October 24, 2011
At the inconclusive twin EU-eurozone summits yesterday, famous journalist Jean Quatremer irked French President Nicolas Sarkozy with a question – the main weapon journalists have as a corrective of power.
At the joint press conference Sarkozy gave with German chancellor Angela Merkel, Quatremer was given the chance to ask the first question, in the following terms:
For two years, we hear from you that you will find joint solutions, ambitious and sustainable. For two years you have failed. Each time you said it, the crisis became more acute. Why should we believe you this time?
Watch question and answer here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoapCbkm-eQ
Sarkozy was obviously irked from the question and basically accused Quatremer of being irresponsible as a journalist. It is easier to be a commentator than to take decisions, he said. For the rest, he made an interesting comment of the reponsibility of France and Germany to put pressure on countries in which the two leaders have not been elected. They ended up being very biting on Berlusconi, and this was I think the highest point of the public side of this summit.
Merkel said nothing, the body language beeing – this is a French journalist, you deal with him.
In my perspective, Quatremer asked the question many of us wanted to ask. He could have been more diplomatic, it’s true. But he is not a diplomat, thanks God, and people have a right to know.
The bottom line is that the answers provided to the crisis so far have been to do as little as possible, when Europe is collapsing. Sarkozy kind of offered an excuse, saying that the rules of democracy did not allow him and Merkel to do more.
Is democracy indeed the problem?