Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, July 4, 2007)

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


I will read the statement made this morning by Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner:

“I am delighted by the release of the BBC journalist, Alan Johnston, after 113 days of captivity in the Gaza Strip, who is at last going to be able to return to his family and friends.

“All journalists must be able to do their jobs freely and safe from any threat.

“This favorable outcome must encourage all the parties to commit to creating a favorable climate conducive to the resumption of the peace negotiations which I so much want to see.”


Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner will be going to Geneva and Slovenia on July 5 and 6, 2007.

The minister’s visit to the UN in Geneva will reaffirm the importance that France gives to handling the major international questions on a multilateral basis.

The minister will have talks with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the heads of the six UN organizations:

-Kemal Dervis, director-general, United Nations Development Program;

-Juan Somavia, director-general, International Labor Organization;

-Louise Arbour, UN high commissioner for human rights;

-Antonio Guterres, UN high commissioner for refugees;

-Margareta Wahlstrom, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA);

-Michel Kazatchkine, executive director, Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria;

-Kofi Annan, former UN secretary-general, chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

He will also meet Jacques Foster, vice-president, International Committee of the Red Cross.

These talks will focus on the major crises at this time (Chad, Darfur, Iraq, the Palestinian Territories, Afghanistan, etc.), UN reform and international humanitarian law.

On arriving in Geneva, Mr. Kouchner will open, alongside Ban Ki-moon, the proceedings of the Global Compact summit. This initiative, which involves the UN agencies and economic stakeholders, includes several hundred international businesses concerned with promoting corporate social responsibility in globalization.

On the sidelines of the summit, Bernard Kouchner will chair a workshop on international governance of the environment, at which he will talk with heads of large global companies about the proposed UN Environment Organization (UNEO).

The foreign and European affairs minister will then go on to Slovenia to take part in an informal meeting of ministers from southern EU member states at Portoroz. This will be given over to Mediterranean issues and the peace process in the Middle East. Neighborhood policy, migrations and the future of Europe will also be on the agenda.

The minister will meet Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and his Slovenian counterpart Dimitrij Rupel. These talks will focus on preparations for the Slovenian presidency and the French presidency of the EU Council which follow each other in 2008. The future of the western Balkans and the Kosovo issue, reform of European institutions, energy, efforts to address global warming and enlargement of the Schengen area will also be discussed.


At the UN General Assembly in September 2000, France signed, along with 190 other member states, the Millennium Declaration and adopted eight ambitious goals to be achieved by 2015. Mid-way to that date, the UN invites the signatory countries to make an assessment.

The Ministry for Foreign and European Affairs and the French Development Agency, in partnership with the civil society organizations involved in the Global Action Against Poverty, are organizing a roundtable at which the proceedings are to be opened by Jean-Marie Bockel, Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophony, on Saturday, July 7. The roundtable will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the regional council of the Ile de France, 57 rue de Babylone, 75007 Paris.

France is participating actively in the realization of the Millennium Development Goals by supporting such initiatives as the accelerated implementation of Education for All. Thanks to this program, primary school enrollment went from 80% to 88% between 1991 and 2005. In the health secto,r France has started the drug purchase facility UNITAID. The voluntary contribution on airlines tickets, an example of innovative financing, brings in, in France, 200 million euros a year for the program.


The French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the THALES Group have selected the second group of scholarship winners in the program to assist foreign students that was started in May 2006. This second group comprises 26 scholars from India, Russia and China.

The program contributes to increasing the attraction of French higher education, based on a public/private partnership to bring high-level foreign students to France and provide them with an individually tailored program.

In the context of this system, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs offers the expertise of its scientific and cultural posts to choose the best students, with the assistance of Espaces CampusFrance and in cooperation with the THALES Group. The students take intensive French-language course at the Alliances Françaises. They follow advanced specialized training in France (engineering sciences, business management) at the grandes écoles (Polytechnique, Ecole nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, Ecole nationale supérieures des Mines de Paris, Ecole nationale supérieure des Télécommunications, HEC and ESSEC).

Students receive an annual scholarship from the THALES Group. They also have personalized follow-up provided by a THALES Group tutor and internships with a company.

The list of scholarship winners appears on France Diplomatie, Espace Etudiants, Etudier en France.


Q - Did France have a role in facilitating today’s meeting in Paris between Ms Livni and Mr. Benaissa? More generally what’s your reaction to this meeting?

Meetings are held regularly in Paris between leaders of third countries without us being the organizers.

Anything that can strengthen the Arab peace initiative reactivated at the Riyadh summit in March goes in the right direction.


Q - Do you have any comment on the video released by the FARC containing testimony that Ingrid Betancourt is alive? Do you consider this an encouraging development as some of her loved ones think?

We were informed of the news.

We continue to demand proof that Ms Betancourt is alive; the videocassette mentioning her, which is several months old, cannot replace that./.

Embassy of France, July 5, 2007