Cablegate: President Sarkozy's August 27 Foreign Policy

DE RUEHFR #3579/01 2401813
O 281813Z AUG 07






E.O. 12958: N/A


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1. (SBU) Summary and Comment: On August 27 French
President Nicolas Sarkozy delivered a major foreign policy
address in Paris to the annual French Chief of Missions
Conference. He identified the building of Europe as "the
absolute priority of France's foreign policy," and cited
Iran as the "most serious crisis facing the international
order today." He stated that an Iran equipped with nuclear
weapons was "unacceptable," called for "increasing
sanctions, but also an opening up toward Iran should it opt
to comply with its obligations." The objective is to
"enable us to escape a catastrophic alternative: the
Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran." Sarkozy highlighted
the importance of the French-U.S. friendship ("as vital as
ever"), while still offering his now standard caveat that
alliance does not equate with alignment of views, and
friends must share their disagreements "without taboos."
He emphasized the need to strengthen European defense, but
not in competition with NATO: "We need both." He called
for a new "European security strategy" to be drawn up
during France's 2008 EU Presidency. His speech included
disapproval of the U.S.-led intervention in Iraq, along
with a statement of French readiness to play a role in
seeking a political solution. Sarkozy depicted a timetable
for troop withdrawal as a trigger for responsible action by
all parties, first and foremost Iraqis, in the region.

2. (SBU) Sarkozy had harsh words to say about Russia
(asserting itself with a certain "brutality") and China
("transforming its insatiable quest for raw materials into
a strategy for control, particularly in Africa"). On
Turkey, he agreed to open those chapters compatible with
both EU membership and association, on the condition that
the EU create, by the end of the year, a committee to
address its future ("What Europe in 2020-30, and for what
missions?"). Sarkozy pronounced himself in favor of
increasing NATO's efforts in Afghanistan, including
reinforced French training of the Afghan army; re-stated
his friendship for Israel, while calling for reinforcement
of the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas; and,
advocated finding a way for Muslim countries to gain access
to nuclear-generated electricity. Finally, Sarkozy
identified three broad challenges facing the international
community: How to prevent a confrontation between Islam
and the West; how to integrate into a new global order of
the emergent global giants, China, India and Brazil; and
how to deal with major global risks such as climate change,
pandemics, and energy security.

3. (SBU) Summary Ct'd: Media analysis, both domestically
and abroad, focused on Sarkozy's comments on Iran and
Turkey. Sarkozy's blunt comment on the twin catastrophes
of a nuclear-armed Iran or an international attack against
Iran was widely interpreted as stepped-up rhetoric.
Sarkozy's conciliatory statement that France would not
block enlarged dialogue between Turkey and the European
Commission on membership also attracted media notice, but
Sarkozy also restated his conviction that Turkey and the
EU must devise a partnership other than full membership.
End Summary.

4. (U) This cable re-transmits post's initial reporting on
the speech (see Embassy Paris SIPRnet reports for August
27, 2007, Ref A), along with the media reaction in the
hours following the speech.

--------------------------------------------- ---------------

5. (SBU) A confident President Sarkozy, in an hour-long
address at France's annual Chief of Missions Conference,
mapped out the direction for France's foreign policy during
his first term as president. Sarkozy brought his
characteristic activist style to the podium -- new
initiatives and a call to action on all fronts -- to the
long, Gaullist tradition of keeping France a player on the
world stage. He emphasized the importance of the
U.S-France alliance for the future -- leadership in the
global era -- rather than a duly remembered shared
history. "U.S-France friendship is more important now than
ever before," Sarkozy said. Yet "because this friendship
is a given, we are free to speak frankly" and "without
taboos" when there are disagreements.


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--------------------------------------------- ---------------

6. (SBU) Sarkozy directly took the U.S. to task in regard
to Iraq. Sarkozy said, "in connection with international
crises such as that of Iraq, it is clear today that
unilateral recourse to force leads to failure." When
speaking specifically to what he called the Iraq dimension
of the fusion of crises in the Greater Middle East (the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lebanon and Iran are other
three elements), Sarkozy underlined that France recognized
the threat to its interests of the destabilizing
consequences of "civil war" in Iraq and was ready to do its
part to end the conflict. Sarkozy called for a "political
solution," adding that it required a "definite horizon
for the withdrawal of foreign troops," because only then
would "the actors fully face up to the consequences of
their actions." Sarkozy called an Iranian military nuclear
capability "unacceptable," and termed "the catastrophic
choice between an Iranian bomb and bombing Iran," "without
a doubt the most serious crisis that faces the
international community."


7. (SBU) Sarkozy asserted that the situation in the Middle
East has clearly worsened over the past five years as the
region's separate crises, though "very different" have
tended "every day to become more inter-linked." He ran
through the region's main issues for France as follows:

--Middle East peace process: Despite the lack of headway,
Sarkozy stated that the solution was well-known: Israel
and Palestine should coexist peacefully as two states with
established and recognized borders. Sarkozy unabashedly
avowed his reputation as a friend of Israel and proclaimed
his adamant refusal to compromise on Israel's security.
Since his election, he had been visited in Paris by
numerous Arab leaders, to whom he had conveyed his sincere
friendship and respect. France was ready to play a role,
he said, but direct Israeli-Palestinian talks were the sole
starting point toward lasting peace. The Quartet and
moderate Arab states should support the Palestinian
authority, as represented by president Mahmoud Abbas.
Relaunching a true dynamic of peace was imperative, Sarkozy
warned, lest the establishment of "Hamastan" in the Gaza
Strip prove the harbinger of the advent of radical Islamic
control in the Palestinian territories.

--Lebanon/Syria: Sarkozy recalled France's long-standing
ties to Lebanon and asserted a "passionate" commitment to
Lebanese liberty, independence and sovereignty as demanded
in UNSCRs 1559 and 1701. Sarkozy linked FM Kouchner's
initiative to convene Lebanese parties for talks with
efforts to resolve the crisis by scheduling elections in
accordance with the Lebanese constitution, stipulating that
the next president should be able to work with all Lebanese
communities. Sarkozy called for Syria to support the
approach, adding that constructive action by Damascus would
permit renewed Franco-Syrian dialog.

--Iraq: Sarkozy underlined the continuity of policy
between Chirac and himself in opposing "this war." Being
right about the conflict, however, did not absolve France
from dealing with the consequences, which included a
merciless civil war, entrenched terrorist groupings, and
global economic fragility due to oil production. Iraq
required a political solution, one involving the
marginalization of extremists, a process of true national
reconciliation, and guaranteed access to resources and
institutions for all Iraqis. Headway furthermore required
the definition of "a clear horizon concerning the
withdrawal of foreign troops" in order to push all actors
-- Iraqi, regional and even international -- toward useful
action. France stood ready to play its part, a message
that FM Kouchner had delivered in his visit to Baghdad.

--Iran: Sarkozy recalled France's determination, together
with Germany and the UK, to work in concert with the U.S.,
Russia and China to prevent Iranian development of nuclear
weapons. An Iran in possession of nuclear arms is
"unacceptable for me," he emphasized. While he underlined
French support for a process of stepped-up sanctions, he
also stated his willingness to engage with an Iran that
respected its obligations. Sarkozy declared bluntly that
the alternatives to an international diplomatic approach
were "catastrophic" -- either an Iranian bomb or the
bombing of Iran itself. He took heart however in the

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headway, albeit slow, with the DPRK through the Six Party
Talks, as well as in the Libyan abandonment of WMD
programs. France would spare no effort, Sarkozy said, to
convince Iran of the benefits of serious international

--------------------------------------------- ------

9. (SBU) Sarkozy offered his vision of a Mediterranean
Union as a centerpiece of the effort to stave off
confrontation between Islam and the West. A Mediterranean
Union would involve concrete cooperation between European
states and the Maghreb in four distinct spheres: i) the
environment and sustainable development; ii) cultural
dialogue; iii) economic growth/social development; and,
iv) Mediterranean security. Sarkozy claimed his
Mediterranean initiative would be compatible with other
extant approaches, chiefly the Barcelona Process, "5+5",
and the Mediterranean Forum. Informal dialogue was already
underway, he suggested, including with Libya, a country he
hoped would quickly rejoin the international community, now
that the case of the Bulgarian nurses had been resolved.
He announced planning for a formal meeting of heads of
state in early 2008.


10. (SBU) Sarkozy spoke about NATO in advocacy terms, rare
for a French president, calling NATO "ours -- we founded
it, we are one of its principal contributors." Noting that
France's security requires both NATO and a Europe Union
defense policy, he hammered home that "opposing the EU and
NATO makes no sense" since "the two are complimentary."
Sarkozy called for the simultaneous strengthening of
European Defense and the renewal of NATO. Without
providing specifics, he said that "France will put forward
proposals for the renovation of NATO." Sarkozy pointed to
the structuring of the international force in Afghanistan
as a model of NATO-EU synergy. Kosovo, he said, provided
another illustration of complementarity among the EU, NATO,
and the UN. Later in the speech, after addressing the
threat of international terrorism (using the phrase "the
threat of criminal attacks" and not "terrorism" per se),
Sarkozy pledged to bolster the presence of French trainers
working with the Afghan military, since "it has to take the
lead in waging and winning the war against the Taliban."
He also pledged that France would augment its
reconstruction assistance in Afghanistan. He voiced
apprehension however that the campaign in Afghanistan could
prove futile if Al Qaeda and Taliban elements continued to
find refuge across the Pakistan border.


11. (SBU) Sarkozy organized his overview of France's
projected role in the world in light of three challenges:
i) "preventing a confrontation between Islam and the West";
ii) "integrating the emerging giants, China, India and
Brazil"; and, iii) "managing the first-ever, planetary
challenges of climate change, sustainable energy
consumption and pandemics." Sarkozy placed Europe -- and
through Europe, France -- at the center of international
action on the specific issues linking these broad
challenges. The speech included a range of steps that
France would be taking or advocating -- a commission on
"Europe in 2020 - 2030;" a call to widen the G-8 to include
the new giants, eventually evolving into a "G-13"; a summit
of Mediterranean heads of state in early 2008 to advance
the notion of a Mediterranean Union; a meeting of the UN
Security Council on peace and security in Africa on
September 25, which Sarkozy mentioned in the context of
Darfur. The French president underlined the need for
international engagement on climate change. He was sharply
critical of the U.S. in this regard, saying that
"unfortunately, in regard to protection of the environment,
the U.S. doesn't show the leadership it claims for itself."


12. (SBU) "The construction of Europe will remain the
absolute priority of our foreign policy" -- so begins the
main body of the speech, in which Sarkozy tackles the main
lines of direction of his foreign policy. He projected
France as the driving force of Europe, saying that "without

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Europe France can't be strong, and without France Europe
can't be strong." He affirmed that Europe, because it had
learned "through the long process of its construction," how
to share sovereignty, brought "practical experience" to the
interdependent world scene that "fits well with the demands
of our times." In previewing the French EU presidency for
the second half of 2008, Sarkozy promised that he, or the
Prime Minister, would visit by July 1, 2008 in order to
listen to their priorities, as well as to propose those of
France, namely in the areas of immigration, energy and the

--------------------------------------------- ---

13. (SBU) Sarkozy struck a more conciliatory tone regarding
EU dialog with Turkey on EU membership, suggesting France
would set aside objections to opening those new chapters
for negotiation between the EU and Turkey, compatible with
the alternatives of either full membership or a close
linkage that stopped of full membership. He conditioned
his willingness on the creation, by the end of 2007, of a
committee of 10 to 12 "wise men" which would reflect on the
European project and present their conclusions and
propositions before the European parliamentary elections in
June 2009. Sarkozy nonetheless made clear his support for
the second option, predicting with confidence that his view
would gain traction over time.

Russia and China: Hard-nosed Descriptions

14. (SBU) Sarkozy offered blunt thumbnail assessments of
contemporary Russia and China. He sketched a Russia making
an assertive return to the world stage by "brutally"
wielding trump cards of oil and gas reserves, at a time
when Europe had hoped for more positive and significant
contributions. China, while continuing an impressive and
historic transformation, evinced an insatiable need for raw
materials that translated into strategies of control,
notably in Africa, Sarkozy judged.

Africa: Poised for Success

15. (SBU) Sarkozy continued his public effort to recast
perceptions of the French relationship to Africa. Africa
remained an "essential priority" in French policy and a key
front for the EU. Africa, however, was not the "sick man
of today's world." Africa did not need charity, he said,
and its 5 percent average economic growth would grow
further if staple products, such as cotton, were properly
valued. Africa was poised to succeed in a globalized
world, yet too often remained marginalized, prone to
exploitation, suffering from climatic changes, and unable
to draw the full benefit of vast natural resources. At the
midpoint to the Millennium Development Goals, there was a
need to redouble international commitment, yet this was not
just a matter of monetary contributions, which Sarkozy
noted in an allusion to 2008 budgetary stresses in France.
There was a need for better results, more efficiency, and
constant management.

African Security Challenges and the Tragedy of Darfur
--------------------------------------------- --------

16. (U) Development depended on security, as well, and
Sarkozy offered a nod to headway in resolving conflicts in
the Great Lakes and West Africa. Yet Darfur was a clear-cut
tragedy and the suffering of its people required a
response. France must play a part, and Sarkozy took
comfort in the June 25 Darfur Ministerial in Paris and in
the UNSCR 1769 authorizing UNAMID, the UN-AU Hybrid Force.
To further mobilize international efforts to overcome
challenges to peace and security in Africa, Sarkozy
announced he would chair a September 25 UNSC meeting of
heads of states.

Premonitions of a Budgetary Battle?

17. (SBU) Sarkozy concluded his address by stating the MFA
would need the means by which to fulfill its mission as
well as interministerial recognition of its role at the
heart of national policy in order that France could succeed
in an age of globalization. To that end, Sarkozy, together
with the Prime Minister, was requesting the preparation of
a "White Paper," that Sarkozy would study in connection

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with a report forthcoming from former FM Hubert Vedrine.
Sarkozy expressed confidence in the ability of FM Kouchner
and the MFA to implement reforms. (Comment: Sarkozy
mentioned no specific reforms, but FM Kouchner's address to
the Ambassadorial Conference later in the day called for a
reorganization of diplomatic representation, with a more
regional focus and realignment of resources that Kouchner
referred to as "diplomacy in motion". Kouchner also called
for greater transparency in ambassadorial appointments.
Ref B).


18. (U) Leading center-left daily Le Monde -- which hit
the newsstands in the afternoon on August 27, the same day
as Sarkozy's address -- led off media reaction to the
speech under the headline "Nicolas Sarkozy: An Iran
endowed with nuclear arms is unacceptable." The article
contrasted Sarkozy's more Atlanticist tone, as well as a
more critical attitude towards Russia and China, with
Chirac. The Le Monde reaction also noted that Sarkozy
explicitly invoked a withdrawal of American troops from
Iraq, and used the word "war" more than Kouchner did in
conjunction with his recent visit. The paper noted that
Sarkozy's position seemed to have softened slightly with
regard to Turkey (and the European Union). It also
observed that Sarkozy showed a break from Chirac on NATO --
calling for focused attention to NATO, and France's
relationship to it, rather than simply mistrust. In Le
Monde's view, Sarkozy no longer looked skeptically at
international engagement in Afghanistan, in contrast to his
opinions during the presidential campaign. Le Monde also
noted several areas where Sarkozy echoed concerns of
President Chirac: preventing a "conflict between Islam and
the West," climate change, new pandemics.

19. (U) All major French newspapers on August 28
highlighted SarkozyQs address (see Aug. 28 Paris Point
special edition). The lead story in Le Figaro ran under
the headline "Sarkozy for an activist foreign policy" with
the boxed quote "QA stronger France at home is conditioned
on its influence overseas.Q" Le Figaro also ran an
editorial, "Diplomacy: Rupture and Continuity," which
concludes that SarkozyQs foreign policy differs
dramatically from ChiracQs in tone and substance.
Liberation, headlined "A Diplomacy of Firmness," and
highlighted SarkozyQs emphasis on the European Union as the
"first priority" for French foreign policy. It also
published an interview with think-tanker Francois Heisbourg
who views Sarkozy's line on Iran as firmer and more
determined than that of his predecessor. Les Echos, a
highly respected business daily, focused on SarkozyQs
emphasis on European cooperation. Whereas domestic media
concentrated mostly on the broader outline of foreign
policy, international coverage tended to focus on specific
crisis issues, in particular, Iran.

20. (U) AP coverage included a report titled "Sarkozy
boosting French force in Afghanistan" and an analysis
titled "Sarkozy vs. Chirac: Tougher on Russia, friendlier
to Israel, United States." AFP stories included "Sarkozy
pleads before ambassadors for an increased role for France
on the world scene" and "Sarkozy promises 'very strong
initiatives' for European defense policy." The Guardian
(UK) headline read "From Iran to US, Sarkozy speech signals
French diplomatic shift," while the Daily Telegraph
telegraphed "Nicolas Sarkozy warns of Iran's Nuclear
Crisis." The International Herald Tribune featured "Tehran
risks attack over atomic push, Paris warns," which included
quotes from Heisbourg. The NY Times carried the same
Elaine Sciolino story, under the headline "French Leader
Raises Possibility of Force in Iran," while the Washington
Post took an opposite tack, with "Sarkozy Says Military
Confrontation in Iran Would be 'Catastrophic,' Urges

21. (U) Electronic media also focused on Sarkozy's address,
reporting that, while mentioning France's friendly ties
with the United States, Sarkozy sent a message to the U.S.
by making clear that the "Iraqis need a clear timetable for
the withdrawal of foreign troops." (Former PM Villepin,
commenting the evening of August 27 on a leading television
channel, said that it was fine to dispatch FM Kouchner to
Iraq, but France needed to maintain its call for a definite
timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.) TV channels
TF1 and France 2 highlighted Sarkozy's tough language on

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Iran, warnings to China and Russia, and his putative
softening on Turkey's relationship with the EU. France 2
also noted Sarkozy's emphasis on the need to prevent "a
confrontation between Islam and the West," while TF1
focused on Sarkozy's issuance of "marching orders" to the
French ambassadors. As for radio coverage, Europe 1's
senior commentator called Sarkozy's foreign policy
"ambitious and courageous," while RTL's called Sarkozy's
language on Iran "blunt."

22. (U) Sarkozy's speech, as prepared for delivery,
translated into English, is available at @rware.env
(Note: Sarkozy's speech as delivered, differed in
some significant respects from this text; it is the
authoritative text but a transcript is not yet available.)

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