Forget Pension Reform, France Faces Bigger Problems Over Ukraine Adventurism

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French President Emmanuel Macron gestures while speaking during a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky following their talks in Kiev, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022InternationalIndiaAfricaOn May 1, French unions launched a new nationwide series of protests over President Emmanuel Macron’s unpopular pension reform. However, France’s real problem is much bigger than that, private investor and writer Fabien Chalandon told Sputnik.French unions and political opposition launched massive rallies on May 1 to show President Macron that they still oppose his pension reform, which was passed into law last month and raised the retirement age from 62 to 64.

"President Macron had the courage to stick to his guns but also had no other choice than to face unpopularity and force the pension reform through. If he had not, he would have faced a major financial crisis, i.e.: the markets would have toppled the French government, in the same fashion they did with the UK government six months ago when the markets refused to purchase state gilts after the government reversed its policy and embarked on a deficit ballooning strategy. In one week, the UK finance minister than the UK prime minister were gone," said Fabien Chalandon, chevalier of the French Legion d'Honneur, private investor and writer.

“The great majority of strikers are working in the public sector or under specific statute protections (oil and gas, SNCF (railroad), RATP (Paris buses and metro), Paris garbage cleaners etc). The private sector employees supported the reform,” he pointed out. “The law has been passed, and the Constitutional Court approved it. It is now in motion.”

France's major problem has nothing to do with long-overdue pension reform, according to Chalandon. He noted that "the root of its dire state lies in the short-termism, procrastination and even incompetence of its politicians, over-bloated bureaucracy, unrestrained public spending, spiraling debt, long-lasting deindustrialization with its resulting structural unemployment, and the deceptive illusion bordering on hysteria that well-being and enrichment come with working less."

This serious situation, flagged by a recent IMF warning and a downgrade to AA- of France’s debt rating, is now compounded by Washington’s foreign policy agenda which has already inflicted a lot of damage to the French economy, according to the expert.WorldGermany, France Spar Over EU Green Energy Rules on Nuclear Power, Automobile E-Fuel21 March, 21:21 GMT

French People See Ukraine Conflict Taking Toll on Cost of Living

The French government not only supported sweeping anti-Russia sanctions championed by the Biden administration over Moscow’s special military operation in Ukraine, but also provided substantial military and financial backing to the Kiev regime, as well as training its soldiers. An anti-Russia energy embargo backfired on Europe by sending already soaring energy prices higher and exacerbating inflation. Even though France has not been as dependent on Russia’s cheap energy commodities as Germany, it still reaped the whirlwind in the European market.As per Chalandon, French people are starting to realize that the Ukrainian conflict “is taking its toll on French cost of living and purchasing power, with energy, food, and fertilizers’ prices skyrocketing”:

So far, the shock – yearly inflation of around 15% – has been partially absorbed by energy subsidies, which have kept under lid the real price increase at about 6%, but at the cost of ballooning public debts, which cannot last forever. But no politician has yet apportioned to the Ukrainian conflict this seriously concerning impoverishment of standards of living. France is heading straight into a wall, with the full support of the EU, which is no better position: these are two sleepwalkers who are crushing European wealth to support a war they cannot militarily and financially afford, and which they try to justify by selective indignation and accusations.

Fabien ChalandonChevalier of the French Legion d’Honneur, private investor and writerAnalysisNot Only GOP, But Also Left & Independents Feel Team Biden Has Lost Its Way in Ukraine3 March, 17:55 GMT

French Power Circles Discontent With Biden Administration

Meanwhile, it appears that President Macron has also become aware of the trouble brewing for France. In April, he told Politico that Europe must reduce its dependency on the US and avoid getting dragged into a confrontation between China and the US over Taiwan. He warned that Europe could get “caught up in crises that are not ours, which prevents it from building its strategic autonomy.”

President Macron is starting to realize that the US, the EU and specifically France are heading into a debacle, with about every single policy having failed: sanctions against Russia did not stoke the implosion of its economy nor of its currency; assessment of Russia’s military might as well as of its military-industrial complex was seriously wrong; about 80% of the rest of the world is not supporting the West; the world is becoming multipolar and is strongly rejecting Western leadership and selective indignation; international trade is de-dollarizing; even Japan has demanded and was granted by G7 the lifting of the ban to purchase Russian oil… The dominance of the US and its crooked administration, the most dangerous one since the US exists, is now starting to be finally questioned in French circles. But current politicians do not have the guts to acquiesce they were very wrong and to acknowledge they should reverse course, even if this means dissociating itself from the US and its sinister administration.

Fabien ChalandonChevalier of the French Legion d’Honneur, private investor and writerAnalysisMacron’s Push for Ukraine and Taiwan Peace: Genuine Attempt to Escape US Vassalage or PR Stunt?20 April, 18:46 GMT

Macron’s Blurred Message Doesn’t Contribute to Peace

Bloomberg reported last month that President Macron is seeking to draw up plans with China that could lead to talks between Russia and Ukraine “by this summer”, citing people familiar with the initiative. The potential talks would be dependent on a number of conditions, including a successful Ukrainian spring offensive that would put the Kiev regime in a position of strength, as per the media’s sources.On April 30, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on his Telegram account that he held talks with his French counterpart Macron and discussed the Kiev regime’s “peace formula” to end the conflict with Russia, as well as further military support for Ukraine. Zelensky’s 10-point peace formula places emphasis on Russia’s withdrawal from the territories which held popular referendums and have been incorporated in the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian president is also insisting on the “return” of Crimea, something that even Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Undersecretary Victoria Nuland consider unrealistic.AnalysisEx-Pentagon Officer: NATO Divide Growing, US & EU May Drastically Reduce Ukraine Aid by Summer8 March, 15:54 GMTChalandon has drawn attention to the fact that while discussing “peace initiatives” with Beijing and Kiev, the French president has so far failed to condemn Washington and London’s upending the Istanbul peace agreement of March 2022 between Kiev and Moscow.If implemented, the Istanbul Accords would have saved tens of thousands of lives. However, it was Washington that called to bleed Russia white and EU foreign chief Josep Borrell who claimed that the Ukraine standoff should be solved on the “battlefield.””The US and UK forced President Zelensky to renege on an agreement with Russia in Istanbul last year: this major mistake was never criticized by President Macron,” said the French expert. “Adding today conditions on conditions for a ceasefire seems out of touch with the military and military-industrial realities, which President Macron seems simultaneously to acknowledge when he stated that ‘the time today is military’, but knowing well that this option is not in Ukraine’s favor.”Chalandon is under the impression that serious panic is emerging as reality on the ground in Ukraine is progressively and forcefully hitting European politicians’ views and perceptions. Meanwhile, the Kiev regime is making final preparations for a spring offensive which may end up in a total disaster for both Zelensky and Western politicians who invested “bigly” in the Ukrainian president.”By cultivating a blurred message, President Macron is not providing a path to European peace nor to Russia’s key security concerns, as expressed for the past 30 years. In this testing time, leadership is all the more important, and courageous and disrupting decisions on the international front are needed: one of them is to decouple from the US current administration. President Macron has proved that on pension reform he could steadfastly resist street pressure. He has not yet provided the same resistance to US chicanery,” Chalandon concluded.In parallel to his investment banking carrier, Chalandon co-founded in France and ran a political think tank, Fondation Concorde, was awarded the French Legion d’Honneur in 2000 and wrote for leading French newspapers on political issues. His father, Albin Chalandon, served as minister of various governments under President Charles de Gaulle and Georges Pompidou and then minister of justice between 1986 and 1988 in a Jacques Chirac-led government under then President Francois Mitterrand.

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