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Viewing cable 06PARIS953, EUR PDAS VOLKER'S FEB 3 MEETING WITH SARKOZY

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06PARIS953 2006-02-14 17:05 2010-11-30 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Paris
VZCZCXRO6882
RR RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHFR #0953/01 0451700
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 141700Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4253
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHC/DEPARTMENT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUCPDOC/DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY WASHDC
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 PARIS 000953 

SIPDIS 

SIPDIS 

DEPT ALSO FOR EUR/WE, DRL/IL, INR/EUC, EUR/ERA, EUR/PPD, 
AND EB 
DEPT OF COMMERCE FOR ITA 
DEPT OF LABOR FOR ILAB 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/07/2016 
TAGS: PGOV ELAB EU FR PINR SOCI ECON
SUBJECT: EUR PDAS VOLKER'S FEB 3 MEETING WITH SARKOZY 
ADVISOR AND FORMER INDUSTRY MINISTER PARTICK DEVEDJIAN 

REF: A. (A) EMBASSY PARIS DAILY REPORT FOR FEBRUARY 6 
B. 2006 AND PRIOR 
(WWW.STATE.SGOV.GOV/P/EUR/PARIS/INDEX.CFM) 

Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Josiah Rosenblatt for reaso 
ns 1.4 (b) and (d) 

1. (C) SUMMARY: EUR Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary 
Kurt Volker reviewed on February 3 with Patrick Devedjian, a 
former industry minister and key advisor to Interior Minister 
Sarkozy, how a possible Sarkozy administration would likely 
approach relations with the U.S. Devedjian said a Sarkozy 
administration would make "economic gestures" in connection 
with the reconstruction of Iraq to signal -- as much as 
domestic French opinion would allow -- France's more active 
association with U.S. goals in the region. Devedjian 
acknowledged that a Sarkozy victory in 2007 is far from a 
sure thing, while discounting Prime Minister de Villepin's 
chances of pushing Sarkozy aside as leader of the 
center-right governing party. Devedjian acknowledged that 
the unexpectedly persistent popularity of Socialist Party 
(PS) dark horse Segolene Royal (ref A) was an unforeseen 
development that is forcing contenders of both left and right 
to revisit their electoral calculations, even if he did not 
believe she could win in the end. END SUMMARY. 

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM A SARKOZY ADMINISTRATION 
-------------------------------------------- 
2. (C) "We will make economic gestures with regard to the 
Iraq situation" is how Devedjian expressed what would be a 
new French willingness, under a Sarkozy administration, to 
more actively support U.S. goals in Iraq. Devedjian, evoking 
the strand of anti-Americanism that persists in France and 
the widespread public hostility to the U.S.-led invasion of 
Iraq, cautioned however that how much France might be able to 
do along these lines depended on what would be "politically 
possible" at the time. Devedjian did not specify what those 
"economic gestures" might be. Comment: Increases in 
development aid and, possibly further debt forgiveness, could 
be what he had in mind. End Commentg. 

3. (C) Devedjian used the phrase "Atlanticist and 
communitarian" to describe Sarkozy's overall outlook, and to 
distinguish it from that of Villepin, which is often 
described as "nationalist and Republican." Devedjian 
underlined that "we will not be ceding to an anti-American 
campaign," notwithstanding the efforts of Sarkozy's opponents 
to try and tar Sarkozy as pro-American. Devedjian made clear 
that not only would the Sarkozy campaign not engage in any 
outbidding of the opposition in anti-Americanism, but that it 
would also make every effort to avoid "bringing the U.S. into 
our domestic politics." 

4. (C) In response to PDAS Volker's hope that, at NATO, a 
Sarkozy victory might result in useful, operationally 
consequential changes in French behavior, Devedjian lamented 
that the French press and public "are not interested in 
NATO." This has permitted President Chirac, he said, to 
conduct French policy in NATO beyond public scrutiny, without 
accountability for the consequences. Devedjian suggested 
that French institutional reforms proposed by Sarkozy, 
specifically, an NSC-like coordinating mechanism for foreign 
policy and periodic reports by the president to the 
parliament on current issues, could have the effect of 
bringing France's NATO policy out of the shadows. This might 
eventually lead to a more positive appreciation of NATO's 
role by the French public. 

LONG, UNCERTAIN ROAD TO 2007 
---------------------------- 
5. (C) Getting to a Sarkozy administration in 2007, as 
Devedjian soberly acknowledged, was far from a foregone 
conclusion. Devedjian believed that Sarkozy's "type of 
leadership" -- "the hands-on leadership" seen in Sarkozy's 
successful, personal management of the security response to 
the urban unrest that swept France last fall, along with the 
"rupture" with past practice advocated by Sarkozy -- are what 
the French people truly want. Devedjian specified that by 
"rupture with the past," Sarkozy primarily means slimming 
down a bloated and pervasive state that stifles growth by 
taking too big a share of national wealth and which 
undermines individual initiative and commercial innovation by 
over-regulation of business activity. Devedjian underlined 
that voters want "renewal," and he musingly volunteered that 

PARIS 00000953 002 OF 003 


"Sarkozy on the right, and Segolene (Royal) on the left" were 
"the two candidates that would most respond to this desire 
for change." 

6. (C) Devedjian confidently dismissed the possibility of 
Prime Minister de Villepin mounting a successful campaign to 
replace Sarkozy as the candidate of the center-right in 2007. 
Devedjian said that "Villepin and Sarkozy are in agreement" 
that some sort of primary process should decide a single 
nominee for their party, the UMP. Devedjian observed that 
Villepin won't challenge Sarkozy for control of the party so 
long as Sarkozy clearly benefits from both firm command of 
the party and a healthy public image. He added that Villepin 
"has always counted on Sarkozy's self-destruction -- which 
he's been counting on in vain since 2002." Devedjian alluded 
to Villepin's view that Sarkozy's personality -- somehow, not 
presidential -- would in the long run work to shift the 
support of the center-right to Villepin. 

7. (C) Turning to the potential opposition to Sarkozy on the 
center-left, Devedjian clucked at the long-running, confused 
contentiousness in the Socialist Party (PS) over both who 
will lead the party and what the party will stand for in 
2007. In Devedjian's view, neither Party First Secretary 
Francois Hollande nor any of the party's mainstream figures 
are likely to make compelling candidates. Asked to assess 
the option for the socialists of "bringing back Jospin" -- 
that is, unifying the divided PS under former Prime Minister 
Lionel Jospin -- Devedjian declared that "Jospin isn't the 
future, he's the past -- and that's not what voters are 
looking for." As for the popular President of the 
Poitou-Charentes Region, Segolene Royal, Devedjian said that, 
despite her appeal to voters wanting change, "Segolene has no 
chance" of winning the PS nomination. 

8. (C) Devedjian pointed out that Royal had in preceding 
days made statements in support of "Blairist" policies to 
address some of France's economic problems. "The only other 
Blairists in the PS are Kouchner and Bockel," Devedjian 
summed up. (Note and comment: Former Health Minster Bernard 
Kouchner and Mayor of Mulhouse Jean-Marie Bockel are the PS's 
most outspoken "liberals." Adoption of anything resembling 
their views is out of the question for the vast majority of 
PS party members. Even so, Devedjian's inference is 
disingenuous -- Royal is exceedingly popular among party 
members. End note and comment.) Reflecting on how Royal's 
popularity -- the emergence of her candidacy as a potentially 
serious one -- has upset the calculations of contenders on 
both left and right, Devedjian joked, "Now that she's wound 
up and going, even Francois Hollande must realize she's not 
going to quit at his, or anybody else's say so." (Note: 
Royal and Hollande have been domestic partners for over 20 
years. End Note.) Devedjian reprised the familiar refrain 
that Royal's personality, allegedly both disagreeable and 
brittle, is not up to carrying the weight of the presidency. 
Implying that this unfitness for the job would become evident 
in due time, Devedjian said that "Everybody who knows her 
knows it, Francois Hollande most of all." 

PARTICIPANTS 
------------ 
9. (SBU) Devejian was accompanied by the UMP's Director for 
International Affairs, Pascal Drouhaut and a staff assistant, 
Marie-Celie Guillaume. PDAS Volker was accompanied by POl 
M-C and PolOff. Devedjian and Volker parted agreeing to stay 
in touch -- in particular, should Devedjian, Drouhaut or 
other Sarkozy advisors travel to Washington in the near 
future. 

SARKOZY'S ADVISORS 
------------------ 
10. (C) Sarkozy's inner circle of political allies and 
advisors consists of Francois Fillon, Brice Hortefeux and 
Patrick Devedjian. Hortefeux is currently Junior Minister 
(for Territorial Collectivities) under Sarkozy at the 
Interior Ministry. Fillon and Devedjian, who were members of 
the government of Jean-Pierre Rafferin, were excluded from 
the current Villepin government precisely because of their 
closeness to Sarkozy. Under Rafferin, Fillon was Minister of 
Education and Devedjian was Junior Minister for Industry. 
Both now have positions in the UMP, and devote themselves 
full-time to making Nicholas Sarkozy the next president of 
France. Fillon tends to take the lead in the fashioning of 
Sarkozy's policy proposals, while Devedjian tends to focus on 

PARIS 00000953 003 OF 003 


tactics for countering other contenders and on strategy for 
getting the votes to win. Fillon is considered a likely 
candidate for prime minister, with Devedjian at Justice or 
Interior, should Sarkozy win in 2007. 

11. (U) This message has not been cleared by PDAS Volker. 
Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/paris/index.c fm 

Stapleton