France’s Marine Le Pen, one of the front runners in this year’s Presidential election, delivered a keynote foreign policy speech near the Champs Elysees, Paris, in which she denounced globalism and stated the importance of preserving cultural identity and national independence.
Le Pen, a big proponent of sovereignty and France’s republican traditions, delivered scathing remarks about the European Union and NATO, claiming that both organizations contributed to increased instability, especially in the Middle East.
Addressing a full audience of reporters, diplomats, other officials and her supporters, Le Pen reiterated her commitment to preserving national identity:
I don’t want to promote a French or a Western system. I don’t want to promote a universal system. To the contrary, I want to promote a respect of cultures and peoples.
As one of the most prominent figures among European anti-establishment forces, Le Pen has spearheaded the idea of return to national sovereignty, fiscal and monetary independence, as well as the policy of non-intervention in foreign affairs. Furthermore, Le Pen has openly stated her admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and also defended the Russian annexation of Crimea.
It does not stop there, Le Pen has went on to publicly reject European Union and common European currency. More than once, she described the EU as an organization that has eroded France’s national sovereignty, contributed to economic crisis and accused the EU of not doing enough to counter Islamic fundamentalism.
Taking into consideration her program, her public performances and proclaimed values, Le Pen represents a dissenting voice in today’s Europe. Her opponents and the mainstream media describe her as ‘extreme’ and even a ‘racist’.
It hasn’t stopped Le Pen from pursuing her agenda and bolstering her image as a proponent of free and sovereign France, and even a modern proponent of Gaullism. In fact, Le Pen’s vision of how French foreign policy should look like could indeed be seen in the light of now largely abandoned policy of Gaullism.
Charles De Gaulle, French war hero and the father of the Fifth Republic, has suspended France’s NATO membership and sought to restore his country’s position as a major world power. Le Pen has shown a clear distaste for NATO and maintained that France must lead a more independent foreign policy.
In her Paris speech, Le Pen said that France should pursue its national interest and increase defense spending to 2 percent of the GDP, and a further increase to 3 percent by the end of her Presidential term.
She also harshly criticized Western policy in the Syrian conflict and France’s support to Syrian rebels, which, she said, “helped arm the Islamic State.” Her claims that France and Europe should cooperate with Assad’s regime in order to counter terrorism is at a stark contrast with the current Western narrative.
A significant part of Le Pen’s speech, however, was dedicated to criticizing the European Union and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel.
“The conception of a failed Europe is carried by Mrs Merkel that defies understanding”, she said of Merkel and promised to negotiate a new deal with the EU if she is elected. In case this fails, Le Pen plans to hold a referendum on France’s EU membership, the so-called ‘Frexit’.
Currently, Le Pen is seen as a favorite to win in the first round of the Presidential election, but most polls see her losing comfortably to the centrist, pro-European candidate, Emmanuel Macron.
Le Pen’s speech has been marked by an incident when a topless woman burst into the hall and and shouted ‘Marine Le Pen, pretend feminist’.
First round of the Presidential election will be held on April 23, and, providing that no candidate wins the necessary majority, the winner will be decided in a run-off on May 7.
Source: Deutsche Welle