Prime Minister of the French Republic

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 27 January 1987

Mr President, Mr Chairman of the Committee of Ministers, Mr Secretary General, members of the Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, allow me first of all, Mr President, to thank you most sincerely for your invitation. It is a great honour and a real pleasure to be with you today in Strasbourg.

Strasbourg, for so long a place and indeed an object of bloody conflict, has become a symbol of Franco-German reconciliation. Once peace returned, therefore, Strasbourg was well suited to be a meeting place, a place for contact and for reflection about the new Europe that was emerging. And so your Organisation, the Council of Europe, one of the oldest European institutions, the first intergovernmental one and the first ever to have given pride of place to a parliamentary body, quite naturally chose Strasbourg for its headquarters.

Thirty-eight years later, Strasbourg has been confirmed in its role as the parliamentary capital of the Europe of the Twelve as well as the Europe of the Twenty-one.

I am happy to greet the representatives of our twenty-one nations today, on behalf of the French Government, and to express to the Parliamentary Assembly whose President you are the consideration and esteem in which my country holds it. France is keenly interested in the work you do. Your ideas, your dynamism and your questing spirit set an example and give encouragement to all the governments of the Council of Europe’s member states.

The broad range of your activities, conducted in most of those areas where major problems are now arising to confront European societies, bears witness to the vitality of the Organisation, and at this point, I wish to pay tribute to the skill, the intelligence and the dynamism of the Secretary General, Mr Oreja. He knows that he can count on France’s contribution to maintaining that vital dialogue among our twenty-one nations.

The Council of Europe exists in order to work for greater unity in Europe, to improve living conditions, to develop human values and to defend the principles of parliamentary democracy and human rights.

Those spiritual and moral values we call liberty, pluralist democracy, the rule of law and dignity of the human person. You are indefatigable in their defence and fulfilment. In today’s troubled times, they require individual vigilance and collective unity. Those values are the foundations of our European societies, based on freedom and responsibility, to which, together, we remain deeply attached.

That is a measure of the vital nature of the mission assigned to the Council of Europe which, according to the Colombo report is “the forum giving broadest expression to the essential solidarity among democratic European states attached to fundamental freedoms and human rights”.

The fact that democratic Europe possesses multiple institutions is a fortunate asset in the cause of European unification. It enables functions to be shared in pursuit of one and the same goal: to make Europe a powerhouse and ensure its place on the world stage, in keeping with the values of a civilisation determined to serve the cause of peace, freedom and human happiness.

So there must be no sterile atmosphere of competition between the European institutions, no crisis of identity within the organisations. The work of each one of them must be guided solely by a concern for efficiency and complementarity – which by no means excludes emulation – for the sake of a grand design, the unification of Europe.

In order to move forward while safeguarding what has been achieved, in order to help build up the edifice which we believe to be essential while at the same time consolidating its foundations, ambition and pragmatism, which dominated the thinking of Robert Schuman and General de Gaulle, will continue to inspire the French Government in defining a European policy that is active and imaginative, generous and realistic. And my Government intends to mobilise all possible energies within the framework of the existing institutions.

The building of Europe, of which the Council of Europe was of course one of the pioneers, is more necessary now than ever it was. It is a force for peace between nations and a framework for prosperity, it has become a crucial requirement in overcoming the crisis, in enabling our old and beloved continent to return to its rightful place on the international scene and exert a growing influence on the decisions by which its future will be conditioned, also to serve as an example of humanity for the rest of the world, which is its central purpose.

The European Economic Community plays a central role in the economic field. That is its true purpose. Against a background of crisis, the recovery of our various countries requires us to develop a homogeneous economic area. The dynamic nature of the Community despite its difficulties and its recent developments promise well for the future. France welcomes the progress that has been accomplished slowly but surely (perhaps the best way). The Government has ratified the Single European Act which gives formal expression to a number of changes in the Community, while respecting the balance of the institutions and that of national sovereignties. It also constitutes a necessary stage, within an enlarged Community, towards facing the challenges of the year 2000. France has high hopes of the internal market whose completion, thirty- five years after the Treaty of Rome was signed, should have a powerful effect in boosting our economies just as the abolition of customs barriers in the 1960s did by enabling sustained growth to be pursued for a decade or so. In addition France gives priority to greater co-operation in the monetary field and wishes to see social and tax laws harmonised. Lastly, France considers it vital that we should develop a Europe of research, technology and space, whether it be in the framework of such Community programmes as Esprit or Race or within other structures such as the European Space Agency, Airbus or Eureka, to mention only a few.

Accordingly, the French Government is planning to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome with great ceremony. It will involve the country’s young people in these celebrations in order to bring home to them the idea of European unification, a day-to-day reality and a hope for the future, but mainly an inevitable process if we are to shoulder our responsibilities.

The progressive nature of the European Community has caused it to enlarge its sphere of action. The French view is that this should not detract from the Council of Europe. The Council of Europe pursues wider goals than those of the European Economic Community, but their work remains complementary and indeed inseparable.

Frequently the Council of Europe appears as a forerunner, as a torch-bearer, showing the Community the way ahead. Intergovernmental co-operation among the Twenty-one then throws the door open to Community action in greater depth. One field in which this has happened is the environment: you were the first to draw the attention of governments to the importance of ecological issues which they had not fully grasped and the vital need for international co-operation in this field; and the facts have proved us right.

You operate as an alarm signal, alerting Europe’s conscience to major social issues, whether it be terrorism, violence, drugs or the protection of individuals in relation to technological advance.

In addition, the political dialogue that is proceeding among our twenty-one Council of Europe states boosts, fuels and strengthens political co-operation among the Twelve.

In this way the two institutions are playing their part in the same historical process of building a united Europe. Each one, applying its own methods and its own resources, is helping to advance unity among the states and the peoples of Europe. The Council of Europe offers European states, whether or not they are members of the EEC, a broad framework for multilateral co-operation and participation in this process, rooted in common ideals and respect for individual sovereignty.

Defending the values we share in common means, first and foremost, strengthening our solidarity with regard to external security, since the world is divided into blocs, and also with regard to internal security, faced as we are with the challenge of terrorism which is seeking to destabilise our democratic systems.

Although this question lies within the remit of another Assembly which I addressed recently, I cannot refrain from mentioning here today the problem of Europe’s defence, which is a matter of prime concern to us. Too often, Western Europe tends to appear as a mere pawn in a struggle of forces beyond its control. That is an unacceptable situation for all those who, like us, are determined to work to assert Europe’s identity. For what would that united Europe signify if we denied it the means to be strong, free, independent and respectful of individual differences?

That, Mr President, is what France says in every quarter, West and East alike. And I should like to remind those countries of that other Europe which are cut off from us by the ties of alliances and by the nature of their different regimes that they are our brothers in culture, history and tradition and have, as we know, the same ambitions as ourselves when it comes to defending the values of human dignity.

France does not intend to resign itself to the status quo, with Europe arbitrarily and unjustly cut in two, its peoples divided and its families separated from each other.

My own country played an important part in preparing the Helsinki Final Act. We did so because we thought it vital to try to cut through the rigid differences in Europe by a process of dialogue and co-operation among all European states. It was a difficult task, and there were many setbacks. But could we stand helplessly by when what was at stake was the determination to secure to every nation in Europe a future of peace and liberty? That was what prompted me, when I was Prime Minister, to give France’s agreement to that process following talks with the Soviet authorities.

Just as it did in Helsinki, the French Government will continue at Vienna to advocate co-operation. We shall favour contact on an increasing scale, convinced as we are that co-operation must one day win the day over confrontation, and aware of that small beacon that Europe represents to many people living in Eastern Europe, that beacon called freedom to which most of them aspire.

I recall the poignant testimony of that great writer, Milan Kundera, referring to the last telegram from the representative of a press agency in Prague who, about to be crushed by a Soviet tank, said: “I am fighting for my country, I am fighting for Europe”. That was his last message. We must never forget it.

Ladies and gentlemen, I know what ardour and what faith inspire you in the protection and promotion of human rights, in accordance with the particular thrust of the Council of Europe’s work. Some of you are nationals of member states of the Atlantic Alliance, others of the European Free Trade Association or of neutral and non-aligned states, and you all subscribe to the principles enshrined in the Final Act of Helsinki. You doubtless noted the recognition in that instrument that change is inevitable and legitimate in Europe and that individuals, like states, must play their part in it.

You will therefore agree on the paramount importance that attaches to the scrutiny which the Vienna conference will be conducting in the months ahead of the manner in which that Final Act has been applied.

For its part, France observes that human rights are still being violated in our continent. Notwithstanding a number of spectacular gestures in recent times, it cannot forget the thousands of other cases, all those people who constantly and courageously keep the hope of liberty alive. It cannot remain silent in the face of the obstacles ceaselessly placed in the way of freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief.

Lastly, how can the affinities that exist among our nations be fostered unless free access to information, the free movement of cultural assets and freedom to exchange ideas are safeguarded?

In what has come to be called the “human dimension” of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, we believe the time is ripe for further advance. We should like the thirty-five states to indicate rapidly and unambiguously their collective interest in settling the many cases for which our various countries are having every year to seek solutions in the framework of bilateral relations. Freedom of movement, the development of telephone communications, reunification of families, contacts between young people and cultural exchanges are just a few examples of the many fields in which we earnestly desire to see tangible improvements in the relations between Western and Eastern Europe.

For a quarter of a century, French policy towards Eastern Europe has been consistent. France does not intend to deal with other countries as belonging to this or that bloc, or to confine the relations it wishes to maintain with other states simply to security aspects – though their importance cannot be underestimated, especially with the prospect of possible negotiations on conventional imbalances from the Atlantic to the Urals.

It lays just as much store by what can be accomplished between communities and individuals. I know that the Council of Europe, to whom we owe the first real effort to protect human rights internationally, and your Assembly, are very much at one with French thinking on this matter.

Any discussion of security problems today, alas, inevitably means talking about terrorism. I must therefore mention this new form of war without frontiers, waged without pity or discrimination against our citizens, innocent victims of a faceless enemy defying human rights and threatening the very existence of our democracies. In fighting this scourge, this leprosy of modern times, the Council of Europe also has a specific part to play, in accordance with its statutory function and within its sphere of competence, particularly in the field of law and standard-setting instruments. France is convinced that everything must be done to eradicate this evil and will be unstinting in its efforts, and in its support for the Council of Europe in whatever it undertakes to that end. Accordingly, as you know, the French Government has decided to ratify the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, which was signed in Strasbourg on 22 January 1977. The ratification bill is to be laid before the French Parliament at the spring session. In order to safeguard the right of asylum and the principles of our extradition law which are secured under the French Constitution, the ratification will be accompanied by a reservation clause similar to that which many other states have entered under Article 13 of the convention.

Likewise, France welcomed the highly positive results of the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Combating Terrorism which took place in Strasbourg last November. The resolutions passed, which are to be implemented by a group of the ministers’ closest advisers, are such as to strengthen the necessary, not to say crucial, co-operation between the member states.

I should like to pay tribute to our peoples when they have been victims of terrorism. Terrorism has sought to disfigure our countries, but it has not succeeded. Our democratic systems, respectful of the law and of the human person, must have the strength and authority, individually and by pooling their efforts, to wage a veritable war on terrorism, and this they are able to do. Let me take this opportunity of thanking our European partners for the understanding they have shown in particularly cruel circumstances. I am aware of the difficulties which the exceptional measures taken by the French Government may initially have caused in some of our countries, and let me assure you that they were not taken lightheartedly.

France found itself having to respond to the threat by taking energetic steps to fight this evil more effectively. Extending the visa requirement seemed indispensable, but in order to be fully effective that measure had to be applied as generally as possible. Consequently, it was decided that the visa requirement would be imposed on all states except those of the Community and Switzerland, by reason of its position as a neighbour of France. But, contrary to our countries’ traditions – and despite the serious consequences of this measure – it was not possible to exempt the other countries of Europe from this obligation, any more than those states with which we have ongoing relations of great importance to us, and in particular the African states both north and south of the Sahara. These states are affected far more than any others by this arrangement, which has drawbacks for them out of all proportion to the inconvenience caused to others, and I want to pay tribute to their understanding and approval of that decision.

For the other member states of the Council of Europe which it was not possible to exempt from that measure, in order to maintain consistency in the French decision to make the visa requirement general, instructions were immediately given to our consulates for the time taken to issue visas to be reduced to a minimum and, thanks to the additional staff resources which have been made available, the waiting time now is in the region of twenty-four hours. Wide use is also being made of the so-called visa de circulation (transit visa) which enables its holder to enter and leave France as often as he wishes.

Furthermore, all members of the Parliamentary Assembly continue to be authorised to move within French territory simply on the strength of the identity card issued to them by the Secretariat of the Council. That arrangement is to be extended, because I am told it is necessary, to the ministers, the judges and all those who are normally called upon to work with and for the Council of Europe.

The government hopes that the inconvenience arising from its decision to make the entry visa into France a general requirement has thus been reduced to the bare minimum.

In part, terrorism has its roots in the tragic situation in Lebanon – as everyone knows and understands. It stems from a number of groups who would like to chase the Western states out of Lebanon. And on the cultural and historical levels, France is a particular target of terrorism because it is not simply a “physical” presence there as other countries are: France is not just “present” in Lebanon, it is “present in the hearts of the Lebanese people”, and that is something which certain people find intolerable, among them those whose methods we denounce and condemn.

That is why we are forced to be especially vigilant – more so than others – in the matter of terrorism, whether it be “imported” terrorism or hostage-taking.

I beg each and every one of you to understand these crucial reasons and to agree that they are worth putting up with some minor inconvenience here or there, for the sake of that solidarity which must unite all our countries at a time when a real menace hangs over us, threatening the lives of innocent people and their loved ones.

The anti-terrorist effort that has been embarked upon will bear fruit only if our countries remain united in support of each other, as they have been at every testing time throughout their history. In the present circumstances, what we have to defend is the honour and the strength of our democracies, and I hope that everyone is aware of what is fundamentally at stake.

There is no true freedom without security. This war against terrorism in which the Council of Europe is actively involved through its work is a perfect illustration of the Organisation’s central purpose: to act as the untiring champion of a Europe of freedom.

Is there a finer mission than giving expression to what is historically the very strength of our common civilisation?

The size of the task that has been accomplished, and the ambitious scale of current or planned projects, show that the Council of Europe is bringing to the European edifice that additional spiritual dimension which is necessary to the venture.

Through the legal instruments which it has created – I am thinking of course of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter – the Council of Europe has become a yardstick for the whole world in the so essential sphere of human rights and a hope for hundreds and thousands of men and women.

The principal responsibility of the Council of Europe, that forum of the parliamentary democracies, is to help preserve and consolidate the democratic area in Europe.

As a product of “European humanism”, the Council of Europe is the watchdog of our common values, highest among which I would set respect for human dignity and freedom. These assets are precarious and constantly under threat, yet they are essential to human happiness. Charles Péguy said that “freedom is a system of courage”. The courage of your Organisation is this perseverance over the years in setting out a precise legal framework for that fundamental aspiration of our European peoples.

In accomplishing that task, you can count on the unfailing support of France: it will always be present, ready and willing to extend the protection of human rights further and further. Everyone knows that France – which we never tire of hearing described as the cradle of human rights – is synonymous with hope for a multitude of oppressed people: France will be ever- ready to defend them if any single one of them is threatened, as alas is so often the case.

Two centuries after the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in 1789, France carries a heritage of which it is proud and for which it will always preach with missionary zeal. That heritage can be summed up as the defence of the individual’s civil and political rights, a guarantee of physical integrity, and respect for the economic, social and cultural rights of man.

At the end of the eighteenth century, when intolerance held sway, France put forward happiness as a new idea in Europe; at the end of the twentieth century it has no intention of slackening its efforts and is still as desirous as ever of contributing to the fulfilment and dignity of the human person: the fact is that nothing achieved in the human rights field can ever be taken for granted. That is an assertion which everyone here knows and understands, and it is a very strong bond between our countries, our peoples and their representatives. That is the essential thing, and that is what is at stake between us. It is what justifies the importance and dynamism of your Organisation.

The Council of Europe, for whom as I see it the European Convention on Human Rights remains the essential achievement, is in the forefront. It was in 1950 that it produced that open-ended, multinational legal instrument, to which further protocols have been added to take account of social and technological changes and to cover new threats to public liberties. The Council of Europe is, for instance, concerned about the implications of technical and medical advances for the exercise of fundamental rights. France is an active contributor to this work: it has ratified the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data. It is fully committed to the examination of artificial procreation. In a similar vein, the Council of Europe’s adoption in 1961 of the European Social Charter took the building of a Europe based on freedoms a stage further by extending its scope as much as possible to economic and social rights.

France has ratified most of the conventions drawn up by the Council of Europe and other international organisations alike and prides itself on compliance with them. It has recognised the right of individual petition to the European Commission of Human Rights.

It hopes that the Council of Europe, faithful to its mission and tradition, will persuade all member states to sign the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

This is a text which France supports.

France is active in bodies responsible for devising ways of enhancing legal and judicial co-operation between member states with a view to harmonising national legislation and preparing new international legal instruments.

This is something in which the Council of Europe, and your Assembly in particular, have played an exemplary, irreplaceable role and one which I would like to see enlarged.

You may count on the help and support of France, which will spare neither physical nor intellectual effort to ensure progress with the work in hand. I am thinking in particular of criminal proceedings, piracy in the field of copyright, illegal migration and mutual recognition of criminal judgments.

In the field of human rights, symbols are often of greater significance than binding texts. In 1989, the Council of Europe will be celebrating its 40th anniversary and France the bicentenary of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. This happy coincidence should be a unique opportunity for celebrating human rights with the inauguration of a prestigious new Human Rights building for the Council of Europe. The French Government has announced that it will make a special contribution to the cost. The City of Strasbourg is making a gift of the land. I have given instructions to my departments that the work is to be expedited and the completion date respected.

Human rights and social problems are closely related and often overlap. This is understandable, because all relate to people’s living conditions. It is therefore natural that you should also tackle social problems.

In their different ways they are concerned with our children’s future and the betterment of their welfare. It is up to us, by pooling our ideas and resources, to provide for and improve the living conditions of Europe’s future generations.

In the French Government’s view, two issues deserve special attention. In some instances, fresh impetus even needs to be given to the work in hand: public health, on the one hand, and education, culture and communication, on the other.

The Council of Europe’s record in the social field is both praiseworthy and remarkably positive: the European Social Charter, the European Code of Social Security, the status of migrant workers, undocumented migration, aid to refugees and to the victims of natural disasters, and combating poverty.

What a record! Yet I find that it is sometimes not known about in our countries, perhaps indeed less than elsewhere in the world which pays closer attention to the considerable efforts made by the Council of Europe in the sensitive areas I have just mentioned.

High priorities among social affairs are public health and family questions, particularly in view of the threats to our societies. These threats we can cope with by combining our energies, experience and resources. The Council of Europe is an ideal forum for this.

One of the principal causes of anxiety in the health field is drugs. National frontiers are nowhere an obstacle to their spread.

Drug dependence has health, cultural and social dimensions which only multidisciplinary studies and concerted international action can control. I am delighted that the Co-operation Group to Combat Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking in Drugs, known after its founder as the Pompidou Group, was put under the Council of Europe umbrella in 1980. We need to take further the discussions initiated under its aegis relating both to the suppression of illicit trafficking as a means of combating the drug problem and to prevention and the treatment of addicts.

Co-operation must be reinforced. Our societies cannot remain inert in the face of this scourge. We must do our utmost and more to save Europe’s young people from this form of alienation and slavery.

France plays an active part in the Pompidou Group’s work, which should not be confined to the pooling of information but should now move into a higher gear, within the Council of Europe framework and in conjunction with the United Nations, and devise the legal rules and international instruments currently lacking.

France would also like the see the fight against cancer and AIDS intensified. Here too the Council of Europe can make a significant contribution and provide an ideal forum for pooling information and knowledge about prevention, screening and even treatment. The French Government is currently embarking on major programmes and making very considerable resources available for bringing these evils under control. Of course it is not the only country in Europe to be doing so. Other countries are similarly engaged. But the scale of the resources needed to make positive progress and the gravity of the situation warrant, and indeed require, better co-ordination of our research and the means we employ to fight these diseases.

Council of Europe ministerial meetings are to take place in June, in Brussels, on family affairs another field that is vital to the very structures of our society and our civilisation, and in November, in Paris, on health questions. I hope most sincerely that these meetings, to which the French representatives will of course bring their best endeavours, will be as fruitful as possible. In these areas too, the Council of Europe must remain the spearhead for the expression of realistic ideas and owes it to itself to set its customary example.

Education and culture are inseparable from the defence of human rights. It is no accident that the year when the European Convention on Human Rights was signed was the year when a committee of experts to consider ways of giving the new Europe a cultural framework held its first meeting in Strasbourg.

Education and culture are indeed inseparable from the defence of human rights: it is in schools that education is first provided in such rights, which are the very heart of independent instruction and artistic creation.

It must be remembered in this connection that schools are the ideal place for learning about human rights and preparing for life in a democratic pluralist society. Human rights are part and parcel of our history, of our heritage, and it is the task of schools to inculcate an appreciation, understanding and knowledge of that heritage, to fix it firmly in the hearts and minds of our children. Indeed, education itself is a human right.

This vital aspect was affirmed in the 1978 Resolution on the teaching of human rights and embodied in the Recommendation of 14 May 1985 on teaching and learning about human rights in schools, which the French Government has made a point of sending to all headteachers.

As early as 1976, the Council of Europe devoted a sector of its work-programme to education and information in the field of human rights: the development of research by the institution of a system of fellowships, the promotion of human rights education in the context of vocational training and school education, and the introduction of a European dimension in education by means such as the promotion of modern language teaching.

The Council of Europe, faithful to its principles, has created a body unique in Europe, a standing conference of representatives of governments and institutions of higher education, the thrust of whose action associates the defence of freedom of thought and expression with the greatest advances in scientific research and new technology. I salute these initiatives, these think-tanks in the service of European humanism and cultural democracy.

In the field of culture, France has always accorded the Council of Europe a leading role as a suitable forum for co-ordinating and harmonising cultural policies in Europe. Thus, there was European Youth Year.

In that same spirit I should like today to salute and encourage the initiative recently taken by a number of this Parliamentary Assembly’s members, to organise a series of colloquies to study and underline the symbiosis of the Jewish and European cultures. You are concerned, and rightly so, to highlight a fundamental aspect of our common heritage, and it is vital that we should be aware of it.

In so doing you are also underscoring the quite simple but essential idea that a civilisation’s wealth – and this is true first and foremost of our own European civilisation – has always been based, and always will be based, on the plurality of approaches and the diversity of cultures which our continent possesses.

You set an equally splendid example in the field of communication.

The success achieved by the ministerial conference in Vienna last December on the subject of audiovisual communication must be followed up. It proved the Council’s ability to tackle these issues. The resolutions adopted, on the basis of a French report on the promotion of audiovisual works in Europe and a Swedish report on public and private broadcasting in Europe, pointed the way. The ministers instructed the Council of Europe to draw up binding legal instruments in the field of transfrontier broadcasting. A date has been set: the ministers are to meet in Stockholm at the end of 1988.

France, which is already involved in many projects whose European dimension is becoming daily clearer, sets great store by the creation of a European audiovisual communications area. Waves and beams are no respectors of frontiers. Europe’s organisation of such an area gives its co-operation a new dimension and is also vital for the protection of its cultural heritage and common values. Europe must develop the most advanced broadcasting technologies. It is also absolutely essential that it exercise its talents and affirm its personality in the field of programmes and pictures, through which the progress of a culture is apparent. It will then be able to compete on an equal footing with the United States and Japan. I hope that, under your aegis, the work may proceed as intensively and constructively as possible.

I cannot conclude without mentioning two further important questions.

Our countries are confronted with a difficult and increasingly acute problem on which the Council of Europe has already organised useful exchanges of views, namely the massive influx of asylum-seekers who, more often than not, are prompted by economic motives. To reduce the risk of a sharp decline in the hospitality afforded by our societies, there is, I think, a need for closer consultation on the problem with a view to reaching the European solution it demands.

Lastly, the appropriate Council of Europe bodies have responded to the requests of local and regional government representatives and are preparing a European Campaign for the Countryside, the organising committee for which is chaired by Mr Edgar Faure.

The French Government shares the concern of the project’s instigators to promote the development of rural regions while maintaining continuity and preserving those regions’ qualities for future generations. It is essential to give serious consideration to what is at stake and to involve as wide a cross-section as possible of people, officials and operators concerned by the future of the countryside in Europe.

Mr President, before concluding I would like to express a hope: that the Council of Europe will continue along its appointed path in furtherance of its foremost mission, namely to bring about a Europe of freedoms and at the same time safeguard our common values: what constitutes our civilisation, what unites us deep down and which is infinitely more vital than the things that may divide us and which more and more, in view of the challenges that face us, seem derisory today and will seem even more derisory tomorrow.

The Council of Europe may count on France’s confidence and co-operation in the pursuit of an objective which is as exciting as it is demanding.

I shall leave the last word with Albert Camus, who, referring to that objective, said that freedom is in chains as long as a single human being remains enslaved.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Prime Minister, for your statement of faith in a free Europe, which will be a milestone in the history of our Assembly and of the Council of Europe.

Please accept my gratitude for your commitment to Strasbourg as a European capital, for you know that I have the honour of being a member of parliament for Alsace, and I am very grateful for your support.

I am happy at the help you have given to the Palais des droits de l’homme project and I am sure that nothing will stand in the way of its speedy realisation.

We shall now proceed with parliamentary questions for oral answer. I would remind you that only questions from the members who are present will be answered. Thirty questions have been tabled in writing, as you will have noted in Document 5684. Certain questions are fairly similar and have been grouped. These questions have been classified.

I shall invite the Prime Minister to give one answer to each group.

Some questions will not be reached for lack of time. The Prime Minister may answer them directly in writing 
			See Appendix II, p.
664. if he wishes, to be sent by the Council of Europe to parliamentarians.

We shall proceed to the first group of questions, dealing with European co-operation. One answer will be given to each group.

The questions have been tabled by Mr Martinez Cuadrado, Mr Butty and Mrs Morf. They read as follows:

“Question No. 1:

Mr Martinez Cuadrado,

Recalling that a number of politicians have given their views in the past weeks concerning recession and a degree of stagnation in Europe by comparison with the superpowers and even in relation to the main regions of the world, that the President of the French Republic has distinctly spoken out m favour of a new departure for Europe to break the deadlock and clearly expressed his desire that a new European policy should take shape in three major fields, namely the institutions, new policies to be pursued by the European organisations, and world co-operation or a new European foreign policy,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether he endorses the positions of the President of the French Republic and in which European institutions a longer presidential term should be provided for and with what precise aims.

Question No. 2:

Mr Butty,

Considering that since 1945 and particularly as from the foundation of the Council of Europe in 1949 and of the European Community in 1957, France has represented an aspiration to the integration of the European economies in order to rule out once and for all any military confrontation between member states and to enhance Europe’s worldwide political influence by bolstering economic potential,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic how his Government envisages the development of relations and co-operation between the European Community and the Council of Europe; whether it intends to continue fostering co-operation and mutual assistance among members in such varied and important sectors as research, environment, communications, refugee policy, the prevention of terrorism and the media.

Question No. 3

Mrs Morf,

Noting that the Government of François Mitterrand has successfully undertaken various initiatives in European co-operation especially in science and research and not only for the European Community, the Europe of the Twelve, but also for the Europe of the Twenty-one, in particular noting the Eureka programme for European projects in high technology or the international co-operation in scientific television programmes (Carrefour de l’information in Paris);

Affirming that those European countries not belonging to the EEC would most certainly be disappointed if these and other co-operative undertakings in the “greater” Europe could not depend on continuous assistance from France,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic what are his views on these questions.”

I call the Prime Minister.

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

To Mr Martinez Cuadrado’s question, I would answer that the President of the French Republic’s reasoning is interesting, opening up prospects for Europe which deserve careful study. I share his view that the six-month period of presidency of the Community is too short for a country in office to leave its mark and give sufficient impetus.

However, extending the term of office to one year would mean that the presidency would only come round every twelve years to each country, which is a long time. So, careful thought should be given, without haste, before entering a process of institutional change.

To Mr Butty and Mrs Morf, I would simply say that France does not take a narrow and dogmatic view of European unification. In its eyes, the respective roles of the European Community and the Council of Europe are – as I said at length earlier – complementary and indissociable. Both institutions contribute, each with its own methods, resources, vocation and experience to the grand project of the unification of Europe.

France’s European policy aims to be comprehensive, ambitious, pragmatic and based on will, and is underpinned by three concepts: a homogeneous European economic area – that is the Community’s role; European security – and, as you know, I proposed a charter of principles of European security in the framework of the Western European Union; a Europe of freedoms, which is obviously essential for it is a culture itself which is at stake, and quite evidently this task falls above all with the Council of Europe.

But this division of roles does not rule out a strengthening of co-operation in all fields where institutions are called upon to make progress in the unification of Europe, be it the major social problems mentioned by the honourable member or issues with a bearing on the future of Europe, in particular communication and research.

In this respect, France, which, as you know, is following the Eureka programme with great interest – for which it also took the initiative – considers that this programme should develop alongside the Community’s framework programme on research.


(spoke in Spanish; as no translation of the speech in one of the official languages or additional working languages has been supplied to the Secretariat by the speaker, the speech is not published here, under the terms of Rules 18 and 22 of the Rules of Procedure).

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Mr Martinez Cuadrado, I simply said that this problem required consideration.

Six months is obviously too short. I have never mentioned two years. A period of one year would mean that each country would hold the presidency only every twelve years, which is obviously very long as well. There is therefore a great deal to be discussed in detail between the member states and the Commission.

Mr BUTTY (Switzerland) (translation)

Prime Minister, I should like to thank you very much for your excellent address, which made a great impression on me, at any rate, especially when you spoke of strengthening European co-operation and confirmed the Council of Europe’s role, in particular in the field of human rights.

The problem I wish to put to you, as an addition to your reply, as a European and Swiss member of parliament, is as follows. In view of the Single European Act, recently ratified by the French Parliament on a proposal from its Government, setting a very important deadline in 1992, with 300 million consumers, does France, always a driving force in the Community and in the unification of Europe not intend to pursue its efforts to encourage all practical projects in research and other fields, as you yourself have emphasised, and to continue pragmatically, through practical action, to go beyond the framework of the Community, even if occasionally, restrictive measures must be introduced in accordance with the Single European Act, in order to continue this co-operation with European non-member countries?

This is a very important question for us. At last September’s session, my parliament decided to strengthen its links with the Community and its progressive movement towards the Community, while maintaining its neutral status.

Prime Minister, is France prepared to support this work?

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

I should like to confirm straight away that France has a pragmatic approach to the unification of Europe. It is deeply attached to strengthening the union of the Community, but is also very concerned about all that relates to the harmonisation and deepening of a broader conception of Europe; we do not find the two at all contradictory. We are therefore prepared, as I said earlier in connection with the highly important communication sector; I share your point of view entirely.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Does Mrs Morf wish to put a supplementary question?... That is not the case.

We shall now move on to a group of questions on the subject of the fight against terrorism. They will be answered jointly.

The questions have been tabled by Mr Miguel Angel Martinez, Mr Cavalière, Mr Rauti, Mr Lopez Henares and Mr Valleix.

I shall read them out.

“Question No. 4:

Mr Martinez,

Considering that, in his view, the co-operation between French and Spanish authorities in the field of anti-terrorist struggle has given so far quite satisfactory results and such action might constitute moreover a relevant example to be followed by other countries,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic:

i. what is his evaluation of this co-operation between our two countries;
ii. what is, in his view, the attitude of French public opinion concerning that concerted action of our two Governments;
iii. if he considers that it might be possible in the coming months to deepen and to define more precisely that co-operation in order to maintain and even to increase the relevant progress which has been already recorded.

Question No. 5:

Mr Cavalière,

Recalling that France, assailed by a wave of terrorism, has sought and secured the support of other countries like Italy,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic why France continues to protect terrorists such as Tony Negri, Piperno and others and persists in refusing to extradite these criminals who have already received long prison sentences for murder, forming armed gangs and other serious crimes.

Question No. 6:

Mr Rauti,

Recalling that France has also experienced Islamic terrorism to its cost,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic why his Government has reacted to blackmail over the hostages by resorting to dealings which incur the dire risk of aggravating this phenomenon and making a new war weapon of kidnapping.

Question No. 7:

Mr Lopez Henares,

Considering that the fight against terrorism is a matter for international co-operation, particularly in the countries of democratic Europe, as organised activities of violence are seeking to destabilise and destroy the democratic institutions,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether the French Government’s co-operation with the Spanish Government on measures to counter terrorism will continue despite violent reactions by all forms of terrorism.

Question No. 8:

Mr Valleix,

Considering that the French Government has shown itself capable of determination and courage in the face of the proliferation of terrorist acts in France during recent months, and that it has also succeeded in giving decisive impetus to France’s enforcement of the European Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism, but that acts of terrorism are unfortunately continuing against Europeans, currently French and German citizens as is borne out by current events, and that Americans are not being spared either,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether, considering his determination to combat this evil, he thinks it possible, over and above our national and European crisis units, for still more active co-operation to be instituted, including co-operation between Europe and the United States.”

I call the Prime Minister.

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Mr President, at the European Conference of Ministers responsible for Combating Terrorism held in Strasbourg in early November last, the competent French minister took the opportunity of emphasising, along with his Spanish colleague, the extent to which police co-operation between our two countries had been strengthened in the fight against terrorism. And some positive and genuine results have been obtained.

The same applies, as you know, to Franco- Spanish judicial co-operation, as in 1986, six Basque terrorists were sent to prison following a Spanish extradition request. The indictment divisions of the courts of appeal in question have already given favourable opinions in respect of the extradition of four of them.

That should satisfy Mr Lopez Henares.

In answer to Mr Cavaliere’s question, I would say that the best illustration of the good European relations between France and Italy as far as combating terrorism is concerned is the fact that, as early as last April, two Italian terrorists were served extradition orders which have since, moreover, been submitted to our supreme administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat.

These were known as the Trincanato and Benedetti cases.

As far as Tony Negri and Piperno and others mentioned by Mr Cavalière are concerned, these are longstanding cases, where the previous government felt there was insufficient evidence to implicate them in the crimes of which they were accused.

In reply to Mr Rauti’s question, I would say that I have already confirmed on more than one occasion that the French Government did not undertake any direct dealings or bargaining with the groups holding our hostages. This was simply a controversy created for strictly political reasons by a modestly important French press organisation, which I have, moreover, quite rightly attacked, as this controversy has absolutely no basis in reality.

I have always said, and let everyone be aware of this, that any negotiation with a terrorist group would be bound to result in a compromise, and this compromise would be more or less satisfactory to the terrorist group, but it would justify the effectiveness of their methods, and consequently, would strengthen terrorism. That would be a fatal error; the only way is never to negotiate or discuss with terrorists.

As to Mr Valleix’s question, I would say that the problem of information and co-operation between member states of the Council of Europe and other states is included in the terms of reference of a group of ministers responsible for combating terrorism, who met in Strasbourg last November, as I recalled. The group is to submit its proposals to the Council of Europe. At bilateral level, France works in close co-operation with the United States whenever necessary.

Mr MARTINEZ (Spain) (translation)

The answer given by the Prime Minister to my colleague included points that I am happy with and I do not have any more questions. Prime Minister, as Chairman of the Spanish delegation, I simply wished to extend our deep gratitude to you for your generous and courageous policy which, as you emphasised, is producing tangible results and, above all, is managing to raise the morale of our people, who have been subjected to terrorism. Through France and thanks to France, they are finding solidarity in Europe; they needed it.

I hope that France will move quickly forward on the path begun by your predecessors at Matignon and that your Government will continue to show us the same support each day.

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Just a word to Mr Martinez to tell him that, in this field, relations between France and Spain are exemplary and reciprocal. They can only develop along the path you outlined and in respect, naturally, for the democratic principles to which both our countries are attached.

Mr CAVALIERE (Italy) (translation)

I am sorry to say, Prime Minister, that I am rather disappointed by your answer. I note with great regret that France has protected, and unfortunately continues to protect, terrorists who have operated in my country, Italy.

Mr RAUTI (Italy) (translation)

I thank the Prime Minister for his reply, although my question was intended to raise the matter of the new and more disturbing form of terrorism—the taking of hostages.

At present, the countries of the West have forty citizens held as hostages, and the situation has deteriorated in the last few weeks, spreading outside the area of the Middle East.

I could point out, for example, that France has a very different relationship with Syria from that of the United Kingdom, and that the 300 million francs given to Iran might represent a form of negotiation. But today attention is concentrated on the hostages because this morning the newspapers of the whole world reported President Reagan’s call for Americans to get out of Beirut. This is the first time that a Western state has told its citizens it cannot defend them. And the country saying this is the greatest state of all time, fee greatest state in the West.

It is necessary, therefore, to decide on, and if possible co-ordinate, our policies, otherwise every state will become a victim of this new and more dangerous form of terrorism.

Mr LOPEZ HENARES (Spain) (translation)

Prime Minister, I should like to thank you both for your answer and for your extremely enlightening and very encouraging speech. Your resolute approach to terrorism is not only an example to be followed, but, above all, it represents the hope that this war, which knows no frontiers, will be won.

Mr VALLEIX (France) (translation)

I have nothing to add to what Mr Lopez Henares has just said, I would just like to thank the Prime Minister again before letting him move on to other questions.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We shall now proceed to a group of questions on Strasbourg’s European vocation.

The questions have been tabled by Mr Grussenmeyer and Mr Sarti. I shall read them out:

“Question No. 9:

Mr Grussenmeyer,

Pointing out that successive governments have affirmed France’s support for Strasbourg’s European role and have stated they wanted Strasbourg to become the permanent seat of the European Parliament;

Considering that, to the great regret of the elected representatives and people of this city and province, the synchrotron is going to Grenoble, the Institute for

European-Latin American Relations to Madrid, the Eureka Secretariat to Brussels and the European College of Translators to Arles and that the Commission in Brussels recently rejected Strasbourg’s application to be given the Community Trademark Office;

Given that many here are seriously wondering whether the French Government still believes in Strasbourg’s European role,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic for the French Government’s views on the subject and what plans it has for developing Strasbourg’s European influence.

Question No. 10:

Mr Sarti,

Reasserting his regard for the city of Strasbourg and its destiny as the true capital of Europe, and deploring the considerable hardship of rapid access to this capital both for European Parliamentarians and for members of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly;

Desirous of upholding Strasbourg’s importance for the Rhineland and Europe in the matter of air, rail and road communications as well,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether he can reassure the Assembly in this matter.”

I call fee Prime Minister.

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

I shall be brief on this point, as everybody is aware that I have long been a militant in the cause of Strasbourg’s vocation to be the capital of Europe. I have not heard a single objective line of argument likely to jeopardise this situation or justifying a change in the current position. France regards this as essential, and justified by history. If the situation was challenged in any way at all, beyond mere words, a real problem would arise with France and its government.

Mr GRUSSENMEYER (France) (translation)

I should like to extend my thanks to the Prime Minister for his solemn commitment. I am speaking on behalf of the Alsatian people whom I have had the honour of representing in the National Assembly for twenty-nine years.

Mr SARTI (Italy) (translation)

Mr Prime Minister, I consider myself an honorary parliamentarian for Strasbourg and the Bas-Rhin département. I am very grateful to you for your assurances.

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We now proceed to a group of questions on the visa restrictions imposed by France. The questions have been tabled by Mr Tarschys, Mr Blenk, Mr Alemyr and Mr Hesele.

I shall read them out.

“Question No. 11:

Mr Tarschys,

Pointing out that on 14 September 1986 the French Government decided to make entry visas compulsory for all foreigners except nationals of European Community states and Switzerland or Liechtenstein and that when it announced the measure it said it was a temporary restriction, to be reviewed after six months;

Drawing attention to the acute dismay and the practical difficulties which the measure caused;

Pointing out that after the decision of 14 September 1986 there were a number of discussions about counter-terrorist action,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether, in view of the progress in this matter, the French Government now intends withdrawing or changing the entry visa requirement for nationals of certain Council of Europe states.

Question No. 12:

Mr Blenk,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic how long the French Government intends keeping the compulsory visa requirement for nationals of certain Council of Europe member states, a requirement contrary to the agreement on the free movement of persons and contrary to the spirit and letter of the Statute of the Council of Europe.

Question No. 13:

Mr Alemyr,

Considering that it is of utmost importance to achieve greater unity between the European parliamentary democracies and that the Council of Europe was designed to promote co-operation and contact between the Europeans,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic whether he regards the French visa restrictions recently imposed to be in accordance with the above- mentioned goals.

Question No. 14:

Mr Hesele,

Welcoming the initiative by France to carry on the fight against terrorism more intensively, especially as Austria is also playing a leading role in this European endeavour;

Assuming that the French Government’s action in this respect must not proceed by means of discrimination against other Council of Europe member states;

Regarding the introduction of the visa requirement for a few non-Community member states as unjustified discrimination, which is further accentuated by the unequal treatment of Austria and Switzerland, both neutral Council of Europe member states;

Noting that, over and above the political discrimination, the introduction of the visa requirement in respect of Austria is questionable in terms of international law since in 1957 the European Agreement on Regulations governing the Movement of Persons between Council of Europe Member States was ratified by France as well and a second European Agreement on the Abolition of Visas for Refugees came into force in 1959,

To ask the Prime Minister of the French Republic how he justifies the unequal treatment of two neutral Council of Europe member states in respect of the visa requirement, and when Austria can expect to receive equal treatment with Switzerland through the removal of the visa requirement for all Austrian citizens.”

I call the Prime Minister.

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

I spoke at length on this problem, knowing the great importance you yourself, the Secretary General, the Chairman of the Committee of Ministers attach to it. I have nothing to add except that, quite frankly, I am slightly surprised at some of the reactions which do not seem to me to tally with what I thought was the Council of Europe’s ambition in terms of the fight against terrorism.

Mr TARSCHYS (Sweden) (translation)

Prime Minister, I thank you for your answer, but I shall not conceal the fact that it has disappointed me greatly. Everyone agrees that measures must be taken against terrorism, but that they should be sensible and effective. The mandatory visa not only raises the questions of bureaucracy, cost, paper work, and wasted time in French consulates, but it is also a psychological issue.

By drawing this fine distinction between Danes and Swedes, Icelanders and Irish, Swiss and Austrians, you seem to consider that there are two categories of Europeans: those you trust and those you do not. This is why we feel injured and humiliated.

Prime Minister, you spoke about a Europe of freedoms. I should like to ask you whether this Europe of freedoms is to include the free movement of people and equal treatment of citizens of all member states of the Council of Europe.

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

Let us not confuse principles with the requirements of a given situation. Believe me, the inconvenience that you might feel in this provisional situation is minor compared with the advantages that we are drawing from it in security matters. It is not done to report on the results obtained by the police in this field, but I can assure you that this procedure has brought us – and a number of European and non-European, including American, countries – not insignificant results, which in every respect, are more important than injured sensibilities or the slight material inconveniences caused by a visa requirement which, I repeat, will be phased out as soon as possible.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Mr Blenk is not present. I call Mr Alemyr to ask a supplementary question.

Mr ALEMYR (Sweden)

Mr Prime Minister, I shall be brief. As you know, one of the greatest aims of the Council of Europe is to work for greater European unity, and the interests of the individual remain its prime concern. You frequently mentioned the young generation and there are deep feelings of friendship among Swedish young people for their French contemporaries.

The French visa restrictions render these direct contacts between people in our two countries more difficult and expensive. I, therefore, hope that you, Mr Prime Minister, realise that this is a marked and regrettable effect of the French decision. I ask you to lift the restrictions as soon as possible. I hope that the French Government is interested in increased co-operation among the democracies in Europe. You said so several times in your speech and I believe that you mean so. I earnestly hope that you will work in that direction in practice.

Mr HESELE (Austria) (translation)

Mr President, Prime Minister, on behalf of the Austrian delegation I can subscribe to all that you said about the high aspirations of the Council of Europe, of which we are an active member. We are also active in the fight against terrorism. Our Minister of the Interior made a significant contribution at the ministerial meeting here and you had some very kind words to say about Vienna, where the CSCE conference and the media conference were held.

But, Prime Minister, the introduction of the visa requirement for us Austrians flies in the face of everything you have said here. The introduction of the visa requirement means that Europe has been split in two. It means there are some states whose citizens must fill out a form in order to travel here, but others where they do not.

Prime Minister, in one of your answers you spoke of injured sensibilities. This is not a matter of injured sensibility, it is an injury to the basic principles of the Council of Europe. I would therefore ask you this question: has the introduction of the visa requirement had any success? You indicated that it had. You cannot tell us in detail, obviously. And when can Austria expect the dual discrimination – on the one hand as member of the Council of Europe, but also compared with our Swiss neighbours – to be lifted? We are not your neighbours but we are a neutral state. When can we expect the visa requirement for Austrian citizens to be lifted?

Mr Chirac, Prime Minister of the French Republic (translation)

My reply to the first question: yes, we have achieved very positive results, at least as positive for a number of European or non-European countries as for France. To the second question I would reply that we will be lifting the restrictions as quickly as possible. I cannot say exactly when, but we are talking in terms of months, not years. This remark is addressed equally at Mr Alemyr.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Prime Minister.

Ladies and gentlemen, because of the Prime Minister’s commitments we shall have to interrupt his replies now. I hope that he will reply in writing to those questions which have not been asked here in the plenary session and I would thank him in advance for that.

Prime Minister, the Assembly has appreciated the quality and importance of your statement and I should like to thank you for having given clear replies to the legitimate questions posed by our colleagues. (Applause)