Controversy continued to grow today over remarks made in a newspaper interview by former U.S. Ambassador to France Evan G. Galbraith while he was still in France last week.
The interview, which included a bleak assessment of the electoral chances of President Francois Mitterrand's ruling Socialist Party, appeared today in Le Figaro, a right-wing newspaper. "I don't know any more than the polls. It is clear that the opposition is going to win," he said. "I have no reason to believe that the polls are wrong."
He also said that the Americans had been pleased when the communists left Mitterrand's socialist government a year ago. "For us," he was quoted as saying, "they are sort of illegal and should not even participate in the legislative process."
The French foreign ministry today called in the U.S. charge d'affaires, John J. Maresca, to protest. Maresca is in charge until Galbraith's successor arrives in a few days.
A French Foreign Ministry statement described the former ambassador's remarks to Le Figaro on internal French politics as "unacceptable." It marked the fourth time in under four years that the French government has protested about Galbraith.
Galbraith, 57, a staunch conservative with close ties to the Reagan administration, has also stirred controversy in the United States by calling for major reforms in the foreign service and the nomination of more political envoys like himself. He left his post in Paris on Monday to return to the United States.
During his four-year appointment in France, Galbraith frequently commented on topical political issues in a series of speeches, newspaper interviews and radio discussions. He clashed sharply on several occasions with the Communist Party, which served as a junior partner in President Mitterrand's socialist-led coalition until July last year.