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What the papers said 25 May 2018

rfi English, May 25

President Macron meets Russia's Vladimir Putin, but questions loom about how audible he is as Europe's flag bearer; US and North Korea; and what’s happening in Italy?

We begin with the commentators' reactions to President Emmanuel Macron's first "direct and frank" talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Saint Petersburg, ahead of this Friday's International Economic Forum.

Le Parisien reports that the two leaders discussed Syria, Ukraine and the Iran nuclear deal after celebrating the signing of a number of commercial deals including a contract that will see the French energy group Total increase its role in liquefied natural gas projects in the Arctic with Russian firm Novatek to the tune of 2 billion euros.

As the newspaper explains, the high point of the joint press conference was their reaction to US President Donald Trump's decision to call off the planned summit with North Korea's Kim Jong-un which had been set to hold on June 12 in Singapore, a move they both described as regrettable.

L'Alsace for its part poi that while Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump continued posturing, Vladimir Putin took decisions, extending Russia's influence while protecting the interests of her most precious ally China.

For the newspaper, under such conditions it was almost impossible for Macron to make Europe's voice heard on the issues at stake.

For La Montagne Centre France the one thing that emerged from the talks was the confirmation of Putin's status as an indispensable player in the reconfigured world stage. But of Macron as well, in the eyes of the publication which expects the French leader to also make his mark, considering his attachment to multilateralism.

According to Midi Libre, hearing Putin say that Russia's relations with France were developing despite difficulties, meant that he wasn't just speaking to France but to the so-called mediator of a fragile Europe with which he appeared ready to re-build broken bridges.

Form le Télégramme's point of view, the formidable chess player is determined to stay in the centre of the game so as to negotiate the easing of Western sanctions against his influence in the Middle East and their hostility to his military ambitions in Syria and Iran.

And with regard to the posturing going on between Donald Trump and North Korea, la République des Pyrénées says it is exactly the day Pyongyang carried out the dismantling of its nuclear testing site that the American President announced the cancellation of the projected summit, a move described by the paper as extreme humiliation for the North Korean leader.

La Presse de la Manche claims that if a US/North Korea summit is ever to hold some day, it will not be with the countries current leaders. That's unfortunate it says, for stakeholders who had been betting on what they thought was some intuitive brilliance on the part of the Donald.

According to Le Journal de la Haute-Marne, it was clear from the start that North Korea's leader was going to renew his threats against the United States and Asian allies once US Vice President Mike Pence warned that Kim Jong-Un risked ending up like Libya's Gadhafi.

As the publication observes, things are back to the status quo with the two countries at the moment busy giving each other a good scare.

Taking about a frightful scenario some regional publications are watching the scary developments happening in Italy where newly nominated Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is locked in consultations to form a new populist government.

According to les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, says EU leaders are waiting to see if the Eurosceptic technocrat will follow the agenda drawn up by populist anti-immigration 5-Star Alliance or find a pragmatic course of honouring the political engagements of the Eurozone’s third-biggest economy.

L'Eclair des Pyrénées says EU chiefs are already expecting the worse as Paolo Savona who once described the Euro as a German cage in which Italy has been locked up is tipped to take charge of the Economy.

"Smile, you are better protected". That's Libération's front page story as an EU directive on the protection of personal data by the giants of the internet comes into force this Friday. The law reportedly establishes the key principle that individuals must explicitly grant permission for their data to be used.

Libé quotes Brussels as saying that the so-called General Data Protection Regulation will protect consumers from being like “people naked in an aquarium”.

Companies can be fined up to 20 million euros or four percent of annual global turnover for breaching the strict new data rules for the EU, a market of 500 million people, according to the legislation.

Libération describes the GDPR as a rare and outstanding achievement on the part of the EU deserves recognition.This, in the wake of the Facebook data harvesting scandal.


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