Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, August 23, 2007)

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


MYANMAR

I will read the communiqué issued by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs yesterday:

“France strongly condemns the new round of arrests on the sidelines of the current demonstrations in Rangoon of several human rights activists, including former student leaders Min Ko Naing and Ko Ko Gyi, members of the pro-democracy 88 Generation movement

“This is a further stage in the repression of the pro-democracy movement in Myanmar by the authorities. The French authorities urge the military junta in power in Myanmar to release these human rights defenders and in general all political prisoners currently held in Myanmar, among them Aung San Suu Kyi.

“France is also deeply concerned about the use of force by pro-government militias in Rangoon against peaceful and democratic demonstrations. The military junta is responsible for any consequences this unacceptable repression could have on the demonstrators.

“France reaffirms that only dialogue between the government and all the other political forces and civil society will allow a genuine process of democratization in the country to begin. France stands shoulder to shoulder with the actors in civil society in Myanmar who are trying to promote reconciliation and the peaceful transition to democracy in Myanmar in difficult conditions.”

ABOLITION OF SLAVE TRADE

We are commemorating today the International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.

On May 10, 2001 France, in a law that passed unanimously, endorsed recognition of the trade and slavery as a crime against humanity. The law conveys a message and a demand for justice, truth and fraternity.

In 2004 the Committee for Remembrance of Slavery was first established. On May 10, 2006 France celebrated the first “day” in Metropolitan France given over to remembrance of the slave trade, slavery and their abolition.

France is also actively taking part in international bodies in discussions and debates and work on the question of slavery as it did at the Durban conference in 2001.

France is pursuing a resolute fight against all contemporary forms of slavery, particularly the trafficking of human beings.

On this day of remembrance instituted by UNESCO, France renews its support for the work this organization is doing and especially its actions to increase awareness of slavery and to promote inter-cultural dialogue.

15TH AMBASSADORS’ CONFERENCE

(…)

The Ambassadors’ conference will be opened on Monday, August 27, by President Sarkozy who will receive the ambassadors at the Elysée Palace.

Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, will then open the discussions at the International Conference Center. The first plenary session will allow for exchanges with ambassadors.

The prime minister will receive the heads of diplomatic missions at the Hotel de Matignon the following day.

Lastly several members of the government have been invited to take part in the Conference, either by speaking at plenary sessions or presiding at luncheons on specific themes relating to their portfolio.

Besides Bernard Kouchner, the following are also speaking at the Conference: Jean-Pierre Jouyet, Secretary of State responsible for European Affairs; Jean-Marie Bockel, Secretary of State responsible for Cooperation and Francophony; Rama Yade, Secretary of State responsible for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights.

This year the work of the conference will focus more particularly on three themes: “How to act today?”; “the French presidency of the European Union”; and “modernization and management of the Ministry.”

These transverse themes will be divided into several specific themes and addressed either in plenary session or more generally at round tables. At this time speakers and outside participants will also share their ideas and experiences, but the floor will be given to our ambassadors. These themes focus on the major issues and challenges facing the world today, France’s action in response, development assistance, strategy to increase our country’s influence through cultural diplomacy, the efforts of our compatriots abroad and the role of non-state actors. These debates have titles like “the promotion of democracy and human nights,” “the multipolar world and multilateralism tested through crises and globalization,” “emerging powers and rules of the global economic game” and “how to work with non-state actors.”

One day will be specifically given over to European issues in view of the upcoming French presidency of the European Union in the second half of 2008. A plenary session and several round tables will allow for an in-depth analysis of current questions in the European Union such as EU neighborhood policy (Russia, the Mediterranean?), implementing a global approach to migrations, climate change and European energy policy, and Europe and globalization.

Please note that as Portugal currently holds the EU presidency and Slovenia will precede our own, the foreign ministers of Portugal and Slovenia will also be taking part in this day of discussions.

The third part of the Conference will focus more specifically on debates on the management and modernization at the Ministry measured in light of the main lines concerning public policies in general.

The Ambassadors’ Conference will be closed by Mr. Kouchner on Wednesday afternoon, August 29.

In a regional extension to the exercise, ambassadors will visit French departments on August 30 or 31. This is an innovation designed to raise awareness among the French of the state’s action abroad, to help people better understand the missions of ambassadors and to show local actors what opportunities there may be for them abroad.

(…) ./.

Embassy of France, August 23, 2007