(November 4th, 2005)
INCIDENTS IN PARIS
Q - About the urban violence. Several states are reportedly telling their nationals not to travel to Paris. Portugal is offering consular protection, and the foreign press is full of similar reports. What do you think?
It’s more a question for the Ministry of the Interior than the Foreign Ministry. You’ve all been following, as we have, the incidents in the Paris suburbs. Quite obviously we take them very seriously. You’ll have noted the very strong mobilization by the French government--the prime minister, the interior minister and the entire government--to find a response to the incidents that have occurred. At the same time, I would like to say for the foreign public that we have at times been a bit surprised by the international press coverage of these events. I believe that one must keep this in proportion.
These are indeed very serious incidents, which must be taken as such, but we are very far from a situation as grave as certain press commentaries and television reports that can be read or seen abroad would lead one to believe.
So there you have what I can say about this. I don’t have the feeling, as far as I’m concerned personally but you may perhaps disagree, that foreign tourists in Paris are placed in any danger from these events.
Q - About the consequences for tourism, are you worried about the medium-term effects? For people already here, I imagine there’s no problem but for others with plans to travel to France, what can you say? Also I’d like to know whether you were told about special recommendations--Portugal was mentioned and I believe I also heard China mentioned. So were you told about particular recommendations that the authorities in certain countries were issuing for their nationals in France or for tourists who might be coming to France?
I don’t believe we were informed of such recommendations in an official way. But like you I’ve read about statements by one or another foreign authority. We note them with considerable interest and are quite ready to give all our partners any clarifications they might wish.
As to the first aspect of your question about tourism, we’re not particular worried about the repercussions of these events. Unfortunately, I would have to say that such events have happened elsewhere, in other European countries, we don’t have a monopoly on them.
But I do want to emphasize that the answer is not primarily a matter for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but for the prime minister and government as a whole. As you know, we’re working on answers that can be provided to these incidents.
Q - Clearly, the problematic targets national problems, but it seems there are now international ramifications. The Senegalese president the day before yesterday urged the French authorities to give everyone work. Other Arab countries want to be involved indirectly. I confess I was out there and I can say the scenes were intolerable, you could have said a real war. It’s not nothing, it’s not insignificant. Will France seek help from other partners so as to have a better understanding of this community which has been left to itself for too long with the harmful consequences we can see today?
First, one point, I didn’t say that these events were insignificant. I said these are very serious incidents and that they have to be taken as such, which is what the government is doing. I also said that you have to see these events in proportion and that in reading commentaries about them you get the feeling sometimes that they go a bit beyond the reality you see on the ground.
As for relations with partner countries, we are of course open to dialogue with the countries that are the source of immigration. We believe it’s rather important to have dialogue on these immigration questions, and it’s not for nothing that immigration issues will be discussed at the Barcelona summit. It’s not for nothing we support the Spanish proposal for a Euro-African conference on these questions. As you know, this very evening in Toulouse immigration will be one of the main subjects discussed by EU ministers from southern Europe who are meeting there.
We are perfectly well aware of the need for dialogue on immigration. Secondly there’s one question which is slightly different to immigration and that’s integration. Naturally it’s a matter first for the authorities of the Republic since our French model of integration is at issue in this matter. So it’s a matter first for the authorities of the Republic, but there too, obviously, there can be a dialogue with any country that would like it.
Q - What about?
We’re not necessarily talking about foreign communities, it’s usually about French nationals, and that’s the reason it concerns first and foremost the authorities of the Republic. But in the case of communities from one or another country that is a source of immigration, we do engage in dialogue with these countries. We are open to it even though we consider that it’s our responsibility first to resolve these matters.
So we’ve no intention of requesting assistance from one or another country in particular. It’s our responsibility to ensure that integration takes place under optimum conditions and that there’s no repetition of incidents like those in the past few days. But of course, it’s “yes” to dialogue on these issues.
Q - Do you think there may be political connections to events in the Middle East?
No, we’ve no element to suggest that the explanation is the one you’ve given. We’ve no leads in that sense. It’s a problem of integration and also very largely a social problem as you should remember. I don’t believe these events of the past few days have their origin in politics or religion. It’s more, I think, a matter of integration and the operating of the French model of integration.
Monday, November 07, 2005
From the official government website: