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French President Nicholas Sarkozy on Nuclear Weapons and Missile Defence, June 7 - 8, 2007


G8 Summit final press conférence given by M. Nicolas SARKOZY, President of the Republic - excerpts - Heiligendamm, June 8, 2007.

Q. - If France's interests are threatened, how far will you go as regards what are called preventive nuclear strikes?

THE PRESIDENT - The value of nuclear weapons is deterrence. As far as I know at the moment there's no emergency, France's nuclear strategy and nuclear doctrine are [based on the protection of France's] vital interests. If France's vital interests were threatened, then, at that point, like all the other French presidents who have preceded me, I would be able to consider the use of nuclear weapons. Most happily, this isn't the case.

But, as for the specific definition of vital interests, I'm not sure that this is the most appropriate framework. Even though I'm quite ready to recognize that the concept of vital interests has evolved since General de Gaulle's time.


G8 Summit press briefing given by M. Nicolas SARKOZY, President of the Republic, following his meeting with Mr George W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, Heiligendamm, June 8, 2007

Q. - Did you talk about the anti-missile shield and the Soviet counter-proposal?

THE PRESIDENT - Yes, we did.

Q. - Did you suggest to Mr Bush that there be a sort of French-Russian assessment? Did you make a proposal?

THE PRESIDENT - Mr Bush's response was, "That's interesting, let's take a more detailed look at the technical conditions of this proposal." There was a great deal of harmony between the response of the American president to President Putin, and the proposal I made to try and understand. Everything must be done to avoid a return to the Cold War climate. Frankly, it's absolutely necessary.


G8 Summit press conférence given by M. Nicolas SARKOZY, President of the Republic (excerpts) (part 1), Heiligendamm, June 8, 2007

Q. - (···) You talked about discussions between the French and Russian military, but do you think this could be dealt with in another multilateral framework and not just the G8? If so, is it in the European Union, NATO or the NATO-Russia Council. Are you envisaging this type of discussion?

THE PRESIDENT - There's a debate on this. First of all, there's the NATO-Russia framework since, after all, this concerns decisions taken by the United States with Poland and the Czech Republic in the NATO framework. So the natural framework is the NATO-Russia one.

But if I want to be totally honest intellectually, the easy thing for me would be to say that it's a bilateral issue. Initially, it's a matter between the United States and the Russians, but this isn't satisfactory. Secondly, I could even say it's a NATO-Russian matter. This is the view of foreign policy experts. But if I have the right to take a liberty, a tiny one, it's also a European problem. Because, all the same, two European countries have taken a decision and it was their right to do so. We also have to understand their history and memories of it. But it's never satisfactory when Europe isn't united.

Since President Putin had given me, in detail, his proposal involving use of the radar station in Azerbaijan - and if France wants to play a role in getting everyone to pull together, in calming tensions, being a bridge, bringing unity and peace and preventing misunderstandings and a return to a period we no longer want to see, i.e. the cold war - I really can't see why I wouldn't have grasped this opportunity of trying to understand Mr Putin's proposal.

I'm not a weapons expert, and I believe I've been very frank and taken a liberty. So I hope French diplomats won't hold it against me. But I think that it's always in people's interest to be frank, I think it's always in people's interest to be direct. I didn't want to tell anyone what to do, I didn't want to be arrogant with anyone. I've tried to understand, but in this effort to understand, I want others to understand our position as well.

I think the fact that it's an international matter, or a foreign policy matter, doesn't mean it has to be abstruse for all the people who listen to, watch and wonder what's being done, talked about, what's happening. Perhaps by speaking frankly to one another, we can find solutions more quickly than by skirting around the issues to such an extent and talking so much in code that at the end we part company, each convinced we've listened to or heard something different. I'm not saying I am right, but, at any rate, what I'm saying is unambiguous. Once again, I can understand the positions of Poland, the Czech Republic, Russians and United States. I can see misunderstandings but let's try and move forward. The international community hasn't come all this way to end up with a cold war. We're not going to just watch what's happening and accept a cold war, that doesn't make sense.

To be frank, I don't think President Putin, deep down, wants that. My analysis is that all this is more a political problem than a military one. So let's not let things drift off course and let's find political solutions. (···).


Interview given by M. Nicolas SARKOZY, President of the Republic, to the "Le Figaro" newspaper - excerpts - June 7, 2007.

Q. - Is it a good idea to deploy this antimissile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic? Why haven't the Europeans talked about this between themselves?

THE PRESIDENT - This shield can't be effective against Russian missiles precisely because of its proximity. It is perhaps aggressive towards Russia politically, but not militarily. It would have been better to have European consultations on this, that's certain. Mr Putin is right to tell us that we have to understand Russian national feeling, but I ask him to take his thinking further. Let's understand Poland's history; let's understand the Czech Republic's history. (···). |

Source: Presidence de la Republique, http://www.elysee.fr/

© 2007 The Acronym Institute.