Déclaration à la presse de l’ambassadeur Jean-Maurice Ripert
You know what is the item on the agenda of the Council. So just a few words to say that we are quite committed to helping Georgia through this difficult times. We think we have to recall the support of the European Union to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia, and that of course we consider as unacceptable any breach of the air space, for instance by any other country.
The debate will show, in our view, the support of the Security Council to this position, and we hope of course that each party will exercise restraint, and that the MONUG and the United Nations will be able, with the Group of Friends, to carry on their mission with alleviating the tensions between Georgia and Russia.
[What do you think of ?]... the African Union’s intention to ask the Council to intervene in the ICC prosecution ?
We take note of the position of the AU, that we fully respect. As for France, as you know very well, we still think that the Council should note interfere with the due process of law, in terms of letting the ICC do its work.
It was because the Security has mandated the ICC to do it…
Yes, but then there is a procedure, there are some requests from the prosecutor vis-à-vis the Preliminary Chamber, and we think we have to wait until the Preliminary Chamber has decided what to do and what is the way forward for them. Probably, as you know, we will have to wait for one, two or three months, so, then we will see what we will have to do. But, for the moment, we think that the prosecutor should be in a position to continue his work. At the same time, as we repeatedly said, we remind the authorities of Karthum that they have some obligations and commitments vis-à-vis the Security Council, which asks repeatedly for their cooperation with the ICC and, once again, it is not too late for them to cooperate.
Any reaction to the memorandum of understanding that was reportedly reached today between the parties in Zimbabwe ?
Well, we will see. Certainly, the handshake is a good sign, and we hope that something will be achieved. As you very well know, we always fully supported the mission of mediation by the AU and SADC, and we are very happy that the UN has accepted also to join, and that the team around Mr. Mbeki will be of help. We hope it is the beginning of a good work together between Mr. Tsvangirai and Mr. Mugabe. We repeatedly say on the side of the EU that any solution, any political solution to the crisis which is of course always desirable, has to be built on the results of the elections of the 29th of March, which have seen the victory of Mr. Tsvangirai, but we are not the players, we are just observing that things should seem to be aiming at the right direction, so we are fully supportive of course.
The Arab resolution on settlements : is it going to be discussed during the briefing tomorrow ?
Well, you should ask the Arab Group. My information is that for the moment we are not ready, but we are still discussing with the Arab Group.
The relation between Tbilissi and Moscow is very difficult today. What do you think is the best way to find out a solution to this situation ?
Well, certainly they have to engage and they have to talk together. But solution will certainly not arise from any kind of military action by any party, this is very clear. Any solution has to be based on the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. And certainly we think that violation of the air space, as well as attempts to impose any kind of foreign rule in Abkhazia without the consent of Georgia is not of help in this respect.
What do you think of this request that Georgia sign some kind of commitment not to use violence or military force in either Abkhazia or South Ossetia ? What is France’s or the EU’s position on that ?
We think that Georgia should be able to do what it wants on its own territory, but once again they also have to comply with the obligation regarding the agreement they have signed, and they should be committed also to refrain from violence and from the use of force, of course.
Is the German proposal a EU-proposal ? Does the EU support it ?
The German proposal is a German proposal, and it is not a EU-proposal, meaning that the EU is not a member as such of the Group of Friends, which German is.
The Russians have been circulating a draft resolution on Georgia. Where does France stand on ?
There are still some discussions going on and we have to check on that for that moment. There was some idea of having a presidential statement that could be easier and we are working towards to have an agreement between the Russians, the Georgians and all the parties involved, which would be the best outcome for the Security Council of course.
Going back to the Darfur issue : the Arab League in particular said they would call for an international conference to restart the peace process in Darfur. What would France’s reaction be to this proposal ?
The Secretary-General has just appointed a new mediator, in agreement with the African Union, Mr. Basole, who is a very wise, able and skilled diplomat. And we will be fully supportive of his efforts during the next weeks. I have seen him last week, he will be going to Paris, he is going to engage very strongly. But at the same time very cautiously and he will try to achieve some very concrete steps, and we think it is the good approach. We will be supportive of his mediation, that is very clear. He has been appointed for that purpose.
If the Arab Group and the African Group together submitted an informal request to the Security Council to defer the ICC request for twelve months, what would France’s reaction be ?
It is a free country, they can do whatever they wish. As soon as they find a country to do it, we will see./.