President Sarkozy says: ‘I do listen but I don’t consider’

January 22, 2009 Updated: January 22, 2009

PARIS—While arguing for his reform of the French army on Jan. 20, President Nicolas Sarkozy commented on the “backward” attitude of those opposing the reform.

“They are wrong,” stated Sarkozy in front of the media in the city of Sourdun, East of Paris. “As soon as I try to change something, all the backward forces get together to block it. I was prepared for this. I do listen, but I don't consider [what they say],” he said.

In July 2008, the French government announced that it would close 83 military sites on 471, part of an effort to build better efficiency of the French army and reduce operating costs. Empty military buildings will either be used for lodging—especially for students—or to house administrative entities that don’t need to be in Paris.

Local mayors argue that the departure of military regiments will impact local economies, and that the government does not provide enough help to support employment initiatives. “This has to be based on the quality of the projects,” Sarkozy said in response, “not on their total weight.”

“I’m here to make things change,” said the French President. “I'm not here to comment on problems, but to try to solve them,” he concluded.