Visit to London
THE MINISTER – Thank you, William. I too would like to tell you how delighted I am to be here tonight. I haven’t forgotten that one of my first visitors at the Quai d’Orsay when I was appointed Foreign Minister was you, William: you came to visit me. I’m very happy to be paying you this visit.
We see each other very often, in Brussels or elsewhere. I think our personal relations, like our diplomatic relations, are important and those relations are excellent today at all levels: between the heads of state and government, ministers, diplomats and parliamentarians. I can confirm that the Franco-British understanding has never been as close as today. It’s played out on a daily basis on many subjects, and I’ll doubtless be repeating certain things that William has just said.
LIBYA/SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST/ARAB SPRING
First of all, on the big international crises, we walk shoulder to shoulder. That’s the case in Libya: since the outset we’ve been engaged in the same struggle, with the same goal. That goal is to enable the Libyan people to achieve the freedom and democracy to which they aspire. And to that end, we’re entirely clear: at the end of the road, Gaddafi must relinquish power and all responsibility, military or civilian; it’ll then be up to the Libyans themselves to determine what his fate must be, inside or outside Libya. We’re continuing to work in this direction, by keeping up the military pressure and cooperating very closely with the National Transitional Council.
We’re also in complete agreement about the situation in Syria. We believe the crackdown the regime is carrying out is unacceptable. We regret the fact that the Security Council has been – and still is today – unable to speak out, and we’re continuing to work together to overcome the obstacles you’re aware of. At the heart of the European Union, within the European Union, we’ve already worked to ensure different sanctions processes are adopted against the Syrian regime, and we’re going to continue in that direction.
In the Middle East too, we’re working in the same direction, with all our European Union partners. France thanks William Hague for inviting her to try and define balanced parameters that would allow the negotiations to resume. We haven’t achieved that yet, but we’re determined to continue working together to adopt a common position at the United Nations in September.
We welcomed what’s being called the Arab Spring in the same terms. It’s a great opportunity, because this great people’s liberation movement reflects the values we share. So we must support it, and support it particularly at the economic level. That’s why we’re working together to implement what’s been called the Deauville Partnership and also to develop the European Neighbourhood Policy.
To return to our bilateral relations, I’d like to stress the progress we’ve made on defence. The Lancaster House treaties signed in November 2010 are an absolutely remarkable step forward, and I’m delighted to see that the joint work of our military experts has enabled a lot of progress in the run-up to the Franco-British summit that will be held here at the end of the year.
Finally – and I don’t want to go on too long – I’d also like to remind you of our cooperation in Afghanistan, where we’re brothers in arms, and to express – because we’re all members of this European community we hold so dear – my solidarity with the Norwegian people in the ordeal they’re going through today.
And to finish, I’d like to emphasize that we’re also working side by side for the G8 and G20, and to pay tribute again to the work Britain and her Prime Minister are doing to improve global governance, in the run-up to the G20 meeting in Cannes in November.
Q. – Hello. I wanted to know what you thought about NATO’s cooperation in Libya and whether it might be possible for Gaddafi to stay in his country and even play a small role in the country?
THE MINISTER – On this point, our position is extremely clear: it’s that of France and I think William Hague will say it’s that of Britain; in any case it’s the unanimous position of the Contact Group. For us, what in my introductory remarks just now I called the red line is that Gaddafi must relinquish all forms of power in Libya, whether it be civilian or military, and make a commitment to stop playing a political role on the Libyan stage. That’s a feeling we share with the National Transitional Council, of course. It’s the necessary condition for triggering a ceasefire and a political process. After that, must he remain in Libya? Must he go? It’s up to the Libyans to decide, in the framework of the national dialogue process that will be set in motion under the aegis of the National Transitional Council. I think I understood very clearly, in the recent statements by Mr Abdul Jalil, Chairman of the National Transitional Council, that it was exactly the approach of the NTC.
Q. – (On possible departure of Mr Gaddafi, and on the International Criminal Court)
THE MINISTER - Same answer: I won’t get back onto what I said about whether Gaddafi must stay in Libya or go. Obviously his departure from Libyan territory would be the most reassuring solution for the Libyans themselves. But as I’ve just said, it’s up to the National Transitional Council and all those who take part in the national reconciliation process to decide on it.
On the second question, the establishment of international criminal justice is a considerable step forward on the path of democracy and human rights, and France is committed to this International Criminal Court being able to do its work and to impunity disappearing from the international arena from now on.
SYRIA/EU SANCTIONS/UN RESOLUTION
Q. – You said the situation in Syria is unacceptable. How long can the international community let the Damascus regime perpetrate these massacres?
THE MINISTER – Unfortunately we’re in deadlock on Syria. From the outset France – with her European Union partners – condemned with total clarity the unacceptable crackdown that the Syrian regime launched against people who were quite simply calling for freedom and democracy. Very quickly and repeatedly, we embarked on a process of European sanctions. Three waves of sanctions have already been adopted and we’re in the process of preparing a fourth, to increase the pressure we can exert on the Syrian regime.
At the Security Council, we’re currently in deadlock because the draft resolution we prepared together is coming up against a threat by certain permanent members to use the veto, and it doesn’t bring together a sufficient majority. We must continue this work. It’s not acceptable for the international community today to remain silent about the situation in Syria, as we have been in the past, unfortunately, about other events with circumstances just as tragic./.