Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, January 3, 2007)

[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]


SHARM EL-SHEIKH AIR DISASTER

On January 3, 2004 a Boeing 737 belonging to the Egyptian carrier Flash Airlines crashed off Sharm el-Sheikh killing 148 people, 134 of them French tourists.

This afternoon, an association of victims’ families holds a private memorial ceremony at Père Lachaise cemetery. A memorial commissioned by the association will be inaugurated at this time, with representatives of the Foreign Ministry attending.

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy shares in the remembrance of the victims of the disaster and is with their families and friends in thought.

May I remind you that a ceremony was held on May 10, 2006 for the inauguration of a memorial at Sharm el-Sheikh, which was attended by Dominique Perben, Minister for Transport, Capital Works, Tourism and Marine Affairs, and families of the disaster victims.

GUANTANAMO BAY

Q - What was the Quai d’Orsay’s response to the recommendation of the advisory committee on national defense secrecy ( CCSDN) to declassify all or some of the documents pertaining to the French prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay?

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs accepted the recommendation of the CCSDN.

Q - Can you tell us more about what the declassified documents contained?

I invite you to refer to the opinion of the Commission published in the Journal officiel of December 29, to which I’ve nothing to add.

SPAIN

Q - Do you approve of the Spanish government’s decision to end the peace process with ETA after the attack in Madrid?

As you know, during a telephone conversation yesterday with the head of the Spanish government, José Luis Rodriquez Zapatero, President Chirac reaffirmed France’s solidarity with Spain and the government’s resolve to cooperate fully with the Spanish authorities in the fight against terrorism.

On December 30 Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy condemned the attack at Madrid airport and said that France stood side by side with Spain.

The Spanish government’s decision to end a process begun with ETA is a matter of internal policy and a sovereign assessment by the Spanish authorities. It does not therefore call for comment on our part.

DEATH PENALTY

Q - Italy has begun diplomatic efforts at the UN to get a world moratorium on the death penalty. Is France taking part in the Italian initiative through concrete actions? Are there particular efforts to persuade the Arab countries to accede to the 1989 protocol aiming at the abolition of the death penalty?

France fully supports the Italian initiative which resulted in 85 countries signing a statement, in the context of the 61st General Assembly, calling for the abolition of the death penalty and in countries where it still exists for a moratorium on executions.

In general, France’s position is to work for the universal abolition of the death penalty, in close consultation with its European partners, in all the relevant international forums. France has also pleaded for capital punishment to be barred from the penalties provided for by international tribunals.

In addition, in accordance with commitments made by the president of the Republic, a revision of the Constitution is envisioned to ban the death penalty in all circumstances and irreversibly, thereby permitting France to accede to the second optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted in New York on December 15, 1989. We would like to see this protocol adopted by as many countries as possible along with other international instruments banning the death penalty.

Lastly the Third World Congress Against the Death Penalty, organized by NGOs under the high patronage of the president of the Republic, will be held in Paris on February 1-3. It is due to focus in particular on the situation in the Arab countries.

IRAQ

Q - Does France plan any demarche vis-à-vis the Iraqi or other authorities before the execution of the two co-defendants in Saddam Hussein’s trial?

The European Union takes every opportunity to make its position on the death penalty known to the Iraqi authorities./.

Embassy of France, January 3, 2007