(Adds Hollande's comments on Paris agreement on climate change)
PARIS Dec 31 French President Francois Hollande
on Saturday warned against the risks of rising nationalism in
his last New Year address ahead of the election of his successor
Hollande, who said this month he would not seek a second
term in 2017, defended his legacy as president and addressed the
policies of the anti-immigration and anti-euro National Front,
whose leader Marine Le Pen is set to make it to the second round
of the election, if recent polls are correct.
"There are periods in history when everything may change
dramatically. We're in one of them," Hollande said an address
that was broadcast on French television.
"How can we imagine our country being curled up behind
walls, reduced to its internal market, going back to its
national currency and, on top of that, discriminating between
its own children according to their origins?" he said.
Hollande, who did not directly name the FN, mentioned
British voters' decision in June to leave the European Union,
and the U.S. presidential election won by Donald Trump in
November, as events that demonstrated that democracy, freedom
and peace were "vulnerable and reversible".
He also warned against the calling into question of the 2015
Paris agreement on climate change.
"France will not let anybody or any state, be it the biggest
one, call into question this major achievement of the
international community," Hollande said.
U.S. President-elect Trump has called global warming a hoax
and has promised to quit the Paris Agreement, which was strongly
supported by outgoing Democratic President Barack Obama.
Hollande's comments on Brexit in particular echoed those
made earlier on Saturday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Merkel, seeking a fourth term as chancellor in 2017,
described 2016 as a year that gave many the impression that the
world had "turned upside down".
In her address, she compared Brexit to a "deep incision" and
said that even though the EU was "slow and arduous", its member
states should focus on common interests that transcend national
In a statement following Hollande's address, Le Pen brushed
off his criticism.
"Talking of isolation for a project that, on the contrary,
takes part in the flow of history, after Brexit and Donald
Trump's election ... is a clear misunderstanding of the world's
evolution and peoples' deep aspirations," Le Pen said.
(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Emmanuel Jarry; Editing by
Kevin Liffey and Diane Craft)