Visit to the United States of America/G8 summit
THE PRESIDENT – Ladies and gentlemen, during this first part of the G8, I believe we made important progress on the main topics on our agenda. I am not yet familiar with these meetings and so I don’t want to judge what they were like a few years ago. But I believe that what was done yesterday and today is important.
First of all, because we adopted the same position, the same approach regarding Iran, and that approach will lead to getting the Iranians to face up to their responsibilities in the negotiations taking place in Baghdad on 23 May. Our firm stance has led the Iranians to accept the conditions for this negotiation. I don’t know what its outcome will be, but we must maintain our firm stance embarking on it. All the countries attending the G8, including Russia, accepted this process.
As for Syria, here again significant progress was made in the sense that all the participants – and I emphasized this – can support both Kofi Annan’s mission and, through the deployment of observers, protect the Syrian people from the repressive actions of their leader.
First thing this morning, there were a number of conversations among the heads of state and government concerned. This morning was devoted to the economic situation, and particularly growth. I had asserted this priority in recent months, and it was reiterated here, along with abiding by commitments on crucial budgetary consolidation. As President Obama recalled, we must pursue these two objectives at the same time: genuine budgetary discipline and higher growth. In this regard, we will have to put all the proposals on the table at the informal European Council meeting on 23 May. France will play her full part, as we ourselves want to give the priority to growth, to resolutely improving our competitiveness and our companies’ capabilities, using technology and mobilizing all instruments on the European level to directly support growth.
Finally, we inevitably examined the issue of Greece, and while we welcomed all the efforts that most countries have made in recent months to improve their public finances, there is still uncertainty regarding Greece, where new elections are due on 17 June. The message I wanted to send, and that I also conveyed on Tuesday with Mrs Merkel, was our hope that Greece will remain in the Euro Area and respect her commitments, but receive support from Europe to stimulate growth. It is this approach that appeared or will appear in the final communiqué.
To sum up, this was the first time I’ve attended a major international meeting. Tomorrow I will be at the NATO summit in Chicago. On behalf of France, I wanted to make growth a central element in the discussions and to ensure that growth – along with fiscal consolidation, with efforts to improve public accounts – plays a full role in all our meetings, beginning with the G8 and followed by the European Council and finally the G20.
President Obama also wanted growth to be discussed in order to bolster public confidence and market confidence. And I must say that at the G8, there was a shared desire for growth, although all the participants put it in their own words. That’s why I think this G8 meeting was useful, fruitful, and sends a two-pronged message – a message of confidence and a message of growth.
There will be no growth without confidence and no confidence without growth. And I believe that the mandate I received from the French people has, in these early days, already been honoured. (…)
Q. – Did you discuss Spain, and notably your remarks yesterday evening on European solidarity to rescue and possibly recapitalize the Spanish banks which are in danger?
THE PRESIDENT – I wanted to discuss the issue of bank recapitalization, and not just for Spain, but there’s no mention of this discussion in the final communiqué since it’s not up to the G8 to deal with it.
We are also working on a passage about our hope that Greece will remain in the Euro Area. The Greeks will have to express themselves through their election on 17 June and in respect of the agreements they made with the Europeans. (…)
Q. – How was the atmosphere?
THE PRESIDENT – I don’t have much to compare it with; I don’t know what it was like before. (…) But the participants were very candid. They each tried to convey their truth, their perspective, their fears, their hopes, and there’s a determination to find solutions. There was no deadlock in the sense that some could have emphasized the need for budgetary consolidation while others gave priority to growth. I was not the only one to believe that the need to exercise genuine budgetary discipline is indisputable, so we can now give growth every opportunity.