- Created on Wednesday, 07 March 2012 18:29
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France has too many foreigners and is not integrating them properly, President Nicolas Sarkozy said in an interview on French television.
"Today we have a problem," Sarkozy said Tuesday night on France 2 TV.
"Our system of integration is working worse and worse, because we have too many foreigners on our territory and we can no longer manage to find them accommodation, a job, a school," he said.
France places a premium on national identity, pressing the population to put "Frenchness" before religion or national background.
Sarkozy is running for a second term in office, with voting set for April 22. He faces a strong challenge from Francois Hollande of the Socialist party and a range of candidates from smaller parties, including the far-right Marine Le Pen.
Sarkozy, a conservative, offered cautious praise for Hollande, but said he could not imagine his rival as president.
"Francois Hollande is an intelligent man," Sarkozy said. "I do not have a problem with him. The only thing is he has never held office at the state level. Honestly, can you imagine Francois Hollande as president of France? Imagine it!"
He said peace in the Middle East would be a top priority for him if he were re-elected.
"I hope that France -- and all of Europe -- we would take an initiative for the year 2012 to be the year of peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he said.
And he said if he won a second term he would "celebrate with those I love -- my wife and daughter."