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Chirac tries to win back support in Bastille Day interview

Chirac tries to win back support in Bastille Day interview
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Jacques Chirac has been reviewing the troops to mark France’s traditional Bastille Day celebrations amid extra tight security. The president’s safety has been a top priority since a man tried to assassinate him during the parade three years ago. Guest of honour Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also attended the ceremony. Earlier Chirac gave his annual Bastille Day interview live on national television. His popularity has taken a nose-dive in recent weeks, particularly after the French widely rejected the EU constitution which he strongly endorsed. And Paris’ failure last week to win the race to host the 2012 Olympic Games did not help. Asked whether he was affected by his drop in popularity, the president said that when he goes abroad he does not feel weakened because he defends strong values which he believes in. He went on to add: “I don’t think the British model is one we should envy or want to copy. Unemployment figures may be somewhat lower that here. But if you look at the major elements that make up a society, be it health, or the fight against poverty, you will see that we are much better off than the British.” Questioned about the referendum, Chirac expressed optimism: “I have a drawn a new energy from the message the French people sent me on 29 May, a new ambition to move forward because I think the time has come to do that, and we are ready for it. It’s with this renewed ambition and by sticking together that we will overcome difficulties, this means politicians must give the example and must unite with the aim of serving the French people.” A recent survey shows six out of ten Frenchmen do not believe Chirac can solve their problems. The 72-year old head of state has not confirmed rumours he plans to run for a third consecutive term in 2007.