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Jacques Chirac on Global Futures

How does the French president view his country’s role in the world?

September 21, 2004

How does the French president view his country's role in the world?

French President Jacques Chirac was one of the most outspoken critics of the Iraq War. This earned him much respect at home — but carried a heavy political price as U.S.-French relations deteriorated. Our Read My Lips feature — adapted from Mr. Chirac’s recent address to French diplomats — outlines the French president’s vision for relations with the rest of the world.

Which principle guides France's relations with the United States today?

“As a friend and ally of the United States for over two centuries now, France believes that — today and tomorrow — a balanced and dynamic transatlantic partnership is essential to meet our common challenges.”

Do you see the United States bound by any rules, like all other nations?

“It is our collective responsibility to devise the ground rules for that world, within the framework of the multilateral system founded by the United Nations Charter — which is the law that applies to all of us.”

So, unlike many Americans, you don't see the present time as a unipolar moment?

“The positive transitions of Russia and China — as well as of India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa and of many groups of countries engaged in regional integration processes — confirm the nascent reality of a multipolar world.”

What is your vision for France on the global stage?

“A France that is listened to, respected and present in the world is a France more assured of its future and of the well-being of its inhabitants.”

And for Europe?

“A Europe that must be in the forefront of global economic competition and enjoy growth as strong as that in other regions of the world. A Europe that must strengthen its social model that is founded on justice and solidarity — and which sets a world-wide example in this respect.”

What is an urgent priority in this regard?

“It is time for Europe — at the instigation of the next Commission — to implement a more dynamic industrial and scientific policy to compete on equal terms on the global economic stage.”

Do you favor Turkey's EU membership?

“In the world of tomorrow, the European Union’s interest — like that of Turkey — is obviously to travel the same road, even if it takes a long time to map it out.”

How should the world deal with terrorism?

“It is essential that the international community assume its responsibilities. That it acknowledge the disastrous results of its inaction and stop being so overcautious. That it reject the policy of preconditions that plays into the hands of extremists and terrorists.”

Do you see a realistic prospect for peace in the Middle East?

“The terms of a fair and lasting settlement are known — and were outlined at Camp David, Taba, Beirut and Geneva. We must now make headway, because peace is possible. The world can no longer afford to depend on the goodwill of either side.”

And finally, what philosophy should guide development policy — for Africa and elsewhere?

“No country that conducts sound policies should see its efforts jeopardized by a lack of resources.”

The quotes presented here are drawn from the closing speech by French President Jacques Chirac on August 27, 2004, to the French Ambassador’s Conference.