Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, November 8, 2007)

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


AWARD OF OUI, JE PARLE FRANCAIS TROPHIES ON THE CENTENNIAL OF THE UNION OF FRENCH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY ABROAD

The operation, “Oui je parle français,” is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Paris Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Alliance Française and the Forum Francophone des Affaires to make French businesses more aware of the advantages of using French in their subsidiaries abroad.

Launched in 2006, the operation aims to heighten awareness in French companies that using French in their subsidiaries abroad can also increase their international competitiveness. Proficiency in French by their foreign staff makes for better internal communication and enhances the firm’s high-class image in the international market.

The operation helps acquaint French companies with the whole range of possibilities for studying French such as the business French courses offered by the 436 French cultural establishments abroad and language “immersion” programs in France.

The “Oui je parle français” trophies will be awarded to two subsidiaries of French companies and one French chamber of commerce and industry abroad which achieved particular distinction in the use of the French language in 2007. They will be presented at the centennial of the Union des Chambres de Commerce et d’Industrie Françaises, on November 20 at 12:30 p.m. at the Méridien Etoile hotel.

ISRAEL/ IRAN/NUCLEAR ISSUE

Q - Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, who is handling the Iranian question, called today for IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei to be removed, accusing him of closing his eyes to Teheran’s nuclear program. Do you condemn this call or do you think it expresses a concern shared by several countries in the EU, including France?

France is very attached to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the international organization of which Mr. ElBaradei is the director general. In this capacity he has our full support.

With regard to Iran’s nuclear program, the IAEA reports have regularly referred to the existence of significant gray areas. That is why we will examine with the utmost attention the report that is to be handed over soon by Mr. ElBaradei on the dialogue begun with Iran on “outstanding questions.”

GEORGIA

Q - Does France consider the state of emergency--along with censorship of all the independent media and a ban on rallies-- decreed by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili justified?

We are following with concern the development of the situation in Georgia. The violence against the opposition and the violations of freedom of the press and individual freedoms are unacceptable. We call on the political forces involved to show restraint and calm. We invite the Georgian authorities to launch a dialogue with the opposition to restore the democratic process in that country. It is up to the Georgian political forces alone to find a peaceful solution to the present situation. We also call on Tbilisi to avoid any escalation with Moscow.

CHAD/ZOE’S ARK

Q - According to judicial sources in Chad, at least 74 Chadian children were taken to France a month and a half ago without their parents’ consent. Can you confirm or deny this information?

The report is one of the rumors swirling around the Zoë’s Ark affair. It is groundless.

(…)

LEBANON

Q - Does the fact that President Sarkozy’s close aides are being sent to Damascus, and Beirut tomorrow, mean that the Elysée is taking up the question of the Lebanese presidential election? Does it change things in any way for Bernard Kouchner and his staff? Does the minister plan to go to Lebanon before the election?

These trips are closely coordinated between the Elysée and the Quai d’Orsay. The Elysée secretary-general will moreover be accompanied to Beirut by the minister’s adviser handling the issue. As for the minister, he’s said several times he’s willing to return to Lebanon before the election if it might help./.

Embassy of France, November 8, 2007