Paris, July 24, 2014
Q. – In the past few days the United States, and also our British neighbours, have been pointing the finger at France for the sale of the two Mistral helicopter carriers to Russia. The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, even admonished you by saying that it would be unthinkable in the UK. What’s your reply to him?
THE MINISTER – I politely told him that it would, for example, be unthinkable in France for France to attack another country, by saying there are weapons of mass destruction when there aren’t. That would be unthinkable in France.
Q. – A reference to Iraq?
THE MINISTER – You’ve understood me. What I want to say is that the British are our friends and we’ve had very good relations with them for a long time, but even so, things must be put on the table. As far as the Mistral contracts are concerned, they were signed in 2011.
Q. – Under Nicolas Sarkozy.
THE MINISTER – Yes. Not this government, but it doesn’t much matter. The rule is that signed and paid contracts are honoured. There must of course be additional pressure on Russia, this was talked about, but everyone has to do their bit. This is why we may, for example, ask questions about the fact that there are so many Russian oligarchs in London, just as your journalist colleagues published yesterday, I believe, a list saying that the British today still had 250 arms export licences vis-à-vis Russia. I haven’t checked.
Q. – The list was from a British parliamentary report published yesterday…
THE MINISTER – Yes. I didn’t check it but I think it’s absolutely correct. I think this will have to be looked at calmly, all the countries of Europe, without getting into any kind of internal “squabble”, must do the maximum to exert pressure so that, here too, there’s an end to the conflict. (…)./.