Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, July 19, 2007)

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


Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner and European Affairs Secretary Jean-Pierre Jouyet will fly to Lisbon Friday, July 20, for talks with their counterparts, Luis Amado and Manoel Lobo Antunes. They will also be received by Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates.

They will discuss the intergovernmental conference on treaty reform, the priorities of the Portuguese presidency of the European Union Council and its coordination with the French and Slovenian presidencies.

They will also review international events and discuss Tony Blair’s mission to the Middle East and the situation in Kosovo and Darfur.

Mr. Jouyet will then attend the informal Competition Council in Lisbon on July 20 and 21.

At the Council meeting, Jean-Pierre Jouyet will talk about the implementation of the Lisbon strategy and ways of promoting a sustainable industrial policy that reconciles competitiveness and respect for the environment.

Minister for Higher Education and Research Valérie Pécresse and Businesses and Foreign Trade Secretary Hervé Novelli will also represent France at the Competition Council.


Foreign Affairs and Human Rights Secretary Rama Yade will go to Geneva Friday, July 20. This is Ms Yade’s first visit to international institutions working in the humanitarian and human rights field.

Ms Yade will have talks with UN Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour. They will discuss the relations between France and the High Commissioner’s Office and the future of the Human Rights Council. They will also talk about the promotion of recent international conventions, particularly the convention on the prevention of forced disappearance, signed in Paris at the beginning of the year.

Ms Yade will also meet with High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres. She will reaffirm France’s support for UNHCR action, especially in Chad and Sudan.

The secretary of state will also visit the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross to meet with Director-General Angelo Gnaedinger at a time when France has just taken the chair of the group of principal donors for a year.


The authorities of the self-proclaimed republic of Upper Karabakh are holding a ‘presidential vote’ on July 19. France takes this opportunity to recall, like all the members of the international community, that it does not recognize Upper Karabakh as an independent state. The result of such a vote--even if it does permit the community which has de facto control of Upper Karabakh to organize itself—should not be recognized as anticipating the future legal status of the region.

The final status of Upper Karabakh can only be determined after political negotiations between all the parties to the conflict, involving all the communities, in the context of the OSCE Minsk Group, co-chaired by France, the United States and Russia, which has proposed the basic principles of a peaceful and fair settlement of the conflict.

Any unilateral action aimed at predetermining the future status of Upper Karabakh, and any threat to use force to obtain it, constitute so many additional obstacles to be overcome in the current negotiations.


The year 2008 will mark the 150th anniversary of Franco-Japanese relations. The commemoration will be used to deepen and expand cooperation between the two countries throughout the year.

The logo for the 150th anniversary was chosen jointly after a competition organized by both foreign ministers, which drew over 700 participants. It is to be presented today simultaneously in Paris and Tokyo.

The design by French graphic artist Claire Paumes harmonizes two symbols of France and Japan, the Eiffel Tower and the kimono, and combines the Japanese and French national colors.

It may be seen on the websites of the French Foreign and European Affairs Ministry (www.diplomatie.gouv.fr) and of the Japanese Embassy in France (www.fr.embjapan.go.jp/) which also indicate how it may be used.


Q - At the beginning of the week you spoke of positive signals from Damascus. What are they? Has Damascus shifted position with respect to the crisis in Lebanon?

The fact that the meeting at La Celle Saint-Cloud took place and was attended by all the parties invited is in itself an encouraging sign. As a positive movement may be starting, it is important for Syria to be convinced that it too stands to gain from seeing the situation in Lebanon stabilize and tensions ease.

Q - Mr. Kouchner announced yesterday that France would support countries seeking peace in the Middle East. Is Syria one of them?

As the minister said, Syria will be one of them if it decides to play and actually plays a constructive role in promoting peace in Lebanon and the region.

Q - How do you account for the fact that your Washington partner, whom you informed of the purposes of your visit, and the UN are particularly skeptical of your overture to Damascus?

I’ve seen the American statements. I note they reaffirm the substantial common ground between French and Americans on this question, common thinking that we value.


Q - Following Mr. Miliband’s visit yesterday, could you tell me if France has signs that other European countries would be willing to take part in an eventual peace-keeping force in Chad? Would you have some idea about France’s eventual participation? Do you have details about next week’s negotiations at EU level?

France has said it is willing to take part in an international operation to secure the Sudanese refugee camps and the areas in I note they reaffirm the substantial common ground between French and

Americans on this question, common thinking that we value.Chad for the displaced population. The question will be discussed with our European partners at the upcoming General Affairs/External Relations Council in Brussels on July 23; most of them have already expressed an interest in principle in setting up such an operation./.

Embassy of France, July 19, 2007