Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, May 16, 2007)

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


SERBIA

We welcome the establishment of a government formed from a coalition of the Serb democratic parties. We hope that this government, which has already spoken in favor of a future for Serbia in Europe and close cooperation with the ICTY, will undertake as quickly as possible the measures and reforms the international community is waiting for.

MYANMAR

France is concerned about the new arrests by the Myanmar regime of many supporters of the National League for Democracy (NLD) and human rights defenders. It condemns these acts and asks the Myanmar authorities to release immediately the people detained in the last few days for their opinions and their exercise of freedom of expression.

France reiterates its strong condemnation of the continued house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi. It repeats its demand for the immediate and unconditional release of the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize together with all political prisoners. It calls for a genuine process of national reconciliation and democratization in the country.

It is essential for the junta to agree to dialogue and to cooperate with the international community and the UN, especially on this question. In addition the Myanmar regime must allow international humanitarian organizations to intervene without hindrance to respond to the humanitarian needs of the people.

France will continue to act to achieve these objectives, in consultation with its partners in the appropriate bodies, especially in Europe.

VIETNAM

France is concerned about the recent trials and sentences handed down to leaders of organizations and associations.

France hopes that the individuals sentenced for exercising their right to free expression as guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Vietnam is a party, are released.

The human rights situation in Vietnam will continue to be closely watched by the European Union and France.

OECD

The OECD council met at ministerial level in Paris on May 15 and 16. An important statement was adopted concerning the enlargement of the Organization. It marks the conclusion of negotiations under way last September. It was decided to open negotiations immediately with five countries (Chile, Estonia, Israel, the Russian Federation and Slovenia) on membership in the OECD.

The council also invited OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria to inform the other candidate countries (among which are European Union member states that are not members of the OECD) that their candidacy will be examined in the future on an individual basis as enlargement proceeds.

It was also decided to strengthen cooperation with Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and South Africa with a view to their eventual membership once these countries have adopted OECD practices, policies and standards.

France welcomes this decision. The result, which the members of the Organization achieved, is balanced and consistent with the Organization’s interests. It opens up the prospect for the five new states to join with the 20 founding members from 1960 and the 10 countries that have since acceded to the Organization. This is a historic moment for the OECD, which derives greater legitimacy and pertinence from the move.

WORLD BANK

France will take part in the conference on development economics organized by the World Bank in Slovenia on May 17 and 18. The gathering of international experts is part of a cycle of annual meetings (the so-called ABCDE) initiated in 1988. The theme chosen this year is the private sector. It will be addressed from three angles: the financial inclusion of developing countries, the business climate and the provision of public services by non-state actors.

France will recall the importance of productive sectors and the need for growth to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), especially poverty reduction. It will also underline the need for better distribution of access to resources (credit, technology, markets, information, land) and the redistribution of the benefits of growth to reduce poverty and inequalities.

With the initiative for the African private sector, France is contributing to the assistance of small and medium-size industries. The initiative, which has a multi-year budget of 1.2 billion euros, aims to improve the business climate by acting to strengthen the rules of law, the conditions for financing businesses and the role of intermediary organizations such as chambers of commerce and professional organizations.

France is convinced that the business climate and the development of the private sector, in African countries in particular, will only be improved over the long term by combining stability, democratic governance, an increase in official development assistance (ODA), respect for such principles as ‘social and environmental responsibility’ and resolute action to promote global public goods, with climate, health and biodiversity ranking high among them.

Q - Mr. Wolfowitz asked Tuesday for the clemency of the board of governors at the World Bank and promised to change his management methods. Can France trust Mr. Wolfowitz to change his management style. By delaying its response isn’t the board becoming co-responsible for the consequences of this affair on aid to countries in the South?

The board’s procedures must be respected and carried out to the end. Our ongoing concern is that the World Bank should be able to carry out its mission to further development and the fight against poverty in complete clarity.

COLOMBIA

Q - Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has announced that he’s ready ‘if the law permits, to order a massive release of FARC prisoners’ in exchange for the release of hostages. Does this statement indicate, in France’s view, a shift in Colombia’s position?

The French authorities have continually called for the release of all the hostages, including Ingrid Betancourt of course.

In this context, any initiative that may be helpful to this end can only be welcome.

That is why we invite the FARC to respond to President Alvaro Uribe’s offer in a constructive spirit.

MIDDLE EAST

Q - What is France’s position regarding the two French-Israeli men arrested for a racist murder in Tel –Aviv?

We are horrified by this crime.

Our consulate general in Jerusalem immediately paid a visit to the victim’s family to offer his condolences.

We are confident the Israeli authorities will thoroughly investigate it and bring to justice the perpetrators of this indescribable act.

EUROPEAN UNION/RUSSIA

Q - What is France’s message to Russia on the eve of the summit in Samara? The EU-Russian summit is due to last only a few hours and foreign policy chief Javier Solana isn’t expected even to attend. Do you regret this?

France supports the efforts of the German presidency to make the Samara summit as useful as possible given the persisting difficulties on certain questions. We think it important to take advantage of this dialogue to try to resolve them.

With regard to Mr. Solana’s participation, I refer you to what his spokesman said./.

Embassy of France, May 16, 2007