G8 and NATO Summits: The First Steps of the New French President.

The recently elected French President, François Hollande faces his first major challenge abroad with the G8 and NATO Summits held in United States this week. Hollande has promised his people a return to a  ‘normal’ presidency.  but it remains to be seen whether this strategy will be efficient on an international stage.

The G8 and NATO Summits are always full of promises. In the light of the European economic crisis, Hollande’s recent inauguration and the coming presidential elections in the US, both the G8 and NATO summits.

The challenge is tremendous for both the G8 and NATO members, particularly given the current political and economic climate. Hollande just took office this past week, there is the American Presidential election this fall, the German election next year and a European economic crises that is compounded by a precarious situation in Greece

At the top of the G8 agenda is the Greek crisis and the economic growth of Europe. Hollande and U.S. President, Barack Obama agree that Europe needs to focus on growth to overcome the crisis. Obama believes that the American economic situation is closely tied to the wealth of its European counter-part, and he faces the pressure of an incumbent running for re-election knowing that, in large part, his success in the upcoming election could be closely tied with his ability to preserve its relationship with Europe and its economy.

Hollande and Obama do not see eye-to-eye on every issue being discussed at the summits. Hollande has been committed to his campaign pledge to withdraw French troops from Afghanistan. Although this platform was one that won him many votes during the election, by pressing this plan, the new French President could put himself in an uncomfortable situation regarding his partners within NATO and especially the United States. He runs the risk of jeopardizing the French position within the international community by being labelled as a world leader who is hesitant to engage in international cooperation.

However, the new French President also assured that even if French troops are withdrawn from Afghanistan, France will still play an active role in the NATO mission, just in a different capacity. Additionally he pledged that the French-Afghan treaty, set up by Nicolas Sarkozy, will be ratified.

By combining compromises and concessions, Hollande aims to preserve French position and identity abroad, struggling with the balance of maintaining a strong relationship with the US and its allies, while also preserving France’s independence as a sovereign nation with its own national agenda. As with every new administration, it remains to be seen whether Hollande can achieve his campaign promises within the context of the international community.

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