Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, April 23, 2007)

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


VOTES OF FRENCH OVERSEAS

Subject to confirmation by the Constitutional Council, I confirm the results of the first round in the presidential elections for French nationals voting overseas as conveyed by the Ministry for the Interior and Regional Development this past night.

The number of registered voters was 822,944. The number of people voting was 331,681 (it was 143,689 in the first round of voting in 2002). Voter turnout was therefore 40.30% as against 37.27% for the first round in 2002. The actual number of votes was 329,201 (99.25%). The breakdown of votes is as follows:

- Olivier Besancenot: 4,389 (1.33% of the vote)

- Marie-George Buffet: 1,840 (0.56%)

- Gérard Schivardi: 406 (0.12%)

- Francois Bayrou: 70,908 (21.54%)

- José Bové: 3,951 (1.20%)

- Dominique Voynet: 6,518 (1.98%)

- Philippe de Villiers: 2,915 (0.88%)

- Ségolene Royal: 98,498 (29.92%)

- Frédéric Nihous: 678 (0.20%)

- Jean-Marie Le Pen: 10,771 (3.27%)

- Arlette Laguiller: 1,624 (0.49%)

- Nicolas Sarkozy : 126,703 (38.49%)

EU/AFRICA FIDUCIARY FUND FOR INFRASTRUCTURE

In the context of the EU strategy for Africa, adopted by the European Council in December 2005, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and several member states, including France, signed an agreement in Brussels on April 23 establishing an EU-Africa fiduciary fund for infrastructure.

The purpose of the fiduciary fund is to subsidize EIB loans in Africa in the transportation, water, energy, information technology and communications sectors. Financing will be prioritized for investments promoting interconnections at the regional and continent-wide levels.

For 2007-2010 the fund will receive contributions from the European Development Fund (EDF, 60 million euros) and voluntary contributions from member states. France’s contribution (French Development Agency) will be 5 million euros in 2007. The fund will subsidize EIB loans for a total of 260 million euros.

Expenditures for infrastructure are less than 4% of GDP in Africa whereas they should be a minimum of 9% to help ensure the 7% per annum growth necessary to realize the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Overall, Africa should be spending 20 billion euros more a year.

Taking part in the signing ceremony were European Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel and EIB President Philippe Maystadt, the representatives of member states, including France, and the African Union Commission, the ambassadors of African countries, the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) Secretariat and representatives of NEPAD, the regional economic communities and the African Development Bank.

AFGHANISTAN

Q - About the hostages in Afghanistan. What are the results of the analyses you made of the claims that were made on Friday? How are you planning to react? (…)

I don’t wish to make any comment on the claims made on Friday or the authors.

As I’ve told you before, when the secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made his trip to Kabul, he reiterated our very firm resolve to obtain the release of our compatriots and the Afghans accompanying them safe and sound, as soon as possible.

To this end the French authorities are continuing to make all the necessary efforts in liaison with the NGO ‘Terre d’Enfance’ and the Afghan authorities.

RUSSIA

Q - How do you assess the current hardening of Russian positions on both the missile shield plan in Poland and the Czech Republic, and on Kosovo?

It is not for me make general comments on Russia’s stance. We have detailed dialogue with our Russian partners on the questions you raised and on others, particularly those addressed in the Security Council. When differences in approach emerge, we consider they should be resolved through close consultations.

With regard to the American missile defense project, President Chirac insisted in March on the fact that it should not sow new divisions in Europe. We hope that the questions the project has raised are discussed, particularly with Russia. The current high-level bilateral contacts contribute in this regard to greater transparency as did the NATO Council/Russia meeting held on April 19. The question is due to be discussed again at the NATO ministerial meeting in Oslo on April 26.

With regard to Kosovo, a meeting of the Contact Group at experts’ level was held in Moscow on Friday, April 20. It was an opportunity for talks with our partners, particularly Russia, on the settlement of this issue. There’s also a Security Council mission due to go to Pristina and Belgrade in a few days. The talks will be continuing in New York where we hope to see a resolution adopted.

Embassy of France, April 23, 2007