Fillon prepares run for French presidency, shuns US alliance

'I want to restore France,' says conservative candidate

11 January, 12:17

    French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon

     - PARIS - French conservative presidential candidate Francois Fillon on Wednesday held a press conference with journalists to lay out his electoral platform, vowing that he wants to "restore" France and shunning his country's alliance with the US, calling it a "total failure".

    The former prime minister is favored to win against far-right rival Marine Le Pen, and said France has a "desire to change that the elites are underestimating".

    "Restoring the country, freedom, French values - these are my priorities in this decisive phase for France and Europe," he said.

    He denied that he holds "radical" values, insisting however that change is necessary.

    "These five years of the left have weakened us, the opportunity to speed up was lost. And now the Socialists are in no position to teach us any lessons," he said.

    In the coming days Fillon will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to speak about his campaign platform and his ideas for Europe and international relations.

    "Merkel is worried about Trump's moves and the situation she has at home. But Europe can't stand still," he told a group of journalists following the conference.

    He emphasised that "if the French decide to send a Gaullist to the Elysee", the alliance with the United States could no longer continue.

    "I wouldn't say anything if this strategy had given results, but it has been a total failure. We need to find our space between Russia and the US," he said.

    "On Syria, we should have pushed to find a global agreement with Russia and Iran three years ago, excluding Assad back then".

    Fillon dismissed his rivals, saying that Macron is making "generic statements to avoid hostility and get good polls" and that Valls "makes me laugh - he preaches the exact opposite of what he did when he was prime minister".

    The only competitor he had a somewhat positive take on was Benoit Hamon, one of the Socialists he will compete against in the primaries in coming weeks.

    "He's the only one who seems sincere," Fillon said.

    He said, however, that "everything will be decided in the final month".

    "You all saw that when I won the primaries no one had given me the lead. Everything changed in the final week. It will be the same way with the presidential race," he said.

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