PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC
June 8, 1998
As president of France, Jacques Chirac has had to deal with a crippling transportation strike on the eve of the World Cup, nuclear proliferation in Southeast Asia and turmoil in Serbian territory of Kosovo. While in New York to participate in the week's U.N. drug summit, President Chirac sat down with Margaret Warner to discuss the issues facing France.
MARGARET WARNER: Thank you, Mr. President, for being with us.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
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Strikes in France.
You've got hundreds of thousands of soccer fans coming to France this week for the World Cup championship, and you've got Air France pilots on strike and other transportation workers threatening to strike. How do you think this makes France look to the rest of the world?
JACQUES CHIRAC, French President: First, we have only strike in Air France planes, not the other sectors. I hope we will find a solution very soon, in the next days. But I can tell you that all our guests will be very, very well welcomed. Among planes, there is many other companies that go to France.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think strikes like this reflect the resistance that some French workers feel to the new demands of the market economy . . . the coming Euro European currency?
JACQUES CHIRAC: I wouldn't say that. We have a French, social model. And we want to keep it. The point is that we cannot accept to leave people out of the society. Exclusion, we cannot accept that. It's not in the French culture. We can be competitive, but also keep the roots of our social model. That's what we want to do, and that's what we will do.
The India and Pakistan nuclear tests.
MARGARET WARNER: Let's turn now to events in South Asia. How dangerous is it for the rest of the world that India and Pakistan now have nuclear weapons?
JACQUES CHIRAC: Well, it's very dangerous, very dangerous for two reasons. First, it's new tensions in that area of the world, with India, Pakistan, China and even over. And secondly, because we are going to break the nuclear proliferation treaty and system, and this is very dangerous. That's why we condemned -- both the Americans, the French, the Europeans -- we condemned those tests of India and Pakistan. And we hope that a solution will come. But this solution should keep the rules of the nonproliferation treaty. This is our position. It's also the American position.
MARGARET WARNER: France, however, and the other European countries did not join the United States and Japan in imposing economic sanctions on India and Pakistan. Why not?
JACQUES CHIRAC: Well, that is not a great difference. The sanctions -- they didn't avoid the tests. Even if the Pakistan and India knew perfectly that sanctions from America and Japan would come. And we think it's not a good way to avoid proliferation. But this is kind of a detail. But let me tell you that if the sanctions are decided, you will have very big trauma in Pakistan -- not in India -- but in Pakistan. Many people will suffer with the sanctions. Millions and millions of kids, families, older people, and this will drive Pakistan to ask help of the Muslim countries. And what can they give in exchange? Well, nuclear technology. And all this is a kind of danger.
MARGARET WARNER: And by saying they would go to Muslim countries, you mean countries, for instance, like Iran?
JACQUES CHIRAC: Muslim, or Muslim world. And this is a danger. You have to be careful.
MARGARET WARNER: So what can the international community do now to try to contain the damage of India and Pakistan having these weapons?
JACQUES CHIRAC: Well, first they have to be very firm. We all share the same goals, which is no proliferation and respect for the nonproliferation treaty.
MARGARET WARNER: But now, Saturday the U.N. Security Council voted to demand that Pakistan and India stop testing, not export their technology. Both India and Pakistan reacted badly, according to reports I saw. They said it was unhelpful, coercive. I mean, what makes -- what reason do you have to think that India and Pakistan are sensitive to, or can be affected by, what you all say?
JACQUES CHIRAC: Well, they reacted badly, I think, for political reasons.
MARGARET WARNER: At home?
JACQUES CHIRAC: Yes. Not for technical reasons. They think that they are humiliated by the other nuclear countries. And they react. It's a problem of face. They do not want to be humiliated. We must understand that. But I think that if we discuss with them, we can -- they can sign the CTBT, the treaty of no more tests. And also, they could accept the cut-off system. This would be great progress.
A new nuclear order?
MARGARET WARNER: Do you think we are entering a new era now, however, in which there are going to be several new nuclear states in the world?
JACQUES CHIRAC: Well, that's the reality.
MARGARET WARNER: Excuse me, so do you mean you think there will be others in addition to India and Pakistan?
JACQUES CHIRAC: That is a reality. It's possible, I mean. There is a risk. And that's why we cannot change the nonproliferation treaty, because we would open the door to quite a lot of new countries.
MARGARET WARNER: India says that, and Pakistan says it also, that the existing nuclear powers helped both of them become nuclear powers, and that's where the technology comes from. Do you think there's more that the existing powers can do just themselves to make sure they're not transferring technology to other countries, let's say Iran or Iraq or Libya?
JACQUES CHIRAC: It's very difficult to divide transferring technologies. And if we put India and Pakistan in the corner, we can have a situation in the future where they transfer technologies because they have technologies, more or less that they had, and they can transfer it to other countries. We're talking about Iran now. But maybe others later.
MARGARET WARNER: This is a major area of difference, is it not, between the United States and France, though, in terms of to what degree countries like the United States and France engage in commerce with Iran or Iraq, other countries that -- that are believed to be working on nuclear weapons programs?
JACQUES CHIRAC: We have in the European Union, have a difference of point of view with the Americans about the commercial links between them and some countries. And the United States have unilateral or extraterritorial laws, such as Helms-Burton. It's not fair. And we cannot accept and will never accept that one country, even if it is the United States, could say the rule for everybody, which has not been discussed with.
Kosovo: "We cannot accept the ethnic cleansing policies. We cannot. And we have to be very firm."
MARGARET WARNER: I’d like to ask you finally about Kosovo. The Serbs are continuing to shell in the southern part of Kosovo, as you know. What do you think the West should do about this?
JACQUES CHIRAC: May I remind you that when I was elected, we had a dramatic situation in Bosnia. The Yugoslavians were humiliated. And I decided to react very firmly. I decided the special force -- reaction force -- which we did. The situation was much better very soon. I have the same will about Kosovo, the same determination. We cannot accept the ethnic cleansing policies. We cannot. And we have to be very firm. We -- it's the standing group with United States, Russia, and the Europeans -- they are going to meet within two or three days in Paris and I hope they will stay all together to decide to be very firm to Serbs and to President Milosevic, including, including military action. Military action, which of course should be decided by the U.N. Council of Security. And I agree completely with the demand of the British on this subject. And this should be done also in the founding act -- NATO-Russia. And this could be done by NATO and repeat in the frame of the founding act, NATO-Russia, because we have to have Russia in this, in the standing group. And with the authorization of the U.N. Security Council.
MARGARET WARNER: And would you expect the United States to also participate militarily, if this would be a NATO action?
JACQUES CHIRAC: Of course.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Well, thank you very much, Mr. President.
JACQUES CHIRAC: Thank you very much.