Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, March 21, 2007)

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


ROMANIA/FRANCE

European Affairs Minister Delegate Catherine Colonna will have a meeting at the Quai d’Orsay with Romanian State Secretary Adrian Ciocanea, head of the European affairs department, on Thursday, March 22.

They will discuss the main European issues and bilateral relations between our two countries.

WORLD WATER DAY

The ‘French Partnership for Water’ will be officially launched on March 22, World Water Day, at a press conference given by Nelly Olin, Minister for Ecology and Sustainable Development. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be represented by the ambassador delegate for the environment, Laurent Stefanini.

The partnership groups all the French actors involved in the water sector abroad: the state, the French Development Agency, local authorities, water boards, businesses, NGOs, research institutes. It will enable France to participate with greater coordination and efficiency in international meetings and debates on water.

On World Water Day the Foreign Ministry’s support mission for international action by NGOs (MAAIONG) will invite NGOs to submit projects linked to ‘strengthening the civil society organizations of the South for better access for all to clean water and to preserve water as a resource.’

The terms for the above initiatives will be available on the Ministry’s website (www.diplomatie.gouv.fr) as of March 22.

(…)

DARFUR

Q - Is the French government supporting Mr. Bayrou’s call for a boycott of the Olympic Games in Beijing if the violence in Darfur doesn’t stop?

I don’t wish to comment on that specific point.

As it said in President Chirac’s message yesterday and in Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy’s speech, France is very much mobilized on the Darfur question. Discussions are taking place in the UN Security Council. We hope they will lead to international community agreement on the measures to be taken. We are working on this objective with all the Security Council members, including China.

FRANCE/SYRIA

Q - Syrian President Bashir al-Assad said Tuesday that it was France that was suffering because of the break in political relations between France and Syria. (…) What is your reaction?

…The only question that counts is the contribution the various parties can make to stability in the region. We’ve said repeatedly that we would judge the Syrian authorities on their acts and on their contribution to the implementation of the Security Council resolutions. That moreover is the message that Mr. Solana passed on to Damascus on behalf of the entire European Union.

This does not bring into question the long-standing friendship France has for Syria and its people.

ZIMBABWE

Q - Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi has lectured eight Western diplomats, stressing that Zimbabwe ‘will not tolerate interference’ in its internal affairs. What’s your reaction to the threat of expulsion hanging over the eight Western ambassadors who criticized the crackdown in Harare?

We’ve taken due note of the statement. Expelling the diplomats would only isolate the country further. The fact that European diplomats went to the bedside of the injured demonstrators, while also maintaining contact with the Zimbabwean authorities, is part of their mission and reflects our commitment to respect for human rights./.

Embassy of France, March 21, 2007