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The Arab Spring: A Conversation with Alain Juppé

Speaker: Alain Juppé, Minister of Foreign Affairs, French Republic
Presider: James P. Rubin, Executive Editor, Bloomberg View
September 19, 2011, New York
Council on Foreign Relations

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JAMIE RUBIN:  Good morning, everybody.  And welcome to the Council on Foreign Relations.  My name is Jamie Rubin.

I'm very delighted to introduce today the foreign minister of France, Alain Juppe.  And I think it's a particular pleasure to introduce him today given the extraordinary French leadership of the West, of NATO and of the world in its intervention in Libya, which -- so far, so good -- has been successful, and we're looking forward to the views of M. Juppe on the Arab Springs and other topics of interest.  He will be good enough to speak to us in English but may from time to time choose to use the translator.

This meeting is on the record.  And if everyone could do their required electronic maneuvers and turn their phones off completely, that would improve the quality of the transmissions.

So without further ado, Foreign Minister Juppe, the podium is yours.

FOREIGN MINISTER ALAIN JUPPE:  (Applause.)  President Haass, ladies and gentlemen:  Allow me first of all, President Haass, to thank you for inviting me.  I am honored to have an opportunity to address this distinguished institution at a time when the Arab Spring is changing the course of history and confronting the 66th General Assembly of the United Nations with unprecedented challenges.

For far too long, we admit, our relations with the southern and eastern Mediterranean were dictated by the goal of maintaining stability at all costs.  For far too long, we are apt to consider authoritarian regimes as bulwarks against extremism.  The Arab Spring took us by surprise.  We watched people rise up against oppression and understood that the stability was in fact an illusion.  We heard citizens proclaim their aspiration to freedom and human dignity and sensed that a new order was taking shape across the entire Arab world.  It is rooted in the universal values that our two countries have always championed -- on the battlefields and in the realm of ideas, as, for example, in the French and American revolutions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights drafted by Eleanor Roosevelt and Professor Renee Cassin at the end of the Second World War.

I would like to stress this point undoubtedly:  France sees the Arab Spring as auspicious.  The Arab Spring holds out tremendous hope -- hope for democracy and the rule of law, hope for peace and stability, hope for better future in which every person can pursue goals commensurate with his or her needs, talents and ambitions.

But we are obviously aware that the Arab Spring also harbors risks.  On the demanding path to democracy, the patience and unity of the people are sometimes sorely put to the test.  We are well aware that if reform is too long in coming, every day of delay will increase the threat of radicalization, co-option by extremist forces, and infringement of the freedom of religion and belief.

For this reason, France mobilized to provide Arab countries with support, should they want it, during this sensitive transition period.  As I told the young people in Tahrir Square in Cairo, and the bloggers in Tunis, some months ago:  We have not come to impose our solutions.  We have not come to lecture you.  We have come to listen to you, and respond to your needs.  This is your revolution.  We stand alongside you.

President Sarkozy made the point again forcefully when he spoke last week to young Libyans in Benghazi, and beyond them, to young people throughout the Arab world.  I know that President Obama shares this position.

We have realized that to meet this challenge, we must change the way we view this part of the world.  We know that in addition to our traditional counterparts, we must establish contacts with civil society as a whole, including young people, business people and rising intellectuals.  This is the assignment I have given French ambassadors throughout the Arab world.  I asked them to adopt our diplomatic missions to the new approach.

Unfortunately, as you know, in some countries the aspiration to freedom has met with fierce, fierce repression and indiscriminate violence.  France is in the vanguard of the international community's struggle to protect the people, and ensure respect for human rights.  In Libya, the efforts of France, the United Kingdom and Lebanon resulted in the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, and enforcement of the responsibility to protect principle for the first time in the U.N. history.

This saved Benghazi from an anticipated bloodbath.  On March 19, at our instigation, an international coalition was put together in Paris to support the handful of courageous Libyans fighting for freedom and democracy.  It is to France's credit that she recognized the National Transitional Council, the TNC, very early, and did (much ?) to prevent the country from falling back into tyranny.  And it is to the credit of the United States, which fought alongside us for freedom in mankind's darkest hours, that it once again joined forces with us to push back the (gains of ?) barbarism.

In Syria, our two countries were the first to say that Bashar al-Assad lost all legitimacy when he rejected the path of dialogue and reform.  France has constantly condemned the massacres.  She has consistently refused to look the other way.

Today we stand at the crossroads.  In the struggle for democracy, nothing can ever be taken for granted.  Every step forward remains at risk.  We have extended the helping hand to the Arab countries, and in doing so we have made a commitment to them.  We must light up the hopes we have raised.

How can we stand by and wait for the wind to turn when young people are impassionately calling for a better future?  Nothing could be worse for people than this illusion.  Nothing could be worse than feeling that we are giving up or abandoning them.  If we do nothing, we side with those who propound the clash of civilizations; we abandon the field to hatred, fear and parochialism.

We must instead start now to build the confidence and proactive relationship with this region and the world.  The goal is to foster the emergence of the peace, stability and prosperity, to reach its population -- (inaudible).  This is our moral and political duty.  It is also our interest.

We must start by forging a genuine partnership with the region.  This is the purpose of the Deauville Partnership initiated by the G-8 heads of states and government in Deauville in France.  It will be formally put in place tomorrow at a meeting I will chair here in New York.

This unprecedented initiative involves the G-8 countries; the countries of North Africa and the Middle East in the process of democratic transition and reform -- Egypt and Tunisia -- members since Deauville, but also Morocco, Jordan and Libya, which have since joined; and thirdly, the states of the region supporting them, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey; and also, a large number of organization and financial institution -- for example, the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, the Union for the Mediterranean, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development.

This partnership has been designed to be authentic, global and enduring.  First of all, authentic, because the transition and the reforms are carried out by the countries of the regions themselves.  Our goal is to support them in a relationship based on equality and natural cooperation.  This approach is taken in the detailed action plans presented by Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan which will form the basis of the dialogue and the action taken.

These partnerships will be also global, because the Arab Spring teaches us that democratic transition and economic and social development are closely linked.  The partnership, therefore, comprises two pillars:  economic and political.  It will promote governance, youth employment and participation by women.  It will be based on the dialogue between governments and civil society as part of the Forum of (sic) the Future set up by the G-8 in 2004.

My friend, the Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Kuwait Sheik Mohammed, and I will be co-chairing the next meeting of this forum on November 21 and 22, in Kuwait.  All the states, international and regional organizations and financial institutions involved will come together in a new form of international cooperation to take collective action of a new kind.

Thirdly, our partnership will be enduring because change and reform take time.  The partners have therefore agreed to regularly monitor and process -- the process at the level of ministers of foreign affairs and finance.  At the meeting of the G-8 ministers of finance held in Marseille on September the 10th, governments, donors and international financial organization pledged $80 billion for this Deauville Partnership.

Supporting the Arab world also means enabling the European Union and the Union for the Mediterranean to be fully involved.  As Europeans, we have a special responsibility to all the country on the southern rim of the Mediterranean Sea -- our sea, "mare nostrum," as used to say it in Latin.  We share with them a common destiny, forged by geography and centuries of history.  We intend to fully shoulder this responsibility.

In this spirit, European Union has adopted a new European Neighborhood Policy for the benefit of the southern Mediterranean.  As part of this policy, it will provide nearly 7 billion euros in grants in the 2011-2013 period.  These funds will be allocated as incentives to encourage democratic and economic reforms.

We wish to make the Neighborhood Policy a key instrument of the Union for the Mediterranean.  The purpose of this initiative taken in 2008 at the instigation of President Sarkozy is to establish a balanced prosperity and partnership between the northern and southern Mediterranean.  It is based on solidarity and tangible projects, and brings together the 27 member states of the European Union and all the countries of the Mediterranean region.

The move was visionary.  Its full significance is becoming clear now that our counterparts are new responsible governments working to bring about democratic change.  This is why France wants to relaunch the Union for the Mediterranean to support concrete projects.  A new secretary-general, Youssef Amrani of Morocco, has been appointed.  He's already working on such projects as the creation of a Mediterranean youth office, supporting exchange of students on the two sides of the sea.

But we know that there is no singular way to succeed with the transition now under way.  Every situation is sui generis.  Every country is in a special case, with its own path to map out and its own history to write.  Some countries have already made substantial progress.  I refer, of course, to Morocco, where the king took the courageous decision to submit wide-ranging constitutional reform to his people.  The reform was approved by an overwhelming majority of Moroccans.  Morocco has pointed the way forward.  In all the countries, the electoral and constitutional process must be completed in full transparency.

I also refer to Tunisia and Egypt, which have fully entered the transition period.  Concerns remain.  At the beginning of this month, there were unacceptable incidents in Cairo, and serious attacks were perpetrated against the Israeli embassy.  In places, extremists are making their voice heard.  But the transition is under way, and it is clear that the future of these countries will be determined at the ballot box.

I am often asked whether, in our relations with the countries in transition, we should talk -- we should talk to everyone, including the Islamists.  My answer to that is as follows:  We must talk with all those who respect the rules of democratic life, especially the renunciation of violence.  Within this framework, yes, I consider that we must talk with the Islamist movements.  It is not a matter of giving anyone a blank check.  We are aware of the dangers related to fundamentalist ideologies, and we continue to combat them.  But we have to talk with those who are ready to accept democratic principles.

In Libya, we have entered a new phase:  the construction of a democratic country.  True to the commitment she made in the early days of the revolution and true to the bonds of friendship and respect that she has forged with the Libyan people, France will play a full role in this effort.  At the Paris summit held on September the 1st, we decided to transform the contact group into the Friends of Libya groups.  There are many and many since the collapse of Tripoli now, but it's good news.  The National Transitional Council presented its plan for political transition and set out its expectations.  The Libyan leaders explained the need to continue the Atlantic Alliance strikes as long as Gadhafi and his followers remain a threat to the civilian population, and you heard that Sirte is still resisting.

We ask them to undertake a process of national reconciliation, to ensure that the errors committing (sic) in the past in other countries are not repeated in Libya.  This was the message conveyed by President Sarkozy, together with David Cameron, the British prime minister, last Thursday to Libyan youth in Benghazi and Tripoli.  He called on them to unite behind the values of forgiveness, unity and democracy.

The time has come to put this commitment into practice.  Following the Paris summit, the United Nations summit on Libya will take place tomorrow here in New York.  It will be the second international step as the reconstruction of Libya gets under way.

The United Nations Security Council resolution establishing a United Nations mission in Libya was adopted last Friday.  The meeting here in New York shared by the United Nations secretary-general reflects the new role of the United Nations at the center of the international community's efforts.

In Syria, our ambassadors stand side-by-side at the funerals of (those ?) massacred by the regime.  We can be proud of the image.  Our two countries, France and the United States, bear a common message of freedom and democracy.  The international community is more and more unanimous in condemning events there.  The European Union is tightening its sanctions against the leadership.

But this is not enough.  Faced with the intolerable attitude of a regime with its back to the wall, which does not shy away from any atrocity, even torturing a child, let me repeat that the silence of the Security Council is unconscionable.  Yes, crimes against humanity are being committed in Syria.  The leaders of the regime and its army will have to answer for them, before their people and before the international community.

For our part, we will deepen our contacts with those in the opposition who are courageously fighting to build a democratic Syria that respects the rights of all Syrians and does not discriminate against minorities or religion communities.

But no area of prosperity and stability can be consolidated in the Arab world unless a solution is found to the main crisis undermining the region.  I refer first of all to the conduct and the policy of Iran, which more than ever require our attention against a backdrop of the Arab Spring.  How can we be credible in the eyes of the other peoples, the southern Mediterranean, if we abandon the Iranians, whose aspiration to freedom and democracy are equally legitimate?

The regime in Tehran must guarantee respect for the rise of its people.  It must fully disclose its nuclear program, the military implication of which are increasingly obvious, and it must comply with the demands of the international community.  Iran constitutes a growing threat to the nonproliferation regime, to regional stability and to our security.  We will stand firm in the face of this threat.

I also obviously refer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  My conviction is that the Arab Spring (holds out ?) a historic opportunity to complete the peace process in the Middle East.  As I have said before, the status quo between Israel and the Palestinian is neither acceptable nor tenable.  There is a risk of a new explosion of violence and further destabilization of the region.  Common sense and shared interests should prompt a new start to peace negotiation(s) based on balanced parameters.  That is the purpose of the French initiative we shall put to the parties in the spring and which remains on the table.  One of the goals of the United Nations General Assembly is to pave the way for a negotiation and enable the Palestinians to move toward the achievement of the legitimate aspiration to a Palestinian state.  A Palestinian state will be the best guarantee of the Israeli security to which we are strongly committed.  At this crucial time, France will share the responsibility and do our utmost to help overcome the deadlock.

Ladies and gentlemen, immense hope that has arisen on the southern rim of the Mediterranean, we cannot remain on the sidelines.  My country is determined to make proposals to innovate and to act together with our European partners and with the entire international community.  Our values and our destiny are at stake in this part of the world.

France welcomes the similar determination of the United States as it prepares to take over the G-8 presidency.  With its decisive influence and with its heritage and values, your great country has an important role to play.  The people are the only sure reliance for the preservation of liberty.  Today, at the start of an unprecedented partnership with the Arab world, at the dawn of a new era in Libya, Thomas Jefferson's words call on us to act.  Let us not abandon the people.  Let us not allow their dreams to be broken.  Let us remain true to the spirit of the Founding Fathers of the United States and confident in our common values of generosity, democracy and respect for human rights.  Let us add our efforts to those of the Arab countries and work with them to build an area of peace, freedom and solidarity in the Mediterranean Sea.

Thank you for your attention.  (Applause.)

RUBIN:  Minister, thank you very much for, I guess, a tour d'horizon of the Arab world.  And let's, if we could, have a short discussion here, and then we'll turn to the -- to the other members for further questions.

There's obviously a whole series of topics.  Let me start with a strategic question.  In his speech to the ambassadors, the French President Sarkozy talked about NATO, the NATO alliance, in a new way, describing it as a way for France to achieve its objectives with European leadership, as opposed to the previous view that it was more a place where America could achieve its goals.  Do you see this as a significant change in French thinking?  And do you think it will outlast the Sarkozy president, whenever that -- presidency, whenever that might end?  Is it a(n) accepted view in the French community?

JUPPE:  Yes, it is.  As you know, the story between France and NATO is a long story.  (Laughter.)  But things have started to change a decade ago.  When Jacques Chirac was president and when I was prime minister in 1995, we try to reintegrate the military structures of NATO, and we put two conditions.  The first one is a better balance of responsibilities between the United States and the Europeans inside the command of NATO, and the second condition was progress in autonomous European defense and security policy.

At that time, those two condition were not met, and especially in Europe.  A turning point happened in 1998, when Prime Minister Tony Blair and Jacques Chirac, president of France, agreed to relaunch -- or to launch -- a real defense -- the European defense policy.  And that's why, when President Sarkozy 10 years later decided to reintegrate NATO, without (sic) some reluctance -- I admit that -- I supported the idea.  And with the experience of the last two years, I think it was a good decision, because there is, obviously, a new balance inside NATO.  France, for example -- a French general, General Abrial, exerts an important responsibility in NATO structures, in Norfolk if I well remember.  And secondly, Europe has started to build its own capacity of defense.

And it's not very well known, but we implemented around 20 military operations since 10 years under the European flag.  The last one still in -- still working is the Operation Atalanta along the coast of the Horn of Africa, where a European force is fighting against piracy.  So some progress have been made, and that's a reason why I think it was a good decision to join NATO again.

The operation in Libya goes in the same direction.  It is a good experience, and we have demonstrated that the support of NATO was very efficient but that in NATO, two countries, France and -- excuse me, and Great Britain -- (chuckles) -- can have a kind of leadership to implement an operation that is not supported by all countries.

And so there is a margin of maneuvering, say, in NATO.  And at the end of the way, I think that that was a good decision.  And I think it is largely shared in the French public opinion, except the extremists on both sides.  But the opposition in the Parliament and the majority agreed on this new orientation of the French policy.

RUBIN:  Thank you.

You mentioned in your speech a number of topics, so let's try to go through a few of them, if we can, in our short time, perhaps the one in which you mentioned France and America's ambassadors in Damascus and throughout Syria trying very hard, working together.  While we were waiting before the meeting, we heard that the Russian Parliament is making statements in support of Bashar Assad and the friendship between Russia and the regime there.

To what do you attribute the reluctance of Russia to join with France and the United States to put the additional pressure you mentioned is necessary on Syria?

JUPPE:  I see two main reasons, and I discussed that with my colleague Sergei Lavrov in Moscow last week.  The first one is not a very good one.  Russia is very reluctant to any other resolution in the Security Council because they feel that the 1973 resolution has been implemented in a -- in a bad way.  They think that France and Great Britain went beyond the framework of the resolution, and especially that we tried to change the regime -- and we succeeded -- to change the regime in spite it's not the purpose of the resolution.  And so they fear that a new resolution on Syria could open the way to a military intervention and they don't want to accept that.  This is a kind of retaliation for what happened in Libya.  They -- as you remember, they didn't veto the 1973, and they regret that.  So it's a first explanation of this -- of their position on Syria.

But there is another explanation.  They have ancient and very close links with Syria for economic, for political reasons.  And so their reading of the situation in Syria is completely different of ours.  And Sergei Lavrov explained to me that the regime is a victim of outside and terrorist attacks, and so you have to put the -- on the same level the regime and the demonstrators.

RUBIN:  (Inaudible.)

JUPPE:  And of course it's not our analysis.

RUBIN:  (Inaudible.)

JUPPE:  I would like to say also that France has not a double-standard policy.  Sometimes in France I am asked, but why don't you intervene in Syria?  It's no question to have the same kind of intervention as in Libya, of course.  The two countries, the regions are completely different.  But at the very starting point of the -- of the rebellion, of the demonstrations in Syria, we have said that the reaction of the regime is completely unacceptable.

And the European Union implemented very strong sanction against some leaders of the regime and some companies, also, in Syria.  So we are trying to act, but it will be very difficult.  And I think that the situation will last a long time.  As President Obama said, I think Bashar al-Assad has lost his legitimacy, but he's still resisting and it will take time.

RUBIN:  Thank you.

You accompanied President Sarkozy on his trip to Libya.  The discussions you had with the Transitional National Council, the TNC -- are you confident that this country, Libya, which is -- has some tribal structures that people worry about, that can be knitted together in the aftermath of such a dramatic development?  Are you worried that these tribal structures could come to the fore?

JUPPE:  I am confident, but I think that we must remain vigilant.  The victory on the ground is not complete.  There are still fights again -- around Sirte and in other places in the south of Libya.  And that's why NATO must continue its pressure against Gadhafi's forces.  It's the first point.  But I am optimistic.  I think that the TNC will control the whole country in a very few weeks.

On the political level, the situation is more complicated.  Sometimes we're asked, but who are those people in the TNC?  They are people fighting for their freedom.  And of course, they are diverse.  Some of them are very religious, some of them less, some of them are moderate, some of them are links to Islamist movements.  And so we have to strengthen the democratic side of this body.

And that's why the message of President Sarkozy and Prime Minister David Cameron to Mr. Jalil and Mr. Jibril was we have to implement your (covenants ?), you have to implement your road map, to write a new constitution, to organize election within a short period, in 2012 if possible.  We have to open your organization to different trends of the social -- Syrian social society in Syria, and you have to ban any idea of revenge against those who supported the Gadhafi regime.

I am confident because those people are good people.  President Abdel-Jalil is a wise man.  Prime Minister Jibril is courageous.  They are trying to form a government.  It's not easy, because there are different tendencies among the rebels, but we have to support them and to help them, including in organizing the rule of law, democracy, and also in rebuilding the country.  The situation is quite different from Tunisia or Egypt, because Libya is a rich country and we have already unfrozen around $15 billion assets frozen by the Security Council embargo.  And so they have money and they have the possibility to develop their country.

RUBIN:  Thank you.

The Palestinian statehood issue is destined to dominate the U.N. Assembly in the coming weeks.  And I'm -- you stated your position about the value of negotiations quite clearly, but you also said in your speech about the risk of disillusionment among the people, and this was in reference to the democracy.  But are you worried that the day after this resolution is passed, whatever happens, that the Palestinian people will see that nothing changes?  And to what extent do you think that factor is important, the effect on the people in the Palestinian territory of this debate?

JUPPE:  But if the Palestinian go to the Security Council, the resolution will not pass, of course, and you know why.  Maybe there will not be the nine votes to pass the resolution, and if there are nine votes, the American government announced that it will veto the resolution.  So there is no outcome on this level.

I would like to -- I will be very prudent on this matter because things are changing every day, every hour.  I have a meeting with President Abbas this afternoon.  President Sarkozy will meet President Abbas tomorrow.  And so we have many contacts all along the week.  So things can change.

I would like to say two or three things.  First of all, I hope that you are completely convinced in this room that France is a friend of Israel and that President Sarkozy especially is a friend of Israel.  And sometimes in France some part of the public opinion -- (inaudible) -- to Israel, first point.

Second point:  We think -- we observe that things are changing all around Israel.  Egypt has changed.  Syria is in the situation we said before.  Turkey has not a very good relation with Israel today.  There are tensions.  And there are some other difficulties in the region:  Iran, of course.  And so I deeply think that the status quo is not tenable for Israel.  It's dangerous for Israel.  When everything is changing around you, you can stay rigid and say wait and see.  I think it's better to take in account the change and to try to move.  And that's why in last June I went to Jerusalem and to Ramallah, and I tried to convince Prime Minister Netanyahu and also President Mahmoud Abbas to resume talks because I think the only solution can come from talks and from an agreement between the parties.

We have announced that we are supporting a two nation-states for two peoples solution.  And so when appropriate, as soon as possible, except if we change completely our speech and our views on the region, we will have to recognize a Palestinian state.  We have announced that.  We have committed themselves -- ourselves to do so.  And that's why we have to resume negotiation.

And France proposed a set of parameters to resume negotiation:  renouncing the violence and terrorism; accepting the previous treaties -- Egypt and Israel, for example; renouncing to all other claims when the negotiation will be finished; and implementing the two nation-states for two peoples solution; and then on those bases, resuming negotiation, taking in account President Obama's speech, the border of 1967 as a starting point with mutually-agreed swaps; and at the second step of the talks, the question of refugees and Jerusalem; and then a global agreement within a period of one year.

President Abbas accepted those proposals.  I met Prime Minister Netanyahu, and he didn't say no to me.  And for me it was a surprise.  It was very good news.  I expected a rejection -- a reject of our proposal.  He told me that he will reflect -- he would reflect.  Same reaction coming from Hillary Clinton.  And then after that nothing happened.  And the Quartet failed in last June to agree on a common position between the Americans, the EU, the Russians and the United Nations.

And so we are at this point.  I will ask this afternoon to President Abbas what is his strategy:  going to the Security Council, and then what after that?  If there is an American veto, nothing will happen on the ground except maybe the resumption of violence because the Palestinian people is frustrated and will not accept for a long time the present situation.

So it's absolutely necessary to avoid such a confrontation.  And you have still maybe two, three, four days to negotiate in the Quartet and to find a solution, a balanced solution, acceptable both by Palestinians and Israelians (sic), to resume negotiation.

I don't want to say more about that.  I have some ideas about the proposal and the balance -- the balanced parameters of a -- of a negotiation, but we talk about that all along the week.

RUBIN:  Thank you.

If I could turn now to members of the council, and please, remember to identify yourself, and we have microphones coming.  Let me start way in the back, in the corner there, please.  Yes, the lady right -- coming to you; there you go.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  Annette Young from France 24 -- English Service, Monsieur, so "je continuerai en Englais, s'il vous plait."  (Laughs.)

JUPPE:  Unfortunately for me.

QUESTIONER:  It's the English Service.  I just have a question to you in regards to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and in particular in regards to the Palestinian statehood bid.  On Friday, in his speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas indicated some sort of wiggle room, if you like, in terms of what they eventually will present on Friday.  How confident -- and I do understand, as you pointed out, it's very much a changing situation, a moveable feast.  How confident are you that the Quartet will be able to convince the Palestinians to amend their bid, perhaps to the point of accepting enhanced observer status?

JUPPE:  I don't know.  I told you that this is the question of the week.  I know that Tony Blair, the special envoy from the Quartet, is negotiating.  The question of the observer status is not exactly what the Quartet is discussing.  The Quartet tries to find a basis for the resumption of negotiation between the two parties.  The question of the status of observer state will come only if the Palestinian go to the General Assembly of the United Nations, and that's not on the agenda today.

I know that there is a fear among the friends of Israel, and in Israel by itself -- in itself -- about the status, because if the Palestinians are recognized as a nonmember but observer state in the United Nations, they would have the possibility to intervene in some meetings, and especially to go to the ICC, to the International Criminal Court.  And it is a fear in Israel.  I can understand that.

Maybe there are some answers to give by the Palestinians, but I just want to raise a question:  Are we or are we not -- do we agree or don't we agree to give to the Palestinian one day, as soon as possible, the status of a state?  We have announced that.  We have said that the solution is a two-state -- two nation-states.  And if the Palestinians are a state, full member of the United Nations, they will have the possibility to seize (sic) the ICC, of course.  So we have to clarify our view.  If we don't accept that, we have to say that the Palestinian will never be a state.  I raise the question.

RUBIN:  (Chuckles.)  Which has an answer contained within it, I fear.

Over there, please.  Wait for the mic.  Ken -- yeah.

QUESTIONER:  Ken Roth, from Human Rights Watch.  Mr. Juppe, you spoke about the reasons that Russia was supportive on the Libya resolution but is reluctant to act on Syria.  And the reasons you gave, which I happen to agree with -- that describe Russia's position, also could be said about what you might call the swing votes on the Security Council -- that is to say, India, South Africa and Brazil.

And I'm wondering, does France have a policy to try to push those three nations in a more supportive direction -- all three being democracies at home, but when it comes to the Security Council, they still tend to vote more like Russia than like France?

JUPPE:  Your question is an excellent one because we have difficulty in the Security Council not only with the Russians, but with other countries, and especially with the three emerging countries:  South Africa, which is probably the most reluctant country, but also India and Brazil.  And it is, I think, a signal of the change that appeared in the world since two decades:  The balance of influence and power is not the same.  Sometimes I say in France:  Europe is no more the center of the world -- and the United States, neither.  We have other key players on the international stage:  China, of course; but also Brazil, India and South Africa.  And their influence is very, very strong.  Sometimes I stress also the change between the G-7, the G-8 and the G-20.  In the G-8 or G-7, there are the Americans, the Canadians and four European countries; in the G-20, there are still four European countries.  So you see the decrease of our global influence in the world.

So those countries are emerging, and we have to develop with them a confident relation.  It's difficult.  And on this particular issue of Syria, also in Libya, you have to understand that their reaction is the reaction of maybe -- I don't want to use too strong words -- of a(n) anti-imperialist vision of the world, maybe nationalist vision of the world.  And so they do not accept this principle of a responsibility to protect.  They say, instead of responsibility to protect -- as do you say in English, "droit d'ingerence":  They do not accept the principle of intervention in domestic issues of countries.  And this is an ideological split between us, and we have to discuss those points with them and to try to convince them that democracy is for everybody in the world, of course.

I'm planning a visit to Brazil, to South Africa, to India.  We must talk with them.  We must convince them.  I think it's possible.  They have not vote against the 1973; they have accepted the 1973.  It has not been very easy.  When I entered the room of the Security Council on the 19th of March, South Africa was still hesitating; and so we convinced them.  And so we have to do the same work about Syria.  I think it's not impossible.  But it's a -- it's a new balance of power.

RUBIN:  Yes, right here, please.  One moment for the microphone.  Thank you.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  George Schwab, National Committee on American Foreign Policy.  Were diplomacy and sanctions to fail in the case of Iran, would France favor military intervention?  Thank you.  (Laughter.)

RUBIN:  Very direct question, sir.

JUPPE:  Very direct question.  Very simple answer:  No.  (Chuckles.)  (Laughter.)

We intervened militarily in Libya, but I would like to reassure you -- (chuckles) -- we are not fans of military intervention, of course, especially against a country like Iran.

No, we think that we must have a very strong attitude towards Iran, and almost a united attitude.  We are six countries involved in the negotiation with Iran:  three European countries, Germany, Great Britain and France; then the United States; Russia; and the sixth one, China, of course.  And we have to maintain the unity of this group to press Iran to renounce to its military program.  It's not very easy.  We have implementing sanction.  I think that sanction are efficient on the long term, and so you have to maintain this attitude towards Iran.  And France is especially involved in this very strong process.

RUBIN:  Thank you.

Evelyn Leopold, right here, please.  Microphone is coming.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  Evelyn Leopold, U.N.-based journalist.  If the Palestinians go to the Security Council or apply for it this week, it will take a long time, weeks, maybe a month, before hearings as members now have -- (off mic).  Would that delay give you time to -- you France and the European Union -- (off mic) -- time to craft a different kind of resolution in the General Assembly?

JUPPE:  As I've said, we think that this period of time must be used to find a solution to convince both parties to resume talks between each other.  And that's what we are trying to do.

RUBIN:  OK.  We have time for one more question.  But before I ask the last person -- and I apologize to those I won't get to -- as (an ?) editor at Bloomberg View, I feel I would be negligent if I didn't ask you a word about the euro and the financial crisis in Europe.  And I know that you might now wish to turn to French, and we have a translator who's able.

And I guess the question really is -- (laughter) -- you thought you were going to get away without it -- the question really is, can the system where France and Germany are reluctant to make the big, big, big commitment survive further small deaths of a thousand cuts by the markets?  And isn't it time to really make the big decision necessary to solve this problem?

JUPPE:  Money is a too-important thing to be talked without accurate wording, and that's why maybe I will speak French -- (chuckles) -- on that issue.

First of all, I would like to stress the fact that the crisis is not a European crisis.  It's the worldwide crisis.  There is a debt crisis in United States.  Japan is over debt also.  And so there is a global issue for developed countries and we have to face those issues.

There is a specific problem in Europe, of course.  We have taken important decision last July and we are implementing those decision.  I would like to say that France and Germany and others are completely determined to maintain the currence (ph) and the stability of the eurozone.  We will not accept the collapse of the eurozone, because it would mean the collapse of Europe.  And if you are collapsed after half a century of efforts to build the solidarity between us, the condition of sustainable peace on the continent, it would be a catastrophe for us and for you.  And so everybody has interest to see the eurozone in good shape.

I think it's possible.  As you know, the weight of the Greek economy in the global European economy is very low.  It's 1, 2 or 3 percent of the global GDP of Europe.  And so we have the means to face this crisis provided that we take decision as soon as possible, but it's difficult to take decision when you are 17 around the table.  And that's why the leadership between France and Germany is very important.

We have two kind of leadership in Europe.  When we enter in militarily, it's --

RUBIN:  France and Britain.

JUPPE:  -- France and Great Britain.  When it's money at stake, it's France and Germany.  (Chuckles.)

RUBIN:  What's the common denominator?  (Laughter.)

JUPPE:  And so I think we have solution, and we will implement those solutions.

RUBIN:  Thank you.

Final question.  Yes, right there, please.  Yes.

QUESTIONER:  Good morning, Mr. Minister.  I'm Clay Swisher.  I'm a term member and I'm also with Al-Jazeera English.

In January of this year we released over 1,600 negotiating documents known as the Palestine Papers.  And as someone who participated in that project and reviewed the recent diplomatic history, it's clear that the Palestinians made unprecedented compromises within a decade of the last negotiations and that there's been intransigence on the Israeli side, and yet the international community has not recognized that fact and continues with yet more diplomatic initiatives.

When will the international community and France, which is supporting NATO's efforts in North Africa and elsewhere, consider deploying NATO to the West Bank to make sure that in these intervening years and failed initiatives, that more West Bank land isn't taken and that the Palestinians' property is protected?  Thank you.

RUBIN:  OK.  NATO going somewhere else.

JUPPE:  I (told you ?) that I will be very prudent on the Israel-Palestine conflict.  We are, in France, very deeply attached to the security of Israel.  There's no question about that.  But I don't think that the intervention of NATO is a -- is a good idea.

I would like to add something.  I know that seen from the United States, Europe is sometimes a question of -- how do you say, not misunderstanding but of questioning -- and would like to stress the fact that Europe exists and that Europe plays an important role on the international stage in Libya, of course, but also in the peace process in the Middle East.  And today, when I travel in the Middle East, I see that both Palestinians and maybe also Israelieans (sic) think that the Americans will not find the solution alone and that they need also the support of Europe.  And so -- (inaudible) -- to give the last sentence, let us work all together to find a solution in the Middle East.

RUBIN:  Thank you, Mr. Minister.  Before -- (applause) -- before I left you go, I must say a word that many, many -- let's say the middle of 2003, 2004, if we were having this meeting in this room, the relationship between the United States and France was very, very difficult -- so difficult that many of you in the room would have been foreswearing your red wine.  (Laughter.)  And now --

QUESTIONER:  Not that difficult.

RUBIN:  -- not that difficult, apparently, but I think it would be therefore remiss if I didn't point out that in addition to the foreign minister of France, and at a time of improvement in the European or American relation, Mr. Juppe is still the mayor of Bordeaux.

JUPPE:  I didn't come with a bottle -- a bottle.  I am sorry.  (Laughter.)

 

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