rfi 2024-07-10 04:11:22



Justice

French investigators probe far-right leader Le Pen’s 2022 campaign finances

French investigators are looking into far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s 2022 campaign finances for an election she lost to President Emmanuel Macron, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

A probe was opened on 2 July to examine allegations of embezzlement, forgery, fraud, and that a candidate on an electoral campaign accepted a loan, the Paris prosecutor’s office said, giving no further details.

The National Commission for Campaign Accounts and Political Financing (CNCCFP), in charge of monitoring candidates’ expenses, had alerted the prosecutor’s office last year.

Marine Le Pen, then head of the far-right National Rally (RN) party, had invested around 11.5 million euros in her third bid for the presidency in 2022 – the second time she faced Macron in the run-off and lost to him.

In December 2022, the CNCCFP had objected to expenses linked to putting up and taking down campaigning material on 12 buses, describing it as “irregular”.

The RN leader appealed but then dropped the case.

In her 2017 campaign against Macron, the commission had rejected 873,576 euros in spending, most of which had been a loan from the then Front National – as the RN was called under her father, far-right firebrand Jean-Marie Le Pen. She did not appeal.

Last month, the country’s top court upheld a conviction against the RN for overcharging the state for the campaigning kits used by its candidates during the 2012 parliamentary polls.

  • Far-right Le Pen to stand trial on EU embezzlement, fraud charges
  • Jean-Marie Le Pen declared ‘unfit’ to stand trial over misuse of EU funds

Separately Le Pen, who was re-elected to parliament on Sunday, is to stand trial later this year alongside 27 others over alleged misuse of European Union, charges that Le Pen’s party has said it contested.

That investigation, opened in 2016, aimed to ascertain whether the then National Front had used money destined for EU parliamentary assistants to pay staff who were working for the party.

(with newswires)


French elections 2024

What are the next steps now France finds itself with a hung parliament?

France is without a permanent government after snap elections resulted in a hung parliament. The country looks set for tricky negotiations over which parties should form a government and who could lead it – but the constitution sets strict deadlines for when key positions must be filled.

The final round of legislative elections on Sunday made the left-wing New Popular Front the largest bloc in parliament, followed by the centrist Ensemble alliance in second place and the far-right National Rally party in third.

The left is short of a majority by over 100 seats, however, and lacks an obvious leader who could secure the backing of rival groups to rule by coalition.

President Emmanuel Macron will remain in post as head of state, a position that is elected separately from the parliament.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, who belongs to Macron’s party, offered his resignation but has been asked to stay on in a caretaker capacity.

The rest of the cabinet will also remain in place temporarily to handle day-to-day matters, though policy decisions are for now on ice.

France keeps PM on as caretaker as wrangling over new government begins

Next steps

After the full count is finalised, the members of the National Assembly – France’s lower house of parliament – will be sworn in. 

Out of 577, 76 were elected outright in the first round of voting on 30 June and have already been initiated, leaving 501 still to take office.

They will begin visiting the parliament building from Monday to familiarise themselves with the chamber and pick up security badges.

The next task will be to form parliamentary groups, the blocs into which MPs are organised according to their political affinities.

These groupings generally follow party lines, though those who don’t have the 15 members required to form their own sometimes join forces. Others represent a broader alliance of shared interests, such as Macron’s centrist Ensemble group, made up of his party plus two others. 

Forming a group confers several advantages, including funding, office space, guaranteed speaking time and the right to pursue key leadership positions within the Assembly. 

The new groups must designate their potential candidates for these positions, as well as choosing a leader who will represent them in parliament.

Surprise election win for left-green coalition plunges France into uncertainty

First sessions

France’s constitution states that parliament must sit on the second Thursday after snap elections have concluded, which in this case is 18 July. 

The incoming Assembly will be formally opened in a session presided over by the oldest member, assisted by the six youngest MPs.

The first order of business will be to elect a president of the Assembly, the equivalent of a speaker of the house. That is decided by MPs in a secret ballot with up to three rounds of voting.

The various groups will also submit their lists of candidates for parliamentary roles.

The following day, MPs will vote for the six vice-presidents, 12 secretaries and three financial administrators that make up the Assembly’s leadership bureau, which will ultimately be responsible for setting the order of business.

On 20 July, legislators decide who chairs each of the eight standing parliamentary committees: finance, foreign affairs, defence, economy, social affairs, culture, sustainable development and law.

Rules say that the finance committee at least must be headed by a member of the opposition. Seats on the committees, meanwhile, are divided proportionally between parliamentary groups.

Cautious relief in Europe as French vote keeps far right from power

Choosing a prime minister

The new session falls when lawmakers had planned to be on summer break, which this year was due to start on 12 July ahead of the Paris Olympics.

In such circumstances, the constitution says parliament must sit for 15 days – which would take the session up to 2 August.

There is no fixed deadline for nominating a prime minister, however. The choice is up to the president, though MPs can swiftly topple a premier they’re unhappy with by calling a vote of no confidence.

While it’s usually a straightforward choice – the leader of the party or bloc with a majority – the fragmented nature of this parliament means finding someone who can command consensus will be tough.

There is no requirement for the prime minister to be a sitting MP. As a last resort, Macron could decide to look outside politics altogether and appoint technocrats to run the government.

As for calling fresh elections, that’s only an option one year after the last snap polls – in other words, no earlier than June 2025.


Paris Olympics 2024

Paris to contest plans for river landing pad for flying taxis at 2024 Olympics

France’s government has given the go-ahead for a floating landing pad for flying taxis to be built on the River Seine. It’s set to be shown off during the Paris Olympics, but Paris City Hall says it plans to challenge the landing pad permit in court.

 

An official decree published Tuesday said that the pad “can be used until 31 December, 2024” after months of suspense over whether the taxis would take to the air during the July 26 – August 11 Paris Games.

Flying taxis

The landing site will float on the Seine near Austerlitz railway station in southeastern Paris.

So called “flying taxis” are large futuristic drones capable of transporting several people. (You can see the new Volocopter in the accompanying video between 3:47 – 5:13)

Flights will be limited to two per hour, between 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and no more than 900 over the whole trial period “given the experimental nature” of the vehicles, the decree read.

Private firms involved in the flying taxi project include Paris airport operator ADP and Germany-based Volocopter.

Its “Volocity” two-seaters are fitted with 18 electric-powered rotors on a circular frame above the fuselage.

They hope to use the global draw of the Olympics to show that the technology can efficiently link “vertiport” take-off and landing sites.

Four vertiports – airports for vertical take-off and landing vehicles – have already been set up in the Paris suburbs, including one at Charles de Gaulle airport, but the Austerlitz site will be the first within the city itself.

  • ‘Flying taxis’ to be tested during Paris Olympics: minister

 

 

City Hall opposition

Backers tout flying taxis as a low-carbon form of aviation and hope future larger versions could be used as ambulances or in other roles.

But several city officials in Paris have derided the plans as harmful to the environment.

The Council of Paris had already expressed its opposition to the project.

“All of the Paris Council – the left, ecologists and the right –  voted against flying taxis,”  David Belliard, the head of transport at Paris City Hall and a member of the Greens, told French public radio on Tuesday.

“They’re not useful, they’re un-ecological and very expensive. Only the wealthiest people are concerned by this,” he said, slamming a tarriff of 135 euros for a 35-km journey as “outrageous“. 

Belliard also questioned the government’s legitimacy since the presidential majority lost out to a new left-wing alliance (NFP) in last Sunday’s snap leglislative elections.

People close to mayor Anne Hidalgo told French news agency AFP  that City Hall would challenge the landing pad permit in court.

In a report published in September 2023, France’s national environment authority (AE) found that an impact assessment for the landing pad was “incomplete” on issues including noise pollution, energy consumption and greenhouse emissions.

The taxis have yet to be certified by the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) – meaning operators can only offer free demonstration flights during the Paris Olympics.

  • France to invest in low-emission planes, sustainable aviation fuels

(with AFP)


Space Exploration

Europe’s new Ariane 6 rocket set for inaugural launch from French Guiana

The Ariane 6, Europe’s latest heavy-lift launch vehicle, is scheduled for its maiden voyage on 9 July from the European Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. This debut mission will carry a payload of eight satellites and various experimental instruments.

When asked about the significance of Ariane 6’s first flight, a spokesperson of the European Space Agency (ESA) said Ariane 6 will ensure European independent and autonomous access to space for primarily mid- and heavy institutional and commercial payloads that were previously launched on Soyuz and Ariane 5 launchers. 

“In addition, Ariane 6 will offer a greater flexibility to launch an even wider range of payloads (as compared to its predecessor Ariane 5), including constellations and payloads of different sizes combined in a single launch. Its re-ignitable upper stage will also help inject satellites in multiple orbits and allow controlled de-orbiting in line with space debris regulation,” the spokesperson said.

The rocket comes in two booster configurations: the A62 with two boosters and A64 with four boosters.

The ESA spokesperson said Ariane 6 is designed to provide great power and flexibility at a lower cost than its predecessors. 

“The launcher’s configuration – with an upgraded main stage, a choice of either two or four powerful boosters and a new restartable upper stage – will provide Europe with greater efficiency and possibility as it can launch multiple missions into different orbits on a single flight, while its upper stage will deorbit itself at the end of mission.”

The launch comes a year after the final flight of its predecessor Ariane 5. 

European space amitions

The Ariane 6 programme was launched around the end of 2014. The first flight was originally scheduled for 2020. However, it was delayed due to technical setbacks as well as the Covid-19 crisis.

European space ambitions have evolved significantly over the past decades, driven by the need for technological independence, economic competitiveness, and scientific advancement.

At the heart of this policy is the European Space Agency (ESA), the intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states, working in close cooperation with the European Union (EU).

The cornerstone of European space policy is ensuring autonomous access to space. This began with the Ariane rocket family and continues with the development of Ariane 6 and Vega-C launchers.

These programs aim to maintain Europe’s ability to launch satellites and other payloads without relying on foreign providers.

Another key aspect of Euroepan space strategy is Earth observation. The Copernicus program, jointly managed by ESA and the EU, operates a fleet of Sentinel satellites that monitor the planet’s environment, providing crucial data on climate change, land use, and natural disasters. This information supports policy-making and aids in emergency response efforts across Europe and beyond.n.


Kenya

Kenyan cult leader faces terrorism charges over mass starvation deaths

The self-proclaimed leader of an evangelical doomsday cult in Kenya has gone on trial  in Mombasa, facing charges of terrorism for allegedly inciting more than 400 of his followers to starve themselves to death.

Self-proclaimed pastor Paul Nthenge Mackenzie appeared in court in the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa on Monday, along with 94 co-defendants.

The accused are also facing charges of  murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, torturing children and cruelty in separate cases.

They all pleaded not guilty at a first hearing in January.

Mackenzie, who was arrested in April 2023, is alleged to have incited his acolytes to starve to death in order to “meet Jesus”.

The remains of more than 440 people have been unearthed so far in a remote area inland from the coastal town of Malindi, in a case that has been dubbed the “Shakahola forest massacre”.

Autopsies have found that while starvation appeared to be the main cause of death, some of the victims – including children – were strangled, beaten, or suffocated.

Previous court documents reported that some of the bodies had had their organs removed.

  • Kenyan preacher to face murder charges over mass starvation deaths

 

​Breach of security

Mackenzie, a former taxi driver, founded the Good News International Church in 2003.

He turned himself in on 14 April last year after police, acting on a tip-off, first entered Shakahola forest and found mass graves.

In March, the authorities began releasing some victims’ bodies to distraught relatives after months of painstaking work to identify them using DNA.

Questions have been raised about how Mackenzie, a self-styled pastor with a history of extremism, managed to evade law enforcement despite his prominent profile and previous legal cases.

“The Shakahola massacre is the worst breach of security in the history of our country,” Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki told a senate committee hearing at which he vowed to “relentlessly push for legal reforms to tame rogue preachers”.

Kindiki had accused Kenyan police of laxity when they began investigating initial reports of starvation.

The state-backed  Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) in March criticised security officers in Malindi for “gross abdication of duty and negligence”.

Kenya is a mainly Christian country and President William Ruto has vowed to intervene in homegrown religious movements.

  • Kenya’s Ruto vows action as religious cult death toll continues to rise

(with newswires)


Sahel politics

New Sahel Confederation challenges regional order as ECOWAS seeks dialogue

The military heads of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger convened for the inaugural summit of the Confederation of the Sahel States (AES). The leaders emphasised territorial and popular sovereignty as core principles of their leadership through a new treaty. Concurrently, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is exploring strategies to persuade these nations to realign with the regional bloc.

Colonel Assimi Goïta of Mali, Captain Ibrahim Traoré of Burkina Faso and Niger’s General Abdourahamane Tiani met in Niamey, a day ahead of the summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), held on Sunday 7 July in Abuja.

The three Sahel leaders, who came to power through military coups between 2020 and 2023, said they wanted to take the Alliance, set up in September 2023, a step further by establishing it as a confederation.

The Confederation of the Sahel States, which will use the acronym AES, is headed by Mali in its first year. AES regroups 72 million people.

“Our people have irrevocably turned their backs on ECOWAS,” Niger’s ruling General Abdourahamane Tiani told the cheering crowd attending the Niamey summit.

AES pulled out of ECOWAS in February 2024.

However, the ECOWAS leaders are intent on reconciliation. They chose Senegal’s President Faye – who said he wanted to break away from old alliances – to act as special envoy for Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, along with Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe.

“We cannot stand idly by,” said Faye.

He stressed that, on paper, the three Sahel states are still members of ECOWAS for another year, as per article 91 of the organisation.

“Our region is facing the risk of disintegration,” said Omar Alieu Touray, the head of the ECOWAS commission.

But, the speeches made by the military leaders of Mali, Niger and Burkina-Faso seem to indicate that they are done with ECOWAS.

House slaves

Captain Ibrahim Traoré sharply criticized what he termed “house slaves,” a euphemism for African leaders he perceives as still under the influence or control of former colonial powers. Addressing an approving audience, Traoré stated:

“Imperialists view Africa as their dominion, believing they own our people, lands, and resources. Since the illusory independence granted to African nations in the 1960s, they’ve installed local proxies to maintain their control. We refer to these proxies as ‘house slaves’ – individuals whose sole aspiration is to emulate and serve their masters.”

  • Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso to launch anti-jihadist force

  • Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso quit ECOWAS regional block

He also said that he does not understand why foreign powers refused to leave the three Sahel state when they have been asked to do, whilst each year claiming that Burkina, Mali and Niger are the poorest countries in the world.

“When we decided to break the chains, the house slaves brought the message of their masters to stop and comply.

“The people of Sahel will no longer be manipulated; we will not allow this anymore,” the Burkinabe leader said.

Traoré added that, on 26 July 2023, when Niger decided to move on, the “house slaves” and their masters were incandescent and decided to wage a war against the country.

“We then told them; whoever attacks Niger will have to contend with us. We’ll be ruthless against whoever attacks us,” he said.

After the July 2023 coup that brought Tiani to power, ECOWAS threatened to intervene militarily to restore ousted President Mohamed Bazoum.

Terrorism

Tiani criticized ECOWAS for its perceived failure to protect citizens from terrorist threats. He asserted that the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) is uniquely positioned to combat terrorism in the region, surpassing the capabilities of other regional or international bodies.

The AES has initiated a cross-border military force, leveraging each member state’s strengths to counter jihadist activities. Seidik Abba, chairman of the International Center for Studies and Thoughts on the Sahel (CIRES), explained:

“The Sahel Alliance has adopted a more effective strategy against jihadist forces through joint military operations. Previously, militants could attack one country and retreat to another. Now, with shared intelligence and collaborative efforts, the three countries can capitalize on their combined strengths.”

Economic cooperation

Colonel Assimi Goïta, Mali’s military leader, reported that economic cooperation among the three Sahel states is progressing, with specific projects already outlined. He expressed gratitude to his Nigerien counterpart for providing crucial hydrocarbon assistance to Mali.

In April, Niger agreed to supply Mali with 150 million liters of hydrocarbons at approximately half the market rate. This arrangement aims to fuel Mali’s power plants and alleviate frequent power outages.

Analyst Seidik Abba noted that the Niamey declaration appears to suggest the AES states’ intention to establish a common currency to boost their economic development.

Goïta emphasised that the alliance between the three neighboring countries is fundamentally people-centric, promoting free movement across their territories. He said at the summit:

“We’re moving beyond individual national identities. Instead of citizens of Mali, Burkina Faso, or Niger, we’ll refer to ourselves as people of the AES. In this alliance, a Burkinabe or Nigerien will feel at home in Mali, and vice versa, without encountering administrative barriers.”


French elections 2024

France keeps PM on as caretaker as wrangling over new government begins

France was in the hands of a caretaker government on Monday after snap parliamentary elections defeated the far right but failed to produce a majority for any political camp. With parliament roughly divided into three disparate groups, there are no obvious candidates for the prime minister who will lead a new French government.

The outcome of the legislative elections, called by President Emmanuel Macron three years ahead of schedule, leaves France without any clear path to forming a new government less than three weeks before the Paris Olympics.

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal submitted his resignation on Monday morning, but the president’s office said that it had asked him to stay on as caretaker PM “for the time being” for the sake of stability.

The left is emerging as the biggest group in the new parliament but has yet to even agree on a figure who it would want to be the new prime minister.

The unprecedented situation is taking shape just as Macron is due to be out of the country for most of the week, taking part in a NATO summit in Washington.

Surprise election win for left-green coalition plunges France into uncertainty

Left seeks common line

Early results from the second and final round of voting on Sunday showed the left won 187 seats, Macron’s centrist alliance 159 and the far-right National Rally (RN) and its allies 142.

The outcome delivered a stinging blow to Macron and leaves France in limbo, heralding a period of political instability rarely seen in the country’s post-war history.

Parties from the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) – made up of the hard-left France Unbowed, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the Greens – met overnight for the first talks on how to proceed.

[Slideshow] Jubilant crowds fill Place de la République in Paris after exit polls

The bloc – which was formed in haste to fight the snap elections – has no overall leader, and its parties are divided over who they could select as a suitable premier.

Short of an outright majority by around 100 seats, the NFP will also rely on alliances with other groupings if it is to govern. 

“The NFP will enact its programme, nothing but its programme but its complete programme,” Jean-Luc Melenchon, the polarising leader of France Unbowed, the biggest party in the alliance, insisted on Sunday night.

Meanwhile Olivier Faure, head of the Socialists, ruled out a “coalition of opposites, which would betray the votes of the French public”.

President’s choice

Parts of the left remain bitterly opposed to many of the outgoing government’s flagship policies, notably its hard-fought pension reform.

Some prominent centrist figures, including Edouard Philippe, a former prime minister under Macron, said they were ready to work on a pact to ensure a stable government.

Yet while centrists encouraged their supporters to block the far right in the second round by voting tactically for candidates from the mainstream right and left, many of Macron’s allies have said they see France Unbowed as another dangerous extreme.

Some on the right have floated the idea of a so-called “moderate bloc” made up of the centre and those lightly to the right and left of it.

Cautious relief in Europe as French vote keeps far right from power

Under the French constitution, the president is responsible for appointing a prime minister, who can be anyone from inside or outside parliament.

But the choice is effectively subject to MPs’ approval, who can overturn it with a vote of no confidence.

Macron, who has yet to speak in public since the vote, is calling for “prudence and analysis of the results”, an aide told French news agency AFP, asking not to be named.

According to the constitution, fresh parliamentary elections cannot now be called for at least one year.

(with newswires)


French elections 2024

New Caledonia elects pro-independence candidate in French elections

The restive French Pacific territory of New Caledonia has elected a pro-independence indigenous Kanak candidate to France’s parliament – the first since 1986 – in a move that could change the dynamic of negotiations over independence after weeks of deadly unrest.

New Caledonia has two seats in France’s National Assembly.

Emmanuel Tjibaou, 48, won the second constituency in the rural north of the territory, beating loyalist candidate Alcide Ponga by 13,404 votes.

The first constituency, which includes the capital Noumea, was won by right-wing pro-France candidate Nicolas Metzdorf on 52.41 percent.

Metzdorf beat the pro-independence candidate Omayra Naisseline, although the margin was lower than expected.

Turnout on the archipelago was 71.35 percent – the highest in legislative elections since 1981.

Son of key independence leader

Tjibaou becomes the first pro-independence to win a seat in the national assembly since 1986.

While he is new to party politics, he has held several important positions in New Caledonia’s cultural sphere and directed the Agency for the Development of Kanak Culture – a public body set up to promote the culture of the territory’s indigenous people. 

He is the son of a well-known Kanak independence leader, Jean-Marie Tjibaou, who was assassinated in 1989.

Tjibaou’s father had signed the 1988 Matignon Accords with mainland France, bringing a period of peace to the archipelago after four years of near civil war. 

Tjibaou’s election could change the balance of power in discussions on the territory’s future which have been blocked since the third of three referendums on independence as part of the Matignon and then 1998 Noumea accords went in favour of remaining with France.

However, leaders of the Socialist Kanak National Liberation Front (FLNKS) refuse to recognise the results.

  • Key dates in New Caledonia’s history

‘Dramatic situation’

The election comes just weeks after deadly violence flared up in the capital Noumea and the surrounding region over plans by the government to make constitutional changes to voting lists, which Indigenous Kanaks feared would further marginalise them.

Nine people – including two police officers – died in the violence, hundreds were wounded and more than 1.5  billion euros of damage caused to shops and infrastructure.

While violence has subsided, a night-time curfew is in place through to 15 July.

  • France declares state of emergency in New Caledonia after deadly riots
  • More unrest in New Caledonia after protest leaders extradited

Tjibaou’s brother Joël was charged and remanded in custody in June for his alleged role in the riots.

Speaking on public broadcaster NC la 1ère on Sunday, Tjibaou said he deplored the “dramatic situation” in New Caledonia and said there was now an urgent need to “restore the conditions” for renewed dialogue between pro-independence and pro-France parties”, New Zealand’s RNZ reported

The constitutional reform needed to change the territory’s electoral law has been de facto put on ice, after President Emmanuel dissolved parliament for the snap elections.


Euro 2024

France boss Deschamps hails dominant Spaniards ahead of Euro 2024 semi-final

France coach Didier Deschamps sang the praises of the Spain squad that has swept all opponents aside during their surge to Tuesday night’s semi-final showdown in Munich with his World Cup finalists.

“Spanish teams have always had the ability to have a strong midfield, often a trio,” said Deschamps ahead of the clash at the Allianz Arena.

“This allows Spain to have great control,” he added. “And yes, there is their offensive potential. But the midfield is also a strength, especially with Rodri, who is an essential player.

“But it’s the whole team that has shown effectiveness on the field since the start of the European championships.

“It’s not to put stress or pressure on them. They have been the most dominant and left the best impression on almost everyone.”

Deschamps’ Spain counterpart, Luis de la Fuente, has been bullish about his players who rolled impressively through Group B.

They opened with a 3-0 victory over Croatia on 15 June. That was followed five days later by a 1-0 win over the defending champions Italy and a largely second string team edged past Albania by the same score on 24 June. 

In the knockout stages, Spain pulverised Georgia 4-1 and in the quarter-finals they silenced the partisans with a 2-1 extra-time success over hosts Germany.

“My players are insatiable,” enthused de la Fuente. “There’s always room for improvement, of course, but we can’t question their pride, quality and commitment.”

Recast

France, who boast Real Madrid-bound striker Kylian Mbappé, as well as Spain-based Antoine Griezmann, were promoted as the great entertainers.

But while Spain have racked up 11 goals, France have been vapid.

An own-goal gave them a victory over Austria on 17 June during which Mbappé broke his nose.

He was absent for the 0-0 draw against the Netherlands and returned to convert the penalty during the 1-1 draw with Poland which sealed second spot in Group D.

Another own-goal took them past Belgium in the last-16 and Deschamps’ men prevailed in a penalty shoot-out against Portugal in the last eight after the match ended goalless.

Deschamps, who is attempting to become the first man to win the European championships and World Cup as a player and as a coach, said he was unconcerned with the jibes that had been attached to his team.

“Well, if you’re bored, watch something else,” he told a critic during an interview with journalists. “It’s fine. You’re not obligated to watch.

“Besides, this is a special European championships and it’s very tough for everyone. The number of goals is much lower than in the past.”

Timing

The game for France comes amid political instability at home following the second round in the general election that left no party with an overall majority in the 577-seat National Assembly.

Left-wing and centre ground voters cast votes tactically to prevent the far-right Rassemblement national from gaining control.

In the prelude to the two rounds, several players, including Mbappé, urged people to vote in order to stop politicians who they described as extremists.

“I have always said that politics and sports don’t necessarily mix well,” said France midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

“Getting into these things … I think we need to leave them aside as we have a semi-final to play.

“Some of the players called on people to vote, and it’s democracy that decides. So, that’s been done. I saw that many people turned out to vote, which is great.

“As for the rest, let’s leave the analysis to those who know it best. Is it a good thing? A bad thing? I don’t know. We’ll see in time. I play football.”

The winner of the clash will take on England or the Netherlands in the final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Sunday evening.

“What I know is that we have the ability to share emotions and make many French men and women happy through our results especially during a difficult period in our country,” added Deschamps.


Euro 2024

France football players at Euro 2024 in Germany hail election results back home

Several France players broke away from preparations for Tuesday night’s Euro 2024 semi-final against Spain in Munich to hail the result of the general election back home.

“The victory of the People,” wrote midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni on X.

Striker Marcus Thuram, who expressed his concern about far-right groups after the European elections on 8 June, said: “Congratulations to all those who came forward in the face of the danger that hovered over our country.

“Long live diversity, long live the Republic, long live France. The fight continues.”

 

Defender Jules Koundé added on X: “The relief is equal to the worry of these recent weeks, it is immense.

“Congratulations to all the French people who mobilized so that this beautiful country that is France does not find itself governed by the extreme right.”

Parties from the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP) – made up of the hard-left France Unbowed, the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the Greens – combined during the second round of voting on 7 July to become the biggest group in the National Assembly.

[Slideshow] Jubilant crowds fill Place de la République in Paris after exit polls

The bloc – which was formed in haste to fight the snap elections – has no overall leader, and its parties are divided over who they could select as a suitable prime minister.

Moment

Thuram’s comments emerged nearly a month after he condemned what he called the sad reality of the political situation in France.

Just after President Emmanuel Macron called the election, the France skipper Kylian Mbappé urged young people to go out and vote to prevent extremes from claiming power.

Politicians from across the political spectrum have embraced or criticised the stances of the France stars.

Rassemblement national leader Marine Le Pen hit out at Mbappé during an interview with CNN France just before the second vote.

“Kylian Mbappé is an excellent footballer,” she said. “But this trend among athletes, singers or artists of telling the French how they should vote … the French are fed up with moral lessons and voting instructions.”

Should France beat Spain at the Allianz Arena, they will play either England or the Netherlands in the final on Sunday.


2024 Tour de France

Philipsen claims stage 10 of 2024 Tour de France

Jasper Philipsen claimed stage 10 of the Tour de France on Tuesday. The 26-year-old Belgian completed the 187.3 kilometres between Orléans and Saint-Amand-Montrond in four hours, 20 minutes and six seconds.

Biniam Girmay came in just behind the Alpecin-Deceuninck rider and Pascal Ackermann was third.

“Last week was no a great week for the team,” said Philipsen. “We had some bad luck but I’ really happy. It’s a big relief for the team to finally show our strength. We did finally what we cam for and it was aperfect job from the team.”

 

 

Two-time champion Tadej Pogacar maintained the yellow jersey of the overall race leader.

Remco Evenepoel was 33 seconds the 25-year-old Slovenian in second and defending champion Jonas Vingegaard was a further 32 seconds behind.

Pogacar and Vingegaard are vying to become only the ninth man to brandish a third crown in the event’s 111-year history. Only five have gone on to win more.

Were Vingegaard to emerge victorious after the final stage in Nice on 21 July, he would join Louison Bobet, Chris Froome, Miguel Indurain, Eddie Merckx and Jacques Anquetil in the pantheon of riders to have won three on the trot.

Wednesday’s 11th stage will take the riders on a 211km course through the mountains between Évaux-les-Bains and Le Lioran.


Theatre

Director Nicolas Lambert probes France’s ‘family secret’, its colonial past

Actor and director Nicolas Lambert is drawn to the darker sides of France, from the oil business to arms sales. His one-man show France, Empire, appearing this month at the alternative theatre festival in Avignon, mixes personal and collective stories to uncover “a national family secret”: France’s colonial past.

Lambert is an actor, playwright, and first and foremost a storyteller.

In France, Empire, he serves as a history teacher, performing all the roles himself –from Charles de Gaulle to General Philippe Leclerc and most of the presidents of the last two French republics. 

But alongside shared history and famous political speeches, he weaves in personal stories – including his own family history in the north of France.

The idea, he told RFI, was to demonstrate the place the colonial past continues to occupy in present lives.

“I wanted to have testimony on that part of France’s history, and I wanted to give testimony that was not one of guilt,” Lambert told RFI. 

“Because, as our former president Nicolas Sarkozy said so well, ‘children are not responsible for their father’s policies, for their father’s crimes’.”

‘A family secret’

Lambert says he got the idea for the piece after realising that his own daughter knew little about France’s colonial history.

“By the end of the third grade, my daughter had never heard of the era of the old French empire,” he said.

“She didn’t know that Morocco was part of France, that Tunisia was part of it, or Cameroon, or so on. Or that all her friends came from places like these that used to be the French Empire.

“More French people should know and not only by learning at school, but through exhibitions, debates, museums, theatres…”

Lambert compares colonial history and its traumas to “a national family secret” – something both intimate and often avoided.

“There is a lot of emotion in the room during the show,” he said. “We have a lot of psychologists who work on the notion of trauma coming to watch, and that touches me a lot.

“It seems like a good, good tool for them, to discuss these issues individually but also collectively. Some people cry too, it frees something.”

  • French-Algerian artist Kader Attia explores colonial wounds, creative restoration
  • Artist’s quest to honour hidden heroes of fight against French slavery

From Algeria to Vietnam, Senegal to Papua New Guinea, the show draws a thread between all the territories controlled at some point by Paris, some of them to this day.

Lambert says that in the current political context, with the rise of racism and the denial of past violence in the global south, the play feels more relevant than ever. 

He hopes to turn it into a film later this year. 


France, Empire is at the 11•Avignon Theatre as part of the Avignon Off festival until 21 July 2024. 


France

Napoleon’s pistols sold for 1.7 million euros at French auction

Two pistols that Napoleon Bonaparte once intended to use to kill himself were sold in France on Sunday for 1.69 million euros, the auction house said, with the government insisting that they stay in the country as ‘national treasures’.

The identity of the buyer at the auction in Fontainebleau south of Paris of the finely adorned objects was not made public but the final sale price, with fees, was above the estimates of 1.2-1.5 million euros.

Ahead of the sale of the weapons, the national treasures commission of the French culture ministry had classified the objects as national treasures and placed a ban on their export, in a decision published in the government’s official journal on Saturday.

The issuing of the export ban certificate opens a 30-month period during which the French government can make a purchase offer to the unidentified new owner, who has the right to refuse.

National treasure

Whatever its value and age, a cultural property qualified as a national treasure can leave France only temporarily, with a mandatory return.

“Being classified as a national treasure gives an incredible value to the object,” said a representative of the Osenat auction house, asking not to be named.

The richly decorated guns inlaid with gold and silver feature the engraved image of Napoleon in full imperial pomp.

They are said to have almost been used to end the French ruler’s life in 1814, when he was forced to give up power after foreign forces defeated his army and occupied Paris.

“After the defeat of the French campaign, he was totally depressed and wanted to commit suicide with these weapons but his grand squire removed the powder,” auction house expert Jean-Pierre Osenat said ahead of the sale.

Napoleon instead took poison but vomited and survived, and later gave the pistols to his squire to thank him for his loyalty, Osenat added.

Memorabilia of the emperor is extremely sought after among collectors.

One of his famous “bicorne” black cocked hats with its blue, white and red trimmings sold for 1.9 million euros in November.

  • Napoleon’s hat sells for record sum at French auction

Upon his abdication, Napoleon went into exile on the island of Elba off the coast of Italy.

He would soon make a dramatic return to France, only to have his career definitively ended when he was defeated by the British at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, dying in exile on the island of St Helena six years later.

(with AFP)


rugby

Two France rugby players held in Argentina over alleged sexual assault

Police in Argentina were on Tuesday questioning France rugby players Hugo Auradou and Oscar Jegou over allegations of a sexual assault on a woman.

The attack is alleged to have taken place on Saturday night following France’s 28-13 victory over Argentina in Mendoza.

French rugby federation chiefs confirmed that Auradou and Jegou were detained in Buenos Aires on Monday and will be escorted back to Mendoza.

“A commission from the province of Mendoza will proceed with doing the relevant examinations,” said Martin Ahumada, a spokesman for the Mendoza prosecutor’s office.

“If the examinations align with the testimony of the victim, the related charge will be made,” he told the French news agency AFP.

Local media reports said the alleged incident took place at the Diplomatic Hotel in Mendoza, where France’s players and staff were staying for last weekend’s Test match.

Auradou, 20, who plays for Section Paloise in the the French top flight, comes from illustrious rugby stock.

His father, David, enjoyed a decorated career with Stade Francais and the France national team.  Hugo’s older brother, Paul, plays for the second division outfit Stade Nicois.

Questions

Jegou, 21, made his professional debut for Stade Rochelais in the Top 14 towards the end of the  2023 season.

With the absence of several players for the 2023 rugby World Cup, he was given an extended run in the first team.

However, he blotted his copy book when he was banned for a month for taking cocaine. Despite his lapse, France rugby boss Fabien Galthié selected him and Auradou for the tour to reward their star performances in the France squad that swept to the under-20 World Cup last year in South Africa. The game against Argentina was their debut in the senior squad.

“If the facts are proven, they are incredibly serious,” said French Rugby Federation (FFR) president Florian Grill.

“You must spare a thought for the young woman. It’s the opposite of everything that rugby is, of everything that rugby does, of everything that rugby builds.”

Player in racism scandal

The arrests come a day after France full-back Melvyn Jaminet was thrown out of the touring for making a racist comment in a video on social media.

“I promise, the first Arab I see on the road, I’ll headbutt him,” said Jaminet on film.

The FFR condemned his video comments as totally unacceptable and against the fundamental values of the sport.

Jaminet subsequently apologised for his remarks after being booted out of the squad.

“I am deeply sorry and ashamed of my comments,” Jaminet said on social media. “Racism, in all its forms, is unacceptable and goes against everything I believe in.”

France are due to travel to Montevideo on Tuesday where they face Uruguay on Wednesday. The team is then due to return to Buenos Aires for a second Test against Argentina on Saturday.

 

French rugby chiefs suspend World Cup star Jaminet after racist remark in video

France full-back Melvyn Jaminet was on Monday facing an end to his international career after a video surfaced of him making a racist remark. 

Jaminet, 25, who plays for RC Toulon in southern France, featured as a late substitute on Saturday in France’s 28-13 victory over Argentina at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas.

A few hours after the game in Mendoza, a video was published in which Jaminet can be heard saying: “The first Arab I meet on the street, I’m going to head butt him.”

The video was picked up by La France insoumise politician Sébastien Delogu and widely shared on social media.

In a statement posted on X, the French rugby federation (FFR) condemned the comments as unacceptable and contrary to the fundamental values of the sport.

It said Jaminet would be sidelined with immediate effect and would leave the French squad’s tour of South America.

Jaminet began his professional career at the French Pro 2 club Perpignan in 2019. By the time he left for thye top flight outfit Toulouse in 2022, he had already broken into the France team.

He transferred to Toulon for the start of the 2023 campaign during which he was part of the France World Cup squad which lost in the quarter-finals to South Africa.

Federation chiefs said they would launch an investigation into the incident.

“Discriminatory behaviour of any kind has no place in French rugby,” the FFR tatement added.

Jaminet, who has played 20 times for his country, issued an apology on social media shortly after his suspension was announced.

“I understand that this has hurt and offended many people, and I want to make it clear that these remarks do not reflect my values or those of the French rugby team.

“Racism in any form is unacceptable and goes against everything I believe in,” he wrote on Instagram.

Toulon also published a statement on social media to condemn the comments.


Wimbledon 2024

French duo Fils and Mpetshi Perricard lose in last-16 at Wimbledon

French duo Arthur Fils and Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard lost to Alex De Minaur and Lorenzo Musetti respectively on Monday to end French interests in the men’s singles draw at Wimbledon.

Fils, 20, went down 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6  to the ninth seed from Australia while Musetti outwitted Mpetshi Perricard 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and three minutes.

“I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a child,” said 22-year-old Musetti who reached the last eight for the first time at one of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

“I’ve always had a beautiful family who have always supported me in the pursuit of my dream,” added the 25th seed.

During the French Open in Paris last month, Musetti lost a tumultuous match in the third round against the defending champion Novak Djokovic.

And he was initially out of sorts against Mpetshi Perricard who had dispatched the 20th seed Sebastian Korda in the first round after entering the main draw as a lucky loser.

He more than rode his good fortune in that encounter against the American. He served 51 aces during his surge to the second round and there were a further 54 daces during the matches against Yoshihito Nishioka from Japan and the Finn Emil Ruusuvuori.

But in the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, 21-year-old Mpetshi Perricard appeared too hasty in the baseline exchanges. 

Musetti, renowned for his flamboyant shot-making, showed greater calm and maturity to restore parity and eventually take control of the match.

Run

De Minaur entered his tie against Fils seeking revenge for a defeat on the clay courts at the Barcelona Open in April.

The 25-year-old Australian was a break up in the third set against a man playing in the last-16 at a major for the first time.

Seemingly poised for a straightforward victory, De Minaur allowed Fils to claim four consecutive games to snatch the set.

However, De Minaur, who also reached the last eight at the French Open, reimposed his authority in the fourth.

“I made it a lot harder than I should have but am happy to get through,” he said. “It was a great job mentally to get through it.”


Paris Olympics 2024

Organiser of Paris Olympics keeps focus on Games, not politics

The chief organiser of the Paris Olympics says he is focused on preparing for the Games later this month rather than the political turmoil gripping France.

Tony Estanguet, president of the committee organising the Olympics and Paralympics, was asked whether the stated values of Paris 2024 and its motto “Games Wide Open” were consistent with the agenda of the far-right National Rally (RN) party, which topped snap parliamentary polls at the weekend.

“I want us to respect this major democratic moment and we need to stay in our place so that French people can enjoy these Games which they can’t wait to see,” he told reporters during a visit to the Olympic village earlier this week.

‘Bring people together’

Estanguet stressed that the aim of the Olympics was to “bring people together”.

The Games are intended to “demonstrate the audacity and the best of what our country has to offer the world […] and to make people proud of what the country is capable of organising. There’s also a desire to bring French people together,” he said.

“We are focused on that,” he added.

The anti-immigraton RN came top in the first round of voting for a new parliament on Sunday, with a decisive second round set to take place next Sunday.

  • Results from first round of France’s snap elections mapped out
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A new left-wing alliance finished second, with President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist allies trailing in third.

Macron’s unexpected decision to call early elections is widely seen as having backfired, with the political uncertainty risking overshadowing the Paris Games.

(with AFP)


Photography

Arles photo festival defiantly celebrates world’s diversity

One of the world’s most renowned photo festivals returns to the French town of Arles this summer with an ode to diversity.

The Rencontres d’Arles festival, which runs until 29 September, is spread across 27 venues in the ancient cobbled streets of the former Roman town in Provence.

Now in its 55th year, the event has chosen the theme “Beneath the Surface”, seeking to delve into diversity without the usual caricatures around minorities.

The star exhibition is a world-first retrospective for US portrait artist Mary Ellen Mark (1940-2015), who worked for magazines including Life and Rolling Stone.

One of her most celebrated images features an Icelandic child resting on the neck of a horse, the pose focusing attention away from the boy’s disability.

Mark “devoted a lot of time and attention to her protagonists, in a few cases returning to photograph them again and again over the course of many years, forging close relationships with many”, said co-curator Sophia Greiff.

“What I’m trying to do is make photographs that are universally understood… that cross cultural lines,” Mark once said.

Emphasis on humanity

Elsewhere at the festival, Spanish photographer Cristina de Middel presents documentary and dreamlike work about migrants travelling from Mexico to the US.

She ignores the usual tropes around migration, presenting the crossing as a heroic epic of courageous men and women heading towards a new life.

By mixing documentary images with staged and poetic photos, “it gives each person back their personality and restores a level of humanity in their representation”, said festival director Christoph Wiesner.

He said the message was particularly vital given the rise of the far right in France, which is currently leading in legislative elections.

“Just because the situation is complex, we cannot just give up,” said Wiesner, highlighting the festival’s regular work on issues around feminism and anti-racism, including presentations in local schools.

  • France’s Avignon festival opens with calls to block far right and save culture
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‘Everyday baroque’

Other exhibitions this year include I’m So Happy You’re Here, featuring the work of 20 Japanese women photographers.

Another invites visitors into the “baroque of everyday life” in the Indian state of Punjab, with shots of eccentric roof sculptures that locals have brought back after working abroad, including footballs, tanks, planes and lions.

French artist Sophie Calle presents her images alongside responses from blind people about their understanding of visual beauty.

“Green is beautiful, because every time I like something I’m told it’s green,” reads one caption, alongside a shot of vivid grass.

(with AFP)


Culture

Parisian drag cabaret Chez Michou to close its doors after 68 years

Paris’s drag cabaret Chez Michou has announced it is closing for financial reasons, bringing an end to a fixture of the French capital’s nightlife.

After 68 years in the burlesque business, Sunday’s performance will be the last, the managers of the cabaret Chez Michou wrote on Facebook last week.

A liquidator will be appointed from 16 July 2024, “with the task of finding a buyer for our establishment”, they added.

Drag pioneer

Run by Paris nightlife icon Michou until his death in 2020, the trailblazing cabaret brought drag entertainment to France in the mid-1950s when it put on shows featuring men caricaturing women personalities of the time.

Despite being the capital’s smallest cabaret, the tiny venue in the northern Montmartre district vied for attention with the larger, more conventional Moulin Rouge, Lido and Crazy Horse.

Known for his distinctive chunky glasses and all-blue outfits, Michou – real name Michel Catty – and his “Michettes” inspired a hit 1978 French comedy film, La Cage aux Folles.

It was later remade in Hollywood as The Birdcage starring Robin Williams.

  • Queens and Kings of Drag: more than just a pretty story
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Financial difficulties

But the cabaret’s future was already in doubt prior before its closure was announced.

On Saturday, Michou’s niece Catherine Catty-Jacquart said she did not know if the cabaret would reopen in September.

“We’re living from day to day,” she said, with the venue seeing a lack of bookings in July despite the Olympic Games.

Catty-Jacquart blamed strikes, protests, parking issues and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic for the venue’s financial difficulties.

Chez Michou employed 23 people, including the performers and staff in the dining room, kitchens and reception.

Drag shows have experienced a revival in recent years, driven by venues such as nearby Madame Arthur that have been able to attract a young, hip audience, which did not help Chez Michou.

(with AFP)


Senegal – Mining

Senegal sets out to secure fairer partnerships in mining sector

Senegal’s recently elected president, Bassirou Dioumaye Faye, has promised to renegotiate mining, gas and oil contracts signed with foreign companies. At a top-level summit in Paris this week, his mining minister set out how the new government plans to break away from old practices and alliances.

Speaking at this year’s Mining on Top Africa (Mota) conference, Birame Souleye Diop, Senegal’s minister of energy and mines, said his government intends to review the contracts of mining companies that do not fulfil their environmental obligations.

“A few days ago, I visited Kedougou,” Diop said, referring to the region that houses most of Senegal’s industrial and artisanal gold mines.

Located 700 km east of the capital, Dakar, and close to the Malian border, it is one of the country’s poorest regions. It is also subject to widespread contamination.

“The water of Falame river is totally polluted, animals are dying, children are dying, forests have been decimated,” Diop said.

“This because of poisoning by cyanide and mercury used for gold mining. This is not fair.” 

Beyond European investment

The environmental degradation in Kedougou has been documented for years now. According to the Institute for Security Studies, 3.9 tonnes of mercury is used in the region every year, creating health risks for miners and residents alike.

Immediately after taking office in April, President Faye ordered an audit of Senegal’s oil, gas and mining sectors.

“Our partners in the extractive industries are obliged to respect all the clauses of the contracts and we, as a state, have the responsibility to intervene and restore public order,” Diop told the mining companies, government leaders and experts attending the Mota conference on 3 and 4 July.

The annual meeting aims to foster partnerships between Europe and Africa.

But the Senegalese minister told the delegates in Paris that he did not intend to limit the search for potential investors to Europe only.

“We need to find what’s best for us. And, if it is in my country’s interest to partner with Saudi Arabia, I’ll go there,” he said.

  • Senegal’s new leader calls for a rethink of the country’s relationship with the EU
  • First ever Saudi-Africa summit welcomes countries shunned by West

Give and take

Local communities must also be able to benefit from the exploitation of their land, Diop insisted, saying that a percentage of profits should be poured back into projects to benefit residents.

“It is not enough just to give jobs to the local population. We need to focus where the need is. There is no use for a mining company to build a hospital when it’s schools which are needed,” said Diop.

He added that, in the past, Senegal would simply accept what the companies investing in the country were willing to give to the local population. This is no longer the case, he said.

Diop also insisted that foreign companies should share technology with Senegal rather than simply extracting its primary materials.

“They take our resources, they transform them and they sell them back to us,” he told RFI.

Keeping mineral wealth in Africa

Senegal began producing oil for the first time in June, with eventual capacity estimated at more than 200,000 barrels per day.

The country is also rich in minerals such as phosphate, iron ore, zircon and gold.

Diop claims that French investors involved in exploration have a clearer picture of Senegal’s mineral reserves than the government does.

“They have the data, but they haven’t shared it with me. What kind of generosity are we talking about? Transformation also means knowing what’s in your subsoil,” he said.

African states set up the African Minerals Development Centre in 2016 to help them better reap the benefits of their mineral resources. But only a handful of countries so far have ratified its founding statute, meaning the centre hasn’t been put into full operation. 

“Before being convinced that we need Europe, I think we should at least start by talking among ourselves, Africans, first,” Diop said.


European trade

Carmakers unhappy after EU hits China with tariffs on electric vehicles

The European Union has slapped extra provisional duties of up to 38 percent on Chinese electric car imports because of “unfair” state subsidies, despite Beijing’s warnings the move would unleash a trade war. But company reps in both China and Europe are critical of the steps. 

Brussels launched an investigation last year into Chinese electric vehicle manufacturers to probe whether state subsidies were unfairly undercutting European automakers.

Since announcing the planned tariff hike last month, on top of current import duties of 10 percent, the European Commission has begun talks with Beijing to try to resolve the issue, with China threatening retaliation.

“Our investigation… concluded that the battery electric vehicles produced in China benefit from unfair subsidisation, which is causing a threat of economic injury to the EU’s own electric car makers,” the EU’s trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis said.

The move comes despite talks between Chinese and EU trade officials on 22 June, but Brussels will continue “to engage intensively with China on a mutually acceptable solution”, according to Dombrovskis.

Retaliation

Beijing has already signalled its readiness to retaliate by launching an anti-dumping probe last month into pork imports, threatening Spanish exports. Chinese media suggest Beijing will trigger further probes.

Chinese officials have also railed against probes targeting state subsidies in the green tech sector, including wind turbines and solar panels.

“It is plain for all to see who is escalating trade frictions and instigating a ‘trade war’,” a spokesperson for the Chinese commerce ministry said on 21 June.

But in a likely attempt to diffuse tensions, China’s President Xi Jinping made a congratulatory call on Thursday to incoming European Council President Antonio Costa just hours before European Commission curbs on Chinese electric cars are scheduled to take effect.

According to Chinese state media, Xi said he “attaches great importance to the development of China-EU relations” and that China “is committed to developing the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership”.

  • Are EU tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles a sign of weakness?
  • EU struggles to come out on top in systemic rivalry with China

‘Dead end’

Meanwhile, German auto giant Volkswagen on Thursday said EU moves to impose provisional extra duties of up to 38 percent on Chinese electric car imports over subsidy concerns were “detrimental” to the European market.

“Countervailing duties are generally not suitable for strengthening the competitiveness of the European automotive industry in the long term – we reject them,” Volkswagen said in a statement.

And BMW chief Oliver Zipse said the tariff battle between the EU and China “leads to a dead end”.

“It does not strengthen the competitiveness of European manufacturers. On the contrary: it harms the business model of globally active companies,” Zipse said in a statement.

Germany’s VDA auto industry association said there was a “real risk of escalation in the trade conflict with China” if the EU pushed ahead with the tariff rises.

“Chinese countermeasures could severely hit the European economy”, especially sectors with large exports to China, the VDA said.

The industry association called on the EU to cancel the tariff increases and find a “negotiated solution” with Beijing.

(with newswires)

The Sound Kitchen

China’s 1989 sea change

Issued on:

This week on The Sound Kitchen you’ll hear the answer to the question about Tiananmen Square. There’s “The Listener’s Corner”, Ollia Horton’s “Happy Moment”, and lots of good music. All that and the new quiz and bonus questions too, so click on the “Play” button above and enjoy! 

Hello everyone! Welcome to The Sound Kitchen weekly podcast, published every Saturday – here on our website, or wherever you get your podcasts. You’ll hear the winner’s names announced and the week’s quiz question, along with all the other ingredients you’ve grown accustomed to: your letters and essays, “On This Day”, quirky facts and news, interviews, and great music … so be sure and listen every week.

Erwan and I are busy cooking up special shows with your music requests, so get them in! Send your music requests to thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr – tell us why you like the piece of music, too – it makes it more interesting for us all!

The ePOP video competition is open!

The ePOP video competition is sponsored by the RFI department “Planète Radio”, whose mission is to give a voice to the voiceless. ePOP focuses on the environment, and how climate change has affected “ordinary” people. You are to create a three-minute video about climate change, the environment, pollution – told by the people it affects.

You do not need expensive video equipment to enter the competition. Your phone is fine. And you do not need to be a member of the RFI Clubs to enter – everyone is welcome. And by the way – the prizes are incredibly generous!

Go to the ePOP page to read about past competitions, watch past videos, and read the regulations for your entry.  You can also write to us at thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr, and we’ll forward your mail to Planète Radio.

The competition closes on 12 September, but you know how “time flies”, so get to work now! We expect to be bombarded with entries from the English speakers!

Facebook: Be sure to send your photos for the RFI English Listeners Forum banner to thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr

More tech news: Did you know we have a YouTube channel? Just go to YouTube and write RFI English in the search bar, and there we are! Be sure to subscribe to see all our videos.

Would you like to learn French? RFI is here to help you!

Our website “Le Français facile avec RFI”  has news broadcasts in slow, simple French, as well as bi-lingual radio dramas (with real actors!) and exercises to practice what you have heard.

Go to our website and get started! At the top of the page, click on “Test level”. According to your score, you’ll be counselled to the best-suited activities for your level.

Do not give up! As Lidwien van Dixhoorn, the head of “Le Français facile” service told me: “Bathe your ears in the sound of the language, and eventually, you’ll get it.” She should know – Lidwien is Dutch and came to France hardly able to say “bonjour” and now she heads this key RFI department – so stick with it!

Be sure you check out our wonderful podcasts!

In addition to the breaking news articles on our site with in-depth analysis of current affairs in France and across the globe, we have several podcasts that will leave you hungry for more.

There’s Paris Perspective, Spotlight on France, Spotlight on Africa, and of course, The Sound Kitchen. We have an award-winning bilingual series – an old-time radio show, with actors (!) to help you learn French, called Les voisins du 12 bis. And there is the excellent International Report, too.

As you see, sound is still quite present in the RFI English service. Keep checking our website for updates on the latest from our staff of journalists. You never know what we’ll surprise you with!

To listen to our podcasts from your PC, go to our website; you’ll see “Podcasts” at the top of the page. You can either listen directly or subscribe and receive them directly on your mobile phone.

To listen to our podcasts from your mobile phone, slide through the tabs just under the lead article (the first tab is “Headline News”) until you see “Podcasts”, and choose your show. 

Teachers take note! I save postcards and stamps from all over the world to send to you for your students. If you would like stamps and postcards for your students, just write and let me know. The address is english.service@rfi.fr  If you would like to donate stamps and postcards, feel free! Our address is listed below. 

Another idea for your students: Br. Gerald Muller, my beloved music teacher from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, has been writing books for young adults in his retirement – and they are free! There is a volume of biographies of painters and musicians called Gentle Giants, and an excellent biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, too. They are also a good way to help you improve your English – that’s how I worked on my French, reading books that were meant for young readers – and I guarantee you, it’s a good method for improving your language skills. To get Br. Gerald’s free books, click here.

Independent RFI English Clubs: Be sure to always include Audrey Iattoni (audrey.iattoni@rfi.fr) from our Listener Relations department in your RFI Club correspondence. Remember to copy me (thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr) when you write to her so that I know what is going on, too. NB: You do not need to send her your quiz answers! Email overload!

We have a new RFI Listeners Club member to welcome: Tahmidul Alam Orin from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Welcome,Tahmidul! So glad you have joined us!

You too can be a member of the RFI Listeners Club – just write to me at english.service@rfi.fr and tell me you want to join, and I’ll send you a membership number. It’s that easy. When you win a Sound Kitchen quiz as an RFI Listeners Club member, you’ll receive a premium prize.

This week’s quiz: On 8 June, I asked you a question about an article we had written earlier that week about the 35th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in Beijing, China. On 4 June 1989, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army broke up protests by pro-democracy students in the Square. According to various reports, anywhere from hundreds to thousands of students were killed.

One of the student leaders, Wang Dan, after two periods of imprisonment in China, was allowed to emigrate to the US. He currently lives in San Francisco, where he leads the Dialogue China think tank.

He was in Paris recently and came to RFI for an interview, which you read in our article “Tiananmen Square at 35: top Chinese dissident looks back”.

In the interview, we asked Wang Dan: “How did the 4th of June 1989 change China?”  What does he answer? That was your question.

The answer is, as Wang Dan explained: “June 4th is a turning point in China’s contemporary history. There are two Chinas: the China of before 1989 and the China of after. The main difference is [that] before 1989, the state and the society cooperated. That’s why we took to the streets: we as, a representative society, go to the street and ask to cooperate with the government to promote democracy. There’s no difference between “us”. We think we are all “us”. We all take responsibility for this country.

But after 1989, many Chinese people gave up on this idea. “You” are the government. “We” are the normal Chinese people. There’s no more “us”. It’s just “you” and “me”. After 1989, the Chinese people gave up the responsibility for the country’s future because they thought that they could not do anything and that it is the government’s responsibility to change China, not the people’s.” 

In addition to the quiz question, there was the bonus question: “What is the ideal human relationship?” It was suggested by Debashis Gope from West Bengal, India.

Do you have a bonus question idea? Send it to us!

The winners are: RFI Listeners Club member Karuna Kanta Pal from West Bengal, India. Congratulations, Karuna.   

Also on the list of lucky winners this week are Nafisa Khatun, the president of the RFI Mahila Shrota Sangha Club in West Bengal, India, and RFI Listeners Club member Kashif Khalil from Faisalabad, Pakistan.   

Last but not least, there are RFI English listeners John Yemi Sanday Turay from Freetown, Sierra Leone, and Rafiq Khondaker, the president of the Source of Knowledge Club in Naogaon, Bangladesh.

Here’s the music you heard on this week’s program: “Take the A Train” by Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington, performed by Duke Ellington and his orchestra; “El Bueno y El Malo” composed by and performed by the brothers Estevan and Alejandro Gutiérrez (Hermanos Gutiérrez); “The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov; “The Cakewalk” from Children’s Corner by Claude Debussy, performed by the composer; “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and The Chairman Dances (Foxtrot for Orchestra) by John Adams, performed by Edo de Waart and the San Fransisco Symphony. 

Do you have a music request? Send it to thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr

This week’s question … you must listen to the show to participate. After you’ve listened to the show, re-read Jessica Phelan’s article: “The three-way factor that makes France’s election results so unusual”, which will help you with the answer.

You have until 19 August to enter this week’s quiz. The winners will be announced on the 24 August podcast. When you enter be sure to send your postal address with your answer, and if you have one, your RFI Listeners Club membership number.

Send your answers to:

english.service@rfi.fr

or

Susan Owensby

RFI – The Sound Kitchen

80, rue Camille Desmoulins

92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux

France

or

By text … You can also send your quiz answers to The Sound Kitchen mobile phone. Dial your country’s international access code, or “ + ”, then  33 6 31 12 96 82. Don’t forget to include your mailing address in your text – and if you have one, your RFI Listeners Club membership number.

To find out how you can win a special Sound Kitchen prize, click here.

To find out how you can become a member of the RFI Listeners Club, or form your own official RFI Club, click here. 

International report

Does the UK’s change of leaders spell better relations with the EU?

Issued on:

The EU on Friday congratulated Keir Starmer on Labour’s election win in Britain, with European Council President Charles Michel calling it “historic”. But Labour’s landslide victory doesn’t mean that London will turn back the clock on Brexit.

Keir Starmer has pledged to “make Brexit work” and seek “an ambitious” security pact with the the European Union.

But contrary to the hopes of many in the UK who may have hoped that London would return to the EU mainland fold, Labour is careful not to offend its pro-Brexit constituencies.

Over the years, especially in the north of England, many voters shifted to the pro-Brexit ideas of the Conservative party, afraid that EU immigrants would take away their jobs.

RFI talks to political scientist John Barry, of Queens University in Belfast, about how he thinks Brexit affected the UK economy, and if London will ever rejoin the common market.

“Brexit has framed UK politics since 2016.”

06:07

INTERVIEW: John Barry, political scientist with Queens University in Belfast

This interview was carried out online.

Spotlight on France

Podcast: France revives hemp farming, New Romance, Paris’s 1924 Olympics

Issued on:

France is reviving its industrial farming of hemp – ‘green gold’ – in the search for more sustainable, energy-saving building materials. French publishers are flocking to romance, as a new generation of authors are writing for a new and growing audience of young women readers. And when Paris hosted the 1924 Olympics 100 years ago.

Hemp farming nearly died out in France in the 1970s but is making a comeback in textiles and the construction industry. Fast-growing, pesticide-free, and a good absorber of CO2, the plant is proving to be an ally in the fight against climate change. Franck Barbier, head of Interchanvre, talks about cannabis sativus’s bright future on a tour of the Planète Chanvre mill in Aulnoy. And Jean-Michel Morer, mayor of Trilport, shows us how his town is using hemp in buildings as part of its commitment to sustainability and the circular economy. (Listen @3’10”)

Romance literature has long been looked down on for its undemanding language, basic story tropes and steamy sex scenes. But French publishers are taking note as a new generation of authors, inspired by English-language best-sellers, are writing for a growing audience of young women, many of whom are newcomers to books. Publisher Benita Rolland, of Hugo publishing, talks about developing the genre for the French market, and CS Quill, who started out as a reader before becoming a popular romance author, talks about connecting with her fans. (Listen @21’50”)

As Paris prepares to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, a look back on the last time the city held the Games in 1924. Those Olympics were a smaller, more eclectic and more masculine event, which nonetheless marked a turning point and brought the Games closer to what they are today. (Listen @14’30”)

Episode mixed by Cecile Pompéani. 

Spotlight on France is a podcast from Radio France International. Find us on rfienglish.com, Apple podcasts (link here), Spotify (link here) or your favourite podcast app (pod.link/1573769878).

International report

Crackdown on organised crime gifts Istanbul police with luxury supercars

Issued on:

Istanbul police now have some of the world’s most expensive sports cars – spoils of seized assets in a crackdown on international organised crime. It’s part of Ankara’s efforts to escape international scrutiny over money laundering as it seeks global investment.

In the heart of Istanbul, onlookers gather around taking selfies of the police’s latest addition to its carpool: a Ferrari. City police now boast some of the world’s flashiest supercars, not only Ferraris but also Bentleys and Lexuses.

They’re the pickings of a nationwide crackdown on international organised crime involving narcotics smuggling and money laundering.

Turkey‘s unique geography straddling Europe and Asia makes it an ideal centre for international crime.

“Turkey is in between the continents. So once you want to transfer a commodity which is illegal, it may be drugs, etc, you must have a step here,” says Murat Aslan of the Foundation for Political, Economic, and Social Research, a think tank in Ankara.

Gang links

“Most criminal gangs in Europe or the United States or South America have links to the ones here in Turkey – and that is why police have started operations, especially focusing on the ones who have warrants or arrest warrants by Interpol.

“It’s a process, and Turkey is currently in the middle of it.”

Interior Ministry videos show heavily armed police breaking down doors in the middle of the night at luxury addresses usually associated with Istanbul’s high society.

Vast quantities of cash and guns are invariably recovered. Among those arrested are some of the world’s most wanted criminals from Europe, Asia, and the United States, most connected to the illicit drugs trade, underlining Turkey’s status as a hub for the European narcotics trade.

Last week, Turkish police, with their Spanish and French counterparts, broke up a European Central American drug cartel, resulting in dozens of arrests.

“According to Interpol and the Turkish police’s narcotics department, Turkey has become a transshipment hub for Europe and the Middle East,” says Atilla Yesilada, a Turkey analyst for Global Source Partners, another think tank.

“There are huge amounts of money floating around here.”

  • Turkey set on rebuilding bridges with China to improve trade

Crime hub

Yesilada says Turkey became a hub for international crime not only because of its geography but also because of the government’s recent efforts to attract foreign currency to prop up the Turkish lira with a wealth amnesty.

“Look at our wealth amnesty, bring cash, bring diamonds, we don’t really care. Just check it at the border or deposit it in a bank, and we’ll never ask questions. This never-ask-questions part is, of course, completely in violation of the spirit of the global anti-money laundering legislation,” Yesilada says.

Turkish Interior Minister Ali Yerlikaya, at a recent press conference on the crackdown, announced that over 1,000 arrests – including 50 people wanted by Interpol – had been made this year, along with over 3 billion dollars in seized assets.

Yerlikaya says he’s committed to ending Turkey’s reputation as a haven for drug kingpins.

“Thirty-eight mafia-type organised crime gangs, seven of which were international and 31 of which were local, were broken up,” Yerlikaya says.

“We consider drugs a global disaster in the Turkish century. Our main goal in the fight against drugs is to ensure that Turkey becomes an inaccessible and Prohibited Zone for drugs. We consider drug crime equivalent to terrorism.”

  • Turkey cuts trade with Israel but seeks role in resolving Gaza conflict

Turkey grey-listed

The crackdown follows the international anti-money laundering organisation the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) putting Turkey on its grey list of countries failing to combat global money laundering.

“Commercial banks and global funds are reluctant to do business with a country that’s still on the grey list because, you know, too many sanctions,” warns Yesilada.

Turkey‘s crackdown on organised crime and tightening of its financial controls are part of efforts to remove itself from the grey list and escape its damaging economic impact.

  • Interpol fights crime and controversial image, 100 years on

“If we remain on the FATF grey list again, from the top of my head, 20 percent of the institutions that would otherwise be interested in investing in Turkey probably won’t be able to do so because of compliance fears,” Yesilada says.

“It is going to be a significant concern when this extensive due diligence work is undertaken, whether to make a particular investment in Turkey.”

The Turkish government sees increasing international investment as key to solving the country’s economic woes, which means the raids on wanted international crime figures seem set to continue, along with confiscating their valuable assets.

For the Istanbul police, the supply of fancy cars looks set to continue.

The Sound Kitchen

A nail-biting tennis match

Issued on:

This week on The Sound Kitchen you’ll hear the answer to the question about the Roland Garros French Open Tennis Tournament. There’s “On This Day”, “The Listener’s Corner” with Paul Myers, and lots of good music. All that and the new quiz and bonus questions too, so click on the “Play” button above and enjoy! 

Hello everyone! Welcome to The Sound Kitchen weekly podcast, published every Saturday – here on our website, or wherever you get your podcasts. You’ll hear the winner’s names announced and the week’s quiz question, along with all the other ingredients you’ve grown accustomed to: your letters and essays, “On This Day”, quirky facts and news, interviews, and great music … so be sure and listen every week.

Erwan and I are busy cooking up special shows with your music requests, so get them in! Send your music requests to thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr – tell us why you like the piece of music, too – it makes it more interesting for us all!

The ePOP video competition is open!

The ePOP video competition is sponsored by the RFI department “Planète Radio”, whose mission is to give a voice to the voiceless. ePOP focuses on the environment, and how climate change has affected “ordinary” people. You are to create a three-minute video about climate change, the environment, pollution – told by the people it affects.

You do not need expensive video equipment to enter the competition. Your phone is fine. And you do not need to be a member of the RFI Clubs to enter – everyone is welcome. And by the way – the prizes are incredibly generous!

Go to the ePOP page to read about past competitions, watch past videos, and read the regulations for your entry.  You can also write to us at thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr, and we’ll forward your mail to Planète Radio.

The competition closes on 12 September, but you know how “time flies”, so get to work now! We expect to be bombarded with entries from the English speakers!

Facebook: Be sure to send your photos for the RFI English Listeners Forum banner to thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr

More tech news: Did you know we have a YouTube channel? Just go to YouTube and write RFI English in the search bar, and there we are! Be sure to subscribe to see all our videos.

Would you like to learn French? RFI is here to help you!

Our website “Le Français facile avec RFI”  has news broadcasts in slow, simple French, as well as bi-lingual radio dramas (with real actors!) and exercises to practice what you have heard.

Go to our website and get started! At the top of the page, click on “Test level”. According to your score, you’ll be counselled to the best-suited activities for your level.

Do not give up! As Lidwien van Dixhoorn, the head of “Le Français facile” service told me: “Bathe your ears in the sound of the language, and eventually, you’ll get it.” She should know – Lidwien is Dutch and came to France hardly able to say “bonjour” and now she heads this key RFI department – so stick with it!

Be sure you check out our wonderful podcasts!

In addition to the breaking news articles on our site with in-depth analysis of current affairs in France and across the globe, we have several podcasts that will leave you hungry for more.

There’s Paris Perspective, Spotlight on France, Spotlight on Africa, and of course, The Sound Kitchen. We have an award-winning bilingual series – an old-time radio show, with actors (!) to help you learn French, called Les voisins du 12 bis. And there is the excellent International Report, too.

As you see, sound is still quite present in the RFI English service. Keep checking our website for updates on the latest from our staff of journalists. You never know what we’ll surprise you with!

To listen to our podcasts from your PC, go to our website; you’ll see “Podcasts” at the top of the page. You can either listen directly or subscribe and receive them directly on your mobile phone.

To listen to our podcasts from your mobile phone, slide through the tabs just under the lead article (the first tab is “Headline News”) until you see “Podcasts”, and choose your show. 

Teachers take note! I save postcards and stamps from all over the world to send to you for your students. If you would like stamps and postcards for your students, just write and let me know. The address is english.service@rfi.fr  If you would like to donate stamps and postcards, feel free! Our address is listed below. 

Another idea for your students: Br. Gerald Muller, my beloved music teacher from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, has been writing books for young adults in his retirement – and they are free! There is a volume of biographies of painters and musicians called Gentle Giants, and an excellent biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, too. They are also a good way to help you improve your English – that’s how I worked on my French, reading books that were meant for young readers – and I guarantee you, it’s a good method for improving your language skills. To get Br. Gerald’s free books, click here.

Independent RFI English Clubs: Be sure to always include Audrey Iattoni (audrey.iattoni@rfi.fr) from our Listener Relations department in your RFI Club correspondence. Remember to copy me (thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr) when you write to her so that I know what is going on, too. NB: You do not need to send her your quiz answers! Email overload!

We have a new RFI Listeners Club member to welcome: Tahmidul Alam Orin from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Welcome,Tahmidul! So glad you have joined us!

You too can be a member of the RFI Listeners Club – just write to me at english.service@rfi.fr and tell me you want to join, and I’ll send you a membership number. It’s that easy. When you win a Sound Kitchen quiz as an RFI Listeners Club member, you’ll receive a premium prize.

This week’s quiz: On 1 June, the Roland Garros French Open International Tennis Tournament was in full swing, and our very own Paul Myers was there to keep you in the know.

Earlier that week, there was a nail-biting match between Alexander Zverev and Rafael Nadal, the 14-time winner of the Roland Garros French Open tennis tournament. You were to re-read Paul’s article “Zverev sees off Nadal to advance to second round at French Open”, and send in the answer to this question: What was the final score in the match between Zverev and Nadal?

The answer is: 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 

In addition to the quiz question, there was the bonus question: “How do you stay cool?”

Do you have a bonus question idea? Send it to us!

The winners are: RFI Listeners Club member Sahadot Hossain from Kishoreganj, Bangladesh, who is also the winner of this week’s bonus question. Congratulations, Sahadot!

Also on the list of lucky winners this week are Ras Franz Manko Ngogo, the president of the Kemogemba RFI Club in Tarime, Mara, Tanzania, and RFI Listeners Club members Radhakrishna Pillai from Kerala State, India, as well as Ajharul Islam Tamim from Kishorganj, Bangladesh.  

Last but not least, there’s RFI English listener Sadman Al Shihab from Naogaon, also in Bangladesh.

Here’s the music you heard on this week’s program: “Liber Tango” by Astor Piazzolla, performed by Layers; the scherzo from Midsummer Night’s Dream by Felix Mendelssohn, performed by Seiji Ozawa and the Boston Symphony Orchestra; “The Flight of the Bumblebee” by Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov; “The Cakewalk” from Children’s Corner by Claude Debussy, performed by the composer, and “Southern Freez” by Andy Stennett, John Rocca, and Peter Maas, performed by Freez.

Do you have a music request? Send it to thesoundkitchen@rfi.fr

This week’s question … you must listen to the show to participate. After you’ve listened to the show, listen to Sarah Elzas’ report on the latest Spotlight on France podcast, and consult her article “French far-right party to fund policies by cutting aid to foreigners”, which will help you with the answer.

You have until 12 August to enter this week’s quiz. The winners will be announced on the 17 August podcast. When you enter be sure to send your postal address with your answer, and if you have one, your RFI Listeners Club membership number.

Send your answers to:

english.service@rfi.fr

or

Susan Owensby

RFI – The Sound Kitchen

80, rue Camille Desmoulins

92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux

France

or

By text … You can also send your quiz answers to The Sound Kitchen mobile phone. Dial your country’s international access code, or “ + ”, then  33 6 31 12 96 82. Don’t forget to include your mailing address in your text – and if you have one, your RFI Listeners Club membership number.

To find out how you can win a special Sound Kitchen prize, click here.

To find out how you can become a member of the RFI Listeners Club, or form your own official RFI Club, click here. 

Spotlight on Africa

African displacements and the search for refuge, in life and art

Issued on:

Displacement takes many forms, from refugees forced into exile to returnees who find themselves strangers in what was once home. In this episode, we speak to aid workers about the very different experiences of refugees in Sudan and Mauritania, and hear from an artist who draws inspiration from his own migrations between France, Algeria and beyond.

According to the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, more than 120 million people are forcibly displaced today by war, violence and persecution.

It is an unprecedented number, one the organisation calls a “terrible indictment on the state of the world”.

Sudan alone has 9.9 million internally displaced people, as well as South Sudanese refugees who escaped civil war and now find themselves caught up in conflict once again. Aaron Adkins of the International Organisation for Migration discusses the complex needs of people repeatedly forced to flee.

Meanwhile Maribeth Black from the UN’s World Food Programme describes how Mauritania has successfully managed to integrate refugees, providing an example for other countries in Africa and beyond.

Finally, we head to the Mo.Co museum of modern art in Montpellier, in the south of France, to meet the French-Algerian artist Kader Attia at his new exhibition, “Descent into Paradise”.

He is inspired by his own story of migration, multiple identities, and his main theme: how to repair past traumas through art.


Episode mixed by Nicolas Doreau.

Spotlight on Africa is a podcast from Radio France Internationale. 


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Madhya Pradesh: the Heart of beautiful India

From 20 to 22 September 2022, the IFTM trade show in Paris, connected thousands of tourism professionals across the world. Sheo Shekhar Shukla, director of Madhya Pradesh’s tourism board, talked about the significance of sustainable tourism.

Madhya Pradesh is often referred to as the Heart of India. Located right in the middle of the country, the Indian region shows everything India has to offer through its abundant diversity. The IFTM trade show, which took place in Paris at the end of September, presented the perfect opportunity for travel enthusiasts to discover the region.

Sheo Shekhar Shukla, Managing Director of Madhya Pradesh’s tourism board, sat down to explain his approach to sustainable tourism.

“Post-covid the whole world has known a shift in their approach when it comes to tourism. And all those discerning travelers want to have different kinds of experiences: something offbeat, something new, something which has not been explored before.”

Through its UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Shukla wants to showcase the deep history Madhya Pradesh has to offer.

“UNESCO is very actively supporting us and three of our sites are already World Heritage Sites. Sanchi is a very famous buddhist spiritual destination, Bhimbetka is a place where prehistoric rock shelters are still preserved, and Khajuraho is home to thousand year old temples with magnificent architecture.”

All in all, Shukla believes that there’s only one way forward for the industry: “Travelers must take sustainable tourism as a paradigm in order to take tourism to the next level.”

In partnership with Madhya Pradesh’s tourism board.


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The editorial team did not contribute to this article in any way.

Exploring Malaysia’s natural and cultural diversity

The IFTM trade show took place from 20 to 22 September 2022, in Paris, and gathered thousands of travel professionals from all over the world. In an interview, Libra Hanif, director of Tourism Malaysia discussed the importance of sustainable tourism in our fast-changing world.

Also known as the Land of the Beautiful Islands, Malaysia’s landscape and cultural diversity is almost unmatched on the planet. Those qualities were all put on display at the Malaysian stand during the IFTM trade show.

Libra Hanif, director of Tourism Malaysia, explained the appeal of the country as well as the importance of promoting sustainable tourism today: “Sustainable travel is a major trend now, with the changes that are happening post-covid. People want to get close to nature, to get close to people. So Malaysia being a multicultural and diverse [country] with a lot of natural environments, we felt that it’s a good thing for us to promote Malaysia.”

Malaysia has also gained fame in recent years, through its numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which include Kinabalu Park and the Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley.

Green mobility has also become an integral part of tourism in Malaysia, with an increasing number of people using bikes to discover the country: “If you are a little more adventurous, we have the mountain back trails where you can cut across gazetted trails to see the natural attractions and the wildlife that we have in Malaysia,” says Hanif. “If you are not that adventurous, you’ll be looking for relaxing cycling. We also have countryside spots, where you can see all the scenery in a relaxing session.”

With more than 25,000 visitors at this IFTM trade show this year, Malaysia’s tourism board got to showcase the best the country and its people have to offer.

In partnership with Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board. For more information about Malaysia, click here.

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