Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
(excerpts)

(Paris, January 4, 2007)

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


EUROPEAN UNION

European Affairs Minister Delegate Catherine Colonna will meet with the press this coming Monday, January 8, at the Quai d’Orsay to mark the launch of “Clé de l’Europe.”

With just a few clicks, “Clé de l’Europe” will give you access to the main information on European integration and its achievements.

It is an easy-to-use tool: a system of key-words is used for fast searches. The complete content is divided into three sections:

- the first provides answers to frequently asked questions and comments about Europe. For example: What does a European commissioner do? Enlargement costs far too much. What does Europe do for day-to-day living? For the environment?

- the second describes European integration and its actions: the main stages, the states that make up the European Union; the objectives it is seeking, its values and symbols, the principles governing its action, its institutions, resources, methods of functioning and the main issues facing it today. This part also deals with specific action, that is, the policies it implements: food security, research, education, health, agriculture, the economic and social development of regions, etc. This represents about 250 pages of text plus visual images;

- the third reproduces the original treaty documents, the 1957 Rome Treaty, and the treaty currently in force, the Treaty on European Union.

“Clé de l’Europe” has been put on USB keys (512 Mo) for Ms Colonna’s presentation of her New Year’s wishes. It will be accessible in a few days on the “touteleurope.fr” website where it can also be downloaded.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH ABROAD

The advisory commission on archaeological research abroad met in Paris from December 14 to 20, 2006, to study Foreign Ministry support to French archaeological exploration around the world in 2007.

One hundred and sixty missions in 60 countries, from Central America to Laos to the Arabian peninsula, are receiving grants paid to directors whose proposals are evaluated and endorsed by this body.

(…)

Grants awarded for French archaeological digs abroad will total 2.8 million euros in 2007. Out of 180 grant proposals, 160 were selected for five new missions. Particular support goes to archaeological missions which French researchers will be developing in Central America, Mexico and Peru in close partnership with local scientific authorities.

SOMALIA

Q - Is France planning to deploy warships off Somalia like the US?

France has been, since 2002, part of Task Force 150, which is a group of vessels from several states operating in that part of the world. The mission of the task force is to patrol the airspace and waterways, prevent terrorists from moving to the Arabian peninsula or the Horn of Africa, stop smuggling and provide security for transport.

France has assets permanently deployed with the force.

I’ve not been informed of changes to the force since the recent events in Somalia. I suggest you contact the Defense Ministry for the operational aspects.

IRAQ

Q - Is France joining in Louise Arbour’s appeal not to execute Saddam Hussein’s two co-defendants? Do you think, as Ms Arbour does, that the trial was marred by irregularities?

Like Ms Arbour and its European partners, France is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and has made this known many times over.

With regard to the two cases you mention, consultations have been started with the other members of the European Union to define a common approach to the Iraqi authorities.

(…)

ARCHIVES

Q - When is the French Parliament going to ratify the protocol on the Bad Arolsen archives? Has a date been set?

France has supported all along the recommendations of the international community to open up the Bad Arolsen archives quickly to researchers. So it welcomed the signature in Berlin on July 26 of the protocol amending the Bonn agreement of June 6, 1955.

Following the signature, ratification procedures were begun by the states concerned.

In France’s case, the government has begun the procedure for a bill authorizing ratification of the protocol to be submitted. We’d like to see ratification come as soon as possible./.

Embassy of France, January 4, 2007