Daily Press Briefing

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

(Paris, January 31, 2007)

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


FRANCE/ROMANIA/BULGARIA

Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin will pay an official visit to Romania on February 1 and to Bulgaria on February 2. He will be accompanied by European Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna and several parliamentarians: Pierre Lequiller, president for the EU delegation to the National Assembly; Henri Revol and Jean-François Picheral, presidents of the Romania and Bulgaria friendship groups in the Senate; and Germinal Peiro, president of the Bulgaria friendship group in the National Assembly.

In Romania, the Prime Minister will meet with President Traian Basescu and will be received by Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu for a working lunch. He will also take part in a conference/debate on Europe at the Academy of Economic Sciences attended by French-speaking Romanian students.

In Bulgaria, Mr. de Villepin will be received by President Georgi Parvanov, by National Assembly president Georgi Pirinski, and by his counterpart, Sergey Stanishev, for a working lunch.

Since Romania and Bulgaria joined the EU on January 1, this trip should help strengthen our partnership with those two countries so that we may better respond together to the great challenges facing us, particularly on the European level.

This visit will permit us to expand our cooperation with those two nations in order to support their efforts to comply with the Acquis Communautaire and to develop our bilateral relations in this framework.

The trip will also provide an opportunity to demonstrate our friendship with the Romanian and Bulgarian people and to provide a message of solidarity and mobilization on behalf of the Bulgarian nurses held prisoner in Libya, whose release is demanded by France.

THIRD GLOBAL CONGRESS AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY

On February 1, Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy will attend the opening ceremony for the 3rd World Conference against the Death Penalty, held at Paris’s Cité Internationale Universitaire through February 3. The event is under the high patronage of President Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The foreign minister will read a message from President Chirac. The Prime Minister will convey a message to participants during the closing ceremonies on February 3.

The fight against the death penalty is a fight for human dignity and is supported by the French authorities in their entirety. France is honored to host this meeting of abolitionists from all over the world who are working in sometimes extremely difficult conditions to outlaw capital punishment.

France abolished the death penalty in 1981 and, at the president’s behest, a constitutional amendment was presented to Parliament to make the prohibition on the death penalty in all circumstances a constitutional principle. France could therefore ratify the Second Optional to the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, which abolishes the death penalty definitively and in all circumstances.

LIBYA

Q - Has there been any progress in the case of the Bulgarian nurses and the Palestinian doctor condemned to death in Libya?

We are continuing to follow this case with the utmost attention. As you know, the foreign minister was able to meet with them during his trip to Libya in July 2005. Like our EU partners, we demand their release and call on the Libyan authorities to extend clemency.

The foreign minister met with Seif al-Islam Qaddafi on January 24. During their meeting, Mr. Qaddafi noted certain deliberations on the Libyan side. The foreign minister reminded him of our position and expressed the wish for a positive outcome in this case./.

Embassy of France, January 31, 2007