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The International Community Must Mobilize and Meet its Responsibilities

The International Community Must Mobilize and Meet its Responsibilities

Daily Press Briefing: Statement made in Paris by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokeperson, Mr François Rivasseau on June 28, 2002 (Excerpt on Middle East). Source: Quai d'Orsay, Paris.

Question: Can you give us a round-up of the minister's visit to the Mideast?

The minister was in the Middle East from June 23 to 26. He had talks in Egypt (Mr. Mubarak, Mr. Maher), Israel (Messrs. Sharon, Peres, Ben Eliezer, Burg, Saris, Katsav), the Palestinian Territories (Mr. Arafat, Mr. Abu Ala) and Saudi Arabia (Princes Abdullah, Sultan and Saoud) with whom he also held a joint press briefing.

The visit, which followed immediately on the European council in Seville and before the G8 summit, came at a sensitive time in the region--on the ground there was the Israeli army occupation of Ramallah again and on the diplomatic front President Bush's speech (June 24).

Based on the declaration adopted at the European council in Seville, Foreign Minister de Villepin developed the following messages during his meetings and in contacts with the press:

-- Addressing regional crises, as in the Mideast, is a matter of urgency in the fragile and uncertain world since September 11. Are these moreover crises that can still be called regional when the repercussions are likely to spread way beyond where they start?

-- With regard to the Middle East, only by simultaneously taking into account the aspirations of the Israelis to live in security within sure and recognized borders and the Palestinians to live freely in a viable, independent, democratic and peaceful state can progress be made towards peace. Just as there can be no peace without security, there can be no lasting security without relaunching the peace negotiations.

-- The aspirations of the Palestinian people for the end of the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state must be satisfied through negotiation. Terrorism, which holds the region to ransom in order to ruin any prospect of peace, must be extremely firmly condemned and the fight against it pursued with the greatest determination. The Palestinian Authority must produce tangible, concrete results on this issue as soon as possible;

-- The reforms Chairman Arafat has initiated, like the elections, are necessary. But it is up to the Palestinians alone to choose their leaders. The resumption of a political process is urgent;

-- The international community must mobilize and meet its responsibilities. Its action must be based on the elements of consensus drawn from positions expressed by the U.S. (Cf. President Bush's speech), the European Union (the Seville declaration) and the Arab countries (the Saudi initiative adopted at the Arab summit in Beirut);

-- An international conference, providing it is well-prepared, is still the best way to move forward. The conference should lead to a resumption of the negotiations on all tracks (Israeli-Palestinian, and also Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese);

-- France and the European Union are determined to play their full part in the quest for peace, alongside the U.S., the other members of the "quartet" and the Arab countries principally concerned.

Question: Wasn't the minister due to meet with prominent Palestinians in East Jerusalem as you announced?

That is correct. He also met prominent Palestinians in East Jerusalem, including Sari Nusseibeh in the religious school.

Question: Can you tell us more about those meetings? Was Mr. Bush's speech mentioned?

Yes, of course. George Bush's speech was one of the elements at the center of the talks.

Question: There was President Bush's speech, then the Seville summit, the G8 summit then the minister's visit, then the re-occupation of eight Palestinian cities and still there's a complete deadlock. In France's view, what is the calendar going to look like in the weeks and months ahead? And how do you see the solution to this situation?

We have told our interlocutors, the Israelis in particular, what our position is on these points and of course we expressed our concern, which is shared by the international community, President Bush mentioned it in his speech, for the Israelis to end their occupation.

Question: One gets the impression that under the pretext of encouraging the U.S president to be involved in the Middle East, we're disregarding everything the Israelis do, including reoccupying all the occupied territories. How far is this impunity going to go? There are U.N. resolutions too, they shouldn't be forgotten.

France and with it the Europeans are not forgetting it in any case. As you saw in the communiqué issued at Seville, France and the Europeans are maintaining tough positions on this matter which, as I've just said, may not be just a regional crisis.

Question: There's a lack of coherence. When there's a terrorist act in the Israeli territories, it's condemned. But when there's death and occupation by the Israeli army, you say you've expressed your concern, and say nothing more. What do you think?

Beware of false symmetry. These are two quite different phenomena.

Question: Does France consider the Oslo accords are now finally buried and a dead letter?

Certainly not. They still quite clearly constitute, along with the Security Council resolutions, frames of reference as the European Union said. In our view, they are part of the established elements./.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).