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Published on June 6, 2012
Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Vladimir Putin, President of Russia (excerpts)

Paris, June 1, 2012

(…) I met President Putin to have a discussion – it was the first one we’d had together – about the relations between France and Russia, and also to review a number of international situations that worry both me and President Putin.

On the relations between our two countries, we agreed to swiftly convene an intergovernmental seminar that will enable us to strengthen economic and trade exchanges and cultural relations between our two countries. It’ll be preceded by an [EU] Economic and Financial Affairs Council, which is set to give a new boost on trade relations.

Still on the relations between our two countries, we’ll be able to envisage me paying a visit to Russia following these meetings.

As regards the situation we analysed together, beginning with the big challenges – the fight against nuclear proliferation, and therefore Iran – we shared the same viewpoints and came to the same approach, following the relative disappointment of the Baghdad meeting between the Six and Iran in securing concessions that didn’t materialize. A new meeting is due in Moscow, and this time it’ll have to lead to efforts of transparency and renunciation on Iran’s part. We – both Russia and France – will exert pressure to achieve this result. We can’t tolerate – I don’t tolerate it, at any rate – a country that can by all means gain access to nuclear power for industrial and civil purposes using that technology for military ends, with risks for the region’s stability.

Regarding North Korea, too, we have the same view, even though it’s not the same process. The fight against nuclear proliferation is a priority aim.

We also have a concern for balance in the world and therefore for its stability. And we had a discussion about the nuclear weapons issue.

But we also discussed Syria. I recalled what my position was. Bashar al-Assad’s regime has behaved unacceptably, intolerably and committed acts that discredit it. A solution to this situation will be possible only through Bashar al-Assad’s departure.

On how to achieve this, it’s through United Nations resolutions for the first phase, and Kofi Annan’s plan, which must be carried through and have all resources for his mission to succeed. Then, if the observers do their work, the political process will have to be the second phase, enabling Syria to achieve security and stability. I’ve said, and I repeat, that if we want to obtain this result there must be sanctions, there must be pressure. I also know that there are risks of destabilization and that the risk is civil war in Syria, with all the consequences for the region.

Finally, we discussed quite a few subjects on which we agree, particularly the Middle East: the negotiations that must resume, Israel’s security and the Palestinian state. On many points there may be common ground in our respective foreign policies. Through this first meeting, I wanted to discuss the relationship between our two countries and our shared responsibility to calm a number of conflicts through political solutions.

That was the purpose of this meeting, which will be followed by others, because we’ll be having a number of meetings with the ministers and prime ministers throughout 2012. (…)./.

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