Francois Hollande has refused to talk about his private life after claims he has been having an affair with an actress.
In an address at the Elysee Palace, the French President admitted that he and his official partner Valerie Trierweiler were having problems, but insisted it was a private matter.
“I believe that a person’s personal life should be private and a person’s intimacy should be respected. This is neither the place nor the moment to discuss it,’‘ he told reporters.
Hollande’s refusal to comment on the affair, which he has not yet denied, came after he ducked a question over whether Trierweiler was still France’s first lady. She is recovering in hospital after reportedly being admitted on Friday with severe depression following the revelations.
The scandal had threatened to overshadow the speech which was mainly focused on improving the faltering French economy.
Along with outlining a so-called, ‘Responsibility Pact’ aimed at boosting growth and jobs in France, Hollande promised social security savings.
“This year we are going to save 15 billion euros. So what else do we have to do? Between 2015 and 2017, we will need to make savings of 50 billion euros. It’s a lot. It has never been done before. However, to put things into context, this is the equivalent of 4 percent of all social spending, only 4 percent,’‘ declared Hollande.
In addition to public spending cuts, the French President also brought up the relationship with Europe, in particular ties with Berlin.
He called for new ways to strengthen the Franco German axis.
‘‘I have three proposals. First, a plan for social and economic convergence between France and Germany. Second, the idea to make a better transition for our energy needs by creating a big Franco-German company. A beautiful alliance.
And finally, a French-German partnership which would be able to act in Europe’s defence. A common responsibility to defend peace and security in the world,’‘ he said.
This was President Hollande’s first public appearance since last week’s allegations by French celebrity magazine ‘Closer’ that he was having an affair with actress Julie Gayet.