Analytical Studies
G8 SummitsG8 Deauville Summit

The G8 Deauville Summit

Press conference with Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the French Republic
Deauville, May 26, 2011
[Version française]


Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank Alain Juppé, who is Ministre d'Etat, and who is with me here. We have had quite a busy day.

We started with two bilateral meetings, one with President Medvedev, which enabled us to appreciate the excellent state of relations with Russia, to finalize the question of the contract on the sale of the Mistral-type landing helicopter docks — this issue has been settled — and to shape closely concurring views on many international issues.

Then I had a bilateral meeting with Mr Juppé and David Cameron. I believe I can say that our understanding on the issue of Libya is total and comprehensive. Our assessment of the situation in Libya is that our friends on the National Transitional Council, the opposition to Mr Gaddafi have made real progress on the ground. Our idea remains the same: the enforcement of Resolution 1973 has one objective: to secure peace and the right to democracy for the Libyan people. And really we, the British and the French, are working hand in hand with the same aim, the same assessment of the situation and the same method.

Following this, we had a G8 lunch focusing mainly on the international economic situation. We are all pleased to see world growth take off again so strongly. We all believe that the elements of friction and imbalances need to be reduced. Proposals on this subject will be made at the G20 in Cannes.

We discussed the Doha Round, the need to combat protectionism and to find solutions, irrespective of the point reached in the Doha Round, believing as we do that protectionism is not the answer.

We discussed with the Japanese Prime Minister the situation in Japan, which is gradually rebuilding, with courage and a great deal of dignity. And the seven countries of the G8 stand ready to help the eighth, Japan, to handle the repercussions of the nuclear accident, but also to help it rebuild its economy. There is a great deal of solidarity there.

In the afternoon, we discussed the nuclear issue. There are many in the G8 who think there is no alternative to nuclear power, even if we all believe in the need to develop alternative energies, renewable energies. But we all want to establish very high-level regulations on nuclear safety applicable to all countries that wish to use civil nuclear energy, regulations that can be controlled internationally and that will make safety levels the highest ever. Japan has wholeheartedly taken up this objective and we all think that it is the best way to prevent civil nuclear plants from being built without adhering to the highest safety standards, following bidding procedures where the only criterion is price. In terms of nuclear energy, the first criterion should be safety. And that is a crucial point of agreement.

We also spoke about the Durban conference, about the concern of the countries that have subscribed to Kyoto to prepare post-Kyoto. And France, in particular, does not want to forsake the Copenhagen objective and does not want post-Kyoto to come to nothing. We also discussed how to raise these issues with the major emerging countries, including China.

Furthermore, we have finalized the financing of Chernobyl, 25 years after the tragedy. You all know that the G8 countries have undertaken to finance the last sealing operations for the Chernobyl plant and we were very pleased to learn of the participation of Italy, Japan and Canada.

Last but not least, we had a meeting with the leading Internet players. It was extremely interesting. We decided that we should repeat the meeting every year, that there should be the e-G8, the Internet meeting, and that there should be this meeting between G8 leaders and the Internet leaders. To briefly sum up the general tone, the Internet players are perfectly aware that they have imperatives and duties in terms of security, intellectual property and even digital taxation. Their concerns are that no rules should hamper innovation and that if there are rules, they should be compatible with the development of innovation: the freedom and openness of the Internet. We decided to work together and we even suggested that they propose a body, a base for what could be minimum rules on a certain number of subjects that we discussed in detail.

There you have my summary of seven or eight hours of conversation in six or seven minutes. I am sure your questions will give me the chance to talk about any matters I may have forgotten to mention. I will now take your questions for twenty or so minutes, because I have the dinner afterwards on some very serious subjects.

QUESTION: Mr President, did you discuss Libya and Syria with President Medvedev and what is the situation concerning Russia's support for these two regimes?

PRESIDENT: Naturally, we discussed the Libyan issue with President Medvedev. It is not the easiest subject. I told you that we agree with Russia on a great many subjects, that France considers Russia to be a strategic partner and a friend. On the Libyan issue, each country has its own story. Mr Juppé and I first told Mr Medvedev how much we appreciated Russia abstaining from the vote on Resolution 1973 at the UN Security Council. If Russia had not taken this position, the intervention, the no-fly zone, would have been impossible. Let's be fair, let's be honest. Whatever the other differences in the assessment of the situation we may have with the Russians, they did enable this Resolution to be adopted. The remarkable work that Alain Juppé, Ministre d'Etat, did in New York. If the Russians had refused, that could have given other partners the same idea, as you know all too well.

As regards the rest, we explained in detail what we wanted. It is not for us to build the future and to choose the future of Libya. It is the Libyans who will build their future and who will prepare this future. Yet if we had not intervened, Benghazi would have been wiped off the map by the murderous madness of a man who promised unprecedented repression. We, the Europeans, we have not forgotten Srebrenica, 8,000 dead when the international community had undertaken to protect them. I am not saying that our intervention does not raise questions, does not pose problems; and it is not an easy decision to mobilize troops. But if we had not done so, it was only a question of time. Benghazi has more than one million inhabitants. When you see what Mr Gaddafi did to the inhabitants of Misrata, you can imagine what was in store for the inhabitants of Benghazi.

Mr Gaddafi holds the solution in his hands: to ask his soldiers to return to base, to announce, after 41 years of dictatorship, that he is leaving, and then the Libyans would be free once more and have the right to shape their future, including with the members of the current regime and provided that these members do not have blood on their hands.
There you have it, and I believe that Mr Medvedev has understood that the fault is Mr Gaddafi's and he clearly told us so, but his country has a tradition, a foreign policy and there is the concern that discussion will lead nowhere. It cannot be said that these subjects do not warrant this concern. So we discussed them in great detail and that is perfectly normal. In addition, we gave our assessment of the situation on the ground and this situation on the ground in Libya is that the opposition forces are advancing.

QUESTION: Good evening, Mr President. Right from the start, Mr Obama, yourself and Mr Cameron have been asking Mr Gaddafi to leave. But when somebody is somewhere and has to leave, where is he to go? Have you any suggestions as to where he should go?

PRESIDENT: Let's first agree on the principle before agreeing on the direction. When we say that Mr Gaddafi should leave, it's that he should leave power. And the sooner he does so, the greater the choice he will have. The later he does so, the fewer destinations he will have. We are not saying, "Gaddafi must be exiled." That is not our problem. We are saying, "A man who has used artillery and planes to fire on an innocent, unarmed crowd, after 41 years of dictatorship, should not stay where he is." The United Nations have given us a mandate to protect a population and that is what we are doing. First, let Mr Gaddafi say he is leaving power and then, we can discuss all of that.

But that is the first point. That his soldiers return to base, that he stops torturing people, including in Tripoli where there are snipers on the rooftops, where gatherings of more than three people — can you imagine? — are banned, where people are afraid, where the massacres are continuing. That is the point, and after we'll worry about the direction, the plane ticket and even the class of seat in the plane.

QUESTION: Mr President, did you talk about Ms Lagarde standing as a candidate for the International Monetary Fund, in particular with Mr Obama, and has the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair damaged France's chances in this? And, second question, how is your wife?

PRESIDENT: Well, I've just spoken to her on the phone and she was very well, and I'll tell her you asked after her; she won't be surprised, she'll be very touched.

I will try to give you a straight, albeit adroit answer. The G8 is not the place to decide on the appointment of the Managing Director of the IMF and it would be outrageous if it were. The G8 is not the world's board of directors, it has no intention of being the world's board of directors and, in any case, France, dear Alain Juppé, which is so committed to multilateralism, would go completely against its beliefs if it were to say it was the world's board of directors, no. The G8 is a family of democratic countries that wish to talk freely and try to harmonize their positions. But it is not for us to determine who is or who will be Managing Director of the IMF.

So, we didn't talk about it in our working sessions, and I would ask that you believe me. And did we talk about it in our bilateral meetings? If I told you that we didn't talk about it, you wouldn't believe me and you'd be perfectly right. There is a difference, these are highly sensitive matters, there is a huge difference between discussing such matters with a colleague — and sometimes a friend — Head of State or Government in a corridor or bilateral meetings, and putting this subject on the agenda of a meeting that is not justified to raise it.

Moreover, from what I have heard, everyone thinks that Christine Lagarde is an extremely competent woman and I conclude that, in any case, if she were to be appointed, she would make a very good Managing Director. But hold your horses, it's a long road between here and there.

QUESTION: On the subject of the Arab countries, Tunisia and Egypt have worked out their financing needs following their revolutions. Have you worked out what the rich countries could or should give them?

PRESIDENT: That is the question for this evening and tomorrow. It really is a substantial question. I had the opportunity to say, with Alain Juppé, that France had taken huge steps forward with its Arab policy and its African policy, that France would now stand by the side of all the Arab peoples and all the African peoples who wanted to throw off their chains. I believe that nothing is possible if the people do not set the wheels in motion. This is no doubt one of the most important issues of this G8, mobilizing aid.

Tomorrow's press conference will give you more details. But it is really the ambition of this G8. In the same way as it is with the African invitations, in particular with President Ouattara, the President of Niger and the President of Guinea, presidents who have been democratically elected, even if it took longer in Côte d'Ivoire. It really is a turning point.

There you have it. This goes for future elections and it goes for the relations we will have with the Arab countries and the African countries. We will also talk about Syria. Some of you are thinking, "Why the double standards?" The idea is naturally not do decide on interventions left, right and centre. That wouldn't make any sense. First of all, you need the authorization of the UN Security Council.

But clearly, the question is there of stepping up sanctions against the Syrian leaders, as the violence used against the demonstrators in Syria is unacceptable. That will be the subject of a discussion among us this evening.

The same goes for Iran. Iran's leaders should not for a second think that just because of the Arab revolutions, we have forgotten about the Iranian revolution, the revolution that emerged and that, as you know, was repressed with incredible violence.

QUESTION: About the four warships that the Russians want to buy from us, I would like to know if you have come to an agreement with Mr Medvedev on the technology transfers and prices.

PRESIDENT: We came to an agreement on everything: the prices, the timetable, technology transfers, location ...

QUESTION: What is the price?

PRESIDENT: The price? Wait until we sign the contract. But we have agreed and the negotiations are over. The only thing left to settle is when we sign the contract, between today and, I believe, the 21st of June, which is the date on which Prime Minister Putin is coming to Paris. There's the timeframe. But General Puga, who is my personal Chief of Staff, returned from Moscow recently and I can tell you that it's all settled and a communiqué will be released in due time.

QUESTION: One question on international collaboration. I would like to know how France is going to find a balance in its cooperative and at the same time competitive relations with emerging economies, China and India, for example? And what about in terms of the environment?

PRESIDENT: This is a major issue that concerns me. How do we explain the difficulty with trade negotiations and environment negotiations? The difficulty is a result of the fact that we are trying to resolve the problems of the 21st century with an organisation from the last century.

Let me explain what I mean. In the past century, the 20th century, there were two major categories of countries — the countries of the North and the countries of the South, the rich countries and the poor countries — and all international negotiations were organised on the basis of this reality. But things have since changed. There are still rich countries with a high standard of living and there are unfortunately still poor countries with a very poor standard of living. But in between, there is a third category of countries which are the emerging countries and that have become major powers; China, for example, has even surpassed Japan to become the second largest economy in the world. But we cannot say that the world's second largest economy is a poor country in the same way that certain African countries are. But it is true that, in these countries that have become major powers, there are also large pockets of poverty with considerable development issues.

Therefore, for each of these three categories of countries, we have to find the right words and the right position for resolving problems. Take the environment, for example: we cannot impose the same rules on India and China as we impose on ourselves. But would it be acceptable to not impose on them any rules at all? In the World Trade Organization, it is perfectly normal for us, the industrialized countries — as we have mentioned — to remove all our barriers to an African country with a very high level of poverty. But should we do the same thing for economic powers such as Brazil or China, however much friendship we may have for them? This is the question that has emerged and on which we are working very hard, in particular with a view to the G20 in Cannes, although I have confidence in the capacity of our Chinese friends to understand this situation, and I was very pleased to be able to open the monetary seminar in Nankin.

QUESTION: I would like to come back to the candidacy of Christine Lagarde and your bilateral talks with your colleagues. I would like to know if they inquired about the qualities, but also the weaknesses of Christine Lagarde, so as to avoid a new DSK mistake, because, clearly, the wrong person was chosen and therefore, were there questions asked about the possible problems that Ms Lagarde may have?

PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, this is the century of transparency and we have to accept this reality, I don't find it shocking. And so, of course, any problems are raised and there is a great deal of transparency, especially concerning Christine Lagarde, who is an extremely competent woman, whose personality is fairly well-known; and we think that any 'risks', as you put it, will be easily overcome, as will be demonstrated by a certain number of legal assessments that Ms Lagarde will communicate. Yes, we're talking about all of that. It's not so serious that we can't talk about it, on the contrary. And what's more, it doesn't shock me, Mr Quatremer. It doesn't shock me because this is something that has to be done and it's perfectly normal, and something that our partners do as well. There's no friction.

QUESTION: Mr President, one of the subjects you're going to discuss tonight is the issue of peace in the Middle East, which is an issue that comes up at every meeting. In light of your own positions and the latest statements made by Mr Obama, what are you going to propose to your counterparts tonight? And also, will the Paris conference — which is being called a 'donors' conference' but that you want to be a truly political conference — will this conference take place? Are you certain tonight that it will be taking place? Thank you very much.

PRESIDENT: Thank you sir. First of all, I would like to say how much France valued the speech given by President Obama on peace in the Middle East. It was a courageous speech and it was the speech of a man who is committed, and a president who is committed. So this speech is excellent news and France supports it.

Secondly, France considers that the start of an inter-Palestinian reconciliation is good news. And it seems to me that there is a contradiction in having said for years that peace is not possible, because the Palestinians are divided and, now that they're trying to move closer together, in saying "Oh no, we we're not talking to them because they're moving closer together." Well, you have to make your mind up when you're going to speak to them! So it's good news.

Third element, Alain Juppé, the Ministre d'état, French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs will be going in a few days, I think even next week, to the Middle East with a message on my behalf, which he will pass on when the time is right to say to the Palestinians and the Israelis that peace has been too long coming, that peace is within reach, that the parameters of peace are perfectly well known and that time does not work in favour of people who want peace, it works for the terrorists and the extremists.

Of course, France knows that peace will only be achieved because the Israelis and the Palestinians want it. But the continuing conflict is a cause for concern for us, the French, for us, the Europeans, for them, the Americans, for democracies throughout the world. Because a certain number of terrorists are counting on the continuing conflict. So we need peace.

France wants to take an initiative before the summer, namely a conference. I will tell you more when Mr Juppé returns, but we are very, very determined. We will say to the Palestinians: "Does this reconciliation and this Palestinian unity government not call into question the recognition of Israel and the right of Israel to live in security?" Because if they did call it into question, then we wouldn't be talking about peace anymore. And to the Israelis we will say: "You have to restart the peace process, we can't live with the current situation, France refuses to." What I mean to tell you is that we are very much thinking along the same lines as Mr Obama. And this courageous speech, especially the part where he talked about the 1967 borders, is really what we were expecting: a committed America, an America that is not disinterested in the peace process.

To finish, we are convinced that the Americans have to be involved, as they are, but although they have an essential role to play, they are not the only ones to play this role. Europe also has a role to play, Europe and Russia.

QUESTION: Mr President, do you think that Mr Mladic should be transferred to The Hague in the Netherlands? Will that open the door for Serbia's accession to the European Union?

PRESIDENT: It certainly will. This is really big news, sir. I would like to extend France's great thanks and congratulations to the Serb President. Serbia is a country that has suffered a great deal throughout these last years, it has to be said. I imagine that Serb public opinion has faced a very testing time and that it was not an easy decision to give up a suspected war criminal. But this is a very important element and France wants the European Union to respond to this historic decision by indicating clearly that Serbia is meant to join the European Union. Because we cannot ask Serbia to take difficult decisions, sometimes against part of public opinion, and at the same time say "No, the door is shut." Serbia is meant to join the European Union.

QUESTION: Mr President, I'd like to ask you to go back to the IMF issue, and ask your opinion as President of France: do you think emerging countries should have some kind of guarantee or compensation if Ms Lagarde is elected head of the IMF?

PRESIDENT: You're from Brazil, right? You are aware of how highly France considers its relations with Brazil and how France has been working hard to make Brazil a permanent member of the Security Council. We've held this position consistently, very consistently. We have also been working to enable Latin America as a whole to become better represented in the Security Council because it does not have any permanent members. I just wanted to explain where Brazil stands in global governance.

As regards the IMF's management, I'm European, and you can see what's happening with the monetary system today, more is going on in Europe than in emerging countries. I'm not offending anyone in saying that. This hasn't always been the case. Let's look back at the 42 monetary crises from 1990 to 2010. But that's the way it is. Therefore I think that it would be a good idea if the IMF managing director were European.

Now, we advocated a change in IMF voting rights and who achieved an increase in voting rights, namely China's? At whose expense? At the Europeans'. Therefore to say that a better balance has not been achieved is wrong. Voting rights have been re-distributed. I think that 5% have been taken from Europe and given to emerging countries. And that's fair, sir, that's perfectly fair. But later don't accuse me of wanting Europeans to have all the powers when we were the one to change voting rights in this way.

But it's true that in the future — and it's not up to me to decide — if there are other appointments to be made at the IMF, nationality and where the managing director comes from should certainly be taken into account, there's no question. Multilateralism should be applied at the IMF as it should in all international organizations.

Thank you all, I hope that you're having a nice stay and that you'll enjoy Normandy's beautiful weather, and that tomorrow it'll be a little less windy.

Thank you and see you tomorrow.

Source: Présidence française du G8 et G20