Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, March 5, 2007)

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


A debate is to be held at the Arab World Institute on International Women’s Day, Thursday, March 8, 2007, focusing on the latest report from UNDP on human development in the Arab world entitled “Towards the Rise of Women in the Arab World.”

The debate will be attended by Catherine Vautrin, Minister Delegate for Social Cohesion and Parity, with Assiba Djebar, member of the French Academy, as honorary chair. The speakers will discuss the development of the status of women in the Arab world, especially in the economic, social, educational and cultural spheres. Sandrine Treiner, coordinator of the ‘Livre noir de la condition des femmes,’ will be the moderator.

The report will be presented by Naila Silini, professor at the University Center in Tunisia and an expert who helped draft the report. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will be represented by Jean Fabre, UNDP deputy director in Geneva.

The following persons will also take part in the debates:

-Sonia Dayan-Herzbrun, sociologist and researcher at the University of Paris VII;

-Denis Bauchard, adviser for the Maghreb and Middle East at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI);

-Youssef Courbage, researcher at the National Institute for Demographic Studies (UNED);

-Sophie Bessie, historian, deputy secretary-general of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIHR);

-Saida Kouzzi, jurist with the Moroccan NGO, “Global Rights.”

This fourth UNDP report makes a contribution to the debate on the status of women in this region. It emphasizes the progress that has been achieved but that there are still improvements to be made in regard to women’s access to education and health care, and in the recognition of their rights.

The debate will be held at the headquarters of the Arab World Institute, 1, rue des Fosses Saint Bernard (Paris 5) from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. It is open to the public and press.



Q - Resolution 1721 granted Ivorian Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny increased powers. In France’s view, is it out of date now since the Gbagbo-Soro agreement? What’s going to happen now at the UN? Does France have a timetable for withdrawal? Will Licorne leave Cote d’Ivoire before the end of the year?

We welcome an agreement that addresses the substantive issues in the Ivorian question and is in line with previous agreements and resolutions aimed at seeing fault-free elections in Cote d’Ivoire.

It is the result of the efforts by ECOWAS, and especially its Burkina Faso presidency. We are delighted that the Africans are taking an essential part in resolving this question, extending the efforts made by the international community.

In light of the potential consequences of the agreement, there could be a change in the international community’s role as defined in the various Security Council resolutions. Such changes will have to be considered by the African Union and the Security Council which defined the current legal and institutional process for peace in Cote d’Ivoire.


Q - What’s France’s reaction to the increase in China’s defense budget, which has jumped 17.8% for 2007? Since China tested an anti-satellite weapon, is France still in favor of lifting Europe’s embargo on arms?

It’s not my place to comment on China’s defense budget.

We consider the embargo you’re referring to is anachronistic. It does not reflect the reality of our relations with China and the strategic partnership we are building with it.

We believe we should continue working on this issue with our European partners in the spirit of the conclusions of the European Council in December 2004. That’s also the position which was reiterated by the European Council in December 2006.


Q - Several associations (ACAT-France, CCFD, MRAP and Survie) have called for France “to implement on French territory a series of individual targeted sanctions against any party who violates the cease-fire or attacks civilians in Darfur.” Do you have a reaction?

The imposition of sanctions has to be done in the framework of UN Security Council resolution 1591 which provides for individual sanctions against individuals who obstruct the peace process. That is the framework in which France can act, in consultation with its partners.

Embassy of France, March 5, 2007