France’s President, Nicolas Sarkozy has assured French voters he will maintain the country’s generous welfare system, while vowing not to duck difficult decisions on pensions.
The pledge came in a live interview on national television during which he touched on a wide spectrum of subjects including France’s troop contribution in Afghanistan.
“ A year and a half ago, when I asked parliament to send an extra 700 of our soldiers, I said that there would not be any more combat soldiers. I try to scrupulously keep my word. That said, if there is a need for extra people to train, to help the police,to understake civil engineering, to help the population, to help Afghanistan, why not? But combat troops? No,” the President said.
After the formal interview, Sarkozy broke with tradition and fielded questions from eleven ordinary citizens.
The whole event lasted more than two hours but even before it was broadcast, oposition politicans and France’s public television channel were highly critical of Sarkozy’s use of primetime viewing on France’s commercial TV channel.