Visit to the United States
Thank you, Mr President, for introducing me in such warm terms. I’m very happy to be among you, not only because here it’s cooler than at the Second World War Memorial, where I presented the Légion d’Honneur to three veterans a few minutes ago, but also because it’s an honour for me to speak to you today here in this prestigious institution at a time that is clearly a turning point in international life.
I’m thinking in particular of the extraordinary changes that are currently taking place on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. Our vision and our policies with respect to the Arab world have for years been inspired primarily by a concern of stability. On the one hand, we were developing close cooperation in order to try and train elites, promote employment and vocational training, encourage university research and products in support of young people, and often support for reforms. But at the same time, we often saw the authoritarian regimes as bastions against extremism, safeguards against chaos. We allowed ourselves in the name of security and the fight against terrorism to demonstrate a certain level of tolerance for the governments that were flouting human rights and curbing their countries’ development. We turned a blind eye to certain abuses as if this region of the world didn’t have the right to freedom or modernity.
The Arab Spring changed everything. On 17 December, separate from any political or religious movements, we saw a young Tunisian set himself on fire. Little by little, we witnessed the flame of freedom spreading throughout the region. We witnessed the Arab world enter into a process of opening up, of accelerated change and globalization that is a sign of our times.
France believes that we must not be afraid of this Arab Spring. First, because it’s the fruit of extraordinary courage. How could we forget the price of democracy, we who so many times fought side by side to defend it? How could our two countries who together fought for freedom in the darkest hours in the history of mankind forget what it costs in spilt blood when one rises up against barbarity, when one defies a tyrant.
We must not be afraid of the Arab Spring because it’s the fruit of a tremendous popular momentum. It doesn’t belong to any party or religion. It’s not the prerogative of any movement, any civil society actor.
It’s the cry of revolt of young people with no future prospects, but who are open to the world, young people dreaming of a more just and modern society, but faced with poverty, unemployment, and the rise in food prices. It’s the political will of responsible citizens rising up against corruption, police abuse, and human rights violations. It’s an act of faith in man’s surge forward and his ability to surpass himself. Above all, we must not be afraid of the Arab Spring because it embodies universal values: dignity, freedom, respect for human rights, the right of people to choose their own leaders. Our two countries have never ceased promoting these values from the French and American revolutions to the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that Eleanor Roosevelt and Professor René Cassin drafted together in the aftermath of World War II. This Arab Spring does spark tremendous hope for all of us.
For all that, we know that this irrepressible movement of renewal brings with it real risks: the risk that it will be hijacked by extremist forces; the risk of radicalization; the risk that the freedom of religion, of belief, will be undermined. I am thinking notably of continued attacks against the Middle East’s Christians and other religious minorities.
France, as you know, is particularly sensitive to this issue. We also know that the process of change which is getting under way will be long and uncertain, that progress may alternate with backsliding. That’s why we must support the potential for democracy with all our might without relaxing our efforts. Allowing the flame of hope kindled by the Arab Spring to go out would be vindicating the defenders of the clash of civilizations. It would be giving free rein to the incitements to hatred and appeals for withdrawal. It would mean allowing these values to be crushed. We have never compromised on these values and the people from the Southern Mediterranean countries, like all other people, are entitled to them. Supporting democratic forces in the Arab world means assuming our moral and political responsibility. It means making a choice that is in keeping with our values and our strategic interests.
But, obviously, we are facing tremendous challenges. First and foremost, there is the political challenge. Together, everyone in this place, everyone assuming his role, we must mobilize our efforts to guarantee the success of the democratic transition. This applies to the Arab world, to its leaders and its peoples. From now on, in all countries on the southern shores of the Mediterranean, governments know that a regime that fires live ammunition on its population does not have a future and can no longer count on the international community’s indulgence.
While new social contracts needs to be redefined, everyone knows that they must now allow their citizens to voice their opinions. But every situation is unique and it’s up to each nation with its history, its culture, and its unique characteristics to write its own future and to create its own model. That’s a conviction that we share with President Obama.
In certain countries, carried by the winds of freedom of the Arab Spring, the authorities have made the first move. They have resolutely and courageously embarked on a process of opening up in order to respond to the legitimate aspiration of the people. This is the case in Morocco, where the king has paved the way for major institutional reforms, which we welcome.
Other countries, like Tunisia and Egypt, are now immersed in the delicate process of managing the post-revolution situation. The path towards freedom is a difficult one, which requires satisfying the legitimate thirst for democracy and taking the patient and necessary steps towards democracy, combining the right of everyone to express their views, the freedom of each individual, and the respect for the law because a state governed by the rule of law isn’t just a state that guarantees its citizen rights. It’s also a state based on a hierarchy of norms that everyone has to respect. Together with its European Union partners, France has, therefore, confirmed its active support for the transition in Egypt and Tunisia.
And finally, other countries have opted to pursue a brutal crackdown that will lead nowhere. I’m thinking above all of Libya, where in light of the Gaddafi regime’s heinous crimes against its people, my country did everything to get the international community to intervene within the framework of UNSCR 1973 and in accordance with the principle of the responsibility to protect. We must assume this principle, the responsibility to protect the civilian population to the very end. That’s why we are continuing to exert strong military pressure in Libya.
Firstly, so that we don’t leave them to continue suffering the attacks being perpetrated against them by Gaddafi’s troops. Secondly, to generate in Libya political room to manoeuvre while Gaddafi is on the defensive and increasingly isolated on the international stage. At the G8 Summit on 26 and 27 May in Deauville we achieved major progress in that Russia took a clear position by affirming the need for Gaddafi’s departure. This change of position comes in addition to that of several African countries or head of states, like President Wade of Senegal, who are beginning to distance themselves from Gaddafi. Who will, therefore, be inflexible with respect to Gaddafi, who no longer has any legitimacy and who must leave power? He has also just been indicted by the International Criminal Court, as you know.
We expect a genuine ceasefire, the liberation of the occupied zones, and the establishment of a system of international control under the auspices of the United Nations. At the same time, we are fully mobilized to support national reconciliation and the launch of an inclusive political process based on the National Transitional Council whose legitimacy is increasingly being recognized. This process will give birth to the new Libya. That is how we conceive of the use of force in Libya as an instrument serving the law and a political solution that is our shared objective.
As for Syria, the rejection of the reforms and the vicious circle of violence are no less intolerable than in Libya. We don’t have two different policies in these two different countries. I would like here to denounce the crackdown that has once again killed dozens of people in recent days, notably in Hama; Hama, where the Syrian authorities had already massacred their own population in 1982; Hama, where history is tragically repeating itself. Our message to President Bashar al-Assad is clear. It’s the same message conveyed by the United States: either he initiates reforms or he leaves power, there is no other solution.
It’s with this in mind that on France’s initiative the EU decided that Bashar al-Assad should now also be subject to European sanctions. It’s also with this in mind that the United States announced the imposition of sanctions against the President and his entourage. Beyond the European and American sanction, the Security Council must take a position with each country assuming its responsibilities. The international community must make it clear to the Syrian leaders that the crackdown is unacceptable and they must change course. That is the goal of the draft resolution we are championing before the Security Council.
In Yemen, lastly, we hope that an orderly, peaceful transition takes place. The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council have developed a transition plan which remains the best way to resolve the crisis. We hope that on this basis the Yemenis will swiftly embark on the path of reconciliation in the spirit of national unity and dialogue, and that they will again be able to engage in a democratic process. Together with its European and American partners, France will remain alongside the Yemeni people in order to help them successfully complete this transition. So what should we be doing? As President Obama said very clearly, and France takes the same approach, it is not up to us to decide for the people or for the nations or to provoke regime changes in independent countries, nor do they expect us to. First we must condemn in the strongest possible terms all attacks on human rights, using the whole range of instruments at our disposal to bring an end to them and even intervene if necessary, but only on the basis of international law, as you are doing in Libya, not only the principle of the responsibility to protect.
SOUTHERN MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES/DEMOCRACY/AID/EU NEIGHBOURHOOD POLICY/UfM
We must also support the countries of the Southern Mediterranean as they undergo their transition to democracy in a spirit of trust, friendship and listening. We have no recipes or lesson to offer them, but we have experience to share and expertise to convey, particularly with regard to constitutional law, political systems, public freedoms and freedom of the press. It was for this purpose that France recently welcomed a delegation of Libyan legal and constitutional scholars in Paris.
What we must now reinvent is our whole practice of diplomacy with the Arab world. We must notably agree to speak with all actors involved in the changes, including Islamists, without preconceptions, provided they respect the rules of the democratic game and, of course, the fundamental principle of rejecting all violence. We must expand the range of our interlocutors to include all civil society actors and notably young people and new opinion leaders. This is the mission that I gave to all of France’s ambassadors to the Arab world, asking them to reorient our extraordinary diplomatic approach to that end.
I would not correct my text. “Extraordinary” is a bit excessive maybe to qualify our diplomatic apparatus, our excellent diplomatic apparatus. The second challenge – it’s a new copy. The second challenge we are facing is economic and social. This challenge is probably the hardest to meet. During my trips to Egypt and Tunisia last March and April, I met with young activists and I measured the extent of their hopes and expectation. I also ascertained the intensity of their impatience. If we do not provide them with answers in the short term and if the economic situation in their countries continues to inexorably deteriorate, nothing will prevent the emergence of radical movements. Nothing will quash the temptation of extremism. It is our responsibility and our interest to join forces in order to avert this scenario and promote the emergence of an area of stability and prosperity in this part of the world.
That was the very point of the concrete measures adopted at France’s behest at the G8 Summit in Deauville, attended by the Tunisian and Egyptian prime ministers.
The first measure establishes a long-term partnership, both political and economic, to be expanded eventually to other countries in the region engaged on the path of reform and to receive the financial support of the Gulf countries that wish to participate.
The second measure is a $40 billion effort over three years benefiting Egypt and Tunisia. Of that $40 billion, 20 billion is to come from development banks, 10 billion will be in the form of bilateral aid from G8 members, and 10 other billion will come from the Gulf states. This initial figure could be increased based on what the IMF is prepared to add.
The G8 tasked its members, finance and foreign ministers, with implementing this measure. I will work relentlessly in the coming months to this end in close coordination with Hillary Clinton. And we decided today during the conversation I had with Hillary to organize a meeting of the foreign ministers and finance ministers at the beginning of next September during the General Assembly of the United Nations. In succeeding one another to the G8 presidency, our two countries – France and the US – indeed have a particular role to play in this process.
As Europeans, our responsibility is all the greater in that our special relationship with the Arab world, forged by geography and by centuries of shared history, places us at the heart of the challenges facing the Mediterranean. The EU already reaffirmed this shared destiny in 1995, when in the framework of the Barcelona Process it initiated the policy of commercial openness towards its southern neighbours. Now it must embrace it fully. President Sarkozy has clearly expressed my country’s strong conviction in this regard.
It is with this in mind that Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, proposed a partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the Southern Mediterranean as well as a complete overhaul of Europe’s Neighbourhood Policy for the 10 countries of the Mediterranean Basin. To meet these challenges, the EU plans to allocate nearly €7 billion in donations between 2011 and 2013, in the context of its Neighbourhood Policy. This aid will be incentive-based. The EU will increase its financial support to the countries of the Southern Mediterranean that go further in their democratic and economic reforms.
On the other hand, it will re-examine or even reduce its efforts to those that do not institute reforms. We want to make this Neighbourhood Policy a major tool for the Union for the Mediterranean. This ambitious idea, which brings together the 27 members of the EU and all the countries of the Mediterranean Basin, was launched in 2008 at President Sarkozy’s behest. The objective was to create a balanced partnership between the northern and southern shore based on concrete projects. Unfortunately, the Union for the Mediterranean ran up against the deadlocked peace process.
The Arab Spring now shows just how prescient this initiative was. It demonstrates the depth of our shared destiny with our Mediterranean neighbours and how essential it is to lay out a project that fosters solidarity, intangible achievements between our two shores. If ever the political partnership approach underlying the Union for the Mediterranean is to assume its full meaning, it is now, when our interlocutors will be responsible, new governments that embody the will to institute democratic change.
IRAN/HUMAN RIGHTS/NUCLEAR ISSUE
That’s why France wants the Union for the Mediterranean to be revived and to focus on concrete products liable to create solidarity between the two shores of our shared sea. The new Secretary-General, Mr Youssef Amrani from Morocco, has just been appointed. His mission will be to initiate joint projects such as the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean office for youth and the development of solar energy. But no area of prosperity and stability can be consolidated in the long term without a lasting solution to the two crises that undermine the entire region. How can we credibly support democratic transitions if we don’t respond to the aspiration for change expressed by the Iranian people since 2009? Faced with an ongoing crackdown, together we must maintain pressure on the Iranian authorities as we did in Deauville.
We must guarantee respect for human rights, illuminate every aspect of their nuclear programme, and abide by the international community’s demands. This programme, whose military purpose is becoming more and more evident, represents an ever-growing threat to the non-proliferation system, to original stability, and to the future of Arab transitions. Because, as we know, the Iranian relationship goal is not a prosperous, democratic Middle East open to the world. I want to solemnly reiterate the French determination in dealing with the authorities who have violated all the international agreements they have signed, whether with regard to the nuclear issue or to human rights.
MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS
How can we maintain our credibility? And this is the second crisis I want to evoke vis-à-vis the people of the Southern Mediterranean if we don’t find a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The hopes of the Palestinian are no less legitimate than those expressed through the Arab Spring. And Israel, which has the right to live in security and peace, must further extend its hand, so that the evolution in the Arab world continues with it and not against it.
The fulfilment of the peace process will make it possible to usher in a new era of security and stability in the region, helping it turn away from the extremism and fundamentalism that has long flourished in the absence of progress and Palestinian rights. The current situation gives rise to two observations.
The first, which we share with the United States, is that the status quo is more untenable than ever, particularly in the context of the Arab Spring. Time is not on the side of peace.
And the second observation is that the Palestinian Diplomatic Initiative at the UN this September is clearly fraught with the risk of polarization and deadlock. We ourselves have not yet reached a decision on this subject.
From this I conclude that we must do everything we can to try and revive the credible prospect of a solution as quickly as possible. There is no alternative to a negotiated solution. We must promote a swift resumption of direct negotiation, notably taking into account the approaches mentioned in President Obama’s speech, to implement the two-state solution, to which there is no alternative. I conveyed this urgent message to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders – whom I have just met during my visit to the region last week – in order to revive negotiations, the only way to bring an end to the conflict. To this end, France has proposed parameters that equal President Obama’s. We sought a basis for a compromise that would respond to the expectation of both parties. This is the framework of our proposal. This negotiation would first deal with security and border issues on the basis of the 1967 borders with agreed-upon land swaps. And the fact that President Obama spoke in his last speech of this 1967 border is a breakthrough we have to put on our agenda.
During a second phase we would deal with Jerusalem and refugees. These talks must not exceed one year. Should the parties agree to this approach – we have not yet the answers except maybe the Palestinian answer, which is rather positive – France would be prepared to support the resumption of negotiations in conjunction with the US administration by hosting a peace conference in Paris this year. We don’t want to convene such a conference if we are not sure before that there is an agreement of both parties on the platform of negotiation. And that’s what we are working on with our American friends.
As for Palestinian reconciliation, I realize that elicits conflicting reactions. But how can we imagine that a peace agreement would be respected and would guarantee world security if not all Palestinians were to adhere to it? For our part we believe that this reconciliation could represent a chance for peace. That will be the case if it leaves Hamas to evolve in response to our expectation and our demands. An important initial step could be for the National Unity Government to agree to reject violence and to clearly open peace negotiations with Israel, under the authority of Mahmoud Abbas, based on the principle we hold dear.
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have an appointment with history. We cannot stand back and witness the extraordinary changes under way as simple spectators. I am sure that you understand that France is determined to meet these challenges in the UN with its allies and within the EU because our values and our destiny are playing out in this Arab Spring. That’s why we want to remain proactive, proposing new ideas, identifying concrete projects on which we can cooperate, and taking action when the use of military force is necessary to protect civilian population and democracy.
My country welcomes President Obama’s courageous vision and will to act, expressed notably in his speech on 19 May, which opens up real prospects for the future and bolsters the choices made by France. With its value and its defining weight, your great country must play a major role. Liberty, when it begins to take root, it’s a plant of rapid growth.
Amid the Arab Spring, these words of George Washington are particularly resonant. Let us unite our efforts to help liberty take root on the southern shores of the Mediterranean true to the spirit of America’s Founding Fathers, true to our shared values of generosity, democracy, and respect for human rights. Let us together, with the Arab world, make the Mediterranean a place of peace, stability, and exchange.
Thank you for your attention.
Q. – You made a very clear exposition about the importance of being consistent in the support for human rights and you, indeed, were very clear that there’s no difference in the policy of France towards Libya and towards Syria, but the one thing that I found strange about that was that you repeated the formula that our president has put out there that Assad should reform or leave. But that’s not the position we or you took on Libya, or on Egypt either. So why the hesitation to say that he should leave? I mean, the brutal way in which he has suppressed his people violates the very principle that you so clearly articulated, so I wonder if you could explain what the hesitation is, if that’s an accurate way of putting it?
THE MINISTER – That is a very good question, as we say when we don’t know exactly how to answer the question. Every week in the French National Assembly they have the same question, why do you have a double standards policy? Why don’t you do the same thing in Libya and in Syria?
And my answer is always the same: circumstances are different. Our position is the same. We have condemned in the same terms the crackdown in Libya and in Syria, but the evolution of the situation was different. At the very beginning in Libya, Gaddafi, who is not a very sympathetic guy for anybody, announced that his military are invading Benghazi and will massacre in Benghazi all people who have protested against the regime. And so there was a very clear threat of bloodshed in Benghazi. And when I was in the Security Council, the moment of the discussion of UNSCR 1973, I said it was a question of days and maybe of hours. And so, our involvement stopped this attack by Gaddafi.
In Syria, the situation moves in a different way. At the very beginning there was a little hope to see Bashar al-Assad, who is more somebody that we can deal with, announce a programme of reform, and his first speech said, these are the reforms I am ready to implement. We have said that this programme was too timid, but we have still certain hope in the capability of Bashar to move in the good direction. And that’s why we have waited a certain time before condemning his attitude. But now, we have done that. The situation is now very clear.
In Syria, the process of reform is dead and we think that Bashar has lost his legitimacy to rule the country. And so we are in exactly the same position as we are in Libya. The consequence you have drawn of this condemnation are different, of course. In Europe, we have taken our responsibilities and have adopted sanctions against the regime. And we have adopted a list of people in Syria, sanctioned, and no more advisors, for example; the freezing of the personal assets in Europe. And France demanded that Bashar was at the top of the list. And we got that.
The situation is completely different in the Security Council.
When we presented the draft resolution on Libya, we have got, and not very easily, but a majority of nine votes. And we knew that Russia and China would not veto the draft resolution. It’s not the case today, and we know that Russia probably will veto any resolution about Syria, even a mild one as is the text that we are proposing with the British and Americans.
So, what to do? This is a point I discussed with Hillary Clinton. We think altogether that now we must go ahead and circulate this draft resolution in the Security Council. We think that it will be possible to get 11 votes in favour of the resolution and we’ll see what the Russians will do. If they veto, they will take the responsibility. Maybe they see that there is 11 voters in favour of the resolution they will change their mind, though it’s a risk to take and we’re willing to take it.
Q. – I attended your press conference today with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and there seemed to be no enthusiasm whatsoever for your call for a peace conference. Do you consider, as a result of your meeting today, that the idea has lost steam?
In your remarks you pointed out that obviously there’s a convergence between the need to have political reform and also that there are huge economic expectations. Just today in the Financial Times there’s a report about the IMF providing a bridge loan to Egypt because of its lack of revenue, essentially, and the disastrous economic outlook, as it is. And you also mentioned a very large programme articulated of aid that is supposed to support the whole region. My question is, do you think this is going to be enough given the very significant socio-economic problems that you correctly described in terms of young people with no jobs and no prospects and no nothing? That, in other words, the kind of aid that the West and the EU, in particular, is capable of delivering will be enough to shore up the situation before it deteriorates? Thank you.
I’m also a citizen of Morocco. And my question to you is, you alluded to the changes that are happening in the country, but I don’t know if you’re aware that the recent manifestation [demonstration] has been violently repressed by the Moroccan state, how serious is France about supporting Morocco’s… the Moroccan people’s legitimate demands for democratization and liberalization, despite your country’s very close ties with the monarchy?
FRANCE/PROPOSED MIDDLE EAST PEACE CONFERENCE
THE MINISTER – Yes, as far as the Middle East is concerned, I wasn’t expecting enthusiasm towards the French initiative when I arrived in Washington yesterday. But if you have… when perceived what Hillary Clinton and myself have said, you have understood that our starting point is the same. We, altogether, think that the status quo in the Middle East is dangerous and counterproductive. If nothing moves before next September, the situation next September in the General Assembly will be difficult for everybody; for the Europeans because we’ll have to make our decision at this moment. France said that we’ll take our responsibilities in September. It’s an open formula, but other European countries will have different choices. I am not sure that it will be a very comfortable situation for the US. It will not be a success for the American diplomacy, of course. Even if the Israeli government considers that resolution of the General Assembly will not change tremendously the situation, I think that Israel would be more isolated than it is today. And for the Palestinians, maybe this success, if the resolution passed, could be a Pyrrhic victory. Because what will happen after the vote of the resolution? I’m not sure that the real situation in the daily life of the Palestinian population would change. So we agree, the fact – the Americans, the Europeans, France, of course – that we must do something to evolve the situation in September. What to do? There is no alternative except the resumption of the negotiations and that’s why you are pushing both parties to sit again around the table of negotiations to resume this process. And that’s the spirit of the proposal I made to President Abbas last week in Rome and to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem. What did we say? I said, we propose to you a kind of framework of negotiation, an agenda, a platform of parameters with two or three important ideas. First, for both parties, renouncing violence; accepting the formal agreements; and, third, recognizing the State of Israel as a sovereign state with a guarantee of security; fourth, if the negotiation is a success – and all other claims after the negotiation. This is the first principle. And then, the method of negotiation in two steps, inspired by President Obama’s speech. First we start with the border, the line of 1967, with mutually agreed swaps, and the question of security.
And then, the second step, the question – the issue of refugees in Jerusalem. All those issues should be solved in a single agreement and we wrote in our paper that nothing is agreed before everything is agreed.
We think this agenda, this platform of negotiation, is an interesting one. And the first reaction of the Palestinian side is positive. The Israeli Prime Minister told me, we are reflecting on it – we are examining the proposal. It’s not a rejection. It’s not "no". And, for me, it was a very good surprise to hear that in Jerusalem. And then with my American counterpart today, we have decided to work on this idea some more, to work on it, to explore the possibility of a breakthrough. We are ready to amend the text to change the process. Maybe the best thing would be a statement by the Quartet and then a conference. But we agree with the American side, a conference is useless if before the conference we are not sure that there is an agreement of the parties on the method of negotiation on the agenda. That’s the point where we are and so we are continuing this initiative. We’ve relative optimism, but it’s a chance and we have to take the chance.
The second question about the social and economic situation in Tunisia and Egypt, you are completely right. The political process of democratic transition will not succeed if we don’t address the very difficult economic situation of those countries, not only Tunisia and Egypt, but also Morocco, to a less degree, and maybe also Jordan. For example, in Egypt, tourism has completely fallen down and it’s an important resource for the economy of Egypt. More than a half a million of refugees came back from Libya to Egypt and they want jobs. Unemployment is very high. Foreign investors are hesitating, of course, and people who demonstrated on the Tahrir Place are expecting improvements in their lives and they demand an increase in wages, and so on.
And so all the ingredients of the economic collapse are present in both countries. And so we must absolutely help them to avoid this economic collapse. You ask me, is it enough? $40 billion is a large amount of money. The question is not the amount of money, the question is the rapidity of direction. Are you able to give this money for useful projects, of course, in a really short period of time? And that’s why the G8 instructed the finance ministers and foreign ministers to act on action plans with Tunisia and Egypt, in order to mobilize this money as soon as possible, and have started this process. The Tunisian government has already proposed an action plan to the Northern countries.
The third question, Morocco – I am rather optimistic on the situation in Morocco because the King has announced a very ambitious programme of reform. And if this project of a new constitution is really carried out, it will be a real change in the regime, and maybe the emergence of a real constitutional monarchy.
So we must help him to implement that. And you are right, there are some reasonable concerns. Demonstrations are continuing in the streets, but there is no repression. I can’t agree with that. In my information, I think, there is not the same reaction as in Syria, of course, or as in Yemen. The regime doesn’t use violent means to stop those demonstrations. And once more, it’s a question of rapidity. I think that the King must accelerate his process of reform if he wants to convince the population of his goodwill and of his determination. And we have to support this process.
Q. – One thing, if I might, Minister? You know, President Obama was criticized in his also courageous 19 May speech for not mentioning Saudi Arabia. And you didn’t mention Saudi Arabia, unless I missed it. So, what’s the message to Saudi Arabia? They’re not exactly reformers, according to your very clear agenda. How should we deal with Saudi Arabia?
THE MINISTER – One step by step, eh? But our message is the same. There is no future for all regimes in the Arab countries if a process of reform is not launched and implemented. And so we wish that Saudi Arabia also adopt a programme of reform.
Q. – An American observer on the events in Libya has commented, “the evidence was not persuasive that a large-scale massacre or genocide was either likely or imminent.” That comment was made by Richard Haass, the President of our Council on Foreign Relations. If Mr Haass is right – and he’s a fairly knowledgeable fellow – then what NATO has done in Libya is attack a country that wasn’t threatening anyone. In other words, aggression. Are you at all concerned that as NATO deals more and more death and destruction on the people of Libya that the International Criminal Court may decide that you and your friends in the Naked Aggression Treaty Organization should be prosecuted rather than Mr Gaddafi?
Could you comment on the French government’s relationship with the Turkish government in terms of this Middle East uprising? You know, because the perception is since Libya and since Tunisia there’s a kind of a power struggle between two governments in the region from Libya to Syria. In Libya, for example, the Turkish government has blamed the French government, claiming that the French government didn’t wait for the results of mediation conducted by the Turkish government within the Libyan opposition and the Libyan government circles in Ankara. And the second, now you launch the plan in Israeli-Palestinian conflict while the Turkish government is working on the reconciliation process within the Hamas and Fatah. Could you frame the relationship between the two governments? Is there a kind of power struggle in the region ?
And the second one, on the other hand, last week there was a huge raid in Paris against the PKK, a terrorist organization that – it seems that’s a quiet cooperation between the two governments, too, you know. How do you define the relationship with the Turkish?
THE MINISTER – Well, on the first question, the history will give the answer to your question. Just one figure. Everybody who knows the situation in Libya estimates that the number of casualties, of people killed by the regime which use planes, tanks, and heavy weapons against its population, is around 10,000, 15,000 people. I’m not sure that the coalition did the same job. And, of course, it’s an understatement. We are fighting for protecting the population in Libya and I think we are exactly in the respect of UNSCR 1973. So, I am very serene, calm, with the actions of the ICC. I remember, though, you, that the ICC is already prosecuting Gaddafi.
On Turkey, I have no time to describe all the relations between Turkey and France, not only on Libya, but on the whole region. Turkey is a great country. Turkey is a friend. We have a good relation with Turkey on many, many levels: economic ones, cultural ones, and so on. I am the chairman of a very sympathetic institution, the Galatasaray University; chairman of the Comité de parrainage, of course; and so you have many links for historical, geographical, economic reasons with Turkey.
We have a problem with Turkey. France doesn’t support the candidacy of Turkey to the European Union and it would take half an hour to explain why because it’s a complex matter. And that’s why the relations between Turkey and France are so difficult at the moment. But I tried to warn them and to explain that we want to cooperate with Turkey even in the resolution of the Libyan crisis. And that’s why we’ve invited Turkey in the contact group, in Rome, in Doha, this week in Abu Dhabi.
We need the help of Turkey and I’m not sure that Turkey is still blaming the French – not the French, the NATO intervention in Libya.
And I remind you that Turkey is a member of NATO, so if Turkey disagrees with the NATO intervention on Libya, Turkey has all the means to stop this intervention. So I think that the position of Turkey is far more complicated than you have said./.
M. Juppé spoke in English.
¹ Source of English text: Brookings Institution website.