|I Hope it's a Shift Says Hubert Védrine|
I Hope it's a Shift Says Hubert Védrine
Interview given by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hubert Védrine, to Soir 3's Laurence Bobillier, on "France 3". (Excerpts) Paris, March 13, 2002. Source: France 3 and Embassy of France in the United States.
Laurence Bobillier: In your opinion, is UNSCR 1397, passed last night on the Americans' initiative, a U-turn in US policy towards Israel?
Hubert Védrine: I hope it's a shift, at any rate, a change, not vis-à-vis Israel but in their approach to the Israeli-Palestinian problem.
For a long time the United States blocked every Security Council initiative because she didn't want that body dealing with the Middle-East issue. Moreover, the resolution's text is very important because it includes the idea of a State of Palestine which President Bush had expressed, once only, last November. But he had always refused its inclusion in a Security Council resolution, so it's very important.
Let me remind you that this is a position France has held since March 1982, and the Europeans since 1999.
Laurence Bobillier, Deputy editor-in-chief at France 3
Laurence Bobillier: In the past, other resolutions have never been implemented; will this one be?
Hubert Védrine: Now that, through this vote, the Americans are indicating a change in their approach to the current phase of the Middle-East conflict, we can hope to begin working on more solid foundations. That enables the Europeans and Americans to work together, towards the same goal. And as that coincides with two or three decisions or declarations by Mr Sharon, which are still not enough for us to talk about a genuine change, but also indicate a shift, there are grounds for hoping that things are moving.
Laurence Bobillier: Are France and Europe doomed to watch these US initiatives from afar?
Hubert Védrine: Not at all, if anything it's the opposite. Recently, it's tended to be European ideas which have helped get things moving, French ideas even and some other European ideas precisely concerning the political solution which had been abandoned, whilst the Americans stuck to a totally different position, saying that there had to be security before talking about other things.
In last night's resolution, they don't talk just about implementing the Mitchell Report recommendations and Tenet work plan, but say that this must lead to the resumption of a political negotiation. Saudi ideas have also contributed to making some headway. (...) But, it's an Israeli-Palestinian problem, so it's up to the Israelis to agree to start talking again, and to the two parties to move forward together in the negotiation. If they do this, the whole world will help them, Americans, Europeans and the Arab world who, I hope, will wholeheartedly support the Saudi proposal. (...).