|Russia, Germany and France Believe There Is Still an Alternative to War|
Russia, Germany and France Believe There Is Still an Alternative to War
"Every possibility offered by the present resolution must be explored, that there are a lot of them and they still leave us with a lot of leeway when it comes to ways of achieving the objective of eliminating any weapons of mass destruction which may exist in Iraq". Statements made by M. Jacques Chirac, President of the French Republic, during his joint Press conference with Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation (Excerpts). Paris, February 10, 2003. Source: News Bulletin, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Quai d'Orsay, Paris (E-S Photo).
Jacques Chirac: (...) We have had some meetings during which we began by talking about the international situation, as everyone will understand, and, of course, first of all the Iraq situation.
(...) For us, all possible steps had to be taken to achieve the set objective, i.e. the elimination of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, insofar as there are any, and this through the inspections, possibly strengthened, within the framework of a perfectly clear resolution adopted by the international community, UNSCR 1441.
(...) Since President Putin was in Germany yesterday and is in France today, it seemed appropriate to us to make public, this evening, together, our agreement on this problem, which is the subject of a joint declaration by Russia, Germany and France, which I'm going to read to you and which we finalized, today, with the German and Russian parties.
"Russia, Germany and France, in close coordination, reaffirm that the disarmament of Iraq, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions since UNSCR 687, is the common aim of the international community, and that it must be pursued to its conclusion within the shortest possible period.
There is a debate over the means to achieve this. This debate must continue in the spirit of friendship and respect that characterizes our relations with the United States and other countries. Any solution must be inspired by the principles of the United Nations Charter, as stated recently by Mr Kofi Annan.
UNSCR 1441, adopted unanimously by the Security Council, provides a framework whose possibilities have not yet been thoroughly explored.
The inspections conducted by UNMOVIC and the IAEA have already yielded results. Russia, Germany and France favour the continuation of the inspections and the substantial strengthening of their human and technical capabilities by all possible means and in consultation with the inspectors, within the framework of UNSCR 1441.
There is still an alternative to war. The use of force could be only a last resort. Russia, Germany and France are determined to give every chance to the peaceful disarmament of Iraq.
It is up to Iraq to cooperate actively with UNMOVIC and the IAEA so that they can complete the inspections. The Iraqi regime must face up to its responsibilities in full.
Russia, Germany and France note that the position they express reflects that of a large number of countries, particularly within the Security Council."
- So that's our common point of view on Iraq.
We also talked about a number of other subjects. (...)
Question: (On Iraq)(...)Jacques Chirac: (...) – I shall tell you what I think deep down: nothing, today, justifies a war. There's every reason for thinking that the goal we want to achieve, i.e. to ensure that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction, can be achieved through the inspections system provided for by the resolution passed unanimously by the Security Council, UNSCR 1441.
I believe that that region really doesn't need another war. I'm convinced that this is the opinion of a very, very great majority of the people in the world and also of a very, very great majority of their political leaders and I am anxious for this appeal to be genuinely heeded. Of course, Iraq must make a more active contribution so that we can be sure that she no longer has any weapons of mass destruction. But for that, let's wait for the opinion of the inspectors and give them the time to do what they have to do.
Question: President Chirac, recently, there have been quite a lot of problems between France and the United States. We hear it said, and this has long been the case, that France is the United States' ally, but isn't aligned. Is this still valid today?
Jacques Chirac: Of course (...) we are the United States' friend. We're in no way calling into question the Atlantic solidarity which, we consider today, makes a very important contribution to world stability. This, of course, doesn't mean we shouldn't, on a specific problem and one which requires a moral approach to things – I'm talking about a possible war against Iraq – have our opinion and defend it.
- Iraq/Franco-German Plan/US
Question: The Americans have opposed the Franco-German plan, I'd like to know what your response to their opposition might be. Could you please give us some more information on this plan?
Jacques Chirac: I don't know exactly what you call the Franco-German plan; if it's the joint declaration by Russia, Germany and France, it's clear, you can draw all the relevant conclusions from it.
There have been French proposals. They are known, they are public and they were voiced a week ago by the Minister of Foreign Affairs at the UN Security Council meeting. These proposals were immediately approved by Germany and by a number of Security Council members and countries not on the Security Council (...). These proposals are designed, I repeat, to strengthen the inspectors' human and technical capabilities and they fall within the framework of UNSCR 1441. I don't know if you call that a plan, at any rate it's what's becoming an increasingly common position.
- Deployment of UN Peacekeepers
Question: Could the strengthening of the inspectors' technical capabilities in Iraq involve or require the deployment of blue helmets?
Jacques Chirac: As far as France is concerned, we are ready to envisage everything that can be done under UNSCR 1441. And UNSCR 1441 doesn't provide for the deployment of blue helmets. That's a statement of fact. But I repeat that every possibility offered by the present resolution must be explored, that there are a lot of them and they still leave us with a lot of leeway when it comes to ways of achieving the objective of eliminating any weapons of mass destruction which may exist in Iraq. I'd like nevertheless to note that, as things stand at the moment, I have, to my knowledge, no indisputable proof in this sphere. (...)./.