Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, November 15, 2007)

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


ETHIOPIA/FRANCE

The minister of foreign and European affairs received Foreign Minister Seyoum Mesfin of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia last night.

The meeting was an opportunity to discuss relations among the states in the region and the crises affecting the area.

Seyoum Mesfin outlined Ethiopia’s position with regard to its relations with Eritrea. Bernard Kouchner hoped that the international community remains mobilized to find a solution to permanently calm the tensions between the two countries.

The minister also expressed France’s deep concern at the deterioration in the humanitarian situation in Somalia in the wake of the renewed fighting in Mogadishu. He said that the French operation to secure the delivery of food aid provided by the World Food Program would begin in just a few days.

With regard to Darfur the two ministers emphasized the need for the rapid deployment of UNAMID (United Nations and African Union mission in Darfur).

Lastly they reviewed ways to strengthen French-Ethiopian bilateral cooperation, especially in the areas of justice and education.

GREECE/FRANCE

Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner met last night with his Greek counterpart, Dora Bakoyanni.

The two ministers discussed European and international issues. Mr. Kouchner gave a report of his recent visit to Lebanon. The Kosovo question was also discussed. Both ministers praised the troika’s efforts and stressed the importance of reaching an agreement between now and December 10.

Mr. Kouchner also insisted on the need to find a solution accpetbale to all with respect to the FYROM.

(…)

WORKING DINNER WITH BLAIR AND STOERE

The minister is hosting a working dinner at the Quai d’Orsay on Friday, November 16, for Quartet Special Representative Tony Blair and Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, who met already in this format on October 17, to take stock of preparations for the donors’ conference for the Palestinian territories. As the European Union is the principal contributor to the Palestinian Territories, the European Commission will be represented by its director-general for external relations.

It’s at the Palestinian Authority's request that France is hosting the donors’ conference in December, the purpose being to show support to the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority and strengthen the peace process. Following on Annapolis and in the context of the process to establish a violable Palestinian state, we hope to see the broadest possible participation by the international community and major international financial institutions so as to strengthen the dynamic for peace through their financial involvement.

LEBANON

Q - The Lebanese press has announced that Mr. Cousseran left Lebanon for Paris. Can you confirm this announcement?

Mr. Cousseran, who had accompanied the minister on his trip to Lebanon and stayed on in Beirut, has just returned to Paris.

Q - Do you have any comment on the appointment of Mr. Bellemare to replace Mr. Brammertz at the head of the probe into Mr. Hariri’s assassination?

We welcome the appointment by the UN secretary-general of Daniel Bellemare to head the international commission of inquiry for Lebanon, replacing Serge Brammertz. We’ve also taken note of the secretary-general’s intention to appoint Mr. Bellemare to the duties of Prosecutor of the Special Tribunal. These two positions will enable the Canadian judge to ensure the transition from the commission of inquiry to the tribunal with continuity.

Mr. Bellemare, with whom we’ve worked closely in the context of French-Canadian judicial cooperation, is known for his highest professionalism. The task he will have to accomplish is difficult but indispensable to getting to the bottom of the attack on Rafik Hariri and seeing to it that those responsible are brought to justice.

Like Mr. Brammertz before him, Mr. Bellemare can count on France’s full support in his mission.

The UN secretary-general’s intention to also appoint Mr. Bellemare as the future prosecutor of the special tribunal shows again his determination to take all the necessary measures for the effective establishment of this court, as demanded in resolution 1757. We encourage the secretary-general to pursue this path.

We also hail the work by Mr. Brammertz at the head of the commission of inquiry.

(…)

LIBYA

Q - Today’s Journal official includes the text of the comprehensive agreement signed with Libya last July. Why did you wait till today to publish the document when other French-Libyan agreements were published sooner?

Agreements are published as the administrative procedures concerning them are completed.

Q - The agreement contains a clause on an easier visa system between Paris and Tripoli. Is there any link to the recent difficulties European visitors experienced on arriving in Libya? Did you get the clarifications you asked for from Tripoli on that matter?

There is no link between the bilateral agreement and the difficulties you cited, which don’t just affect European visitors. With regard to your second question, the Libyan authorities, whom we questioned with our European partners, informed us that they were putting into effect the requirement for an Arabic translation of the personal details page of passports.

PAKISTAN

Q - The UN’s Pakistani representative for human rights, Ms Jilani, said yesterday she was received by the minister. Can you confirm this and tell us about the meeting?

Hina Jilani, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for human-rights defenders and co-founder of the Pakistani human rights commission, was received at the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs yesterday. She saw the minister at that time.

The meeting was an opportunity to express our deep concern at the current situation in Pakistan, in particular the human rights violations, and to emphasize the importance that France gives to human rights defenders’ freedom of action and movement.

France is closely following Ms Jilani’s situation and that of her sister, Ms Jahandir, UN special rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, who is under house arrest in Lahore at this time. She calls on the Pakistani authorities to respect the immunity they enjoy through their UN duties.

We call on the Pakistani authorities to release all political prisoners, including the members of the judiciary.

KOSOVO

Q - The Pristina-based paper Express talks about a confidential report prepared by the French minister of foreign and European affairs in which it’s said that the authorities in Kosovo were due to announce their intention of declaring independence in mid-January, to take effect in February. Can you tell us what report it refers to? Do you confirm this story in Kosovo’s Albanian press?

Like you we saw the reports in the paper, and they are groundless. We’ve no knowledge of such a report, and the positions mentioned do not reflect those of France or its partners.

Q - In the same article it says that independence would be recognized initially by a few of the “small” countries in the EU and would be followed in later months by the larger EU countries.

I refer you to my preceding answer./.

Embassy of France, November 15, 2007