Briefly: Europe

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Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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GENEVA — A Swiss newspaper has published what it says is a confidential report in which the Swiss air force recommended buying French or European fighter jets to replace its aging fleet - not the Swedish fighters later chosen by politicians.

The report posted online Sunday by the Zurich weekly newspaper SonntagsZeitung said air force tests in 2008 showed that Rafale fighters, made by French company Dassault Aviation, or Eurofighters built by a European consortium, were the best overall performers.

The Swiss Cabinet acknowledged cost was a factor in its November decision to order 22 Gripen fighters from Sweden’s Saab AB to replace the air force’s Northrop F-5 Tigers.

There was no immediate government comment Sunday.

Swiss lawmakers have yet to approve the deal.

FRANCE

Statue of Carla Bruni as a worker angers French

PARIS — A French mayor’s plan to erect a statue of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ex-supermodel wife Carla Bruni in worker’s attire has angered the opposition and embarrassed the first lady.

Jacques Martin, mayor of Nogent-sur-Marne and a member of Mr. Sarkozy’s UMP party, commissioned the statue to honor the mostly Italian immigrant women who used to work at a feather factory in the town.

But when French daily Le Parisien on Sunday revealed the plan for the statue more than 6 1/2 feet tall, at a cost of $108,000, the opposition and even the first lady’s friends were up in arms.

A source close to Mrs. Bruni-Sarkozy said she agreed to model for sculptor Elisabeth Cibot as she admires her work, but that “it was never suggested that her name would appear.”

Modelling “is her former job, she no longer does it commercially, but she’s often asked to do it, and she often agrees, and always without being paid,” the source said.

The swiftly gathering scandal “is using something that has nothing to do with politics to political ends,” one of her friends said, requesting anonymity.

William Geib of the Socialist opposition said the idea of dressing up a likeness of the Italian heiress and pop singer as a worker is “grotesque.”

“It’s an insult to the Italian feather workers, to give them the face of an extremely rich person. I have nothing against Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, but she does not represent the workers’ world.”

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