Since the time of president Giscard, France has taken a more pro-Arab stance in Africa and the Middle East. The primary reason for this stance was the severe depression that was caused in France during the OPEC oil embargo. France developed nuclear energy along with closer ties to the Middle East in hopes of preventing another economic disaster, such as the one caused by the embargo. Their pro-Arab stance has been confirmed in recent hostage negotiations. While most other western countries refused to submit to hostage-holders outlandish offers to free hostages, France negotiated a large deal with the Iranians. This offer included the restoring of diplomatic relations with Iran and also the paying back of a 340 million dollar debt owed to Iran which had been previously frozen. France also invited PLO president Yasser Arafrat to visit France, thus strengthening France's role in the PLO-Middle East peace talks. There were also rumors spread that the French government paid sums of money to release hostages held in Lebanon, though the government denied these reports. Throughout it's dealings with terrorist countries, France appears to be one of the most liberal of all the western countries in concessions to terrorists, and 'forgiveness' for brutal acts. However, in some cases, such as a hostage releasing plan with Lebanon, France fulfilled to release its Lebanese hostages, and it appeared that the Shiites destroyed a French plane flying over Niger.
France attempted to take the lead in arousing concern about the strife taking place in Lebanon. President Mitterand dispatched his secretary of state for humanitarian assistance, Bernard Kouchner to the country to care for wounded, and provide power generating plants. France also sought Soviet help for Lebanon.
The heavily right-wing National Front led by Jean-Marie Le Pen has been gaining momentum within France. Le Pen's group has promoted the de-nationalization of the French industries which have been heavily nationalized during Mitterand's term as president. Le Pen's party also promotes a blunt encouragement of racism and anti-Semitism has caused a scare in France. Mitterand and other key political leaders recently participated in an anti-racism protest. Also the government has passed anti-racism laws, geared almost specifically at Le Pen, that remove civil rights, especially the right to run for public office from those convicted of exciting racial hatred in the people. This strong conflict between political ideals has the possibility of being driven out of hand, especially because of Le Pen's extremist believes, and could be the result of internal, and even some external conflict.
France has always enjoyed a key role in the affairs of the European Community, but now with the democratization of eastern Europe, which is leading towards the reunification of Germany, France has been required to take a back seat in European affairs. Originally, President François Mitterand indicated France was behind Germany all the way in it's reunification, but many lower-ranking governmental officials predicted that Germany's reunification would greatly harm the European Community. However, latter France has became angry at some of the steps in the German unification process. France issued a public statement discussing its anger at Germany's failure to provide guarantees on the permanence of the German-Polish border along the Niesse and Oder rivers. The reunification efforts have resulted in a chilling of Franco-German relationships, but we will probably never see a conflict as large as the last world wars.
In 1988 there was a violent uprising in the French territory of New Caledonia. The rebels killed some people, and took others as hostage. After talks stalled, the Prime Minister order the soldiers to storm the rebels hideout. Twenty-one people were killed in the attack, but the hostages were freed unharmed. Later, a new Prime Minister proposed a plan to grant the territory independence in 1998. In 1989, more violence broke out in the Comoro Islands, a former French colony. France immediately cut off aid to them.
France nuclear weapons technology, and is on the forefront of nuclear power technology, and was a larger percentage of its power come from nuclear plants than any other country. France has also been encouraging the widespread use of nuclear technology. All countries with the possession of nuclear power have signed a special non-proliferation treaty, and also had an unsigned agreement not to spread technology to other countries which have not signed the agreement. France broke with it's allies in the treaty, and is now spreading nuclear technology to Pakistan, a country which has failed to sign the treaty.
In 1989, France sponsored a January conference in which 150 countries renewed their pledges against the use of chemical weapons. Also, France was against the West German proposal to ban all short-range nuclear missiles, because it didn't believe the USSR had been fulfilling its promises in conventional weapons talks.
French economists believe that aid comparable to the aid given in Eastern Europe should be given to the countries in Latin America. Both areas have fought similar battles, and succeeded in gaining their democracy. The west was at first very generous in helping to settle the Latin American debt, but then began to turn away. They also believe that part of the problems in the Americas lies within the leadership, which often misspend the aid given to them. They would like for increased western debt assistance, near the level of assistance given to those in Eastern Europe given to those in Latin America. (Although, the government is probably greater in favor of helping out their neighbors.)
France is a member of the European Community. The EC put a limited embargo on trade with South Africa, and France has lived up to their agreement on trade limitations. France has carried out very little individually with South Africa. Also, the growing racism in France, promoted primarily be Le Pen's party limits the ability of the government to take large-scale action to combat the South African racism