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French Prime Minister to WAM: relationship between France and UAE is moving ahead at an extraordinary pace

posted on 13/02/2011: 1279 views


Prime Minister of France Francois Fillon has said that the relationship between France and the United Arab Emirates is moving ahead at an extraordinary pace. Fillon described the relationship as strategic and said that the UAE-French cooperation covers every field, from defence to culture, via energy and education.

In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Fillon also said that the UAE and France have very similar positions on most of the regional issues and on many cross-cutting issues. "I welcome the UAE's contribution to regional stability. The level of Emirati external aid is exceptional", Fillon said.

Answering a question on the civilian nuclear programme of UAE, Fillon said that the Emirates' civil nuclear programme is a model of transparency and compliance with IAEA rules, in particular - but not only - since the signing of the Additional Protocol.

He also said that France remains fully committed to the creation of a sovereign, viable Palestinian state coexisting in peace and security alongside Israel, within secure, internationally recognised borders.

The following is the text of the interview:-.

Q1- Do you see UAE-France relations growing at a much greater pace in the future? What more steps are needed to expand bilateral cooperation that will bring UAE and France further closer to each other?

A1 - The relationship between France and the United Arab Emirates is moving ahead at an extraordinary pace. This is the result of personal ties and trust between the leaders of both countries, of close and longstanding cooperation, and of a convergence of views on many issues. My visit, after the visits by the French president in 2008 and 2009, reflects that shared ambition.

The relationship can be described as strategic, not because we decided to call it that, but because all the joint projects we are developing have a unique, historic scope. Our partnership is a long-term one.

Our cooperation covers every field, from defence to culture, via energy and education. Everyone is familiar with our flagship joint projects: the "Peace Camp", the Louvre Abu Dhabi, institutional nuclear cooperation, and the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. These projects create deep bonds between our peoples. More and more French companies, which have remained loyal during the crisis, are developing new types of future-oriented cooperation and continue to invest massively here across a wide variety of sectors.

During the French presidency of the G20, we intend to involve our Emirati partners in seeking ways to make globalisation fairer, especially by moving towards better economic regulation and more effective international governance. We were delighted to welcome the UAE into the large family of Francophonie in October 2010. France actively supported the UAE's candidacy, which opens a new dimension of our cooperation.

The deepening relationship between our two countries can also been seen in the growing French community in the UAE. There are more than 15,000 French people living here. Through their presence and contacts with their Emirati friends, they are also enriching our partnership.

France is proud to stand by Emiratis as they develop the project they have chosen. The UAE is a model, which is both modern and respectful of the traditions and heritage of an ancient civilisation.

Q2 - UAE has a high international status as a result of its balanced policies that are aimed at achieving international stability and security, please comment.

A 2 - The UAE and France have very similar positions on most of the regional issues and on many cross-cutting issues. Like the United Arab Emirates, France is a proponent of dialogue and peaceful, diplomatic, negotiated solutions, in compliance with international law.

I welcome the UAE's contribution to regional stability. The level of Emirati external aid is exceptional. The decision to make Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Palestinian Authority the primary beneficiaries of that aid reflects priorities that we share. I also welcome the United Arab Emirates' political support for stabilisation efforts through its active participation in international groups such as Friends of Pakistan and Friends of Yemen, and in Peacekeeping Operations.

Q3 - How do you see UAE leading way in peaceful use of civilian nuclear energy?

A3 - Our institutional cooperation is highly active. President Sarkozy was the first to sign an inter-governmental cooperation agreement on the 15th of January 2008. He sought to create a basis for cooperation of exemplary transparency in compliance with international law and non-proliferation rules.

The Emirates' civil nuclear programme is a model of transparency and compliance with IAEA rules, in particular - but not only - since the signing of the Additional Protocol. The protocol includes the highest safeguards against non-proliferation through a voluntary ban on the enrichment or reprocessing of nuclear fuel on Emirati territory. It also takes account of safety and security, essential pre-conditions for international acceptability.

Here again, the UAE has set a valuable example, which could be used as a model by other countries that wish to have access to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. We could say that it paves the way for responsible use of nuclear energy promoted by France. We therefore continue to endorse and support the programme.

Q4 - The project of Louvre Abu Dhabi and existence of Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, What opportunities do you see for expanding cooperation between France and UAE in cultural, tourism and education fields?

A4 - The Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi and the Louvre Abu Dhabi are the most conspicuous projects of our cultural and educational cooperation and are moving forward. Enrolments at the Sorbonne Abu Dhabi are increasing every year; they are up 20% this year. The university now has 640 students, 35% of whom are Emiratis, and has just offered new programmes, including a Master's in Art History and Museum Studies, which will tie in with the Louvre and other museum projects. We are thus providing a direct response to education and labour-market needs in the UAE.

We have many other educational projects. The INSEAD business school is open. The pilot class in mathematics and physics run by the prestigious Lycée Louis le Grand is also delivering promising results, three years after it started. We have made proposals to expand the teaching of French in secondary schools. Going forward, we would like to support the Emirates' ambition to become a cultural hub for the whole region and beyond.

Q5 - How do you evaluate France role in pushing forward the Middle East peace process?

A5 - France remains fully committed to the creation of a sovereign, viable Palestinian state coexisting in peace and security alongside Israel, within secure, internationally recognised borders. Nicolas Sarkozy was the first Western head of state to stress the need for Jerusalem to become the capital of both states before the Knesset in June 2008. This is not a pious wish, but a position that is now endorsed by the 27 members of the European Union.

France's longstanding and steadfast political commitment also manifests itself on the ground through a strong presence in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.

By hosting an international donor conference for a Palestinian State in December 2007, we helped mobilise the international community to help Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad lay the foundations of a future state. The donors' funds have helped create the conditions for a future Palestinian state, with 9% growth in 2010, transparent public finances, reformed governance and restored security. We must continue on this path. France is also active in the Palestinian Territories. We are working to develop an industrial park in Bethlehem. And we maintain a strong presence in Gaza through the French Cultural Centre and al-Quds hospital.

However, we know that the economy is not a substitute for politics, and our over-riding aim is still to re-open negotiations with a view to creating a State of Palestine by the end of 2011, which we will naturally recognise. The French president and myself recently hosted Salam Fayyad in Paris, and we expressed to him our willingness to hold a new donor conference in Paris in June, which must have a strong political content. - Emirates News Agency, WAM

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