THE MINISTER – I wanted to say what a pleasure it is for me today to welcome to Paris my colleague and friend, the Chinese Foreign Minister. It’s his first visit to Europe and we welcomed the fact that it was the fifth time we’ve met over a very recent period of time. That gives you an idea of how close and – I think I can say it – friendly our ties are. The Foreign Minister had a meeting with the French President. We’ve just had a meeting and there will be a working dinner, and all this shows the importance we attach to Franco-Chinese relations, in the run-up to the visit President Xi Jinping will be paying next year.
Relations between China and France, as you know, are excellent. They’re based on trust, stability and reciprocity. On his state visit to China, the French President was the first president of a major Western country to have a meeting with President Xi Jinping. Next year there will be a big event, the Chinese President’s visit to France as part of another big event, the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. So the visit by my colleague and friend also serves to prepare President Xi Jinping’s visit.
The French Prime Minister is due to travel to China at the end of the year, for the same purpose. We reviewed global issues: we talked about Syria, Iran and Africa. We’re going to talk during our working dinner about the regional situation and also bilateral relations.
There’s one point the French President emphasized to our friend and which I’ll also stress during our dinner, namely the issue of climate change. As you know, in Warsaw in the coming days, France is probably going to be chosen to host the major climate conference in 2015. We’d like to prepare for this conference together with our Chinese friends. It’s an absolutely crucial issue, and China and its leaders are also extremely concerned about pollution and climate change. So to prepare the results of this conference, we want to work with our Chinese friends; a series of initiatives will be taken to that end. (…)
Q. – A question about Syria. Given that there are differences on the representation of the opposition for Geneva II on 23 November, do you think this date is unrealistic? (…)
THE MINISTER – We did of course talk about Geneva II. A meeting, planned for the beginning of November between the five permanent members of the Security Council, will be devoted to preparing the Geneva conference. We’ll both be represented, in order to try and find a solution, because both China and France would like a political solution. That political solution requires Geneva II.
This being the case, we aren’t hiding the difficulties, which are substantial! The goal of Geneva II, in line with Geneva I, is to create a transitional governing body, by mutual consent, with executive powers. Obviously this raises a whole series of difficulties. The Syrian regime has said it’s prepared to send representatives to Geneva II, but as we get nearer to the conference, certain statements hint that it wouldn’t agree with the goal of a transitional government. On the opposition’s side, there are also difficulties concerning representativeness and how it will be possible to proceed towards this transitional government.
A point on which the Chinese and the French completely agree is that there is no place for terrorist group representatives in Geneva II, and that we must go there in order to build peace and find a political solution. (…)
Q. – Since you took up the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs, you’ve paid three visits to China. There have been talks with your Chinese counterpart, Mr Wang Yi, during bilateral and multilateral meetings. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. What activities is France going to organize to celebrate this anniversary and what steps is France going to take to promote bilateral relations?
THE MINISTER – The 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations is a very important event and we want to make 2014 a France-China and China-France Year. This signifies that we’re going to implement in full the strategic partnership we signed in every area. It means there will be many events at the cultural, educational and technological levels, at every level, in both France, of course, and China. All this is going to start on 27 January, which is the date of the France-China and China-France Year launch.
To give you an example – and I’ll end on this –, we’d like lots of French people to go to China and lots of Chinese people to come to France. So we’ve taken a decision: next year, visas for France will be issued to Chinese people in two days. (…)./.