French diplomats: “France is losing the battle of soft power”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysee Palace, June 22, 2011.

From Catherine Bremer, Reuters:  A group of French diplomats complained on Thursday that budget cuts were hampering the country’s ability to conduct foreign policy and eroding its diplomatic influence in the world.

The diplomats, some retired and others still working, criticised President Nicolas Sarkozy’s foreign affairs policy in an anonymous article in the daily Le Monde under their moniker "the Marly Group", named after a grandiose Paris cafe in the grounds of the Louvre museum where they meet. . . .

Describing Sarkozy’s diplomatic showmanship as "seductive theatre" that masked a diplomatic network that was like "a castle of sand", the diplomats wrote: "Year after year, this network gets eroded and is becoming an empty shell."

"Because of our lack of financial weight, we have less and less influence in debates and decisions in African countries that are key for us," they said, calling the foreign ministry’s operational budget of around 3 billion euros insufficient. . . .

"France is losing the battle of soft power, which affects things on the ground and for the long term," the diplomats wrote.  (photo: Reuters)

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