French President Georges Pompidou made his first official visit to the provinces of France in over a year on Thursday (25 January).
French President Georges Pompidou made his first official visit to the provinces of France in over a year on Thursday (25 January). He spent the day in the ancient city of Poitiers, which is the capital of the Poitou-Charentes region.
Mr. Pompidou's health has been deteriorating over the last year and he has drastically reduced his travel schedule. The President delivered a vigorous, thirty-minute speech at Poitiers but he appeared to tire as the speech neared its end.
In his speech, the President said he considered the industrialised nations, with the exception of France, were short-sighted in their policies towards underdeveloped countries. The resulting technological gap must provoke a crisis of the kind that had occurred. He said the poor countries had suffered from inadequate income from oil because of the low prices set by petroleum companies that, in the end benefited only industrialised countries.
Nevertheless, M. Pompidou said he thought the oil producers had gone too far with their price increases. They were excessive as far as the rate of increase was concerned.
The President called for national unity and said the French State Planning Commission was drafting a special plan of action to deal with the economic, financial, and social problems France would face in the next three years because of the higher oil import prices.
In the course of his visit, M. Pompidou attended the first session of the new regional assembly of Poitou-Charente. The region is one of 22 established under now legislation passed last year. It decentralises the power of the Franch government in Paris by increasing the responsibilities and financing of local districts.
SYNOPSIS: The President arrived in his private Caravelle car. His entourage included five cabinet ministers and ten members of his staff. The group was greeted by large and enthusiastic crowds that lined the streets beneath dozens of French flags. President Pompidou has done little travelling in the last year because of poor health.
He briefly acknowledged the guard of honour and seemed to prefer to spend the bulk of the time outside circulating slowly through the crowd. With him was M. Vertadier, who, besides being the State Secretary for France, is also the Mayor of Poitiers. M. Pompidou paid homage at the war memorial before leaving the town square.
The President entered the Town Hall and attended the first working session of the regional assembly of Poitou-Charente. It is one of twenty-two regions established last year by the Pompidou Government.