The presidential elections present a window of opportunity to "rethink" French foreign policy before effecting some "necessary" changes, Nicolas Sarkozy, candidate for the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party in the country's presidential elections, has said.
During a press conference presenting his visions on French foreign policies on Wednesday in Paris, the UMP leader regretted that the French people had for a long-time failed to sit down " together" and reflect on what should form the basis for the country's foreign policy.
He said rethinking which was seen as "essential" did not mean breaking new ground, before lauding President Jacques Chirac's foreign policy as "exemplary in many ways" and saluting gains realized by France during his 12-year rule.
French foreign policy must be guided by "reaffirmed values, by well thought and prioritized objectives," Sarkozy said.
Europe remains a priority for Sarkozy who called for a " simplified treaty" in order to instill "leadership stability" in the European Council.
He also made a case for a "European foreign minister" and for the "expansion" of the qualified majority in taking joint European decisions.
If elected president, Sarkozy said his overriding objective would be to guarantee the "security and independence" of France, followed by that of its friends and allies in the face of major challenges such as nuclear proliferation, terrorism, as well as natural and humanitarian crises.
Sarkozy promised to promote multilateralism laying emphasis on the role of the United Nations in fostering transparency in relations between nations, and in particular the establishment of a Mediterranean Union which according to him could form the basis for an alliance between Africa and Europe to counter Asia and America.
He moreover emphasized on an "independent France" in regard to relations with the United States.
"I am therefore calling on our American friends to let us be free, free to be their friends," said the presidential candidate who has quite often been described as "pro-American."