Photo: Julien M. Hekimian / Getty
Der Spiegel has a fascinating interview with Alain Minc, an advisor to French President Nicolas Sarkozy.It’s a great read. Minc seems to be a great orator — check this response on Sarkozy’s relationship with Angela Merkel:
I think he has learned to like her. At the beginning, you couldn’t have imagined two more disparate people. She comes from the north, while he comes from the south. She’s a scientist, and he’s a lawyer. She proceeds methodically, while he acts intuitively. She’s a woman, and he’s a man. She leads an impossible coalition, while he is the king of France.
However, there’s certainly something curious about the interview. For one thing, Der Spiegel seems at pain to describe his relationship with Sarkozy, admitting he has “no official role” but is part of a “close group of advisers to Nicolas Sarkozy”.
His formal business roles seems to be head of consulting firm AM Conseil (which has a turnover of $10 million in 2007 and employs only Minc, his secretary, and his chauffeur) and head of the French highway operator SANEF. But even Minc has a problem describing his relationship to the French government in real terms:
SPIEGEL: How should we understand your role in the president’s network?
Minc: I’m a friend. That’s all.
SPIEGEL: A friend who is constantly on the phone with him, and who is known as the “evening visitor” in France?
Minc: I won’t reveal, not even to you, how exactly I communicate with the president. I have the freedom of a friend who has known him for 25 years and tells him what he thinks. We have a very personal relationship.
A friend that is apparently at liberty to invite former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder to the Élysée Palace, for one thing.
Minc is extremely high profile given his lack of official sanction. He is quoted frequently by publications such as the Economist and the Guardian, described alternatively as “an economist close to the president” or an “aide”.
Of course, perhaps there’s another side to Minc. A 2007 book by former Le Monde journalist Laurent Mauduit offered a stern criticism of what it said was a crooked man who used connections and conflicts of interest to reward himself.
Regardless, Der Spiegel’s article is well worth a read, even if it raised more questions about Sarkozy’s government than it answered >
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