Government Of France: Daily Press Briefing
Government Of France: Daily Press Briefing
made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The fourth commission (culture) of the UNESCO general conference unanimously adopted a draft resolution on October 13 giving the director-general a mandate to submit a draft convention on cultural diversity to the next general conference in the fall of 2005.
France welcomes this decision which goes in the direction of the positions it upholds at UNESCO and other international organizations, and has very broad support among member states.
The decision was preceded by a debate in which about a hundred member states took part; the vast majority supported this initiative. France was represented in the debate by Culture and Communication Minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon.
The draft, prepared from a proposal by the director-general, incorporates a number of elements from the draft presented by the United States in particular the consultations that the director-general will pursue with the WTO, UNCTAD and WIPO. The agreement allows for continued discussions on cultural diversity in a calm and constructive atmosphere. Determined action by the international community to preserve and promote cultural diversity, in the context of globalization, was seen as urgent by most delegations.
A dossier on cultural diversity can be consulted on the Foreign Ministry’s website (www.diplmoatie.gouv.fr).
We welcome yesterday’s swearing-in of the head of Liberia’s transition government, Gyude Bryant, who was appointed in August after consultations by all the parties to the Accra peace agreement. The formation of the transition government is the next stage.
It is important that all the opposing parties continue the present dynamic in Liberia and give priority to consolidating peace, the reconstruction of the country and preparations for the next elections scheduled for the end of 2005.
May I remind you that the UN has had a peace-keeping operation in Liberia since October 1—having taken over from ECOWAS—to secure the country and support the country’s recovery.
Industry Ministry Delegate Nicole Fontaine will be in Burkina Faso on October 16 and 17. She will meet with President Blaise Compaoré, and Commerce and Business Minister Benoit Ouattara.
France is pleased that Belgrade and Pristina held their first meeting for direct dialogue in Vienna yesterday. It meant the launch of a process in which the international community is a party and which must now be continued and deepened. The main objective of the dialogue is to discuss humanitarian and technical problems in order to improve the living conditions of residents.
We call on the political leaders in Belgrade and Pristina to abide by the commitment they made at Thessalonika by approaching the next discussions on specific issues of common interest in a resolutely constructive way.
France reaffirms its support to Harri Holkeri, the UN secretary-general’s special representative, who succeeded despite many difficulties in bringing about this first meeting. It will give him every assistance in support of his future efforts to ensure that dialogue continues.
I would like to read the statement made yesterday by the spokesperson concerning the attack in Iraq against the Turkish Embassy.
“France condemns in the strongest terms the cowardly attack against the Turkish Embassy in Iraq which, once again, strikes a foreign representation in Baghdad.
“It offers its sympathy to the injured and their families. It assures the Turkish authorities of its complete solidarity.”
Q - What’s the French assessment of the revised draft resolution the US presented yesterday after proposals from France, Germany and Russia?
As you know yesterday, we jointly presented amendments yesterday, with our German and Russian partners, to the revised US draft on Iraq. These proposals express the concerns of our three countries with regard to the restoration of Iraq’s sovereignty, the transfer of responsibility and the role of the United Nations.
We are currently having contacts, in particular with our German and Russian partners, to consisder the American reactions to these amendments.
France condemns in the strongest terms this morning’s attack in the Gaza Strip which targeted an American diplomatic convoy killing at least four people.
We offer our sincere condolences to the victims’ families and express all our sympathy to the American authorities and their representatives on the spot.
Q - What’s your reaction to the US veto in the Security Council yesterday of the Arab resolution condemning Israel for building the fence?
France is disappointed that the draft resolution on Israel’s construction of a security fence in the West Bank failed to win adoption. The Council has a responsibility to speak out on the construction of the fence which is a critical issue for the future of the peace process.
Our position in this regard is well–known: the construction of the fence, once it extends beyond the “green line,” violates international law because it contravenes the Fourth Geneva Convention and results in the de facto annexation of Palestinian territories barred under SCR 242.
As you know, EU ministers decided at the last GAC to explore all possible measures to prevent further deterioration in the situation. The issue of the fence is naturally a central element in this.
Q - The Saudi authorities have decided for the first time to hold partial municipal elections at the end of 2004. Do you have any comment?
France welcomes the decision announced by the Saudi authorities to hold municipal elections between now and the end of 2004. We encourage the wish to reform and open up in the kingdom.
Q - Can you tell us about the UTA negotiations? Are they on again today and what was the problem yesterday? The Libyans are talking about a broken agreement with the French government. Do you deny it? So what’s preventing agreement on compensation?
Negotiations between the families of the victims and the Qaddafi foundation resumed yesterday morning. This is a process of discussion, and I’m not commenting on it on a day-to-day basis.
So I’ve nothing to add to the statements made by the spokesperson yesterday. There’ve been statements by the Libyan side since then; I have no comment. I suggest you put your question to the Libyan authorities./.