PARIS, May 4. /TASS/. The French presidential candidates, founder of the En Marche! movement Emmanuel Macron and leader of the National Front party Marine Le Pen, failed to agree on any issue during a televised debate on Wednesday night.
Future of euro currency
At the beginning of the debate, Le Pen said that "Macron’s election would result in social conflicts while France would be sold piece by piece to foreign capital."
The two presidential candidates expressed different views on relationships system in the European Union, particularly mentioning the euro zone. "We need to return to our national currency, the franc," Le Pen said. "If elected president, I plan to initiate talks on liberating France from the euro and bringing the franc back for domestic use, while the euro could be used internationally."
"The euro is crucial for the European Union and vital for the French people," Macron stressed.
In his opinion, companies would not be able to use the franc to pay their personnel and the euro for external payments.
Fight against terrorism
When speaking on the fight against terrorism, the National Front leader said that terrorism was one of the main threats that France was facing.
Le Pen added that if she won the presidential election, she would immediately tackle this issue.
"We need to restore our borders, and I will do it straight away if I get elected. After that, all those who have ties with Islamists on their police record, will be expelled from the country," she said.
Macron also admitted that the most dangerous criminals could be expelled but he opposed Le Pen’s proposal concerning mass deportations. He mentioned a plan to reform intelligence services aiming at improving their activities in cyberspace taking into account the fact that "terrorists are mainly active on the internet."
He also intends to set up "a special presidential unit" to monitor the fight against terrorism. "
Closing borders will not help," he added. "There are countries in the world <…> who control their borders but terrorists attacks happen there, too."
Relations with great powers
Macron said that "the global situation has been deteriorating, so cooperation with other countries in the war on terror will be a priority."
"I will address Mr. Trump saying that we need to continue working with the United States who is our partner as far as intelligence activities go, and a partner in the United Nations Security Council," he added.
Macron stressed that Paris was interested in maintaining close partnership with Washington. "We need them and I want us to continue this work, as we have been together since World War II," he said. "We need this close cooperation to ensure our security."
At the same time, Macron noted that if he got elected, he would try to pursue the foreign policy course outlined in 1958 by Charles de Gaulle, founder of the Fifth Republic:
"This means France’s independence, I want to see France strong ad capable of implementing reforms, a reliable country that has a strong position in Europe," he said.
Macron said that he was ready to work with Russia in order to solve "a number of regional issues."
"As for Mr. Putin, he has a place at the negotiating table in connection with a number of issues including the Ukrainian conflict, where tensions need to be eased but he should keep to the current process, and the Syrian crisis, where he is part of the decision-making process, but in no way will I yield to Mr. Putin’s will," he said.
Macron also said that as far as the Syrian issue was concerned, he wanted to make "the fight against the Islamic terrorism, which ravages the region" a priority.
"Apart from that, I want to facilitate a political solution that would involve all parties. So, he [Putin] will be a working partner for solving some regional issues, with whom I will have discussions but I will keep in mind that on many issues we have different views, as we also have different values and priorities," the presidential candidate concluded.
Building strategic partnership with Russia is in France’s interest, Le Pen said in turn: "I believe, we should remain equidistant from both Russia and the United States."
"We have no reasons to wage a Cold War against Russia while we have all the reasons to build diplomatic, trade and strategic relations with Russia because it is a great nation which has never shown enmity towards France," she added.
The audience's response
The presidential debate audience found presidential nominee for the En Marche! movement Emmanuel Macron more convincing than National Front candidate Marine Le Pen, BFM-TV said citing an Elabe poll conducted shortly after the final televised debate between the candidates.
According to the survey’s results, 63% of the viewers said that Macron had performed better than Le Pen during the debate, while 34% of those polled believe that Le Pen did better. As many as 3% found it difficult to answer the question. When asked which of the two candidates was actually capable of changing the situation in the country, 53% mentioned Macron while 44% said it was Le Pen.
The poll involved 1,314 viewers.
When commenting on the debate, the National Front leader said that "Emmanuel Macro was aggressive, constantly attacking." Macron, in turn, told reporters that during the debate he had tried to clarify his program. "I made my ideas perfectly clear. I said what I was going to do (if elected president)," he said.
The first round of the French presidential election took place on April 23. According to the results approved by the Constitutional Court, former Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron garnered 24.01% of the vote while leader of the National Front party Marine Le Pen was in second place after receiving 21.30%. The second round of the presidential election is scheduled to be held on May 7. The final debate between the presidential candidates lasted two hours and 30 minutes.