Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, May 9, 2007)

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


EUROPE DAY

The Quai d’Orsay will be open to the public as it was last year on May 9, the 21st edition of Europe Day. This is in accordance with the wish of Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy and European Affairs Minister Delegate Catherine Colonna so that the day is an opportunity for meetings and visits to exceptional places.

The doors of the Ministry will be open Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Exceptionally, certain embassies in EU member countries will open their doors to the public as will the office of the European Commission and European Parliament in Paris.

For hours, addresses and details of scheduled events go to: www.feteleurope.fr

NORTHERN IRELAND

France welcomes the setting-up in Northern Ireland of the new coalition government resulting from the March 7 election.

The formation on May 8, 2007 of a Northern Ireland government bringing together the main parties, and particularly the Unionists (DUP) and Sinn Fein, ends a tragic period in this part of Europe. The process of normalizing inter-community relations must be actively pursued.

We pay tribute to the personal, constant and long-term commitment of Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, who, step by step, have achieved the goal they had set themselves.

Thanks to the constructive dialogue thus initiated we express the wish that Northern Ireland will be able to look to the future and take up the economic challenges it faces.

OSCE/FRANCE

The Permanent Representation of France to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) inaugurates its new Internet website today, Wednesday, May 9, 2007, at the following address: www.delegfrance-osce.org

The new site illustrates the Foreign Ministry’s wish to present our policy at the OSCE, more particularly on human rights, and to offer as full an overview as possible of the activities of our diplomatic and consulate network abroad.

The site includes, in addition to a presentation of the OSCE and French priorities, practical information for candidates for positions at the OSCE whether at the organization’s headquarters in Vienna, its institutions or 17 field offices. The site also features speeches given in a national and European capacity on the main issues in current events relating to OSCE activities and a section ‘Regards sur l’OSCE’ offering a view of the interior of the organization.

About 60 French nationals work for the OSCE at this time.

LEBANON

Q - What comment do you have on the 5th report from the UN secretary-general about the implementation of resolution 1559 in general, and in particular the rearming of milititias and the porous borders, and his appeal to Parliament for the free election of a new head of state?

We read the fifth report from the UN secretary-general on the implementation of resolution 1559 with the utmost interest. Like him, we note that while progress has been made in re-establishing Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence, much remains to be done whether in regard to free and democratic presidential elections, disarming militias or completely ending Israeli overflights.

The issue of strict compliance with the arms embargo and the demarcation and control of borders are also of fundamental importance. In this regard we took note of the commitments Syria made to the UN secretary-general during his visit to Damascus on April 24, and we hope that these commitments will quickly produce results.

The report also confirms the need to send an independent fact-finding mission to the Syrian-Lebanese border. We fully support the UN secretary-general who has confirmed his intention to dispatch such a mission very shortly.

Lastly we again call on all the parties concerned, and first the countries in the region, to comply with all the Security Council resolutions, specifically SCR 1559, 1680 and 1701.

SUDAN/DARFUR

Q - Could we have your reaction to the Amnesty report accusing Sudan of breaking the arms embargo in Darfur? And that arms supplied by China and Russia are being used there?

We have taken note of the Amnesty International report and in particular the information on violations of the arms embargo in Darfur. We have also noted the denials that have been issued by the Chinese and Russian authorities.

France for its part is very committed to strict compliance with the arms embargo in Darfur which was agreed in SCR 1591. Discussions are being held in New York on strengthening the effectiveness of the arms embargo. The sanctions committee, which follows the implementation of SCR 1591, is competent to examine all information about violation of the embargo and any steps that should be taken. By way of example the sanctions committee recently wrote to the Sudanese authorities to question them about information reporting the presence in Darfur of Sudanese government military aircraft.

WORLD BANK

Q - The World Bank ethics committee has found against Paul Wolfowitz, accused of nepotism, concluding that he had not followed the rules. In France’s view, is he able to continue in his position? (…)

We hope the board of directors meets quickly to take a decision based on this report and any observations Mr. Wolfowitz might make. It is essential in this regard that the procedure should continue in an orderly, fair and rigorous way, on the basis of objective facts brought to light by the committee of inquiry and the answers of the persons investigated.

Our concern is to ensure the proper functioning of the World Bank in the framework of its mission to promote development and fight poverty.

SERBIA

Q - What’s your reaction to the election of Serbian Radical Party leader Tomislav Nikolic as parliamentary speaker?

We noted with concern yesterday’s election of Radical Party president Tomislav Nikolic as speaker of the Serbian Parliament thanks to votes from the party of outgoing Prime Minister Kostunica. We call on the latter and on the democratic parties to make every necessary effort to form a government capable of ensuring Serbia’s European future and to undertake reforms in a clearly democratic perspective.

KOSOVO

Q - What’s in the French draft for a new resolution on Kosovo as presented in the media? If it’s not a French draft, can you tell us whether there is another ‘western proposal’ ?

In the wake of the Security Council’s visit to Kosovo, which showed how urgent it was for the Council to take a decision on final status, informal discussions began in New York this week on the adoption of a resolution on Kosovo.

Elements approved by the European members of the Security Council and Contact Group, and the US—so it’s not a French draft as may have been erroneously reported--were distributed to all the member delegations of the Security Council so as to begin an exchange of ideas.

We’ve also been informed of the positions taken by other delegations and wish to work with all our partners on an agreement. In any case the Council has to meet its responsibilities without further delay. This is why we plan to work very quickly with our Council partners on a draft resolution./.

Embassy of France, May 9, 2007