Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, October 22, 2007)

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


TURKEY/IRAQ

Like Foreign and European Affairs Minister Bernard Kouchner yesterday, we condemn in the strongest terms the attack by the PKK on October 21 which killed 12 Turkish soldiers. France offers its condolences to the soldiers’ families and friends, and sends a message of sympathy to the Turkish authorities and the entire Turkish people. Violence leads nowhere and is a dead-end. The attacks in Turkey must stop.

For France and the European Union, the PKK is a terrorist organization which must be determinedly fought everywhere.

France commends the Turkish authorities’ calls for restraint yesterday. It reaffirms its attachment to the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq. It earnestly hopes that this precarious region is not dragged into a new spiral of violence through the PKK’s terrorist actions.

I also want to remind you that the minister will be attending the conference of neighboring countries to be held in Istanbul on November 2 and 3. In this context we support the political process of dialogue between Iraq and all the border countries, and we call on the Turkish and Iraqi authorities, the Kurdistan regional authorities and the coalition authorities to find a solution to end this situation.

(…)

EIFORCES

Q - What are the details of Mr. Bockel’s EIFORCES announcement regarding the eventual participation of the UN?

The purpose of the conference on contributions which is being held in New York today--Jean-Marie Bockel, Secretary of State for Cooperation and Francophony, is attending--with the support of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, is to seek financial participation from UN member states and to present this project for a training center, initiated in 2005 and being jointly planned by France and Cameroon, to the international community.

Like the peacekeeping school in Mali, its purpose will be to train soldiers from African gendarmerie forces for intervention in the context of UN operations. The project will be open to multilateralism and is intended to become a pilot center responding to the needs of the international community.

IRAN

Q - Do you think the appointment of a new Iranian negotiator will have an impact on Tehran’s handling of the nuclear issue?

We have no comment on the departure of Mr. Larijani from the Iranian Supreme National Security Council and as Iran’s negotiator on the nuclear issue, nor on the appointment of his successor.

The international community expects Iran to commit itself in practice, in the upcoming talks with Mr. Solana, to compliance with its international obligations in response to the demands that have been made in UN resolution.

We hope that Mr. Jalili will be able to give Mr. Solana answers to each of the points concerned.

Q - Do you agree with the comments Mohamed El Baradei made in Le Monde that it will still take Iran between three and eight years to acquire a nuclear bomb?

As you know, we are asking Iran to implement the UN Security Council resolutions precisely to prevent the unacceptable prospect of Iran’s acquiring nuclear weapons.

POLAND

Q - Do you have any comment, any reaction, to the election victory of the Civic Platform party in the legislative elections in Poland?

These legislative elections, and especially the increase in participation and the vigorous public debate, are evidence of the vitality of democracy in Poland and show the Poles’ attachment to European integration.

France will pursue with the government that emerges from these elections the dynamic impetus given to the strategic partnership between France and Poland when it was launched in June, in its bilateral and European dimensions.

I can also tell you that President Sarkozy congratulated the leader of the Civic Platform, Donald Tusk, in a letter as early as last night. The head of state assured him of his determination to strengthen cooperation between our two countries in the European Union in line with the friendship between France and Poland.

(…)

MIDDLE EAST/PEACE PROCESS

Q - Does France take the view that the future Palestinian state must be established within the 1967 borders?

France considers that the final status of the Palestinian state and its borders will have to be the subject of a negotiated solution between the parties, on the basis of the relevant Security Council resolutions.

Reviving a negotiated process is the only way to arrive at a just and lasting settlement, on the basis of UN resolutions, on the establishment of two viable, democratic states living side by side in security within sure and recognized borders?

Q - Has the EU been invited to the summit at Annapolis and is there a date?

So far as we know, no invitation has been sent out yet for the international conference in Annapolis.

DJIBOUTI

Q - A French woman living in Djibouti confided she’d been verbally attacked and shoved while attending the big demonstration on Saturday to protest against the inquiry by French judicial officials. Do you plan to raise the level of security measures to protect French residents there?

Our embassy hasn’t reported any incident targeting French nationals, but we’ll check. The advisories to French nationals going to Djibouti and to our citizens living there have not been changed.

Q - Several French nationals who lived in Djibouti in the 1990s, including diplomats, are being investigated in a formal inquiry after a complaint filed by two Djiboutians for alleged sexual attacks. Does France believe this proceeding has been started in reprisal for the accusation against the current president of Djibouti, Ismael Omar Guelleh, in the Borrel affair?

You know our position in principle. I have no comment on matters sub judice./.

FRANCE / LEBANON

On October 19 and 20, the minister of foreign and European affairs visited Lebanon with Massimo D’Alema and Miguel Angel Moratinos. This unprecedented trip, born of a shared determination and a joint project with our Italian and Spanish partners, attests to the very strong involvement of our three countries—and indeed all the Europeans—with Lebanon, which is facing decisive deadlines today.

The ministers went first to visit our contingents in Naqura where they hailed the action being conducted in support of the Lebanese army by UNIFIL, to which our three countries are the main contributors. The minister and his counterparts recalled the achievements obtained with the implementation of SCR 1701 since the cessation of the hostilities of summer 2006, but also underscored the steps that remain to be taken with a view to a permanent cease-fire and long-term solution.

UNIFIL’s exemplary action, in which the Europeans are playing a key role, remains all the more necessary and will be continued. This action constitutes a large part of the framework in which France and its partners are working tirelessly on behalf of Lebanon, its sovereignty, its unity, its independence and its stability.

The election of a broad-based, representative president within the provided deadlines and according to constitutional norms is an important step for Lebanon’s sovereignty and stability. The foreign and European minister, whose personal involvement was illustrated notably by the La-Celle-Saint-Cloud meeting, has clearly reaffirmed our attachment to these principles.

In their talks with the president of the Parliament, the Prime Minister and Patriarch Sfeir, and during the meeting with leaders of the national dialogue, held at our ambassador’s residence, the ministers underscored the urgency of an inter-Lebanese understanding with a view to this crucial deadline and our willingness to continue working to this end. They had the opportunity to note that, while difficulties remain, the will to an understanding does exist with respect to the election. The Lebanese parties must seize the time given to them by the latest postponement of the first round to step up their consultations in order to reach an understanding by November 12.

While stressing that such an understanding was first and foremost the responsibility of the Lebanese, the ministers noted that it was up to outside parties to adopt a positive attitude with respect to the deadline. This could only bolster prospects for regional détente.

Finally, the minister, who that very morning had paid tribute to the memory of Antoine Ghanem by laying a wreath on his tomb, ended this exceptional trip with a visit of solidarity, accompanied by his two colleagues, to the deputies currently housed at the Hotel Phoenicia: the understanding in which everyone has an interest also presumes a clear rejection of intimidation.

Q - The Italian foreign minister announced that Italy might send Italian troops to reinforce UNIFIL if there was a need. What’s your position? In what case might you send troops to reinforce UNIFIL?

As the minister noted during his trip to Lebanon, France is determined to continue providing its full support for UNIFIL, and even to expand it if necessary. The commitment of French troops is already very sizeable, with France being the second-largest contributor of troops to UNIFIL.

Embassy of France, October 23, 2007