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France Govt: Daily Press Briefing

France Govt: Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
(excerpts)

(Paris, September 15, 2003)

[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]

ESTONIAN REFERNDUM ON EU ENTRY

WTO/MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE

COLOMBIA

IMF AGREEMENT/ARGENTINA

SWEDEN/EUROPEAN UNION

GUINEA-BISSAU

ESTONIAN REFERNDUM ON EU ENTRY

Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin has sent a message of congratulations to his Estonian counterpart, Ms Ojuland.

“France is pleased with the success of Estonia’s referendum on acceding to the European Union and welcomes the country to Europe.

“This highly positive result is consistent with the dynamics of previous consultations in the other candidate countries. The Czech Republic paved the way on June 13 and 14 successively leading Malta, Slovenia, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia and Poland to the European Union. For its part, Cyprus chose the parliamentary procedure and obtained a unanimous vote in favor of joining the EU. In a few days it will be the turn of the Latvians to decide through a referendum.

“Through these historic decisions in support of the European Union, the candidate countries, like Estonia yesterday, confirm in turn their desire to join Europe, to return to the European family in which they have their roots. It is also a sign of their commitment to the democratic values they have re-established.

“France supported this enlargement and Estonia’s integration from the outset as did all those who are joining the EU on May 1, 2004. Political dialogue between France and Estonia is being intensified at all levels. After the French president’s visit to Estonia in July 2001, Estonian President Ruutel came to France in June 2003.

“The minister delegate for European affairs plans to float several initiatives before May 1, 2004 to prepare for the reception of our new partners and intends to continue her visits to these ten countries.”

WTO/MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE

I would like to read the communiqué issued yesterday, September 14, in Cancun by the French delegation.

“The main purpose of the 5th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting in Cancun, Mexico, was to promote the development of the poorest countries. The members unfortunately did not achieve agreement. France deeply regrets this. The absence of agreement does not however bring into question the agreement reached earlier on medicines.

“Europe, through the voice of Commissioners Lamy (foreign trade) and Fischler (agriculture), took an active part in the negotiations. During the conference it decided to support the African countries’ request for the fair treatment of cotton in order to restore remunerative prices for peasants. It also proposed that the developed countries and the major emerging countries grant trade concessions reserved as a matter of priority for the poorest countries.

“Europe thereby showed it was united and stood together throughout this negotiation.

“The absence of agreement in Cancun does not in any way undermine the development cycle launched at Doha (Qatar) in November 2001.

“François Loos and Hervé Gaymard recalled that the proposals in President Chirac’s Africa initiative made at the time of the French presidency of the G8 remain on the table.”

COLOMBIA

France condemns in the strongest terms yesterday’s kidnapping of eight tourists in northern Colombia and deeply deplores the continued policy of kidnapping by armed groups. It renews its appeal for the release of all the hostages.

It expresses solidarity with the Colombian people who continue to suffer from the atrocities of illegal armed groups--one of the latest examples being the attack which killed eight people including a child in Chita on Wednesday.

IMF AGREEMENT/ARGENTINA

France welcomes the positive outcome of negotiations between Argentina and the IMF on a medium-term agreement. The agreement, which is to be submitted to the Fund’s board in the next few days, will provide the Argentine authorities with a framework of foreseeability which will enable them to resolutely pursue their efforts for a lasting recovery of the country’s economy.

SWEDEN/EUROPEAN UNION

Q - What’s France’s reaction to the Swedish “no” vote in the referendum on the euro?

France takes note of the sovereign decision of the Swedish people not to adopt the euro in the immediate future. The euro zone is still open to any European Union member state wishing to join and meeting the conditions set by the treaties.

GUINEA-BISSAU

Q - What’s your reaction to the coup d’état in Guinea-Bissau?

France condemns the overthrow of the legal authorities in Guinea-Bissau. It recalls the principles defined by the Organization of African Unity in the Algiers Charter in July 1999 condemning the overthrow of governments resulting from democratic elections.

It urges the parties to work for the restoration of legality.

France has confidence in the recent successes of African-led mediation and encourages ECOWAS and neighboring countries in their efforts to find a peace way out of the crisis./.

Embassy of France, September 15, 2003


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