Our World Seeking New Balances Is Teetering Between Hope and Chaos
Our World Seeking New Balances Is Teetering Between Hope and Chaos
Address given by Mr Jacques Chirac, President of
the French Republic, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
London, United Kingdom, Thursday, November 18, 2004. Sources :
Élysée Palace in Paris and French Embassy in London.
I should first of all like to thank you for your hospitality and your kind
words of welcome. It is a pleasure and an honour for me to be able to speak to
those at this prestigious Institute whose thinking and analyses help clarify the
choices of leaders on the international scene.
A few days ago, the American people went to the polls. In a few months, Europe
will do the same. In France, in the United Kingdom and in many other EU
countries, the people of Europe will be asked to directly express their opinions
on the European Constitution.
Like the American elections, these referendums, which are the natural rhythm of
democracy, will shape, above and beyond each of our nations, the very
development of the world.
We live in a single world. A world in which the United States’ choices and
Europe’s choices have a decisive impact.
It is a complex, changing and sometimes worrying world, one that is increasingly
present in our fellow citizens’ lives and concerns at a time when every day,
globalisation further blurs the boundaries between what happens within and
beyond our borders.
A world that is fervently seeking new balances, that is teetering between hope
Today, Europe and the United States have a huge responsibility. We each have
our history and our way of looking at things. Based on its experience, Europe
carries the message of reconciliation with past enemies. It bears witness to the
force of law, co-operation and solidarity. Like the United States, it has
inherited an essential legacy: an attachment to the values of democracy, liberty
and human rights that underlie the Charter of the United Nations.
It is in these shared values that Americans and Europeans today, as in the past,
find the common ground enabling them to together take up the challenges of this
new century and help create a new world order based on the peoples’ support and
freedom and on respect for their identity.
Before the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the end of the Cold War
fifteen years ago marked the third victory in a century for democracies and
The collapse of Communism had far-reaching implications, which we are only just
starting to gauge. Following our victory, we chose globalisation in the hope
that trade would unify the world in prosperity. Some believed that the demise of
Communism would sound the death knell for ideologies and that our values would
naturally prevail everywhere.
Fifteen years later, the landscape before us remains incomplete and faced with
The choice of economic openness freed hundreds of millions of men and women from
poverty. As a result, large entities - countries and groups of countries - are
growing alongside the European Union, the United States and Japan, forming new
poles that combine economic strength with political will.
This new reality has challenged the long-standing pre-eminence of the West and
its models. It has paved the way for the assertion of another modernity that is
emancipating itself from us. A modernity rooted in age-old histories and
cultures, which we must now learn to understand better and respect, and whose
calling is also to understand and fully share the values of democracy and
Globalisation often causes upheaval and destabilisation in societies that are
poorly prepared to take advantage of its opportunities.
In Africa, in particular, it relegates hundreds of millions of men, women and
children to extreme poverty, sickness, ignorance and exclusion. This situation
is morally unacceptable, politically dangerous and economically absurd. Poverty
goes hand in hand with the major epidemics, which know no borders. It drives
millions of human beings into exile, in search of a better future. It stifles
energies and talents that could contribute to shared prosperity if they were
free of the daily fight for survival. And all too often, it leads to revolt and
In regions in crisis, nostalgia for the past and religious fundamentalism appear
as shelters from the storm. Poverty and a sense of injustice therefore form a
breeding ground for fanaticism and revolt. And the West is often seen as the
source of all evils. In a globalised world, not paying attention to this is
tantamount to paving the way for the clash of civilisations.
Globalisation compels us to pay even more attention to the environmental crisis,
as humanity is increasingly exerting a destructive pressure on nature. This
pressure could reach the breaking point if the entire world were to reproduce
the Western systems of consumption and production based on wasting natural
resources that we mistakenly believe to be inexhaustible.
In its cracks and crevices, it is nurturing new threats to peace and security,
as international crime, terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction usurp and distort free trade and the instruments of modernity for
their own ends.
The future depends on our collective ability to take on board this new global
complexity by casting off obsolete approaches. It depends on our will to
together take up the common challenges. Challenges that neither Europe, the
United States nor any other international player today has the means to meet
alone. Yet resolving these challenges will determine the security and future of
each and every one of our citizens.
It is by recognising the new reality of a multipolar and interdependent world
that we will succeed in building a sounder and fairer international order.
Granted, it is still possible to organise the world based on a logic of power.
Yet experience has taught us that this type of organisation is, by its very
definition, unstable and sooner or later leads to crisis or conflict.
But we have another choice. That of an order based on respect for international
law and the empowerment of the world’s new poles by fully and wholly involving
them in the decision-making mechanisms. Only this path is likely to establish a
stable, legitimate and accepted order in the long run.
This is why we must work together to revive multilateralism. A multilateralism
based on a reformed and strengthened United Nations, with a Security Council
enlarged in terms of both its permanent and non-permanent members to represent
the new balances in the world. With the creation of a new political forum on the
economic and social governance of globalisation, of which the Evian Summit
Enlarged Dialogue and the G20 summit project are, to a certain extent,
forerunners. Together we must give our all to ensure that these reforms take
shape in 2005.
This multilateralism should lead to support for the regional integration
processes underway on all the continents. It is also at this level that the
empowerment approach should be brought into play, with the assistance of the
major multilateral organisations.
We need to build the new world order on the recognition of the diversity of
cultures. This long-stifled reality is asserting itself today as an increasingly
decisive factor in relations between nations. It is by respecting it that we
will ensure real support for the values of the Universal Declaration of Human
Dialogue between cultures, civilisations and religions is the best response to
the enemies of freedom who count on conflict between them.
This dialogue respectful of diversity naturally goes hand in hand with resolute
support for the democratisation processes embarked upon by many countries. We
believe in the universality of aspiring to freedom and the exercise of
citizenship. We should support reformers everywhere with respect for peoples’
identities. Yet we must avoid any confusion between democratisation and
Westernisation. For although our memory is sometimes short, the peoples
submitted to the West’s domination in the past have not forgotten and are quick
to see a resurgence of imperialism and colonialism in our actions.
The world needs a strong Europe in a reforged transatlantic partnership to build
the new world order that will guarantee lasting peace, security and economic and
Europe has created a model: after totalitarianism, two World Wars, the Holocaust
and nearly fifty years of Cold War, it decided to break free of the power games.
Its peoples have established an area of peace, democracy, solidarity and
prosperity founded on the freely conferred sharing of sovereignty. This has made
the European Union an original and exemplary international player.
Tomorrow, with the entry into force of its first Constitution, Europe, steered
by humanist and democratic ideals and with a clear picture of its strategic
interests, should be able to take on new responsibilities on the international
It is set to establish special links with the world’s major poles. I am
obviously referring to China, India, Brazil and all the groups of countries such
as Mercosur, ASEAN and the African Union, which justifiably aspire to seeing
their new political, economic, technological and financial stature recognised. I
am also referring to Russia, which has resumed its rightful place in the concert
of nations and which is so close to us in terms of history, culture and
The dialogue that Europe is developing with these new poles of the 21st century
is helping to further our values, respect for international law and world
stability. It is not the solitary pursuit of selfish interests, but a clear
strategic priority placed on the commitment and empowerment of these new global
I believe that this harmonious dialogue with the other major poles in the world
is helping to promote the universal values that are at the heart of the
On 6 June 2004, on the beaches of Normandy, I reaffirmed that France will never
forget what it owes America, its friend and ally since the War of Independence.
Like all the countries of Europe, it knows that the Atlantic Alliance, forged in
the face of adversity, is vital to our collective security in the face of new
Forty years ago, President Kennedy called for a balanced partnership to be
forged between the two sides of the Atlantic. France, with the European Union,
shares this vision.
I would like to point out that for France, NATO is also the forum where
Americans and Europeans can, when united around the same objectives and tasked
by the international community, pool their efforts to work for peace in a
climate of mutual attentiveness and respect.
In this spirit, France decided at the Prague Summit to fully commit to enabling
NATO to face up to the threats in the world today. France is now one of the
leading contributors to the NATO Response Force, the NRF, whose national
resources are also available for the European Union.
France is also one of the foremost contributors of forces to the Alliance’s
military missions and, at this very moment, is managing operations in Kosovo and,
via the EUROCORPS Staff, in Afghanistan. This shows that a strong Europe of
Defence also contributes to a stronger Alliance.
Building a credible European defence system is obviously not, as is sometimes
said, about building up a Europe against the United States. It is about giving
Europe the capabilities to assume its responsibilities either independently, in
liaison with the Atlantic Alliance or within it.
This is a long-haul effort, for while Europe theoretically has the second
largest military budget in the world, equivalent in volume to half that of the
United States, the results do not reflect the effort put in. The only realistic
way to give Europe the capabilities it is lacking is to now build a bridge
between the national defence forces, pool resources, phase out redundant
duplication, seek out synergies and favour co-operation programmes. Following
the success of the A400M aircraft, this concern is at the heart of the debates
and projects that France has been conducting with Germany and other EU partners
in recent months.
Hence France, like the United Kingdom, has chosen conventional propulsion for
its future aircraft carrier, which should improve the interoperability of our
fleets. We should give our all, end the circumspection and overcome short-term
economic problems to ensure that this co-operation, which the British Prime
Minister and I both wish for, is a real success, a success for our countries and
a success for Europe, for its defence and for the transatlantic link.
In the same spirit, we should together take up the strategic challenge of space,
as a guarantee of Europe’s autonomy and its credibility in evaluating threats
and conducting military operations. Here again, we have established productive
co-operation with Germany. We can surely go further together with the United
The resolution of regional crises may be the first priority for reforging
transatlantic co-operation in the coming months.
From the Balkans to Afghanistan to Haiti, we see what Europe and the United
States can do together when they make the effort to agree on the objectives and
how to achieve them. In all these crisis areas, our soldiers are working side by
side for peace.
The resolution of the Middle East conflict can no longer wait. If we want to
alleviate tensions and emotions, overcome fear, frustration and despair, and
bring a lasting end to violence and terrorism in the region and beyond, we have
to do everything in our power to arrive at a fair and sustainable solution to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The passing of Yasser Arafat, the historical embodiment of the Palestinian
people’s national aspirations, has made the resolution of this crisis even more
urgent. Faced with a risk of chaos, the Palestinian leaders have chosen
democracy. Let us support them in this. Let us facilitate the holding of free
elections in the Palestinian Territories. Let us help assert legitimate and
democratic Palestinian institutions that will constitute, for Israel, the best
partners for peace.
Reviving the Middle East peace process is an absolute priority, which should
rally Americans and Europeans together with their Quartet partners. Let us
together ensure the success of the withdrawal from Gaza. Let us pave the way for
the implementation of the Road Map, the creation of a viable and democratic
Palestinian State living alongside the State of Israel in peace and security.
In Iraq, the unanimously adopted Resolution 1546 has defined the steps of a
political process that must now be implemented in its entirety. We believe that
the coming elections, provided they are organised in a credible manner, can give
rise to the creation of fully legitimate Iraqi institutions and enable the
country to be master of its own destiny. The entire international community is
united in its aim to give back the Iraqi people, in all their diversity, their
dignity through regained freedom, return them to their full place in the
international community and enable them to contribute, by their stability, to
balance in the region. The upcoming Sharm-el-Sheikh conference should be useful
and advance the cause of peace by supporting the process underway through to its
Combating the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism is our
second priority. Transatlantic co-operation is already exemplary in these areas.
It should continue and be stepped up.
To give new impetus to non-proliferation policy in the light of the recent
crises, I proposed that a meeting be held of the Heads of State and Government
of the Security Council member countries. This proposal is more relevant than
ever. It should enable us to make a rational analysis of the strengths and
weaknesses of the non-proliferation regime we have built up over time: treaties,
systems to control exports of sensitive technologies, verification and
inspection mechanisms, special G8 programmes, the Proliferation Security
Initiative, and the EU Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass
Iran is an urgent case in point. It has led us, with the United Kingdom and
Germany, in association with the European Union, in liaison with Russia, and in
full transparency with the United States, to propose to Tehran an approach based
on reciprocal commitments between our countries: since Iran has decided to
implement confidence-building measures to guarantee the peaceful nature of its
nuclear programme now and in the future, our three countries, in liaison with
the European Union and its Member States, are able to embark with Iran on
long-term co-operation in the political, economic and technological fields,
including the civilian nuclear industry. It is only fitting that the countries
that respect their international non-proliferation obligations and provide proof
of the peaceful nature of their objectives should be able to use the
technologies to which the international rules give them legitimate access. Yet
no leniency should be shown towards those who fail to comply with their
Our world is witnessing a spread of terrorism that nothing, no cause, can
justify. The international community needs to be united in the face of this
outburst of blind, barbaric violence. In Afghanistan, where our special forces
are fighting alongside our American allies, and elsewhere, our uncompromising
fight has dealt the terrorist networks some harsh blows. The nations in the
UN-led coalition have closed ranks. Yet the recent attacks in Asia, Europe and
Africa show that the threat persists and is growing.
This worrying observation compels us to define an evermore effective and
appropriate response, including against new threats such as bioterrorism and
It also prompts us to recognise that terrorism is rooted in unresolved conflicts
and poverty and the absence of prospects for development. Our fight cannot
overlook this reality.
There are other challenges aside from security that a reforged transatlantic
partnership can successfully take up. I am referring, in particular, to poverty
reduction and environmental protection. We will have the opportunity to make
decisions that will change the state of affairs at the G8 Summit hosted by the
United Kingdom next year.
Underdevelopment is not inescapable. The example of China and India proves this.
Yet poverty is a blind alley, and we must extend a hand to help those who cannot
leave it by their own means. Those who are too weak to take advantage of the
benefits of international trade liberalisation risk being marginalized even
We know the road: the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the international
community four years ago. We know the method: the partnership set up in
Monterrey and illustrated by NEPAD’s approach. We know the price: in the region
of one hundred billion dollars per year, which is a small fraction of global
wealth. And yet official assistance from the rich countries covers merely half
of this sum.
The international community urgently needs to find new resources for development.
It must explore all avenues, impartially and without exception, in order to
mobilise a fraction of the immense wealth created by globalisation.
The United Kingdom has put forward the idea of an International Finance Facility,
which we support. France, with Brazil, Chile and Spain, has tabled concrete and
realistic proposals concerning international taxes, which complement this idea.
Let us prepare a common approach for the September 2005 United Nations Summit
whereby the international community will fully respect its commitments.
The destruction of nature is not inevitable either and, in this field, combating
climate change is the most urgent concern. Like Tony Blair, I believe that this
is one of the most pressing threats of our time and I am determined to do
everything in my power to ensure that the international reaction is equal to the
The Kyoto Protocol is the only effective instrument we have to meet this global
challenge. Russia’s decision to ratify it is a historic event and a great step
forward for the future of humanity. I hope that the next G8 Summit, under the
British presidency, will see us taking another decisive step forward together,
with the United States.
The balance of the multipolar world taking shape is based on a harmonious
partnership between the major poles and the assertion of the values and vision
of the founding fathers of the United Nations who, immediately following the
Second World War, defined an international order based on law and justice.
It is this world of law and justice, underpinned by a strong and reforged
transatlantic link, that we call for.