Following is a transcript of an exclusive CNBC interview with Marine Le Pen, President of the Front National, by Stéphane Pedrazzi, CNBC Paris correspondent. The interview aired on CNBC Europe at 0600hrs on Wednesday 29th April. It is translated from the original French.
Stéphane Pedrazzi (SP): Is it realistic to exit the Eurozone? How do you think the international bond market would respond to France leaving the Eurozone?
Marine Le Pen (MLP): Do you think it's realistic for France to remain in the euro zone, given the euro zone's results over the last 15 years in terms of unemployment, poverty, deindustrialisation, unfair international competition, loss of competitiveness. I think financial markets only look after their own interests. I'm here to defend the interests of the people, and furthermore, a country that works, that has growth, that creates wealth and employment. It is the best guarantee for the market to be refunded, for the loans that France has made.
SP: Do you think that France would still be able to borrow on the bond markets?
MLP: I think we have to go back to a vision of economic sovereignty and in the context of this vision of economic sovereignty; the Bank of France needs to be re-established in its prerogatives. The public sector must finance the public sector and the private sector must finance the private sector as was the case in the years prior to the 1970s.
SP: Given its reluctance to negotiate with Europe, do you think it would be in the interests of its members for Greece to exit the Eurozone?
MLP: I think that Greece, by stating that it will not quit the Euro, in reality, is making promises that it cannot keep. For the simple reason that the Euro and austerity are undeniably linked. It's either both or neither one or the other. Yet it is clear, today, the EU is showing its real face. The face of the Euro dictatorship. It mocks the popular wish expressed in the Greek elections and it seeks to impose a policy of austerity which the Greek people no longer want. And confronted with the choice, who will win? Democracy or Euro-Dictatorship? It's up to the Greek government to take up its responsibilities.
SP: There's a sentiment in the business community that France lives in its own bubble. One of your policies is to be even more protectionist. Don't you think that it would take France even deeper into its bubble?
MLP: Isn't it incredible that 95% of countries apply protectionism and that it is they who are wrong and we who are right, when, clearly, ultra-liberalism, total free trade has resulted in dramatic results at the economic level. We have no more factories. Our unemployment rate has never been so high for decades. Our youth is migrating because they don't even see the possibility of getting work. Entire sectors of the economy have fallen one after the other. The garment industry, the shoe industry, the jewellery industry, domestic goods, the watch industry. We have seen what total free trade results in. Disaster. Of course, intelligent protectionism is necessary. It is what Canada, it is what the USA are doing. It is what Brazil and China are doing.
SP: Globally speaking, President Hollande thinks that your economic programme looks like a flyer of the Communist Party, from the 70s...
MLP: This comment does not befit a President of the Republic. It has no meaning. We have a radically different programme from that of the Communist Party. And I remind you that it is an internationalist party and it considers that the nation is an adversary, that borders should not exist. We ourselves have a completely different approach. We are for economic patriotism, and by patriotism, we mean border controls, control also of our economy and intelligent protectionism.
SP: You said recently that Vladimir Putin should be a "partner of Europe" and that you "share some common values" with him. Do you, therefore, agree with the Russian annexation of Crimea?
MLP: I believe that the annexation of Crimea was the direct result of major errors committed by the EU. The EU contributed to create the crisis in Crimea. The EU participated in legitimising a Putsch which allowed the inhabitants of Crimea to make the choice to rejoin Russia, because Crimea is Russian, as everyone knows. One should not see it differently. I believe that the European Union did not acknowledge its mistake in this Crimean affair and it's time to come to terms with this assessment before committing even further mistakes.
SP: Do you think it was appropriate, at a time Europe is on a hard line with Vladimir Putin, to get a credit line of 9.5 million euros from a Russian bank (First Czech Russian Bank, FCRB)?
MLP: First of all, it's not Europe, it's the European Union. In case you haven't noticed, I am a ferocious opponent of the European Union, so I'm not held to the choices that have been made, which go completely against the interests of France. The fact is, we're forced to take a loan from those who accepted to give us this loan, because no French bank wanted to give us a loan and no European bank either wanted to do so. If you know of a bank that would be ready to give us this loan, we would be happy to sign it tomorrow morning.
SP: The attack of Charlie Hebdo is an awful example of radicalism. Is that a crisis of France? Or a broader crisis of Islam?
MLP: It is neither one nor the other, and it is both. That's it. The reality is that Islam is facing a phenomenal rise with regards to fundamentalism. It cannot control it, but what is sure is that neither can European states control and monitor the development of fundamentalist networks in their own territory. We must implement what falls under our responsibility, such as protecting our people against this rise of fundamentalism, yet today nothing has been done and it is particularly apparent in France, apart from an Internet site, stopjihadism.gov.fr, we have not seen anything at all which could be the start of a response.
SP: Hundreds of thousands of people are currently fleeing North Africa to join the European continent. What do you think is driving this?
MLP: Quite clearly, it's the destabilisation of Libya, so it's the responsibility of Nicolas Sarkozy, and partly Great Britain and the US, which pushed for military intervention and it was clearly very obvious, because I said so, that it would lead to the occupation of Libya by the Islamic fundamentalists, leading to chaos and guerrilla warfare with no control. This lead to a network of human traffickers making fortunes, on the back of poor souls, by placing them on makeshift rafts , and quite often resulting in death.
SP: Is the only solution to shut down the borders?
MLP: It is not the only solution, but it's an unavoidable solution. If we accept the ships arriving on the coast of Europe, we create an incredible movement of incentive for the thousands of immigrants who, too, seek to come to Europe. So we need to stop the ships and return them to their port of origin and we must, in parallel, apply a dissuasive immigration policy. Which means cutting everything that make our countries attractive to immigration, the package of social welfare, free health care, free schools, while we ourselves have more poor people than we are capable of handling.
SP: Don't you think that another solution would be also to address the problem in their country of origin, to stabilize them?
MLP: I was the only person among European politicians to say "You're making an enormous mistake, you will destabilize the whole region over which you will have no control." We have destabilized these countries. I'm happy for us to go back to them and re-stabilize them, but it has nevertheless got to be possible. But I do not think it is possible to do so in view of the forces that are present. So the error that was made by our leaders, we are paying for it, very heavily, and I fear that it's only the beginning.
SP: We would need more financial resources to ensure our security and protect our borders. Who has to pay for it?
MLP: I do not have the slightest bit of confidence in the European Union to protect the borders of the European Union. I think that each country must protect its own borders and that is why I'm simply asking for the abolition of Schengen. Why would the European Union prevent immigrants from coming as for many years, it's been telling us that in the future, we must accept from 50 to 150 million extra migrants? That is obvious to me.
SP: There was a perception that you positively changed the image of the Front National. Still, there is a suspicion that it is still the same FN with better PR?
MLP: You know, the demonization is an injustice that was expressed against us. It is a weapon of our political opponents. Therefore, over the last few years we've tried to present ourselves and who we are, and French people considered that we would defend their hopes, show good sense, and that's why we have such high dynamics. I have nothing to hide and I call upon those who are scared by the National Front, to look up the National Front's manifesto. It's quite easy on the internet. And they will realise that we are far away from the stereotyping and the image that is given by those that we are threatening, because they are losing votes and we are winning them.
SP: Should your father be expelled from the FN be a good thing for the Front National?
MLP: I don't think there is a link. French people today are aware that I am the leader of the National Front and that Jean-Marie Le Pen is himself and that I am me. But, what is sure, is that he, as the Honorary President of the Front National, which is an honorary title, sometimes his comments commit the Front National. And it is at that point that the Executive Committee must bring a solution because the National Front cannot be the hostage of personal comments that sometimes have nothing to do with the national programme of the Front National.
SP: Do you think that Jean Marie Le Pen is a racist?
MLP: If I believed that, I would not be involved in his movement. No. I know that he's not a racist, but once again, sometimes he makes comments that are unacceptable. I said clearly that they don't reflect our political project. It's quite recent. Sometimes I do not recognise him in the comments that he makes. These are considerations which must not be taken into account. Do his words commit the Front National? And if it does, we must ensure that it's no longer the case.
SP: Are you a racist, Marine Le Pen ?
MLP: I do not have the slightest bit of racism in me. I do not judge people with regards to the colour of their skin, their origin or their religion. I defend them all, because I defend French people. And, of course, I defend the interests of France, the interests of French people. But again, whoever they may be. I do not have this type of consideration, it's the reason why I'm also fighting against political discrimination. I fight for meritocracy, because I believe we must not judge people by these criteria.
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