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Sarkozy calls for support to build strong France

(Xinhua)

09:32, February 20, 2012

PARIS, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy Sunday afternoon called for French people joining him in building a strong France at his first major political meeting in the southern French city of Marseille.

In his one-hour speech to some 10,000 UMP supporters at the rally, the president, who had announced to run for another term, said "I want to be the candidate of the French people but not that of a small elite."

The incumbent claimed his policies had saved the country from "catastrophe", especially when the economic crisis came. "France has resisted" the crisis, Sarkozy said.

"I have a duty of lucidity. I do not pretend that we have all succeeded," he acknowledged, "but we avoid a catastrophe."

"The past five years have only strengthened this conviction: a weak France can not protect the French," Sarkozy stressed.

"What could have happened if France has not been strong," the UMP candidate warned, citing the high unemployment in Spain, painful budget cuts in Italy and Greece, and even the default of mortgages in the United States, a full picture of global crisis, to remind his audience that France had escaped the worst of its consequences.

He admitted that the country were facing tough challenges such as more unemployment, more difficulties for housing, more working-hours, "But I assume these decisions."

He sweared to control immigration, "while unemployment remains so high, our welfare will go straight into bankruptcy ... then it will always be the same, the most vulnerable will suffer more."

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