Hollande salutes French who stay amid tax debate

By the Associated Press | December 17, 2012 | 1:33 PM EST

FILE - In this Dec.1, 2010 file photo, French actor Gerard Depardieu gestures as he arrives for the Premiere of the movie "Small World" in Berlin, Germany. Actor Gerard Depardieu has been branded “pathetic” by the French prime minister, who accuses the star of setting up residence in neighboring Belgium to avoid paying high taxes in France. Depardieu _ star of more than 100 films, including “Green Card” and “Cyrano de Bergerac” _ is just the latest high-profile figure French media are accusing of dodging of the Socialist government’s 75-percent income tax on the richest (AP Photo/Gero Breloer, File)

PARIS (AP) — French President Francois Hollande is saluting entrepreneurs who set up businesses in the country amid a fierce debate about whether high taxes are leading wealthy French to leave.

Hollande's plans to raise a slew of new taxes, including a 75 percent bracket for revenue over €1 million, have raised grumbles.

The debate intensified when actor Gerard Depardieu announced he had moved to tax-friendly Belgium and would renounce his French citizenship.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault called the move "pathetic," but Hollande wouldn't cast aspersions.

Instead, in a speech Monday, he said: "I want to salute the values of those who no doubt have lots but agree to pay their taxes in France, to produce in France, to create jobs in France, to serve their country."