Press briefing given by M. Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic, following the second plenary session of the G8 summit (excerpts)

Press briefing given by M. Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic, following the second plenary session of the G8 summit (excerpts)

Gleneagles, 7 July 2005


THE PRESIDENT (...) This morning the summit was hit by the terrible news of the London terrorist attacks which deeply shocked all the members. An act of terrorism which, once again, blind to all human feeling, caused dozens of civilian casualties (...) killed or injured (...) by savages.

Of course we, the Eight and the Five who joined us, were unanimous and stood totally shoulder to shoulder in our condemnation of them – that goes without saying – expressing to the whole British people and particularly Londoners, but also Her Majesty The Queen and the Prime Minister and all the United Kingdom's civil and military authorities, our deep sense of shock, compassion and solidarity.

Quite obviously, Prime Minister Tony Blair has gone back to London, as he had to in order to shoulder his responsibilities and express his personal sympathy to the victims and their families, and we continued our discussions, which was legitimate. I don't know if the terrorists' ambition was to prevent us working, if that was the case, they won't have succeeded. The only thing they've succeeded in doing is strengthening still further the solidarity between the 13 nations around the table. I


Another inexcusable tragedy, I'd also like utterly to condemn the heinous murder of the ambassador, the Egyptian diplomat, Egypt's ambassador in Iraq.

QUESTION I had the opportunity, as did the other heads of State and government, to extend to President Hosni Mubarak our very sincere condolences and, here too, to express our solidarity. WORLD ECONOMIC SITUATION This morning, we began by discussing the world economic situation. Reviewing it was useful so that everyone clearly understands the others' concerns and problems. I personally reported on the continuation of the reforms set in train in France and talked, as did others, about our concerns regarding oil, and particularly the need for greater coordination in managing it and oil price control, and also about interest rates, today a concern to us all.


And then we came to what was the substance of our discussion today, i.e. climate change in general and particularly in relation to the development of the emerging countries, of which five distinguished representatives were around the table. Now, as you probably know, I've supported from the outset the proposal of the British Prime Minister, Mr Blair, to make this one of the G8's two priorities: climate change and development aid for Africa. France and the United Kingdom have worked hand in hand throughout the preparation of this G8 and, of course, during the negotiations, for one simple reason: it's quite obviously urgent. Climate change is a reality which is terribly threatening, dangerous for our ways of life, for which man obviously is primarily to blame and will also be the victim. (...)

We have also worked hard over the past few months to try and bring closer together the positions of the seven G8 member countries which have approved the Kyoto Protocol and that of the United States, which was somewhat different. Over the past few days, developments in the negotiations quickly prompted me, as far as France is concerned, to restate on what conditions an agreement was possible. I'll say a brief word on this. We have indeed noted a shift, a marked shift in the American position allowing the US to move, I think, if everything is confirmed, towards an agreement which will be an important step – not a decisive one, they never are in this field – but an important one towards improving the situation. (...)

On Kyoto – which, initially it wasn't envisaged even referring to, when for us it's the law – there should be two references in the texts we're going to consider. For us the Kyoto Protocol remains, quite obviously, the natural framework which has to govern international action here. We're also seeing the reaffirmation of our joint commitment to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to which all G8 countries, I repeat, all of them, are party. And in that forum we should be able to negotiate long-term collective action. Finally, on market mechanisms (...) we should launch a dialogue – it's a first step – on the possible synergies between the European emissions trading system, under Kyoto, and the similar mechanisms existing in the United States, synergies, which, until now, the Americans themselves had totally ruled out.

The agreement we should reach is an important one, even though it doesn't go as far as I personally would have liked. But in my eyes it has the essential virtue of restoring dialogue and cooperation between the Kyoto Seven and the United States on a crucial issue, on which it's essential to have coordinated action and strong synergy. I think this will be the most important point in this resolution if it's definitively adopted. It's also an important signal to the emerging countries, and it's absolutely obvious that the common position we're moving towards has had a decisive impact on the attitude and conclusions drawn, inter alia by the five emerging countries with us around the table today. So we're going to launch a dialogue with these emerging countries, in particular on the transfer of technology and financing of their clean development, and their clean energy development, and we've agreed to meet to discuss this issue again at the 2008 G8 in Japan. (...)


Finally, and we've just come out of this meeting, we took stock with the Quartet's envoy in the Middle East, Mr James Wolfensohn, of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. It's absolutely essential to make a success of this withdrawal, and for it to be part of the Roadmap. And I have to say that we listened very carefully to Mr Wolfensohn, who has done an admirable job, working with tenacity and intelligence, and very sensitively homed in on the problem with a determination to succeed. We all warmly congratulated him. I myself proposed that an international conference be convened to follow up the proposals Mr Wolfensohn has made and will make to us. That's what I wanted to say about today's meeting.


I also had two bilateral meetings which for me were important. One with the Chinese President, Mr Hu Jintao, and the other with the Indian Prime Minister.


QUESTION – Thank you very much President Chirac. I know that you are going to talk about Africa tomorrow, but we're so impatient that we're finding it a bit difficult to wait for tomorrow. Now, you agree that the CAP subsidies have an effect on agricultural production in Africa, and on our producers, but also mean more extraversion of our consumption models. I'm talking as an international consumers' organization. Your United States colleague has made a proposal saying he would be ready to envisage the abolition of subsidies in 2010, which to us seems a very long way off, what are you proposing?

THE PRESIDENT – To begin with, I would remind you that, when it comes to the abolition of subsidies, the European Union has already decided, in 2004, on their total abolition – I'm talking about agricultural subsidies, provided of course the other major producing and exporting countries do the same, which so far hasn't been the case. That presupposed, among other things, a total revision of food aid, which causes producers a lot of problems, especially in Africa.

It also presupposed calling into question commercial public companies and a number of other unjustified advantages which must be abolished so that there's a real benefit for the developing countries. Now you say that the American president has made a proposal in this respect, he hasn't, at any rate officially, or at the G8, perhaps he will tomorrow. As you said, we'll be talking about these problems tomorrow, so it's legitimate for us to wait. I wanted simply to tell you our position which is simple: we have already collectively, at European Union level, taken our decision, we are now simply waiting for our American friends to do the same. You see why that will happen immediately and not in 2010.

Moreover, we have a specific problem of special concern to some African and particularly Francophone African countries: as things stand at the moment, the Americans aren't abiding by the [WTO] ruling on cotton. And we are urgently – because it's vital for a number of African producers, particularly from four or five countries – calling for this decision to be implemented as soon as possible. (...)


QUESTION – With this morning's London tragedy, there's a united front, there were eight of you this morning. How can the battle against terrorism in fact be stepped up? The United Nations took measures after 11 September, there was 11 March in Madrid. What more can be done today?

THE PRESIDENT – First of all, it's true that since 11 September the methods of fighting terrorism and their coordination have been considerably strengthened. Admittedly, there's no comparison between the modern means deployed by the main countries involved and the way these are coordinated, and those we had a few years ago. Nevertheless, terrorism is an ongoing tragedy, we could talk for a long time about what underpins it and the reasons why it is developing – I shan't go into that today.

All I can tell you is that we are determined to keep on improving the methods of fighting terrorism. In France, for example, we have taken measures which bear no comparison with those we had a few years ago, and, this very morning, the first thing I did when I called the [French] Prime Minister was to ask him to take all the necessary measures to strengthen still further the means at our disposal. Let me add that cooperation between the security services of the major countries involved – emerging countries, developing countries and industrialized countries – has never been so intense.

One can always do better and every day I'd say that we are doing a bit better and that this isn't preventing the terrorist acts. Perhaps had we not made these considerable efforts in terms of methods and coordination, there would be a lot more attacks, it's even probable. (...)

QUESTION – Do you think that the terrorist attacks you referred to have changed this G8's political climate? For example, we didn't expect agreement on the climate – and it's a sort of divine surprise – you are announcing an agreement on the climate, and not just any agreement, since it's between Europe, a great part of Europe and the United States. And, supplementary question, do you think that the next G8s should go back to discussing the traditional economic concerns, as did the previous ones, and particularly the first one in France.

THE PRESIDENT – First of all, these attacks have undoubtedly strengthened solidarity between the Eight, and I'd even say between the Eight and the Five, there's no doubt about that, you're right. And natural egoistic attitudes have disappeared, but I wouldn't say it's to that that we owe the fact that we've found an agreement on the climate; it's an agreement we've been working on for several days, very energetically, determinedly and with a will to succeed. In the past fortnight, I'd say that the sherpas have spent a considerable number of hours on it and we have clearly felt that in the past few days the United States has signalled greater willingness to accept the possibility of an agreement. So there's no link between an agreement on the climate and the tragic events in London. (...)


QUESTION – Your military engagement in Côte d'Ivoire seems to have got nowhere, what exactly is France doing in Côte d'Ivoire?

THE PRESIDENT – First France is there at the Ivorian government's request and pursuant to the agreements existing between France and the Ivorian government which haven't been called into question, but that's a matter of history. France is there today under a UN mandate, under an African Union mandate and an ECOWAS mandate. France isn't there as France, France is there with a UN mandate, at the express request of the whole African Union and the whole of ECOWAS. That's why France is over there. And France isn't seeking to impose her will, I've always said that if there were no longer any mandate, France would have no reason to stay.

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