Former French President Jacques Chirac has remained curiously, if politely, tight-lipped on his successor Nicolas Sarkozy for four years -- until now.
But as the Guardian is reporting, Chirac minces few words on his fellow Frenchman in a new memoir, describing Sarkozy as "nervous," "bubbling over with ambition," "antagonistic," and even "too American."
The 624-page book, titled The Presidential Time, charts the now 78-year-old Chirac's 12 years in power from 1995 and 2007. As the Telegraph reports, much of the new book, which is due for release next week, is devoted to foreign policy, and comes less than three months before Chirac's trial on charges of illegal party funding while mayor of Paris begins.
But it is Chirac's frank and often damning commentary on Sarkozy, once deemed the elder stateman's protege, that is generating controversy in the days leading up to the book's debut. Though he initially praises his successor as "one of the most gifted politicians of his generation" in excerpts published by French media, Chirac goes on to write, "[Sarkozy and I] do not share the same vision of France, we do not agree on the basics." Later, he accuses Sarkozy of "stigmatizing, exacerbating antagonizations and setting one category [of people] against another," most likely referring to comments Sarkozy made about Arab immigrants rioting the in Paris suburbs, according to the International Business Times.
"Trust cannot be decreed but it is an absolute necessity," he is also quoted by Reuters as saying in the memoirs. "There were too many grey areas and misunderstandings between Nicolas Sarkozy and me to fully meet that prerequisite."
In what is perhaps the most stinging retaliation to a series of alleged Sarkozy's betrayals, Chirac heaps praise on the former Socialist party leader, François Hollande, the man many on the French left believe is best placed to challenge Sarkozy in next year's presidential election following the recent arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. As the BBC reports, Chirac describes Hollande as a "true statesman" who is capable of crossing party lines.
Meanwhile, Chirac's detractors say the book glosses over the former president's own weaknesses. With regard to the charges he faces later this month that he embezzled money and creating fictitious jobs to fund his campaign while mayor of Paris in the 1990s, he only states the claims were “founded on rumor, more or less orchestrated press campaigns," the Telegraph notes.