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Iraq : The International Community Can't Wait Any Longer
Interview given by M. Dominique de Villepin, French
Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Europe 1 Radio. (Excerpts) Paris, 13 November
Source: Embassy of France, Washington D.C.
Question: Has the time come to change strategy in
Dominique de Villepin: The international community
can't wait any longer. As we see every day, there's a spiral of violence in
Iraq: American deaths, British, Italian, Spanish and Polish deaths. How many
deaths must there be before people understand that it's essential to change tack?
Question: Even the CIA thinks that Iraqi civilians are
beginning to opt for violent action. Guerrilla warfare is going to increase and
spread, there's this risk in everything. Is that your impression?
Dominique de Villepin: Yes, the spiral of violence is
due both to the growing number of forces – groups and terrorist networks – and
at the same time we're seeing the conflation of these forces with the
nationalist and Islamist forces. And this is clearly the risk: that in the end
very different objectives lead to the same outcome, i.e. the choice of violence.
This is why we're saying that the security-orientated approach, the uniquely
military approach can't cool the situation in Iraq, can't lead to Iraq's
reconstruction. There has to be a political approach to dissociate these factors
of violence, these terrorist groups, from all those who want to get rid of an
occupying regime in Iraq.
Question: Do you feel here that we're at a
particularly important moment?
Dominique de Villepin: Yes, it's a particularly
important moment because there is, today in the United States, a realization of
what's really at stake. People are clearly seeing the limits of the policy now
being pursued. Obviously, US representatives on the ground are continuing to use
the same old language of every governor, in every occupying regime in the world:
"just a bit more time". Unfortunately, time today means [more] deaths.
Question: The American press is beginning to find that
events are proving France right. It's perhaps a fragile start. Are the leaders
showing you the same signs of movement?
Dominique de Villepin: There is today a desire for
more consultation. But I don't think that's enough. President Bush, Colin Powell
are going to be in Europe, in London before the end of the month. Colin Powell
will be in Brussels and I and my European colleagues will have the opportunity
to meet him.
Question: But Mr Bush isn't coming to Paris?
Dominique de Villepin: Mr Bush isn't coming to Paris,
but today we are ready for any meetings, any consultations, and this morning I
want to hold out my hand to our American friends because it's an issue which
concerns everyone. It's a matter of world security. We see Iraq's situation. We
see the situation of Iran where there is a proliferation crisis which we must
together be capable of dealing with peacefully. There's a crisis in Afghanistan.
Question: You mean there's a whole raft of problems
and a need for a global vision?
Dominique de Villepin: A global approach is vital. We
must mobilize our capabilities. We've all had experience of this type of
situation. So the international community must act. In Iraq, it's quite clear,
we should have a special envoy from the United Nations Secretary- General
capable, on the spot, of working in cooperation with Paul Bremer, the American
Question: So with powers?
Dominique de Villepin: There's no question today of
asking the US troops to pull out. The Americans have begun an operation, it must
be completed to bring greater security, but this must be under the aegis of the
Iraqis themselves. Iraqi sovereignty must be the starting point. A
representative assembly could be appointed by the Governing Council, out of the
various existing Iraqi bodies, but broadened to achieve the greatest possible
legitimacy. It should appoint a provisional Iraqi government before the end of
the year. I hear talk of summer 2004. All this is far too late. It's a matter of
urgency. The provisional government must be able to take over the reins in Iraq
and every one of us must contribute in accordance with this government's
specific requests. I believe this is the solution.
Question: What could be – since France's position is
shifting a bit – the contribution of the French [in terms of manpower and
Dominique de Villepin: We have said this from the
outset. We are ready to contribute to Iraq's development.
Question: But you've been saying: no money, no
Dominique de Villepin: We want to help but – and this
is the condition we're setting – we want to do so in response to requests by an
Iraqi government. It's for the Iraqis to say how they wish security to be
achieved and how they think it can be. I'm going to tell you an anecdote. Mrs
Hashimi, who was an eminent member of the Iraqi Governing Council, was in Paris,
a few weeks ago, a few days before her death. She died as a result of a
terrorist attack in Iraq. She told me: "You know when US troops come across
black marketeers in Baghdad, none of the black marketeers bat an eyelid. When a
few Iraqis armed with truncheons come across them, everyone who has something to
feel guilty about immediately flees". That shows you that the Iraqis are better
placed than anyone else to enforce order and security in Iraq. The Iraqis are
telling us: "this is how we think you can make a useful contribution to security,
particularly by protecting our borders".
Question: But, this morning, does legitimacy still
require us to go through the United Nations?
Dominique de Villepin: Legitimacy requires us going
through the international community, with the United Nations, with the United
States who are engaged on the ground and who must go on doing what they're doing,
but under the Iraqis' aegis. It's for the Iraqis to tell us how they wish things
to be. Take the example of security. If the Iraqis consider they are better
placed than the occupation forces to resolve the security problem in the towns,
if they think efforts need to be concentrated on the borders – all matters which
are arising – I think we have to concur since the Iraqis are, by definition, far
more familiar with their country than we are.
Question: What can President Bush expect from France?
Dominique de Villepin: That she will show solidarity,
initiate proposals and display courage. France is an ally and friend of the
United States. From the start of this tragic crisis, we have always been willing
to propose to our American friends what we believe to be the right path.
Question: But, between ourselves, you know that you
are sometimes suspected in America of not wanting agreement with the Americans,
Dominique de Villepin: History will tell. The history
of Franco-US relations throughout these past months has constantly been one of
France making proposals to try to find the right way to resolve the crisis. We
are doing this again today by saying: the only way out of the present
difficulties is through a political approach, a collective approach, i.e. of the
whole international community. We are ready for any discussions, any meetings.
Question: I sense a degree of urgency in what you are
saying since you probably feel that time is no one's friend, and in any case not
Dominique de Villepin: Time is no one's friend. We
must act and we can't accept as inevitable the rising daily death toll in Iraq.
Question: On 1 December, a ceremony is taking place
for the Peace Charter. 200 Palestinians and 200 Israelis, including many
representatives of civil society, are going to participate in it together with
Nelson Mandela and Bill Clinton. The negotiators have briefed you personally at
the Quai d'Orsay. Does France support this Geneva initiative?
Dominique de Villepin: France supports all the
initiatives. We think that the road-map which was defined by the international
community and accepted by all the parties is the right framework and that the
Geneva Accord lights the way forward. It also contributes something. Today
there's a new Palestinian government and so we have the conditions for resuming
this vital quest for peace. If we don't do this, here too, there will be more
violence, more terrorism. Let's mobilize! We know the solution: the creation of
a Palestinian State. You can't have justice for some and not for others. You
can't want peace and justice in Iraq without wanting peace and justice in the
Middle East. These peoples are peoples longing for peace, but at the same time
they want justice.
Question: I forgot to ask you: is it necessary to have
a new United Nations resolution on Iraq?
Dominique de Villepin: There will have to be a new
resolution once an Iraqi assembly and provisional government have been formed in
order to confer their rightful authority and sovereignty on them.
Question: You proposed a few days ago, to a discussion
club, a Franco-German union. What do you mean by that?
Dominique de Villepin: The idea is to look ahead. We
need something to aim for. We need, some would say, a utopian ideal. Of course,
the aim isn't in any way to give up our sovereignties. It's a matter of uniting
Question: Give me some examples of where there could
be major integration.
Dominique de Villepin: Today, our European Union will
be stronger because of the constantly reaffirmed determination of our two States
every day to work more together. A few examples: on the diplomatic front, the
instructions we give our Mission in New York and our Mission to the European
Union in Brussels are developed jointly with our German friends. We are
increasing the number of joint French and German diplomatic premises.
Question: Would you accept a single seat at the United
Nations, a single commissioner in Brussels?
Dominique de Villepin: (...) Today all our States
shoulder their responsibilities as sovereign nations and, what's important, is
for us to come together in this way, combine our resources and work more closely
together. We want, in the face of a certain scepticism we note in various
quarters in Europe, in the face of some doubts, and some difficulties, to signal
France and Germany's will to move forward in the spirit of Europe, with
resolution and conviction.
Question: Without forgetting the others?
Dominique de Villepin: At no moment. The aim is to
inject impetus and signal movement. (...)./