News / Europe

France's New Leader Faces First Test Overseas

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande speak after their joint news conference in the Chancellery in Berlin, May 15, 2012.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande speak after their joint news conference in the Chancellery in Berlin, May 15, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Bryant
PARIS, France - France's new president, Francois Hollande, is heading to the United States (Friday) just days after taking office. The G8 and NATO summits will offer a glimpse of France's foreign policy under its new leader.

Francois Hollande took office this week, promising to unify France and help fix its economic problems. His gender-balanced leftist Cabinet sat down to work on Thursday, but President Hollande's first actions are taking place overseas - not at home.

Hours after his swearing-in ceremony, Hollande was in Berlin, holding his first talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, France's most important European partner.  Despite their talk of unity, there are big differences.

Hollande champions growth along with austerity measures to tackle Europe's debt crisis. Merkel is a budget stickler.

But Hollande appears to be scoring points. In an interview with American news channel CNBC a day after meeting him, Merkel signaled she too is open to stimulus measures - notably for debt-strapped Greece.

Hollande faces another diplomatic test in the United States, where he holds talks Friday with President Barack Obama. He also will attend Group of 8 and NATO summits that will offer world leaders a chance to meet the Socialist president who is little known outside of France.

Analysts say low-key Hollande will offer a style change from his hard-charging predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. In France, Sarkozy earned the nickname of "Sarko the American," who liked soft drinks and hamburgers.  The former French leader was at the forefront of efforts to tackle Europe's debt crisis and the NATO campaign in Libya.

But in substance, political scientist Bruno Cautres does not expect a radical foreign policy shift under France's new president.

"There are some historical trends in the French foreign policy," said Cautres. "I cannot see any big change in that. The Franco-American relations is still going to be a very good and very important ... the French policies in the Middle East are there for a long time. France always has asked for an official status and recognition of Palestine. Afghanistan - it is quasi-over."

At the NATO summit in Chicago, Hollande will have to defend France's early troop pullout from Afghanistan.  But that decision was already made by Sarkozy.  And Hollande's pro-growth strategies for Europe are likely to be welcomed by Washington, which is pushing similar measures.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid