Visit to Germany
THE MINISTER – (…) Guido and I had a friendly, constructive, fruitful meeting which provided an opportunity to highlight the absolutely exceptional situation of the Franco-German relationship, since we’re soon going to have the 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty, which we’re celebrating at the beginning of next year.
We devoted the main part of our talks mostly to reaffirming our commitment to the Franco-German relationship, which is particularly necessary at a time when Europe is experiencing difficulties which are on everyone’s minds. It’s very important, particularly in this period, for us to succeed in narrowing the differences between our points of view. I think this will happen. When Guido lists all the key areas of our joint action, there’s agreement on them. Budgetary discipline is essential, and at times France’s position isn’t always understood. There’s the feeling that French people, the French government is reluctant about budgetary discipline. Certainly not! This government, the government I have the honour of belonging to, is perfectly aware that budgetary efforts need to be made, and it will make them. So the first pillar of the triangle is quite obviously genuine budgetary discipline.
The triangle’s second pillar – and we’re pleased this is now something that’s recognized – is the necessity of growth because, as the example of many European countries proves, if you have genuine budgetary discipline but no growth, but rather a decline in production, you get neither the budgetary nor the economic results.
So, we’ve got to have the first pillar of the triangle – genuine budgetary discipline – the second pillar – growth – and the third, which Guido rightly mentioned – solidarity. We’re involved in a European process, which means everyone has to make efforts to support the others. Countries in difficulty have to make efforts themselves which, incidentally, are often tough for their people – let’s recognize this – and countries which have the potential for having a bit more growth a bit more easily have to make solidarity efforts.
This is quite obviously what Europe’s approach is based on. So there are still – completely in line with the meetings which are to take place in the second fortnight of June – efforts to be made to narrow the differences between our points of view, I’m not thinking so much on budgetary discipline but on the substance, in particular, of solidarity and growth. There are points on which broad agreement has already emerged and others on which further discussion is needed. (…)
Then we talked about Syria, of course. At the beginning of July, France will be hosting a conference of the Friends of Syria, who are many and diverse. Between now and then, there are points which seem to us essential. Firstly, support for Kofi Annan’s difficult mission: we must, as far as possible, ensure the weapons fall silent and acts of violence cease, because that’s the absolute priority. It must then be possible for talks to be held, to try and rally the opposition forces.
We must also prevent the conflict, which is already extremely bloody, from spreading to other countries, and like Guido I have a few very special words to say to our friends in Lebanon, because, as you know, France is very committed to them. We’re very keen for the Lebanese people, who have already endured great hardships in the past, not to have to suffer again the consequences of what’s happening in Syria; that’s an appeal I’m making. (…)
Q. – Some differences have been sensed, particularly over the possible use, ultimately, of force or a military intervention on the ground. What exactly are the differences of view between Paris and Berlin? How do you intend to avoid a repetition of the mistakes made on Libya, where differences of opinion between Paris and Berlin became very apparent?
THE MINISTER – I’m going to answer for my part by restating a few points. The central point, based on a shared concern, is that the acts of violence cease and the Syrian people is again respected, at a time when appalling tragedies are taking place there. The central point, if I may say so, is that action can be carried out only in the United Nations framework. That’s been stated powerfully by the French President, and I’m restating it today: action must be taken in the framework of international law, as defined by the United Nations Organization.
Now, the practicalities of that action must of course be identified by the United Nations, and a number of decisions have already been taken. But decisions are tough at the Security Council, because until now the Russians and Chinese have expressed their opposition to such decisions.
Anyway, that’s the central point. After that, the exact practicalities chosen will depend very much on how the situation develops and how Mr Assad himself behaves. We believe – and I don’t think there are any differences at all on this – that no sustainable solution is possible as long as Mr Bashar al-Assad is in office; there have been so many acts of violence, and I believe the Syrian regime will end up collapsing under the weight of its crimes. After that, the practicalities the international community chooses remain to be identified, but on this central approach I got the impression there was broad agreement between us. (…)./.