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French press review 5 August 2015

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Egypt is amid a huge PR operation, as world leaders troop to Suez for the inauguration of the expanded Canal. Hiroshima survivors recall painful memories on the 70th anniversary of the 1945 nuclear bombing of Japan; the arrival of a "messiah" at Paris Saint-Germain; and a tense stand-off between London and Paris over UK-bound migrants stranded in northern France.


The migrant crisis poisoning relations between France and Britain is everyone’s top story this morning as London announced plans to harden its immigration laws. This, as police on both sides of the Channel Tunnel braced for new attempts at the crossing into the United Kingdom.

The situation in the northern French port of Calais has hit the headlines in the past week, with people desperate to reach Britain making attempt after attempt to breach Eurotunnel defences, some paying for it with their lives. Some 600 fresh attempts were made to penetrate the tunnel on Tuesday, according to French police. Le Monde reports that claims by British immigration secretary James Brokenshire that the UK no longer wishes to remain the land of milk and honey has poisoned relations between the two European neighbours.

In an exclusive interview with the Catholic daily La Croix, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve urges his British counterpart to be more careful in his choice of words. He says this is not a time of loud sounding rhetoric but a moment of crisis and decision.

Monsieur Cazeneuve points out that the Touquet treaty signed by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2003 on the strengthening of border controls piles the responsibilities of dealing with the influx on France’s shoulders and very little on those of the British.

According to Le Monde the French minister expects the British government to be more involved in the management of the problem. The tensions have been exacerbated by the British government’s decision to slash the support check for asylum seekers down to 50 euros per week and to prosecute landlords sheltering illegal immigrants.

In its coverage of the migrants crisis, the Catholic newspaper La Croix sat down with Rear Admiral Hervé Bléjean, deputy commander of the EU Navy Mediterranean force (EUNAVFOR MED) created in June to dismantle criminal networks exploiting thousands of desperate people fleeing conflict in their homelands.

The French officer tells the paper that the 1,000-strong military force is getting useful information about the mafia trade and the bosses behind the networks from the boat people rescued from the high seas. He believes military intervention in Libya is necessary to bring an end to the human trafficking taking place off the European coast.

Some French papers are quite bluffed by the “pharaonic” projects of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is preparing to host world leaders at the inauguration of a new Suez Canal on Thursday 6 August.

Le Monde says French President François Hollande and foreign dignitaries will be there to show gratitude to the Egyptian strongman for the purchase of the Rafale fighter jets but also to seal the new strategic partnership concretised by the sale of 24 jets and a multi-purpose war ship. According to the newspaper, extension work to double circulation in the 193-square-kilometre waterway cost 13.7 billion euros, financed by foreign investors. Al-Sisi, it reports, expects the canal to generate a million jobs and 13.2 billion dollars (12.2 billion euros) in passage rights by 2023.

Le Figaro reviews the battle plans of the five candidates contesting the opposition Les Republicains party’s primaries ahead of the 2018 presidential elections. The party’s leader and ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy; ex-prime minister and Bordeaux mayor Alain Juppé; ex-premier Francois Fillon; and outsiders Bruno Le Maire and Xavier Bertrand, both former ministers during Sarkozy’s term at the Elysée.

According to the right-wing publication, while the stakeholders vote is not due until 2017, the gladiators are mobilising to unveil their manifestos and road maps this fall. Le Figaro is amused by what it calls the distribution of good and bad marks to the candidates by Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

The right-wing publication is certain to hurt egos in the Sarkozy camp after hinting that the new Les Républicains leader is the preferred candidate the Socialist party will love to face in the 2017 presidential election.

Meanwhile, in the US, Joe Biden could become Hilary Clinton’s nightmare, according to Le Figaro as it reacts to reports that the incumbent US vice-president is considering a bid for the White House come 2016. The paper claims that the carefully orchestrated leaking of Biden’s plans brings to the fore growing reservations within the Democratic Party about Clinton’s capabilities.

And 5 August is the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb, and Libération went out tracking the final survivors of the US dropping in 1945 of the uranium bomb on the Japanese city, killing 110,000 people over four months.

Akemi Masuda, Mastuo Kodama and Iwao Eto, aged 5, 12 and 13 in 1945, recall seeing the three US planes in the blue skies on the morning of 6 August, 1945, and the resulting horror scenes of death and devastation left behind by the mushroom cloud. "The voices of my classmates burnt alive remain engraved in my mind for ever," says Matsuo Kodama. He warns that humanity would be heading for extinction if we ever forget the inhumane weapon used in Hiroshima.

"Awaited as the messiah". That’s L’Equipe’s description of the state of expectation as the French Premier giants Paris Saint-Germain look forward to the arrival of Angel di Maria in Paris after he passed a medical with the French champions in Doha. The 27-year-old Argentine striker on a 63-million-euro contract becomes French football’s second most expensive signing, according to the sports daily. But it wonders if his move to Paris can help PSG win the Champions League.