybe the world would be different. Assad's army might have retreated to its barracks; Daesh (Isis) might have been killed in its infancy.

"At a time when Europe seems on the brink of collapse, Hollande is one of the very last European leaders to believe in Europe - that without it, we will go back to the Dark Ages. He strongly believes that, and acts in kind.

"Hollande's legacy will be that he was one of the first to have understood the ideological, political and strategic world threat that is jihadist terrorism.

"Whatever we may think of Hollande on the domestic front, for four years he has acted as a great world leader. That's not an opinion. That's a fact."

The French president just needs to have some positive impact domestically to win over his own compatriots and he will go down as one of the greatest French leaders in history. Or perhaps not.

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