No One Can Pre-empt the Results of a Necessary Negotiation
No One Can Pre-empt the Results of a Necessary Negotiation
Press briefing given by Jacques
Chirac, President of the Republic, at the end of his working visit to
Algeria, Algiers, April 15, 2004 (excerpts).
Source: Embassy of France in the United States.
President Chirac: While
foreseeable, the situation we see developing in Iraq is nonetheless particularly
worrying. I'd like to begin by saying that France wholeheartedly condemns all
hostage-taking, which nothing can excuse or justify, and that she is asking for
the immediate release of all foreigners in Iraq currently being held or deprived
of their freedom. In this respect, I wanted to express my sympathy, my
solidarity with Italy who has just been sorely tested in this respect.
I also said to the President, who in fact wholly shared this
point of view, that the clashes in several Iraqi towns are causing the civilians
great suffering. We know this from all the eyewitness accounts we've had and can
see it from the pictures on television. These civilians must be protected and
the humanitarian aid must reach them – indeed there has been a pressing appeal
for this by the ICRC. We of course support this position and it's a
responsibility incumbent on the occupying powers.
The events currently taking place in Iraq show that, going
beyond security, the solution can only be a political one. It necessitates a
rapid, complete and visible handover of sovereignty to the Iraqis themselves and
the establishment of genuinely representative, legitimate and fully accountable
Iraqi institutions. And any option failing to take account of the will expressed
by the Iraqi people to regain their total independence as soon as possible would
be fraught with consequences for the stability of the country and, moreover,
more broadly of the region. The date of 30 June must thus signal a genuine break
with the past. Now, more than ever, France thinks that a conference bringing
together all sections of Iraqi society would, pending elections, perhaps allow
all the necessary legitimacy to be given to the political transition. We noted
with interest the initial declarations in Baghdad by M. Brahimi, the United
Nations Special Envoy. We have confidence in M. Brahimi's judgement of the
situation and are awaiting the conclusions he will report to the United Nations
Security Council. So France is awaiting his return and will look, together with
her Security Council partners, who, as you know today include Algeria, at the
role the United Nations might be able to play in the process of political
On the Middle East, France and Algeria are of the same mind.
Only a negotiated agreement underpinned by principles of international law and
paving the way for the creation of a viable Palestinian State can allow the
Israeli and Palestinian peoples to live side by side in peace and security.
Nothing sustainable will be achieved without negotiating between the parties.
Indeed, in our view, no one can pre-empt the results of a necessary negotiation.
So from this standpoint the withdrawal initiatives we see
today have to be a step towards the creation of a viable Palestinian State. To
be sustainable, the peace must also be global, satisfying the legitimate
aspirations of all the region's peoples and consequently concern all the parties
to the conflict, and not just Palestinians and Israelis – I'm thinking of course
of Syria and Lebanon. (...)
Question: (...) What
will the French position be on the US Greater Middle East initiative?
President Chirac: (...) Firstly
we think that, to be effective any initiative would have to allow beforehand for
substantial progress – which there isn't today – towards peace in the Middle
East and particularly in the conflict between Israel and Palestine. Secondly, we
consider any boost to democracy wholly desirable, that it can't be imposed, it
must be a concerted one. For many reasons, first of all because things can't be
imposed, but, on the contrary, we can consult together, talk, cooperate, give
each other mutual assistance. Secondly, the situations and characteristics of
the peoples and countries concerned are all totally different. All the countries
in the greater Middle East are different and so they don't lend themselves to a
"one-size-fit-all" approach. So the method which has to be used must, of course,
be one of cooperation, dialogue, consultation and not coercion.
With this in mind, we have great hopes that the Tunis summit
– which has been postponed for reasons which of course I'm not going to comment
on – can be held as soon as possible. Why as soon as possible? Because, as you
know, the US is going to put this Greater Middle East issue on the agenda of the
G8 summit at Sea Island which will have to discuss it. So it would be very
important, particularly for the European G8 participants for the Arab countries
to have already given their views and decided on a global position, which Europe
could draw on for the negotiations. These negotiations will tackle the political
issues, as well as how to boost democracy at the G8 summit and also military
issues at the NATO Istanbul summit a few days after the G8.
Al-Arabiya has just broadcast a recording attributed to Osama bin Laden, which
has apparently been authenticated by the Americans, proposing a three-month
truce with countries that withdraw from Moslem countries. What is your comment
Let me tell you: there is no possible negotiation with
terrorists for one simple reason. Terrorism is a barbaric act which targets
innocents and thus cannot be justified by any reason or cause whatsoever. (...)
Nothing can justify a terrorist act so any kind of discussion with terrorists is
Question: What is
France's reaction to the comments made yesterday by Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon on
the Middle East? Do you think it means the end of the road-map?
President Chirac: I would simply
say that any withdrawal from the occupied territories would naturally constitute
a positive measure in itself, and I would say in theory.
However, as all the EU chiefs of state and government clearly
stated in Brussels on March 25, such a withdrawal, first of all, has to take
place within the framework of the road-map. Secondly, it has to be done in
conjunction with the Palestinian Authority. (...) Thirdly, the withdrawal must
be a step towards the creation of a viable Palestinian State, side-by-side with
Israel. Fourthly, the withdrawal should not prejudge what the parties will
negotiate, particularly with respect to borders. Finally, nobody can preempt the
result of the negotiations. That is the position of Europe and of France. It was
not changed by the statements yesterday. We can only confirm it.
Question: Yesterday there was
a major piece of international news—the inviolability of the 1949 border was
pulverized by the U.S. president. Can you tell us if that 1949 border remains
inviolable for you?
President Chirac: I think you
are in fact referring to the 1967 border, but the question remains the same. I
would like to begin by saying that what I see as fundamental to achieving peace
is negotiation. I don’t believe you can impose peace, especially when you are
talking about two adversaries who have fought each other for a long, long time.
I don’t believe you can impose peace—it must be negotiated. Negotiated with a
partner and not someone of your own choosing, otherwise it generally won’t last.
Only the concerned parties, together, on the basis of a plan they have both
approved, can reach an agreement they can commit to and which leads to true
peace. And I’m afraid that isn’t the path that has been embarked upon.
As for the borders, there is international law, and
international law must be respected. Consequently, I am doubtful about a
unilateral or bilateral challenge to international law because it’s hard to get
the other party to agree to, and because if we stake international stability and
the rules of international law on individual circumstances and people, it sets
an unfortunate precedent that can subsequently be demanded by other people in
other places. It’s dangerous.
Question: I have a question
about Iraq. In his press conference, President Bush said he wanted a vote on a
resolution that would allow other countries to lend a hand in Iraq. I want to
know what you think about that. Would France be prepared in the coming weeks
to take part in an international force protecting UN personnel?
That question is completely off the table. As I told you a
few minutes ago, we believe that the transfer of full and real responsibility to
the UN is a necessity. I mean, it must first be transferred to recognized Iraqi
authorities and then to the UN, in order for it to manage the situation as a
whole. For now, we’re nowhere near that point. In this context, it is utterly
out of the question for France to respond affirmatively to a request for a
military presence in Iraq.
Question: Mr. President, don’t
you think that the American initiative, the Greater Middle East, is
particularly aimed at countering or thwarting EU—and notably French—ambitions
to conquer the southern shore of the Mediterranean? Isn’t the Stuttgart
meeting, which brought together the Americans and the major heads of state of
the Maghreb and Sahel countries, proof of that? They’ve just adopted the
principle of creating a strategic alliance to fight terrorism. Don’t you think
that’s a giant step forward that the Americans have taken in that direction?
I believe that anything that helps strengthen the fight
against terrorism is positive, and so the fact that the Americans are concerned—notably
in that part of the world—with strengthening the ability to fight terrorism
seems like a very positive thing. I don’t see it causing difficulties for anyone.
In any case, it doesn’t cause any for France. Thank you./.