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Interview: former French diplomat Hubert Védrine on China and a West 'in disarray'

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Secondly, I think that no one has a real influence on the question. The Europeans certainly don’t have a say, out of cowardice and lack of coordination. The Israelis don’t care. The solution lies within Israel. The Palestinian are a state they have been put in by Israel, a state of chaos. The debate lies, in Israel, between those who want a two-state solution, now a majority of 60 percent, and those who refuse it. The only country in the world that matters is the US. The US president will need to push for a solution, and cooperate with an Israeli leader who has the courage to implement it and is then rewarded by the public for that. The Europeans can play a complementary role. They are not in a position to play a major role.

Q. Is France in a paradigm shift away from traditional Arab solidarity?

A: Sarkozy represents the old, anti-Gaullist French right. This inheritance is combined with another element, which is to do the opposite of everything [former President Jacques] Chirac did. And, since Chirac himself had contradictory positions on many things, it is hard to get something coherent from such a stance. Sarkozy wanted to embody “la rupture” [change] and show that France is America’s friend. The problem is that he displayed his friendship not to the US but to George Bush, which is the cause of his fraught relationship with the Obama administration. The latter thinks that there are no urgent problems to be solved in Europe, and that France is not a priority. That’s the starting point of our relationship with the US. Sarkozy has managed to correct a few things mainly thanks to his intuition. He managed to make a few intelligent deals. As a whole, Sarkozy’s policy is not all bad, but quite disjointed and hard to interpret.

Q. France pushed for a “Mediterranean Union” to solidify French and north African interests. But not much has happened.

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