Egypt/transition/unrest - Tunisia/situation – France/Brazil/Rafale
Q. – Turning to Egypt: many people were waiting for President Mubarak’s resignation and some even announced it. In the end he delegated some powers but is staying on. What do you think about this position on the President’s part?
THE MINISTER – We’re following what’s happening in Egypt extremely closely. Egypt is a very big, very highly populated country. She’s also a pivotal country, a key country in the region, which is so unstable and so difficult! Remember, Egypt plays a key role in the peace process between Israel and Palestine. Egypt has recognized Israel and agreed to make peace.
We’ve called for a calm political transition process. There is some movement. President Mubarak has gradually transferred his powers to the Vice-President. The Vice-President has ordered, organized [the creation of] the very commission responsible for putting in place the constitutional reforms the Egyptians are hoping for. Is that enough? We can see there are still a lot of demonstrations in the streets, and particularly demonstrators demanding President Mubarak’s departure and political but also economic reforms.
Q. – But don’t you think there will be more violence? The demonstrators in Cairo were demanding President Mubarak’s resignation…
THE MINISTER – What we hope is that there won’t be any violence. It’s clear that seeing deaths in demonstrations is something that deeply shocks us, that deeply shocks me. I think everyone must be able to express their aspirations, their ideas – the things they reject, too – without putting their lives at risk. That’s what we hope for Egypt, and we’ve already said we’re ready to support Egypt if she so wishes. It’s not for us to make the Egyptians’ decision for them, but if they so wish we’re ready to support them in this transition period. (…)
Q. – Regarding Tunisia, do you feel the situation is getting back to normal?
THE MINISTER – I do think – even if there’s still a certain amount of tension in certain parts of the country, particularly the areas where the economic and social situation is most tense – that things are calming down now; there’s a certain amount of progress.
I talk about it very regularly to my counterpart, the Tunisian Foreign Minister, and other ministers, too, because what we hope is to be able to support Tunisia, too, in her process of democratic transition and also economic development.
In this respect, we hope very soon to be able to lift travel restrictions, tourism restrictions, particularly on a number of coastal towns, a number of tourist towns, because tourism is an important economic factor and creates a very large number of jobs in Tunisia. It’s clear we want to support Tunisia in this respect. (…)
Q. – Just a word on the sale of the Rafale plane to Brazil. Has the sale been definitively compromised?
THE MINISTER – Certainly not, and there have also been rumours to that effect, which have all been denied, including by the Presidency itself. I think this is one of the points, as you know: we have a very fine plane and I think it also reflects our determination to forge relations with Brazil and by that very means to create jobs by ensuring French quality is recognized. That’s at the heart of President Sarkozy’s efforts.
I’ll be going to Brazil, of course, in about 10 days’ time, but what’s actually important is to show the quality of French technology and therefore defend French people’s jobs. (…)./.