Although foreign policy played little part in France's presidential election, the newly elected president Nicholas Sarkozy has already announced a major change of course on a number of key issues.
The first change concerns relations with the United States. In his first speech after victory, Sarkozy said that the first message he wished to send was addressed to the United States.
"We are on your side," he said, indicating that France would abandon Jacques Chirac's policy of scoring points against the US whenever possible. "Our recent separation was tragic," Sarkozy added, recalling Chirac's campaign to prevent the liberation of Iraq in 2003.
By all accounts, Sarkozy is the most pro-American president that France has had under its Fifth Republic that started in 1958.
This may be partly due to Sarkozy's Hungarian origins. Like most East and Central Europeans, Sarkozy is keenly aware of the role that the US played first in defeating Nazi Germany, and then in containing and ultimately bringing down the Soviet Union.
Gone are the days when Chirac would huddle with Germany's Gerhard Schroeder and Russia's Vladimir Putin to plot their latest anti-American shenanigans.
The second change that Sarkozy is expected to make is the clarification of France's place in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato).
France was one of the founding members of Nato in 1948 and accounted for its second largest army until 1966. At that date, however, France, under president Charles de Gaulle, announced its withdrawal from the military wing of the alliance and ordered the closure of Nato bases on French territory.
After the fall of the Soviet Union, France tried to improve ties with Nato and played a more active part in the alliance's various peacekeeping operations. However, some ambiguities remained. Sarkozy is expected to end these and make France a full and active member of the alliance.
Closer ties with Nato may not translate in reversing Chirac's decision to stay out of the Iraq war. However, it could mean a greater role for France in training the new Iraqi police and army based on quotas already set by Nato.
Sarkozy's hopes to forging closer ties with the US and Nato are partly reflected in his pledge not to allow the French annual defence expenditure to fall below two per cent of the gross domestic product.
This would still fall far short of what Washington regards as the minimum necessary for Nato allies at a time of global war on terrorism. However, it would have the merit of reversing almost two decades of steady reduction in France's military budgets.
With the return of economic growth, Sarkozy hopes that the actual sums spent on the military would be significantly higher in the next five years.
The third change that Sarkozy has set in motion concerns Europe.
Moments after he was declares the winner, Sarkozy abandoned Chirac's illusion of reviving the proposed European Union constitution that was rejected by the French in a referendum two years ago.
Adopting Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair's position, Sarkozy says the EU does not need a constitution. All it needs is a new treaty streamlining the existing one and sorting out some ambiguities.
This change of position by France means an effective end to attempts at pushing the EU towards even greater political integration. Sarkozy has also served notice that he wants a review of the rules under which the European Central Bank operates.
Sarkozy sees the strength of the euro, which makes European exports more costly, as one of the reasons why France and other euro zone countries are unable to create as many jobs as the United States or the United Kingdom.
Sarkozy has dropped another key aspect of Chirac's European policy. He is calling for a halt to further expansion, starting with a suspension of the process regarding Turkey's membership application.
The fourth foreign policy change that Sarkozy is seeking concerns the Middle East. In his first speech after election, he singled out the Islamic Republic in Iran, Syria and Libya by warning them that they could no longer play the game of setting the Europeans against the Americans.
It was interesting that the first foreign leader Sarkozy met after his election was Sa'ad Hariri, leader of the majority in the Lebanese parliament. He assured Hariri of France's continued support for an international tribunal to bring to justice the perpetrators of the murder of his father and former prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.
Sarkozy has significantly toughened France's position on the Iranian nuclear issue. On a number of occasions, Chirac had hinted that France might be prepared to live with a nuclear-armed Iran.
Sarkozy, however, states openly that such an outcome would not be acceptable and that whatever is needed should be done to prevent Iran from building a nuclear arsenal.
The fifth change that Sarkozy envisages concerns France's complex and controversial relations with Africa. At least a dozen black African regimes depend on French military and security protection for survival.
The French foreign aid package to Africa has been a source of widespread corruption both in the black continent and in France itself for almost half a century.
Sarkozy hopes to change that by channeling the bulk of France's aid through international institutions. He is also expected to withdraw thousands of French troops stationed in Africa on often controversial missions.
Finally, Sarkozy proposes the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean zone of peace and prosperity. This may take the form of a common market in which the nations of the eastern Mediterranean will be granted most of the economic advantages of EU membership.
By attaching North Africa and the Middle East, as well as Turkey, to the EU a new economic bloc could emerge in which massive southward investment could in time slow down if not completely halt the current northward immigration trends.
Iranian author Amir Taheri is based in Europe.