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Last Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007, 10:19 GMT 11:19 UK
France Versus the World
First broadcast April 2007

Child with a French flag, and a map of Africa in the background.

The French maintain that they - their culture, their social model and their foreign policy - are exceptional. But for how much longer?

In this four-part series, Lucy Ash takes a forensic look at the position France occupies on the world stage, how it defines citizenship and the way globalisation is threatening to undermine its cultural heritage.

Part One: France on the world stage

France prides itself on punching above its weight when it comes to international affairs. Take its stance, on the Iraq war, for example. And for decades, it has exercised a distinct influence over the continent of Africa.

But, in a recent controversial speech in Mali, conservative presidential contender Nicholas Sarkozy said that French foreign policy of the last 20 years was "wrong". There are growing calls for France's secretive Africa policy to change. In a slap in the face to France, Rwanda's President recently announced his desire for his country to join the British Commonwealth.

But does France still have something unique and different to offer on the world stage? "There is no God in France's foreign policy, unlike in America" is the view several French people shared with Lucy Ash.

As the President Chirac's era comes to an end, can France maintain its position as a world player?

Series Producer: John Murphy

See also:

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