French Presidential Elections 2017: Fillon vs Macron vs Le Pen

Eboard10

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Francois Fillon has just come out as the winner of the Republican party by defeating Alain Juppe in the second round of the primary in a crushing victory, getting twice as many votes as his opponent. He will be facing far-right candidate and leading anti-establishment figure Marine Le Pen on one side as well as socialist candidates Emmanuel Macron and (potentially) Manuel Valls on the other.

Given what the Cs said about the previous French elections of 2007, is there a possibility that the primary votes were also rigged or did we just witness another case of wishful thinking where the establishment didn't expect such a large support for Fillon and they were caught off guard?


Session 16 July 2007

Q: (Joe) Was there any election fraud in the 2007 French elections?

A: Of course!

Q: (Joe) Is there a percentage we can have of fraudulent or stolen votes?

A: Believe that the percentage is over 20 percent.

Q: (Joe) So 20%?

A: Yes.

Q: (Joe) That would suggest that only 30% of people voted for Sarkozy. (H) Did Segolene get more votes than Sarkozy?

A: Yes.

Q: (S) So that pretty much means that the feeling that Laura and I had that maybe Sarkozy wasn't quite so evil was probably fairly wrong?

A: Probably, but remember that Sarkozy is not in charge. He just doesn't fully realize it yet.

Q: (H) Will there be some sort of event that will sort of bring it home to him?

A: Most likely. There is a grave aura of danger spreading over France.

Q: (L) Danger from where?

A: Conflict is between those who want to put France in the bind and those who do not and know it will be like sparks in a powder keg.

Q: (L) Why would it be like sparks in a powder keg?

A: The French mentality: arrogance etc.

Q: (Joe) They're worried about another revolution. (L) And who is pressing to put France in the bind?

A: Your favorite Zionazis.

Q: (L) And who is against it?

A: Sarkozy among others. Though he is trying to appease in some ways.

Q: (H) Was Segolene more closely aligned with the Zionazis?

A: That is an interesting question: Let us just say she was picked to run to lose.

Q: (H) So is this Julien Dray character who is close to her one of the key players?

A: Indeed. Sarkozy thinks he can handle it, but he will find he has a tiger by the tail.
 

Adaryn

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Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

Some mainstream propaganda from: _http://qz.com/846200/the-likely-winner-of-this-weekends-french-presidential-primary-will-be-russias-vladimir-putin/

The likely winner of this weekend’s French presidential primary will be Russia’s Vladimir Putin

If you’ve paid any attention to France’s presidential race, you’ll know that the Front National’s Marine Le Pen is a serious contender. But the prospect of another far-right nationalist coming to power in a major Western country is not, in fact, the only thing to worry about.

The other worry—and one that should concern not just residents of France, but the entire world—is that whether Le Pen wins or loses, France’s next president is likely to be part of a new, hardline Moscow-Paris-Washington axis: supporting Russia’s Vladimir Putin, appeasing Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and turning geopolitics away from liberalism and human rights.

That’s because this Sunday, Nov. 27, is the primary for the center-right Les Républicains party, and the front-runner is François Fillon, a socially conservative, provincial French Catholic who claims Russia poses “no threat.” All polls point to Le Pen eliminating François Hollande’s unpopular Socialists in the first round of the presidential election next April, leaving a Fillon-Le Pen run-off on May 7—a contest Fillon is tipped to win.

Both Le Pen and Fillon are slavishly Russophile and close friends of Putin. They are both committed to ending sanctions against Moscow over the annexation of Crimea, and happy to prop up the war criminal in Damascus in a murky anti-ISIL alliance.

In Le Monde (link in French) on Nov. 24, Fillon confirmed his geopolitical stance. Parroting Moscow’s arguments against “unrealistic” sanctions, he said France “must know how to speak to all states” and called for a “frank and solid renewal of relations” with Putin—and with Donald Trump, whom Fillon insists we must stop labeling a populist.

Fillon also echoes much of Le Pen’s (and Putin’s) rhetoric against Islam, in a country still under a state of emergency after a series of huge terrorist attacks. Jewish leaders, too, are alarmed by his seeming dog-whistle comments (French) about French Jews’ alleged history of not “living by the rules of the French Republic.”

Some Paris-based Russia experts think Fillon may prove to be even more willing a Putin ally than the bombastic, impulsive Trump, and at least as zealous as Le Pen. Nicolas Tenzer (fr), chairman of think tank Centre d’Etude et de Reflection pour l’Action Politique (CERAP), told Quartz that “we all know that [Le Pen] would be Putin’s puppet,” but that Fillon “is just cutting and pasting Kremlin propaganda. His approach expresses exactly what Russia is saying, nothing else. It would of course endanger France’s security, but also Europe’s cohesiveness. France would become the sick man of Europe.” A Fillon victory would shatter the existing Paris-Berlin consensus towards Moscow, leaving an isolated Angela Merkel as the last big domino to fall in a Europe French historian Françoise Thom (fr, paywall) argues is becoming a “vassal” of Russia.

The Fillon-Putin bromance goes back to 2008, when Fillon was Nicolas Sarkozy’s prime minister and met often with his Russian counterpart. On Nov. 23, in a brazen, unprecedented televised intervention in the French primary race, Putin rewarded his Gallic acolyte, noting their close “personal relations” and feting Fillon as “tough, but decent and a real professional.” Russian media and politicians have likewise been jubilant at Fillon’s surprise lead in the race, celebrating the success of the “French Trump who will break up Europe.”

The parallels with the US election are eerie, down to disturbing allegations (fr) of Kremlin meddling in the race [Lol]. A far-right social-media campaign tagged Alain Juppé (fr), Fillon’s rival for the Les Republicains candidacy, as “Ali Juppé” for unproven claims that he made compromises with political Islamists over the construction of a new mosque in Bordeaux, where he is mayor. Even Hillary Clinton’s loss has hurt Juppé; he’s being unfavorably compared to the vanquished Democrat as arrogant, out of touch, an establishment elitist, and soft on Islam.

Fillon’s statements on Russia and Syria are increasingly worrying. Despite clear evidence that Russian bombing raids targeted civilians in Aleppo, he recently tweeted (fr) that “Russia is the biggest country in the world but we keep pushing it towards Asia when it poses no threat.” He holds views remarkably similar (fr, paywall) to those of the pro-Russian Franco-Syrian lobby, which wants a Western rapprochement with Moscow against ISIL to keep Assad in power.

Last month, Fabien Baussart, a Paris businessman seen as close to Putin and Fillon, and his wife, Randa Kassis, an Assad-friendly Syrian politician, joined Donald Trump Jr around a table at the Ritz (paywall) to discuss a Washington-Moscow-Damascus accord. On Nov. 25, Baussart lauded Fillon in the Kremlin mouthpiece Sputnik News as “the only candidate who has a geostrategic vision, who understands Russia and can engage in dialogue with Russia.” Fillon, meanwhile, has previously said (fr) that France should back Hezbollah, the Lebanese terrorist outfit backed by Iran, alongside Putin’s and Assad’s forces, to combat ISIL.

With a Fillon-Le Pen run-off, Putin would have it both ways, having extended huge loans to the cash-strapped Front National and letting his cyber shock-troops loose on Juppé. Nicolas Henin, a French journalist who was imprisoned by ISIL for 10 months, laments that Juppé (fr), in rightly opposing dialogue with Assad, is committing “political suicide”; public opinion is not on his side.

Worst of all, the rise of Fillon offers a terrible dilemma to more liberal French voters: To stop Le Pen, they must back Fillon.

Given the division among US Republicans over how to deal with Moscow, the French presidential primary does not augur well for a workable political solution to the crisis in Iraq and Syria. The signs point towards a concerted push to shore up the mass-murdering dictator in Damascus, while bolstering Putin, all in an attempt to defeat ISIL. But at what cost?
 

Joe

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Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

Very interesting Adaryn. It seems that Fillon has secured the nomination and will now face Le Pen next year in what appears to be a set-up. At this point I can't imagine Le Pen winning fairly against Fillon, so the question then is, 'who do the "zionazis" want as President and for what reason?
 

Adaryn

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Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

From Haaretz: _http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/1.755663

Alain Juppe has conceded defeat in France's first-ever conservative presidential primary, congratulating rival Francois Fillon for a "wide victory.

Juppe, a former prime minister who had long been considered the favorite for the primary, made the concession announcement after results from Sunday's runoff election showed him garnering 32 percent of the vote to Fillon's 68 percent.

Juppe says he will support Fillon in the national election in April and May.

"I finish this campaign as I began it, as a free man who did not compromise what he is or what he thinks," he said in Paris on Sunday night.

Juppe is calling for unity and calm after an unusually harsh campaign in which he accused Fillon of pandering to the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam far right.
Fillon, 62, campaigned on promises of drastic free-market reforms, a crackdown on immigration and Islamic extremism, support for traditional family values and friendlier ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


Juppe, 71, had similar ideas on the economy, but had tried to rally conservatives around a more tolerant attitude toward France's ethnic, religious and social diversity.
Polls suggest the winner of Sunday's primary runoff has a high chance of winning the French presidency in the April-May election — but would face a tough challenge from far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Le Pen is banking on an anti-establishment campaign that particularly targets immigrants, France's large Muslim majority, and the European Union.

Socialist President Francois Hollande is expected to announce in the coming weeks whether he will seek re-election, but the French left has been deeply weakened by Hollande's extreme unpopularity.

Both Fillon and Juppe are high-profile leaders of the center-right Republicans party who knocked their former boss — ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy — out of the primary's first round of voting a week ago. Sarkozy threw his weight behind Fillon for the runoff.

Juppe, the perceived underdog, remained confident of victory after casting his second-round ballot in Bordeaux Sunday morning, despite finishing behind Fillon by double digits in the first round.

"I have no regrets. I ran a great campaign... I've defended my ideas until the end and it's going to work. I'm sure of it," Juppe told reporters. But he also acknowledged he had contemplated defeat.

Sunday's runoff comes after a bruising and highly adversarial end phase to the months-long primary contest, an American-style effort to end party infighting and bolster support for the party's nominee. The conservatives previously chose their candidate internally.

Fillon, a conservative Catholic who opposed France's law legalizing same-sex marriages, said he plans to reduce immigration to France "to a minimum" — positioning himself firmly to Juppe's right.

He and Juppe also have strongly different views on how to deal with Russia, with Fillon in favor of forging closer ties.
He wants to drop sanctions against Russia over its aggressive actions in Ukraine and partner with Russia in the fight against Islamic State extremists.
Fillon insists "Russia poses no threat" to the West, while Juppe wants France to continue putting pressure on Putin on various fronts.
They both pledged to cut public spending, reduce the number of civil servants, raise the retirement age from 62 to 65, end the 35-hour work week and cut business taxes.

Fillon was the prime minister from 2007 to 2012 under President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was eliminated in the primary's first round a week ago and now is backing Fillon. Juppe was prime minister from 1995 to 1997 under President Jacques Chirac.

In the first round of primary voting on Nov. 20, Fillon won 44.1 percent of the votes, Juppe 28.6 percent and Sarkozy 20.7. A second round was needed because no candidate secured a majority.
 

Adaryn

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Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

Joe said:
Very interesting Adaryn. It seems that Fillon has secured the nomination and will now face Le Pen next year in what appears to be a set-up. At this point I can't imagine Le Pen winning fairly against Fillon, so the question then is, 'who do the "zionazis" want as President and for what reason?

I can't imagine that either. In a Le Pen/Fillon 2nd round scenario, the PTB would resort to the same old propaganda that worked so well in 2002, when Chirac faced Le Pen at the 2nd round and Chirac won with like 80% votes. The propaganda machine ran at full steam: people demonstrating in the streets, the media and politicians urging everyone to vote against the fascist threat, etc. I'm not sure it would work that well today, with people being so fed up with the right/wing parties and with French politics in general, but we can be sure they will try everything they can to avoid a Le Pen presidency - not that I think Le Pen would/could do anything to really change the statu quo. At this point, all bets are off though.
 

Adaryn

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Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

From Haaretz: _http://www.haaretz.com/world-news/europe/1.754920

Francois Fillon, who said Jews 'did not respect all the rules of the French Republic,' claims his comments were misunderstood.

Jewish leaders criticized French presidential front-runner Francois Fillon on Wednesday for suggesting Jews did not want to respect the country's rules in the past.

Fillon, tipped to win the second round of a primary this weekend to become the conservative candidate for next year's presidential election, was talking to Europe 1 radio about the need to fight radical Islamism.

"We must fight that fundamentalism, in the same way that in the past ... we fought some forms of Catholic fundamentalism and we fought the drive by Jews to live in a community that did not respect all the rules of the French Republic."

It was not clear what precisely Fillon was referring to.

France's Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia later spoke with Fillon about his comments, a spokeswoman for the rabbi said in a statement.

Korsia said that although Jewish groups may in the past have lived in relative isolation from wider society, that was "in no way Jewish citizens' choice, but the consequence of French society not accepting their peers at the time," the statement said.

Sacha Ghozlan, head of the French Jewish students' union UEJF said: "Those surprising comments raise questions about how Francois Fillon defines fundamentalism."

"The UEJF wonders what period Francois Fillon is referring to when he says Jews refused to abide by the rules of the French republic, if it's not at the time of Vichy (the war-time government that collaborated with Nazi Germany) when Jews were forced to hide and wear a yellow star," Ghozlan said in a statement.

Fillon later wrote on his Facebook page that his comments had been misunderstood.

"I never meant to call into question the Jewish community's attachment to our common values and to the respect of the rules of the Republic," he said.
Security is one of the top issues in the presidential race following a wave of Islamist attacks over the past year and half.

Fillon, who is likely to face the far-right National Front's Marine Le Pen in the final presidential ballot if he wins Sunday's primary, has repeatedly warned of the risk of French Muslims being radicalized.

"There is a rise of fundamentalism in the Muslim community, fundamentalists are in the process of taking the Muslim community hostage," Fillon told Europe 1 before his comments on Catholics and Jews.
 

Adaryn

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Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

29th October article from a Muslim (and apparently very much anti-Putin) blogger
_https://rehmat1.com/2016/10/29/french-national-front-seeks-funds-from-arab-rulers/

French ‘National Front’ seeks funds from Arab rulers

The French anti-Muslim, anti-immigration White supremacist political party, French National (FN), led by Marine Le Pen is seeking money from UAE and Egypt to fund her current presidential campaign, according to an investigative report released by journal Mediapart on October 24, 2016.

Marine Le Pen is not the only French political leader who loves Muslim funding. In 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy, former Israeli Mossad ‘sleeper’ received £42 million to fund his presidential bid from Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

France’s current president Francois Hollande (Jewish [this is BS, Hollande is not Jewish]) in recently published book, A President Should Not Say That, has claimed that France has problem with its (8-10 million) Muslim population. On December 4, 2013, veteran British journalist and author Alan Hart called Hollande, French Bitch of Zionism.

A new French book, Nos Tres Chers Emirs (Our Dearest Emirs) [you can read a presentation of the book here (in French): _http://www.michel-lafon.fr/livre/1796-Nos_tres_chers_emirs.html], has claimed that several French politicians are being bought by anti-Israel Arab rulers.

Marine Le Pen in an interview with Jewish newspaper France 24 in September 2014 had blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar, two of America’s best Arab allies, for funding terrorism around the world. “France needs to cut off its links with Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which have helped, supported and funded Islamic fundamentalists across the world,” she said.

Naturally, even if Marine Le Pen does become the French president in 2017, she will never jeopardize the $16 billion arms trade with Saudi Arabia and Qatar.


She reportedly met UAE representatives at her house in Montretout in July 2014, as well as then-Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and other Egyptian political and religious leaders in May 2015.

Marine Le Pen visited Egypt in May 2015 and met Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb (see photo above), who condemned her and the National Front party over Islamophobia.

Marine Le Pen is famous for her anti-Muslim outbursts in public. She is Crypto-Zionist with a Jewish boyfriend. Last year, she expelled her own father Jean-Marie Le Pen, 87, the founder of National Front to please French Jewish Lobby (CRIF) [the CRIF president, Cukierman, said Marine Le Pen was personally "above reproach". Still, she wasn't invited to the CRIF annual dinner in 2015, because her party is considered "disreputable"]. Jean-Marie has always maintained the opinion that Jewish Holocaust is the greatest myth of the last century. On April 6, 2016, Jean-Marie Le Pen, a Member of European Parliament, was fined £25 000 by Paris Correctional Court for denying Holocaust.

Marine Le Pen supports fellow Muslim haters such as the Butcher of Chechnya Vladimir Putin and the GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Russian banks have granted two loans to National Front, which amounted to a total of US$12 million in 2014.

Marine Le Pen’s anti-Muslim, anti-immigration, and firing her father to please French Jewish community (500,000) seems boosted her popularity. Latest polls show that under her leadership the National Front is expected to win the first round of the 2017 presidential election with 25-30 percent of the vote.
 
Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

I suggest you to do not pay attention to what french politicians say, because they lie like they breath, maybe more than in any other country... almost all is about political tactic and strategies to seduce a part of french people. Even FN is not trustable. French politicians are maybe the more cynical of the world.

- François Fillon = Bilderberg + Pro-EU = System
- "Parti Socialiste" (any candidate) = Freemason + Bilderberg + Pro-EU = System
- "Front National" = We do not realy know... they say almost all and the contrary (adjusting political tactic every time).
- "Nicolas Dupont-Aignan" = Early French American Foundation + No clear position about EU (Frexit or not Frexit ?) = Not trustable
- "Jean-Luc Mélenchon" = Freemason + Smooth talker + Pro-EU except very recently = Not trustable

In geopolitical way, Trump changed the game, so the rest of the world will adapt. EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker recently accepted that Russia is needed as partnership to ensure europe security, so, you now understand that the game cards are redistributed, the oligarchy change its strategy. So no surprise that Fillon claim to be close to Russia... This is only the game that continue, in another way.

Key indicator to monitor: Italy seem near to exit from EU, this could distribute the cards again... However, until a radical change, don't expect any surprise from french election, the french control system is one of the better of the world... a piece of art.
 

luc

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Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

sedenion said:
- François Fillon = Bilderberg + Pro-EU = System
- "Parti Socialiste" (any candidate) = Freemason + Bilderberg + Pro-EU = System
- "Front National" = We do not realy know... they say almost all and the contrary (adjusting political tactic every time).
- "Nicolas Dupont-Aignan" = Early French American Foundation + No clear position about EU (Frexit or not Frexit ?) = Not trustable
- "Jean-Luc Mélenchon" = Freemason + Smooth talker + Pro-EU except very recently = Not trustable

Well, I think this is a bit simplistic, as if the 'case can be closed' - their affiliations to certain groups don't fully define politicians (but of course they are interesting factors that may play a role). I think in politics, particularly in the West, it's not about a 'pure theory', but rather strategy, games being played, opinions being uttered for strategical reasons, networks and affiliations being built etc. So I would leave some doors open that maybe some politicians might positively surprise us in the future.

sedenion said:
In geopolitical way, Trump changed the game, so the rest of the world will adapt. EU boss Jean-Claude Juncker recently accepted that Russia is needed as partnership to ensure europe security, so, you now understand that the game cards are redistributed, the oligarchy change its strategy. So no surprise that Fillon claim to be close to Russia... This is only the game that continue, in another way.

Yeah, that's interesting. I think among Europe's politicians and bureaucrats there are many authoritarian followers who do look up to Uncle Sam for directions. Although they might kick and scream a bit right now, some of them will figure out eventually that theiy have a new boss and the wind has changed IMO. So it will be interesting to observe how they will behave. Western politics is so corrupt and absurd that any progress is welcome - even if it's just spineless burocrats licking the US's boots, IF those boots start representing something resembling common sense. OSit.
 
Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

luc said:
Well, I think this is a bit simplistic, as if the 'case can be closed'

This is my opinion... for france, the case is closed for the next 5 years, as i can't believe that FN could win (for an really unknown result if by some chance this happen). The key about european policy is EU... Who is pro-EU, is another puppet, because, within the EU, you cannot be anything else, this is as simple as that. Any other argument is a lie.
 
Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

What could be the composition of the François Fillon gouvernement ? Forbes tell us...

Castries, Pouyanné et les autres…

Autre personnalité issue du monde de l’entreprise, et davantage connue du grand public, Henri de Castries ancien PDG d’Axa, à qui certains prédisent même déjà un destin à Matignon [NDR: prime minister], voir du côté de Bercy [NDR: finance minister] en cas de victoire de François Fillon à la présidentielle.
src: http://www.forbes.fr/politique/patrons-entrepreneursles-reseaux-fillon-a-la-conquete-de-lelysee/

So, who is Henri de Castries... The ex-CEO of Axa, ok, and.... Search here: http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/steering-committee.html

I think now it is pretty clear...
 

Niall

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Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

Things are so 'up in the air' at the moment that the PTB may be unsure which to favor between Le Pen and Fillon. I guess we'll see in the coming months: if they trash Le Pen non-stop and say that everyone must vote for Fillon, then maybe that means Fillon is their 'Hillary'. BUT, even if he's elected - legitimately or otherwise - that may not mean that he'll actually do their bidding.
 
Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

Niall said:
Things are so 'up in the air' at the moment that the PTB may be unsure which to favor between Le Pen and Fillon. I guess we'll see in the coming months: if they trash Le Pen non-stop and say that everyone must vote for Fillon, then maybe that means Fillon is their 'Hillary'.

You can't apply US policy model to French policy model. There is not only one "Hillary" in france, but almost ALL are "Hillary"... except Le Pen maybe (and some other little candidates). And, there is absolutely no waranty that Fillon will face to Le Pen in the election final turn... It is pretty clear that the system will not take the risk to let Le Pen pass to the final turn. We will probably see Fillon vs Montebourg or Fillon vs Valls. So French people will choose betwenn "the Hillary" and its clone...

Niall said:
BUT, even if he's elected - legitimately or otherwise - that may not mean that he'll actually do their bidding.

He will do the financial policy, which is in fact the EU policy... For the rest, he lie. Expect nothing from French governement... Nothing will happen except maybe from the people itself, or the army, or both... i don't know... but all will end badly, that is all what i know.
 

Adaryn

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Re: French Presidential Elections - Francois Fillon as Republican Candidate

_http://www.france24.com/en/20170109-assad-syria-aleppo-francois-fillon-truce-peace-talks-astana-rtl-france-info-lcp

Assad welcomes French presidential candidate Fillon’s views on Syria

In an interview with French media Sunday [the 8th Jan.], Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he welcomed conservative French presidential candidate François Fillon’s policies on terrorism.

“[Fillon’s] priority to defy the terrorists and not meddling in the affairs of other countries are welcome,” he told RTL radio, LCP TV and France Info radio reporters.

But we have to be cautious, because we have learned in this region during the last few years [is] that many officials would say something and do the opposite,” Assad said. “I wouldn’t say that Mr Fillon would do this, I hope not… but we have to wait and see, because there is no contact. But so far, what he says, if that will be implemented, that would be very good.”

Polls predict that Fillon, who has said France needs a closer relationship with Russia, Assad’s top ally, to resolve the Syrian civil war, is likely to win the second round of May’s presidential election against far right leader Marine Le Pen. [Judging by the result of the US election, as well as the Brexit, I wouldn't be so hasty in making predictions based on polls]

On the path to victory’

Assad said that his forces are on the road to victory after recapturing the key city of Aleppo last month.

"We do not consider that (retaking Aleppo from the rebels) as a victory because victory will be when we have eliminated all the terrorists," Assad said. "But it is a critical moment in this war because we are on the path to victory."

It was his first interview with French media since the December 22 recapture of the rebel-held east of the city, which had been under siege for months.

Rebel forces, who seized east Aleppo in 2012, agreed to withdraw after a month-long army offensive that drove them from more than 90 percent of their former territory.

The loss of east Aleppo was the biggest blow to Syria's rebel movement in the nearly six-year conflict, which has killed more than 310,000 people.

‘Every war is bad’

Asked about heavy bombing raids that ravaged the city and claimed large numbers of civilian lives, Assad said: "Every war is bad."

"But you have to liberate, and this is the price sometimes," he added, "In the end, the people are liberated from the terrorists."

Earlier Sunday in Damascus, Assad told visiting French lawmakers that he was "optimistic" about new peace talks planned for later this month in Kazakhstan.

The talks in Astana are being organised by regime allies Russia and Iran and rebel backer Turkey, following the imposition on December 30 of a fragile Syria-wide ceasefire.

French lawmaker Thierry Mariani said Assad also declared himself willing to negotiate with nearly 100 rebel groups fighting against his government, excluding jihadist organisations.

Assad said his government was ready to negotiate on "everything".

Asked if the government was ready to discuss his position as president, Assad said "yes but my position is linked to the constitution".

"If they want to discuss this point they must discuss the constitution," he said.
 
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