Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, January 22, 2007)

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


ASSASSINATION OF HRANT DINK

I would like to remind you of the statement that Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy made on the evening of the 19th:

“I have just learned with great distress of the assassination of Hrant Dink in Istanbul.

I had the opportunity to meet Hrant Dink during my visit to Ankara a year ago.

Hrant Dink was a great defender of human rights. He was a man of courage and complete integrity. It was no doubt this courage that cost him his life. He enjoyed strong moral authority not just in Turkey but in Europe as well. He was convinced of the importance of the Turkish-Armenian dialogue.

I want to express my very sincere condolences to Hrant Dink’s family and loved ones, to the Armenian community of Turkey, and to the Turkish people as a whole.

I hail the Turkish authorities’ determination to shed all possible light on this act, an act as cowardly as it is odious.”

SERBIA

Q - What is your reaction to Sunday’s elections in Serbia? Are you hoping for the formation of a pro-European government, even though it was a nationalist party that took the lead?

As you know, the foreign ministers of the 27 countries of the EU, meeting in Brussels today within the framework of the Council for General Affairs and External Relations, will study the situation in Serbia in the wake of the elections. I therefore refer you to the statements that will be issued following their discussions and to the press briefing that Foreign Minister Douste-Blazy and European Minister Catherine Colonna will give early this afternoon in Brussels.

MIDEAST

Q - Do you have any reaction to the semi-failure of the Palestinian talks in Damascus, and what do you see as the future of such contacts?

I don’t want to express a judgment on the overall results of the talks you are referring to; you are free to evaluate them yourselves.

From our standpoint, anything that helps ease inter-Palestinian relations, such as this meeting, is naturally positive. We hope the Palestinians will soon reestablish unity behind a government that takes into account the principles of the Quartet, and with which the international community can work.

Q - Do you think Israel should be responsible for the interest on Palestinian funds retained by that country for more than a year, and which were to be disbursed to the Palestinian Authority for taxes and customs duties?

As we said Friday, we are asking Israel to release all customs and tax revenues due the Palestinians. In our view, this is an initial transfer that should be followed by others.

KOSOVO

Q - Russia has come out against the independence of Kosovo. Do you think that will slow the decision of the contact group?

The contact group (France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) has supported the action of the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for Kosovo, Marti Ahtisaari, since his appointment in November 2005. Mr. Ahtisaari intends to present his proposals to the parties in the coming weeks. It is on this basis that the international community will establish its position.

Q - Do you think the contact group will make a decision before March? Do you think this decision will be imposed?

As I just said, the UN secretary-general’s special envoy for Kosovo, Marti Ahtisaari, intends to make proposals in the coming weeks. He will present them to the parties and will invite them to share their reactions. It’s not the contact group as such that will make a decision, but the international community as a whole. We hope the contact group will preserve its unity in the search for a solution acceptable to the people of Kosovo, and which offers all communities the guarantees enabling them to live in peace and security.

Q - Serbian voters came out against Kosovo’s independence. What consequences will that have on the contact group’s decision about Kosovo’s fate?

It wasn’t a consultation about the future of Kosovo, it was the Serbian legislative elections.

As for the consequences of this vote, as I said before, they are being discussed by the Council for General Affairs and External Relations, attended by the foreign ministers of the 27 member states, and being held in Brussels even as we speak. I therefore refer you to the press conference being held by Philippe Douste-Blazy and Catherine Colonna early this afternoon./.

Embassy of France, January 22, 2007