Candidate for the Elysee, is Anne Hidalgo ready to give up nuclear deterrence?

It is an embarrassing affair for Anne Hidalgo, the socialist presidential candidate. On May 17, 2019, the city of Paris, of which she is mayor, signed the Call of the Cities of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican), winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. “We support the treaty on the ban on nuclear weapons and call on our government to adhere to it, ”says this text. Paris has thus joined many other global cities, such as Los Angeles, Washington, Berlin, Sydney, Helsinki, Edinburgh, Geneva, Barcelona, ​​Amsterdam or Toronto. In France, there are about fifty signatory municipalities, often communist, but also Lyon, Grenoble or Besançon.

And so, Paris. This is where it gets complicated, because the mayor is now a candidate for the presidency of the Republic. And, as such, it must be clear on defense issues. What Anne Hidalgo supports as mayor is it worth for the candidate? Is it ready to give up nuclear deterrence? Traditionally, the Socialist Party is pro-nuclear, civilian and military. However, the international campaign in favor of the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Tian) is having a direct impact on France’s foreign and defense policy, like those of all nuclear-weapon states.

” Small committee “. Adopted in 2017 by the United Nations General Assembly in 2017, the Tian entered into force in January 2021, after being ratified by 56 states. Its scope remains symbolic, because none of the nine nuclear powers recognizes it. However, the movement of opinion embarrasses the governments concerned, who would like to stick to the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is much less binding for them.

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How did Anne Hidalgo find herself in this situation? According to our information, the affair took place in the spring of 2019 and the mayor does not seem to have paid much attention to it … The Ican France association, which campaigns in favor of Tian, ​​has contacted the mayor of Paris. , via diplomatic advisor Patrizianna Sparacino-Thiellay. After a few weeks of discussions, it was the first deputy Emmanuel Grégoire who decided to sign this appeal. “It was done in a small committee, a little quickly” confides a person close to the file. “It’s bullshit”, slices another, which evokes a proximity with Japan (Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two signatory cities) with a view to the preparation of the Olympic Games.

The irony of the story is that the city of Paris has also been the “godmother” of Charles de Gaulle since 2001.

This signature was not the subject of a deliberation and a vote by the Paris Council. Paris’ membership of the Call for Cities has been made public by Ican France, while the town hall remains very discreet. Because the subject divides the municipal majority, with ecologists (EELV) and communists favorable to the Treaty to ban nuclear weapons, unlike the PS and the right-wing opposition.

The irony of the story is that the city of Paris has also been “godmother” of Charles de Gaulle since 2001. It was a wish of the mayor PS Bertrand Delanoë. However, not only is the aircraft carrier nuclear powered, but it can deploy airborne nuclear weapons.

“Ideal world”. Candidate Anne Hidalgo has not yet spoken on defense issues. In her entourage, however, it is assured that she is “attached to nuclear deterrence, which contributes to France’s role as a peacemaker”: “In an ideal world, we could do without nuclear weapons, but we are not not in an ideal world. “

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If, in the coming weeks, the PS candidate comes out of the ambiguity on this issue, she will have to ensure that this is also the case for those around her. On June 25, the mayor of Villeurbanne, Cédric Van Styvendael, in fact signed the appeal of Ican France while he is one of the candidate’s spokespersons.

Little debated in France, the question of Tian is much more so in neighboring European countries. Three member states of the European Union have ratified it: Austria, Ireland and Malta. This is also the case for the Holy See, with a personal commitment from Pope Francis. No NATO member joined, the Americans – like the British and the French – having made it clear to other members that it was out of the question.

The subject was debated within the new German coalition where environmentalists and part of the social-democratic SPD are hostile to nuclear weapons. Germany will not sign the Tian, ​​but it will join it as an observer and should therefore participate, as such, in the first conference of signatory states, to be held in Vienna (Austria) next March. Norway, a NATO member, has announced its presence as an observer, along with three neutral countries, Sweden, Finland and Switzerland.