65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy
Statements by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic, during his joint press briefing with Barack Obama, President of the United States (excerpts)
Caen, 6 June 2009
Q. - (…) And a question for President Sarkozy. At the beginning of the week you had a meeting with the Iranian foreign minister. What message did he give you to pass on to President Obama?
THE PRESIDENT - It’s not for me to be Iranian Foreign Minister’s spokesman. I can tell you what I told him. I said to him: one, he had to grasp the hand extended by Barack Obama, set a date for the Group of Six to resume discussions; two, that we were all following the same policy - if Iran wants civilian nuclear power, she’s entitled to it; military nuclear power, no - and that he had to be quite clear about this. If they had peaceful intentions, then they had to accept controls. But we can’t accept the Iranian leader making extremely aggressive statements and the IAEA inspections being prevented and at the same time us [being expected] to agree to discuss separately. I repeat again, the United States of America and France are hand in hand on this issue. Iran is a great country, a great civilization; we want peace, we want dialogue and we want to help them develop. We don’t want concealment of the nuclear military weapon. We are united on this.
Q. - (on the US President’s stance on Turkish EU membership)
THE PRESIDENT - (…) Finally on Turkey, you work for a newspaper I respect, which called, at the time of the presidential election, for people to vote for my opponent - you were entitled to do so. What was your argument at the time? You said: "Watch out, Nicolas Sarkozy is going to align himself too closely with the United States of America”. Two years later I see you are saying: "Oh, there’s one issue on which President Obama and President Sarkozy don’t agree”. That should reassure you!
So, do we disagree? No. On the goal we agree. What is President Obama’s goal and what’s mine? It’s for Turkey to be able to play her full role as a bridge between East and West. Where there’s a difference is on how this is achieved. The United States’ traditional position is for Turkey to join the EU. This was the position of President Bush, President Clinton, of all the American presidents. Mine, as you know, isn’t Turkey’s membership of the European Union. But I have proposed that we, Europe, Russia and Turkey, think about creating a common economic and security area.
We don’t see eye to eye on the way of achieving this, we do on the goal: to make Turkey a link between East and West. I told President Obama that for me it was very important for Europe to have borders because Europe is a plus when it comes to the effort to stabilize the world and I can’t let this be destroyed. And this doesn’t mean pushing Turkey back into the shadows. Turkey is an ally in NATO, Turkey is a bridge between two worlds; we talked about how best to achieve this. (…)./.
Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,
France has forgotten nothing. France will never forget the decisive events which came to pass in these places.
After five years of bloody battles, five years during which the flame of hope was protected by the immense courage of the British people, on 6 June 1944 those fighting for freedom engaged all their forces against barbarity.
"This time the challenge is not to fight to survive, but to fight to win the final victory". With these words King George VI announced the D-Day Landings to his people. With the words "La bataille suprême est engagée" ("the ultimate battle has begun") General de Gaulle informed the French people.
At that very moment, in the waters off Gold Beach, on Juno Beach, on Sword Beach, British and Commonwealth units advanced onto the French soil, whilst Americans were fighting on Omaha Beach.
In a few hours’, amid this incredible outburst of force, thousands of lives were changed for ever.
Promising young lives were shattered in blockhouses. Heroes emerged.
Heroes, those who charged forward under fire.
Heroes, those who held firm under the roar of exploding shells.
Heroes, those who kept fighting, not because they loved war, but because they wanted freedom.
Today, in the silence, the grass sways in the wind over the sand dunes, the villages and roads of Normandy bask peacefully in the light of spring, and rain. But time doesn’t diminish our debt to those who sacrificed their lives to free us from barbarity.
Time cannot change the sacred pact that exists between our two nations.
Together, we know the price of freedom and peace. Under European soil rest those who succumbed to the incessant wars and persecution that ravaged our continent.
We have built a peaceful Europe, and we are the guardians of this treasure.
"We shall never surrender!" vowed Winston Churchill. Today, France will always remember what she owes to you./.