François Fillon, the former conservative prime minister under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy, wrote in the right-wing Le Figaro newspaper: "[Sarkozy] took risks, sought to renew a foreign policy too often synonymous with immobility and pretence; [Hollande] is only concerned with his 'normalness' and prefers by far his image to seeking results.”
Fillon also blasted the president for his inactivity with respect to Iran’s nuclear program and his handling of the mounting crisis in Syria. Sarkozy himself ended his silence on the new administration recently by demanding that Hollande take decisive action against President Bashar al-Assad, including possible military intervention by French troops, and compared such a measure to the campaign in Libya that eventually brought the downfall of Moammar Gadhafi.
Sarkozy, who had met with Syrian opposition leader Abdulbaset Sieda last week, said in a statement that he endorsed “the need for rapid action by the international community to avoid massacres [in Syria].”
French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy, who encouraged Sarkozy to agitate for military intervention in Libya, also attacked Hollande.
"We need [British Prime Minister David] Cameron and Hollande to overturn this wariness and cowardice and prevent an impending massacre. What is looming in Aleppo will be a disgrace, which, if we do nothing, will be on our consciences for a long time," he told Reuters.
In his editorial in Le Figaro, Fillon did not promote a military adventure in Syria but strongly suggested Hollande find a way to resolve the crisis by negotiating with Russia.
"[Hollande] must take risks and abandon his bourgeois and Cold War-style ... posturing. He must speak to Russia," Fillon wrote.
“If I were Francois Hollande, I would take the plane to Moscow now, if possible with Angela Merkel, and I would look to offer Russia real guarantees about its security and a trusting relationship with NATO, which must include the issue of missile defense that the Russians must be really involved.”
Hollande responded to the attacks from Fillon, Sarkozy and other members of the right-wing Union for the Popular Movement Party, or UMP, by insisting he is working to resolve the Syrian imbroglio.
Fillon is the favorite to become the new leader of UMP and the likely presidential candidate for the next election; he is possibly placing himself as a viable (and more aggressive) alternative to Hollande.