Monday

30th May 2016

France faces second 'Air Dictator' scandal

A second 'Air Dictator' scandal has gripped the French government, after Prime Minister Francois Fillon admitted to using the plane of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak to go on vacation with his family.

Dubbed "Air Mubarak" after the recent "Air Ben Ali" scandal involving French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie, the Egyptian holiday of Mr Fillon was again uncovered by the satirical magazine Le Canard Enchaine, the same publication that first reported on the foreign affairs chief's holiday jaunt.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The prime minister's office on Tuesday (8 February) admitted in a press release that the high ranking official had spent winter holidays at the expense of Mr Mubarak's government.

He and his family also "borrowed a plane from the Egyptian fleet to travel from Aswan to Abu Simbel where he visited a temple" and "embarked on a boat trip on the Nile" - all paid for by the Egyptians, the statement said.

Mr Fillon met Mr Mubarak on 30 December in the southern city of Aswan and on 1 January, he went to the local cathedral to offer his sympathies after the bombing of a church in Alexandria. The prime minister flew back on 2 January. Three weeks later, at least 300 people had reportedly been killed during street protests seeking to oust the 82-year-old leader who has ruled Egypt for almost three decades.

The row comes only days after French foreign minister Michele Alliot-Marie had to apologise amid calls for her resignation after she vacationed in Tunisia using a jet of one of the deposed dicatator's friends.

Since then, she has promised to spend all her future vacations in the Dordogne and French leader Nicolas and Mr Fillon have both backed her continued service as foreign minister.

Mr Sarkozy has said he will make "recommendations" to his ministers on what is acceptable when going abroad for holidays, however.

But the promise has had little truck with the Socialist opposition. "Clearly, one can see day after day to what extent the government has lost its public sense," Socialist leader Martine Aubry said, as quoted by Le Figaro.

In 2007, President Nicolas Sarkozy himself had to face criticism over his Christmas break with Carla Bruni, also spent in Egypt.

Mr Sarkozy's close ties with the Egyptian strongman were also evident during the rotating EU presidency held by Paris in 2008, when he launched the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), appointing Mr Mubarak as co-chair.

Ultimately, the ill-starred UfM last year failed to meet at top-level due to divergencies over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its secretary general resigned last month citing "difficult circumstances."

Juncker agrees to visit Russia in June

The EU Commission chief will attend an economic forum in Russia next month, just days before EU countries decide on whether to extend economic sanctions.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary reinforces fence on Serbian border
  2. Juncker to seek renewed backing for TTIP talks
  3. EP president rules out return to German politics
  4. Austrian far-right wants to probe election fraud accusations
  5. Irish PM warns Brexit could bring back border controls
  6. Truckmakers risk record cartel fine
  7. London mayor teams up with British PM on Brexit
  8. Syrian refugees sue Denmark over immigration law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  2. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  4. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  5. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  6. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  7. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  8. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  9. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  12. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan