SEA ISLAND SUMMIT 2004
For Immediate Release
June 9, 2004
PRESS BRIEFING BY
FRENCH PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC
Briefing Room East
Sea Island, Georgia
12:17 P.M. EDT
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. I'm delighted to
have this opportunity to meet with you today. I must say, I would have been
happier to be able to have greater access to all of you. But, as you know,
I will have the opportunity to give a press conference in Savannah on
I know, of course, that a number of your colleagues are listening in on
this press conference, and I would like to welcome them here and to thank
them for listening.
As you well know, we met yesterday evening. You also know I had talks with
the Prime Minister of Canada this morning and with Prime Minister Koizumi;
and I will be meeting with the King of Jordan this afternoon.
Our first working session this morning was dedicated to economic issues and
developmental issues. And in a somewhat impromptu fashion, we heard a
number of answers to the questions that some of our colleagues were asking
about the reform of the institutions in the European Union.
We will be shortly having lunch with five Arab countries, the President of
Afghanistan -- President Karzai -- and also the President of Turkey. We
shall be discussing the items on the agenda. And in the afternoon, we will
have a very interesting working session on security and safety. And dinner
this evening will give us an opportunity to discuss regional issues.
Tomorrow, we will discuss sustainable development. And the summit will
conclude on a dialogue with a number of African leaders. The purpose of
this meeting will be, of course, to discuss and review NEPAT.
As I said, we discussed a number of issues this morning, economic issues,
growth. Each of the participants clearly indicated in their address the
feeling they had about development and possibilities and prospects for
development. We have said that a number of us, underlying the fact that
there was a tremendous scope for progress and development in China. The
economy is picking up significantly in Japan. There is strong, very strong
growth in Russia, and a growth trend that is picking up also in Europe.
People are becoming more optimistic about Europe. A number of our
colleagues mentioned two percentage points as being the basic growth rate
for Europe in the coming year.
Now, of course, we also shared concerns and worries about a number of
issues. I mentioned, amongst other colleagues, the potential consequences
of the significant American trade imbalance, trade deficit and budget
deficit, and the impact it could have on exchange rates and interest rates.
I heard and realized that President Bush was very much aware of all of these
We also discussed oil and we said that there were a number of uncertainties
-- political, economic, technical ones. And that we therefore on oil had to
try and keep in check consumption and also support the establishment of
alternative energy sources. And I was very interested when President Bush
paid a special tribute to the French approach which was to use nuclear fuel
as being our main source of energy and power.
I also had an opportunity in the course of the meeting to say how much
interest we should pay on the economy, of course, but also its impact on
social and environmental issues. This gave me an opportunity to take on
board and carry forward some elements of the report drawn up by Mr. Somavia,
the Director General of the ILO, and I stressed two main points.
First of all, the major institutions -- international institutions such as
the social institutions of the ILO, for instance, and also the economic and
trade organizations, we shouldn't, as I say, leave them to work out
independently from one another. We should make sure that there is some
consistency in what they do and coordination amongst their actions.
I more specifically focused on the need for coordination between the ILO
and the WTO, and also the ILO and the international financial institutions.
That is a point that was very significantly stressed by Mr. Somavia in his
report, and I think he is absolutely right.
I also had an opportunity to discuss fraud and piracy in today's world --
and counterfeiting. Now, our experts are telling us that these
counterfeiting and fraudulent approaches account for hundreds of billions of
Euro in trade in today's world, which clearly indicates that we have to be
much more effective in fighting against these criminal practices; especially
when we realize that there are number of honest and law-abiding
organizations that are sometimes affected.
We also spoke about delocalization and relocation of jobs. But I also
stressed how important it was to make sure that major international
corporations should abide by the environmental principles that we have; that
they shouldn't just up stakes and relocate in developing countries, without
taking much heed of social legislation and environmental legislation.
So what I was saying was that we should try and establish a system, a
mechanism that would enable us to sanction those corporations that would act
without taking due account of social and environmental legislation in
emerging countries. This also led me to share a thought about the need we
have to try and establish a greater dialogue between the G8 countries,
meaning the major economies of today's world, and those countries that are
becoming very significant on the global economic stage; China, for instance.
So I think that we cannot discuss major economic issues nowadays without
discussing these issues with China, with India, Brazil, South Africa. So I
think it's true of a couple of countries that have become major, major
players in global trade. So we have to discuss these issues with them in
some way or another. That is exactly what I had tried to do in Evian last
year, by establishing an enlarged dialogue, as we had called it, to
establish a link between these leaders and set in train a habit that we
should have of working with them.
I think these are the main topics we discussed this morning. I don't want
to discuss here the issues that we will be discussing over lunch, mainly the
greater Middle East issue. This being said, I would like to just share a
thought about nonproliferation. Now, nonproliferation is one of the issues
that we have on the agenda for this afternoon. It's a very important item.
We have worked hard on these issues, I must say. A number of decisions
relating to that topic have been made in the Security Council, also in
Evian. And in line with these decisions, we have stepped up our control of
nonproliferation in three directions.
First of all, we are implementing the global partnership -- a global
partnership that was launched a couple of years ago, as you know; and its
purpose is to increase security and safety of sensitive installations and
plants in Russia, mainly. An increasing number of countries are supporting
this program, and the number of countries eligible to this program is also
Secondly, we wanted to work on the Evian initiative -- the PSI initiative,
the Proliferation Security Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to
fight against trafficking in nuclear, biological or bacteriological
materials. And also, there is a decision that has been taken on recycling
of nuclear fuels. In that respect, we are working within the current
international frameworks and context. We are working on the export of these
sensitive materials. Up until we have finished negotiating these new
instruments, we have said we would be very low-key and very careful in
exporting such substances.
And we will, of course, review topical issues, such as Libya, Iran and
North Korea; which are issues that I mentioned also with the Prime Minister
of Japan when I met him this morning.
So, this is what I could tell you in a few sentences, and I'm ready to take
a few questions if you have any to put to me.
Q Good afternoon, sir. President Bush has invited Turkey to take part in
the debate on the greater Middle East. Turkey is a member of OECD, NATO and
the Council of Europe. And alongside Turkey, Bahrain, Afghanistan and Yemen
were invited. What do we expect of Turkey in this context?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Well, let me first of all say that Turkey is a major,
major country; a country that is currently experiencing -- how shall I put
it -- tremendous changes in terms of modernization of the economy and
democratization of the regime. Turkey is also a major regional power and
also a major global one. So it is only normal that Turkey should be part of
this dialogue, and that is precisely why the Prime Minister of Turkey will
come and join us over lunch. I'm delighted to be able to discuss these
issues with him.
A question from Savannah?
Q I wanted to tell you, sir, that there are about 100 journalists in
Savannah; and therefore, there are more journalists than you think there
President Bush and Prime Minister Blair discussed this morning an expanded
role for NATO in Iraq. They hope, apparently, to be able to discuss this
before the NATO Summit in Turkey. Now, do you, as France, feel that there
could be NATO troops in Iraq, and what do you make of this proposal?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Well, of course I’m very much open to debates and
discussions. That being said, I do not believe that it is NATO's purpose to
intervene in Iraq; nor do I believe that it would be relevant or fortunate
or even well-understood by people in Iraq and/or abroad.
So I have reservations vis-à-vis this initiative. This being said, it is a
hypothetical question. But it can only be examined, in my view, if the
sovereign Iraqi government were to express in no uncertain terms that that
was their intention and to ask for it.
Q How would you describe French relations with the U.S. right now?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Well, in all candor and honesty, I find that the
relationship is excellent. Now, I know that there might be controversy once
in a while, but it happens to be that controversy is at the heart of
democracy and that democracy supports controversy. Maybe it's only normal.
And if you look at the substance of our relationship, I must say that the
relationship between the U.S. and France today is a good relationship -- as
good as it should be amongst old friends, such as we.
Another question from Savannah, sir?
Q France voted with the rest of the Security Council yesterday on the
sovereignty of Iraq. What comments and how enthusiastic are you?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Now, I don't know that we can say that we were
enthusiastic, seeing we were talking about an exit strategy for a crisis as
significant as Iraq. I'm not sure that that's the pertinent and relevant
word; but I must say that we were satisfied -- pleased to do so.
As I have already said -- and I said it this morning to President Bush -- I
must express once again our thanks vis-à-vis the way in which the
negotiation was conducted. And I wanted to thank everyone also for the
great open-mindedness in which American diplomats worked to improve
constantly the resolution over the last few days.
Now, the question wasn't who's right, who's wrong. It was really a
question of effectiveness, of efficiency. Now, in the current Iraqi crisis,
I feel, I believe, that the only exit strategy is to give the Iraqi people
the feeling, the impression that the Iraqi government that will lead them is
a fully sovereign and independent government. That was crucial.
Now, of course that meant that here or there mindsets have to develop, to
change slightly; even on our American friends' side. And that also meant
that there were concessions to be made that weren't always that easy -- on
security, maybe, and on the relationship between the Iraqi government and
the multinational force. There were political issues, judicial ones, legal
ones, diplomatic ones. It was, on the whole, a difficult issue.
This being said, I want to acknowledge the fact that American colleagues
understood that they had to play ball, and they did play ball. Now, this
meant that those partners that were very much careful of the indubitable
nature of the sovereignty of the Iraqi people -- the Germans, the French,
the Russians, the Spaniards, maybe, and others -- were in a position to
express their satisfaction at the end of this whole process. And I'm
pleased to be able to do so once again.
Q Mr. President, I think France was initially quite reluctant on the
greater Middle East initiative. You seem more favorable nowadays. Could
you maybe tell us why France feels that this initiative is positive, and
what sort of steps in the right direction have we done and seen on either
side -- or any side -- to bring this about?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: France never questioned or challenged the need that we
had to help a number of countries in the Middle East and in Northern Africa
to come closer to a state of modernization, both political and economic.
Now, we weren't going to challenge it because we were the initiators of the
Barcelona process, which had and served the same purpose. So it would have
been rather inconsistent an approach to not support this.
However, we feel in France that reforms cannot be imposed from the outside;
that we have to convince, that we have to discuss, that we have to
cooperate. This must be done taking on board the diversity of the cultures
and the history of the different peoples and also the diversity of the
problems they are faced with. Therefore, we felt that what we really needed
to do was to open a friendly and constructive dialogue that would help us
support those countries that want to go in that direction.
So this is pretty much the spirit of Barcelona and that is something that
we already do with a number of countries -- with Syria, for instance -- on
the renovation of the administration and government structures. I therefore
feel that there is a good frame of mind that we are operating in. I think
we now need to discuss it with those people that are directly interested in
Another question from Savannah, sir?
Q Mr. President, what should we make of the fact that you will not be going
to President Reagan's funeral on Friday?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I think there's a clear explanation. Of course I did
know President Reagan and Nancy Reagan. I have had a number of
opportunities to meet him and to work with him. I would have wanted to go
and bring my personal feelings of sympathy to Mrs. Reagan -- feelings that I
conveyed in written form.
This being said, I have a number of obligations in Paris that I couldn't
rearrange; and that is why I've asked my Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr.
Barnier, to represent me in Washington; and also to explore the possibility
of former President Giscard d'Estaing to represent France. I hope this will
be possible; I think it might be.
Q Mr. President, what link do you establish between the greater Middle East
on the one hand, the positions adopted by the Israeli cabinet, and the
Israeli-Palestinian approach? Are we speaking about smoke and mirrors, is
it just fanciful; or is there a consistent and coherent approach to
rejoining all of the three questions? What is your approach and can this be
linked and bound within the roadmap?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: It seems clear and obvious that whenever we deal with
the Middle East and North Africa, there is one clear prerequisite. That is
that we need real, genuine progress on the road back to peace between the
Israelis and the Palestinians. That is something that we are not
experiencing for the moment. We feel that this is a prerequisite. We feel
that there could be excellent cooperation between the Middle East and North
Africa on the one hand, and Western countries on the other if we could
overcome this obstacle.
And that is why we support, and say so -- we support unreservedly the
roadmap. Now it might have its flaws, but at least it exists and we must
support it. And I feel that we should all focus our efforts so that we
should implement the roadmap.
Now, if need be, we should also envisage the possibility of having a
Western presence on the ground to make sure that undertakings are abided by.
Question from Savannah?
Q Mr. President, how serious do you think the U.S. administration will
engage itself in the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Will it
engage itself in a moderating role?
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: I do think so. The simple reason why I believe so is
that I can't see what else they could do. This conflict is tragic. The
consequences of this conflict on both parties and in the Middle East, more
generally, and across the world are very important. After all, we cannot
disjoin, disconnect some events across the world from what is happening on
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
So I think it is only normal and I think it is a duty on the major heads of
state and government and their administrations -- first and foremost the
United States -- to play their full role, assume the responsibilities and
make sure that the roadmap can be implemented unfalteringly so that we can
then come back to the negotiating table and work at a negotiated peace
The purpose and the objective of that would be what President Bush has
exactly said: two sovereign, independent and secure states.
Q You met Prime Minister Koizumi. I understand you expressed your support
for our policy vis-à-vis North Korea. What could you do to try and help
improve the situation? And how do you react to the significant reduction in
the level of American troops in South Korea?
The Americans are going to reduce significantly the level of forces in South
Korea. This will undoubtedly change the situation Korea. What do you make
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: Let me first say that when I spoke to the Prime Minister
of Japan, I expressed the full support of the French authorities for
Japanese initiatives and policies taken vis-à-vis North Korea. We feel that
both visits were very positive. And I used the opportunity of our meeting to
say how pleased we were that some children of abducted Japanese had been
I do believe that within these six-way talks Japan is being very active and
very positive. That's why I told the Prime Minister that within the U.N.
Security Council, we did support, indeed, this Japanese approach.
As for the reduction of level of U.S. troops in South Korea, I don't think
I can pass any kind of judgment. This issue has to be dealt between the
One final question, okay?
Q Mr. President, have you had an opportunity to discuss in Sea Island and
idea that is very dear to your heart -- that is the establishment of a
PRESIDENT CHIRAC: That is indeed a very dear idea to me, because I feel we
have to get to it at some point. It is something that we will have to take
The question is, how will it be done more specifically? We haven't
discussed this yet. We will be discussing it this afternoon. I will -- and
you can well expect that -- defend very vigorously and very forcefully the
idea of increasing ODA; for indeed, ODA is nowadays far too low. And I
can't see -- nobody can see how ODA will actually reach the millennium goal
levels that were set for it to help reduce poverty by 2015.
And it's precisely in this frame of mind that I will be supporting the
budget proposal of an international finance facility and also support very
formally the proposals that I will be putting to the United Nations Security
Council very shortly on a international levy that would complement,
supplement ODA so that we can do what we have said we would do in terms of
solidarity across the world.
Thank you very much.
12:46 P.M. EDT
For a PDF version of this document, please click here.