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Peace and Justice Have to Go Together

Peace and Justice Have to Go Together

Press Conference hold By French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Dominique de Villepin in Paris, April, 30 2003. Source: Quai d'orsay.

As you know, I made two trips to the Middle East: first, to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia; then to Turkey, Jordan, and Iran. I also plan to go in the very near future to Israel and to the Palestinian Territories. I wanted to brief you on the first lessons of these visits and to set out France's positions.

I/ The Middle East is at a decisive moment in its history.

1/ In an environment characterized by terrorism, proliferation and extremism, we have to confront the challenges:

- in Iraq, it's the reconstruction necessary following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, which everyone welcomes;

- in the Middle East, we must work for peace now that a new Palestinian government has been formed.

For France, and Europe, the stakes are vital. They have a direct impact on national life.

2/ Given the urgency, we must move forward in all areas simultaneously: peace, development, freedom and democracy, with determined action:

Collective action by the peoples of the region and the international community. This is the condition for legitimacy and effectiveness.

To this end, I have just forwarded our ideas to the Greek presidency of the European Union and all my European colleagues, ahead of the informal foreign ministers' meeting which will be held in Greece on Friday and Saturday. In this same spirit, I have also been in close contact, throughout the past few days, with my colleagues, Colin Powell and Igor Ivanov.

Comprehensive action: peace and justice have to go together. So we must address the crisis in Iraq and all aspects of that in the Middle East with the same determination.

Lastly, constructive action adapted to the circumstances:

- There was the period of diplomatic negotiation when France supported the idea of resolving the Iraq crisis through peaceful disarmament;

- Then there was the war phase;

- Now we must build peace, abiding by our principles and in a constructive spirit.

II – About Iraq:

  • 1/ We all share the same objectives and the same principles:

- Ensuring Iraq's unity, stability and territorial integrity;

- And enabling the Iraqis to regain full sovereignty as soon as possible.

This applies to Europe, as evidenced by the Athens Declaration of 16 April. It applies to the countries in the region, as shown by the declaration issued by the eight neighbouring countries in Riyadh on 18 April.

  • 2/ There are three challenges:

- The humanitarian one, which is the absolute priority at this stage. We are already responding to the emergency in cooperation with all the actors: the European Union, the UN agencies and NGOs. I want particularly to salute the action of the French organizations, which have a strong presence on the ground;

- The security one, where the coalition forces have, of course, a special responsibility. Beyond the initial US-British phase of making the country safe, new arrangements are going to be put in place. Discussions are taking place now. In our view, it is important for the legal framework of this force to be clearly defined by a United Nations mandate. For France, the same would hold true for any possible NATO involvement;

- Lastly, when it comes to Iraq's economic and political reconstruction, the entire international community must come together, and here too, we think that the United Nations must play a central role.

In this spirit, France, faithful to her values, principles and convictions, wants to propose initiatives.

1 – she proposes the immediate suspension all civil sanctions in a way which will meet three requirements:

  • satisfying the immediate needs of the Iraqi people;
  • establishment of a transparent mechanism for managing the resources involving all the parties concerned;
  • clear linkage between disarmament and the end of sanctions.

2 – As for the disarmament, it will have to satisfy both:

  • a principle: United Nations certification;
  • a simple method: a working relationship between the UN and the forces on the ground;

3 – With regard to the political transition in Iraq, which is a critical factor, two elements must be given special consideration:

  • a process agreed by all parties under United Nations control;
  • a short timeframe since it's important for the Iraqis to take over the administration of their own affairs quickly.

We must demonstrate an open mind on all these issues at each stage. So we need to involve all the parties, the countries in the coalition, those in the region, the entire international community and relevant international institutions, under United Nations auspices.

  • 3/ France wishes already to be present at the side of the Iraqi people.

In this spirit, a French diplomat has been in Baghdad since Monday, 28 April, to assess the ways and means for us to resume our activities and re-start cooperation.

III – In addition to the question of Iraq, we must resolutely address the conflict in the Middle East.

The momentum triggered by the formation of Abu Mazen's government, following that of the Israeli government, offers an opportunity for peace. We must seize it and take resolute action, for ourselves and for each of the actors in this crisis.

  • 1/ Let us remember that there is today a historic consensus:

- Consensus on the principles: for the first time since 1947 the international community, on the basis of UNSCR 1397 (2002), has the same objective: we want to see a viable, sovereign Palestinian State living side by side with a State of Israel whose existence is fully recognized and security guaranteed;

- Consensus, too, on the method as well as the principles: the Quartet's road-map provides for the resolution of the conflict in three phases: first, cessation of violence and the resumption of negotiations; then establishment of the institutions of a Palestinian State and greater cooperation on security issues; finally, negotiations on the final status of the Territories and the proclamation of a Palestinian State. All this to be achieved by 2005.

  • 2/ We must seize this unique chance.

- The Quartet should publish the road-map and present it to the parties. The Quartet will ensure that it is strictly implemented by means of a mechanism for impartial supervision.

- France pledges to fully support this implementation:

- she is therefore prepared to host an international conference as soon as possible after the first phase of the road-map in order to give full regional and international momentum to the processes;

- she intends to act with all the Europeans both in the region and at the United Nations so that the entire international community mobilizes to meet the target date of 2005.

  • 3/ We must see to it that everyone does their share of the work in good faith.

On the Palestinian side:

- we are pleased that Abu Mazen's government has been approved by the Palestinian Legislative Council. I welcome the statement by the new prime minister on fighting terrorism and the resumption of negotiations with Israel;

- the imperative now is to renounce for good all acts of violence against the Israelis and to use all possible means to stop suicide attacks. I want this morning to condemn the appalling attack which took place yesterday and, as you know, left four people dead, including a young French woman. The Palestinian State has to be built. It is for this that the Palestinians are now mobilizing. They have begun the indispensable process of reforms which require swift adoption of their constitution. France and Europe must provide the Palestinians with the necessary financial and technical assistance needed for the success of these efforts.

On her side, Israel has a right to security and recognition by her neighbours. She must fulfil all the terms and conditions of the road-map; renounce her settlement policy; withdraw her troops to the lines of September 2000; and remove the obstacles to normal life in the Palestinian Territories.

In this context it is also essential for the countries in the region which have influence with radical organizations to continue to use it and urge moderation. This is particularly true in the case of Syria and Iran. To this end a distinction will have to be made, within certain organizations, between their political component, which plays an important role, and the military branches.

In the context of a comprehensive peace, we call on Syria to do everything to facilitate the implementation of the road-map, and Israel to agree to negotiations with a view to the return of the Golan Heights to Syria. In return, guarantees must be found to ensure her security in this area.

Peace is also possible between Lebanon and Israel. UNSCR 425 has been applied. No pretext, including that of the Shabaa Farms, may be used to postpone peace.

Concurrently, Lebanon needs to return quickly, in accordance with UNSCR 520, to full independence and sovereignty. This requires the withdrawal of all foreign troops and the deployment of Lebanese forces on the border with Israel.

To this end, Syria can right now make a gesture and continue the withdrawal, already started, of her forces deployed in Lebanon. At the same time, we must encourage Syria to continue her efforts to modernize and reform. France is ready, for her part, to fully support these efforts with the European Union.

IV/ Lastly, responsible action on our part must encourage the mobilization against terrorism and proliferation.

We have had some initial success in the fight against terrorism. We must continue our efforts on the basis of the principles we have defined at the United Nations:

- the mobilization of the entire international community;

- close cooperation between all States, particularly in police, judicial and financial matters.

France will accordingly propose to all her partners the harmonization of our approaches, exchanging intelligence and the establishment of a common list of terrorist organizations in the world in order to combine the efforts of all in the fight against this scourge.

We must also address the issues which fuel terrorism: the injustices, humiliations and frustrations of every conceivable sort.

With regard to proliferation, we cannot accept the status quo.

The multilateral non-proliferation regime should apply to the whole region. It must be backed up by the definition of a new regional security framework based on confidence-building measures and non-aggression. The proposal for an area free of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems presented by President Mubarak, and based on UNSCR 687, provides a sold basis in this respect.

  • We must move forward in several directions at the same time:

- First, consider how to conduct robust inspections under UN auspices.

- Second, obtain new commitments from countries in the region:

. to adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention;

. to accede to the code of conduct against the proliferation of ballistic missiles;

. to sign of the additional protocol of the IAEA, known as the 93 + 2.

- Third, offer international technical and financial assistance to countries in the region which commit themselves to eliminating their weapons of mass destruction in a complete and verifiable way.

- Fourth, tie economic advantages for countries whose intentions raise suspicions to commitments in the non-proliferation sphere.

We propose that new ideas for discussion should be explored at the meeting of the Security Council on non-proliferation which President Chirac has proposed.

Today is the time, as we can clearly see, for engaging everywhere in a strategy of initiatives, for transforming the challenges into an opportunity. France, guided by her values, principles and convictions, wants to move forward with all her partners to address the urgent situations of the entire region.

  • Sanctions

Question: At the moment, if the sanctions aren't lifted, doesn't the international community risk being out of the running as regards aid to get Iraq back on her feet ?

Dominique de Villepin: I don't think so. First of all because, as we can clearly see, we are today in a special phase when we need to deal simultaneously with the humanitarian emergency and the security issues. (...) We have proposed an immediate suspension of the sanctions imposed on Iraq, and France is keen for the Security Council to embark rapidly on this path. Suspension of these sanctions will naturally lead to the ending of the Oil-for-Food programme. We must, because a failure to do so could lead to serious disturbances (...) provide for a transitional programme leading to a smooth phasing-out of this programme, avoiding breaking anything off suddenly which would obviously be damaging (...). It's important too to know the framework in which we're going to carry out this reconstruction (...). We must find a transparent international supervisory and control mechanism which allows all this to be done as smoothly as possible. The Security Council must obviously decide on the measures to be taken.


Things are making headway (...). What's important is our approach (...) which involves taking initiatives, making proposals, and a conviction that we have to work through consultation, by together adopting transparent mechanisms, supported by everyone. This is important vis-à-vis the Iraqis, the region and the international community. Let's realize the scale of the rebuilding. It's an extremely ambitious project since it involves political, economic, administrative and social reconstruction. To build the peace we need the efforts of the international community and we are, I believe, all ready, and have a strong desire – that's what I found when visiting the region's countries, is what I find when meeting my European, US partners – (...) to make the maximum contribution to the success of this phase of the reconstruction.

  • French ITN Cameraman

Question: A French citizen disappeared in Iraq on 22 March, Fred Nérac. (...) What is the French government doing to find him?

Dominique de Villepin: The French government is making every effort. You know the circumstances in which this Frenchman, working for ITN, disappeared. We immediately informed our US and British partners who were on the spot to try and get some accurate information. We have, of course, been in contact with Mme Nérac, with his family, to try and find out everything we can. We have asked for an investigation into what happened that day. Everyone is making active efforts (...): we have referred the matter to the international organizations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and all the non-governmental organizations over there. I can tell you that we are continuing to work very actively on this. President Chirac has had a meeting with Mme Nérac. I have too, and we are working actively on the ground, and it's of course among the priorities for our representative on the spot.

  • Syria

Question: You have issued an appeal to Syria saying that she can make gestures regarding her presence in Lebanon and you also said that no pretext must be used to obstruct the peace, including regarding the Shebaa farms. I imagine that you have made the same appeal to President Assad. Did you find the President receptive to these demands and aren't you in a way coordinating your efforts with the US policy to exert pressure on Syria by issuing this appeal at this moment ?

Dominique de Villepin: Common sense tells us that we're in a new situation in this region. A new situation in Iraq, a new situation linked to the formation of a Palestinian government, a new situation linked to the formation, a few weeks ago, of an Israeli government. As I said, we face a huge number of challenges in this region. (...) All this must prompt us to transform these challenges into an opportunity and this is why we think it essential to have a demanding, responsible, comprehensive approach. (...) You referred to the specific case of Syria. Quite obviously, when I was there we spoke at length about the region's situation and I stressed to President Bashar al-Assad the need to move forward and make his full contribution to meeting the demands for peace in that region. It's a collective, urgent process since everyone knows that all missed opportunities encourage new upsurges in terrorism and violence. So we firmly believe that this mobilization is urgent and this is what we want to work towards, again on all the aspects of this region's problems. We think that you can't have peace without justice, or justice without peace. We have to realize that the people have great expectations of us and this is why everyone must mobilize.

  • International Conference on the Middele-East / Sanctions

Question: You mentioned the idea of an international conference on the Middle East. Can you explain who today supports France on this? And a brief question on Iraq: why aren't you, in this spirit of openness, in favour of lifting the sanctions?

Dominique de Villepin: On the first question, on the need for an international conference, (...) it's part of the Quartet's road-map and programme. (...) The international conference is certainly the best way of bringing everyone together, getting everyone to focus their energies on the tasks in hand, to create the vital momentum for all those who want to move towards peace. It's a tool which, at the regional and international level, will allow us to channel all the energies and move on to the other phases provided for by the road-map.

Why not move immediately towards lifting the sanctions? Quite simply because all this is extremely complicated. We can't move from a situation when everything was under international control to a new one when the international community suddenly stops exercising its responsibilities. Who would then be responsible for managing this on a daily basis? With what type of controls, what types of mechanism? (...) We're trying to be realistic, working with the concern not to create a vacuum which could lead either to extremely delicate management problems, or even to people disputing any procedures put in place. So out of a concern both for efficiency and legitimacy, it's important for the international community to back this process. (...) This is why, under United Nations auspices, cooperating with the countries on the ground, with the relevant financial institutions, with all those who can assist the smooth management of this process, we must mobilize to provide for this supervisory mechanism.

  • US/France

Question: On Iraq and other issues, what concrete action can today bring the United States and France back together and end this fallout as quickly as possible?

Dominique de Villepin: There are two major reasons why there will be confidence between us and why there is confidence today. The first is that it's necessary. That's obvious, we have to work together. Clearly, resolving the problems is beyond the capability of a single power. So we need a process which is simultaneously effective and legitimate, and satisfies the Iraqi people's aspirations. If we want all this to happen fast, without mishap, without damage, let's work together, get everyone actively involved. I firmly believe that one of the keys [to resolving the problems], in Iraq as everywhere else, is for everyone to do their bit. As we can see, all our States have relations with this region, have a desire and the ability to act, resources to offer. (...) The European Union (...) has a role to play in the region and, quite obviously wishes to participate in Iraq's reconstruction. It's also its responsibility and its natural role to do so. To (...) coordinate this action, we must be able to work in the most efficient and legitimate framework possible. I think there is far-reaching agreement with all our partners in the international community that [the United Nations] has to have a role – we say a central one, the British and Americans say a vital one. Let us define it. This is clearly the challenge today. What role do we want to give everyone? (...) Last week I had dinner with Joshka Fischer and Jack Straw, I have spoken to Colin Powell each of the past few days. We are working to try and make proposals. France is making proposals. But let's be clear about this, let's be practical: how can we create the momentum, the process which will allow us to address all the problems? We know what they are: humanitarian situation, security, disarmament, sanctions, constitution of a legitimate authority. On all these points everyone can make an important contribution and, once again, it's essential for us to act efficiently on the ground, be able to meet the Iraqis' needs.

Secondly, in answer to your question, there is the very long-standing friendship France feels for the United States, which we feel for each other and our determination to cooperate in building this international order. I've talked about some major challenges: terrorism, proliferation, regional crises. Clearly, the task is huge and isn't confined to the issue of Iraq. On all these questions, we are cooperating on a daily basis, we're working together. So let's not give in to the temptation to look back, let's turn towards the future. Let's not give in to the temptation to indulge in polemics and quarrels which are fruitless.

We have a lot of issues to resolve, we must do so together, and France is making an increasing number of proposals while – and this is what has guided her throughout the past few months in the Iraq crisis – remaining true to her values, her convictions and her principles.

  • Multipolar World

Question: You have received a lot of threats from the United States. The American President has inter alia warned you not to build any sort of anti-US alliance during your visit to the Middle East. Are you afraid that these comments harm your freedom of action? Have you felt any reticence on the part of the Arab governments concerning the desire of the United States to isolate France in this region? Are you in future going to have to ask Colin Powell where you can exercise diplomacy ?

Dominique de Villepin: (...) I haven't heard any threats. Perhaps I haven't listened properly, I can't hear any threats, quite simply because France is a country which sets great store, as you know, by her independence, is above all a country which sets great store by its values, its convictions and its principles. These are the values which have guided us and they are obviously not negotiable, they are at the very heart of France's international relations, our country's very identity. I believe these values, these convictions are in fact very largely shared by the international community, as we have seen, including in the Security Council. (...) We have to resolve the problems in the way allies, friends do, by respecting one another.

We are convinced, and this is why we defend the idea of a multipolar world, that what applies at the level of a State and a family, applies at world level too. Democracy is a precious possession. Working together on an equal footing, in a context of mutual respect, listening to what each other says. We are all stronger when we also consider what others think and their concerns. There's a phrase President Chirac often repeats: there are more ideas in two heads than one. I'm convinced that the same applies on the international stage. There are more ideas in two, three, four world poles than in just one. So it's important to know how to work together. We can see the extent to which the world is organizing itself. Russia, China, India, all these poles are destined to express their visions of the world. We clearly need to work together and I am pleased to see that, for several weeks, the whole international community has been making active efforts to move forward together and provide answers to the major questions. (...) Of course, we shall find the path, it's what France did at the United Nations. We are waiting for the United States to clarify a number of points on which they wish to move forward, the ways they wish to do so. But I'm convinced that, provided we act with the concern to demonstrate this mutual respect and efficiency, we shall succeed in moving forward all together.

  • Proliferation / Chemical Weapons /Israel /PA

Question: (...) You worked very effectively before and during the war. My question concerns proliferation and chemical weapons. Do you think that the Israelis can accept France's aid to achieve the goal of a region without weapons of mass destruction? And how can one ask Mr Abu Mazen to stop the attacks which the Israeli army, with all its power, can't stop ?

Dominique de Villepin: All the region's States have to understand that you can't resolve one question without taking all the others into account. It's here that we see the very close interdependence between the world's problems, between terrorism, proliferation, the regional crises, the feeling of injustice which has developed. (...) All this is contributing to the world's instability. (...) For too many decades, this region has been treated with the usual reflexes, lip service, set formulas. (...) When I was over there, I was very struck by the degree to which all these States are very acutely aware of the need to act. (...) We saw this with the Beirut Summit Arab initiative, there is today the desire to live in peace in this region. Why? Quite simply because everyone knows that without peace, there's no development. Look at the amount of international investment in that region, you will see how unready investors are to work there. (...) If we want development, if we want democracy, there has to be peace. (...) The Middle East is clearly today at the heart of the world's problems and it's our duty to deal with them.

  • Syria / Libya

Question: (...) What was President Assad's mood when you met him? My second question concerns Libya following yesterday's statement by your Libyan colleague about the Lockerbie terrorist attack. He said that, recognizing her civil responsibility for it, she intended to compensate the victims to the tune of ten million dollars per family. The families of the victims of the DC10 were shocked by the disparity between the treatment of the two cases. The victims' families and SOS Attentats are suggesting that the French authorities had perhaps defended them very poorly. I wanted to know your reaction.

Dominique de Villepin: On the first point concerning Syria and my talks with President Bashar al-Assad, I believe he is aware, like all the region's leaders, of the need to move forward, to open up his country and work together to find solutions. The best example was given to you a few months ago: the adoption of UNSCR 1441. Who would have said that we would manage all together to find a common position on the international stage? Syria voted for this resolution, as she did for the humanitarian UNSCR 1472, which was passed unanimously; likewise we were able to renew the Oil-for-Food programme a few days ago. That shows you how valuable this unanimity is. When France talks about the international community's unity, I say clearly and frankly, that it's a duty for us all. We can't each move forward in our own corner without risking new splits, fresh misunderstandings. France's insistence on maintaining a dialogue with everyone, on endeavouring to satisfy this demand for understanding and dialogue between cultures is essential. It was at the heart of the French position throughout the Iraq crisis.

Onyour other point, Libya, I've seen the comments and American and British reactions. I think we have to wait to see how things actually work out on the Libyan side. You mention the specific point of the compensation. Let me remind you that this involved and involves, for the remaining issues, judicial procedures. So it's in a judicial framework that decisions are made. It's not for me, here, to comment on the point you make. What's certain is that France is absolutely determined, for all those involved in this tragedy, to provide her support so that this compensation materializes. This is what we have done all through the recent talks I've had with the Libyan leaders.


  • EU Four Countru Defence Summit

Question: I'd like for a moment to come back to Europe (...) to the defence Summit which took place yesterday in Brussels (...). Do you believe this sort of event or initiative can help unite Europe and doesn't in fact tend to risk giving rise to still more friction (...)?

Dominique de Villepin: (...) Our concern is to iron out these divisions and work together. The Europeans can do this on one major condition: they have to act. The more we move forward, the more we do, the more able we are to work more effectively together and forge this essential relationship for all our States. In this context, the enlargement is a new opportunity for Europe. (...) This is the whole purpose of the Convention on the Future of Europe, and the future Intergovernmental Conference (...) and is exactly what the four heads of State and government did in Brussels. They made progress on a path opened in 1991, and which, with a number of our partners – I'm thinking in particular of our British friends, in the framework of the Saint-Malo Summit – has seen some very important developments and highpoints. We must continue to move forward, and this is clearly the purpose of yesterday's meeting: to propose to our partners a path, a method, set a goal, do so in a spirit of transparency. (...) It's not a case of imposing, it's one of proposing to all those, who so wish, to join us. And we still have to decide what we have to have in the defence sphere. In the wake of the Iraq crisis everyone can clearly see, looking at the world situation, how essential it is for the Europeans to take charge of their own future, with, of course, due regard for and fully liaising with NATO, the Atlantic Alliance. We wish to strengthen this Atlantic Alliance (...). Europe has to be able to have an autonomous capacity to act in order to address the security challenges confronting the EU, and concurrently we must have a close link with NATO, so as not to duplicate all the capabilities (...), and this was precisely the aim of yesterday's meeting, and I believe it was exactly that of the Saint-Malo summit. (...)

  • Iraq

Question: Regarding Iraq, can you give us a few more details: are you envisaging a multinational force? Are you thinking of NATO, the blue berets? Would France wish to be part of it?

Dominique de Villepin: (...) There's a situation on the ground at the moment: the coalition force. What are we moving towards? What do we want for tomorrow, once the country has been made safe? How do we organize the indispensible force which will have to be present on the ground? Will it be a multinational force (...)? We want to move forward along this path, knowing that for France, if there's a force, it would be useful, once the country is safe, necessary even, for the United Nations to provide the framework in which the force could act. I also believe this is a concern for very many States which see themselves contributing to such a force or having a role in setting one up for the future. This framework would lend the necessary legitimacy for the action to be effective. You talk about the contribution NATO could make. Would this be a NATO force, or would NATO make a technological contribution to it? We must look at all these possibilities. As far as France is concerned, we consider that any involvement envisaged could take place only within the United Nations framework.


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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).