Below is the text of Mr Major’s joint press conference with President Mitterrand and Prime Minister Balladur, made in London on Monday 26th July 1993.
We have had this morning a series of discussions. I have had the opportunity this morning of discussions with President Mitterrand and the Prime Minister. During the time we have held those discussions eight of our Ministerial colleagues have been discussing their own particular areas of responsibility. At the conclusion of their discussions the whole team came together for a plenary meeting and then had the opportunity of discussing matters again over lunch.
When I became Prime Minister some time ago one of the particular objectives I had was to develop relationships between Britain and France. It seemed to me that our countries had a substantial pool of common interests, there was a great deal of scope for cooperation waiting to be tapped. I think what today's summit shows, with a much larger participation I think than we have ever had before amongst other Ministers, is that we have travelled a very long way down that road of cooperation.
Today's summit follows months of intensive work, Prime Minister Balladur's visit to London in early May, my own visit to Paris at the invitation of President Mitterrand later on that month.
Let me set out in very brief terms prior to your questions some of the results of those discussions.
May I turn first to foreign policy. I think it is undeniable that we are working more closely today on international problems than ever before. We have discussed Bosnia at different meetings today, we have agreed that the key points that support the efforts of Dr Owen, and Mr Sholtenberg to reconvene the negotiations in Geneva this week. We clearly are concerned to help Sarajevo, to support UNPROFOR' s efforts to create a ceasefire, to restore water, to restore power and to secure access for the relief convoys. We also want to sustain the humanitarian relief efforts as long as conditions permit and to accelerate the implementation of the safe areas resolution, including the provision of air support.
We discussed a number of matters relating to the European Community, including of course the joint Franco-
We have had some discussions this morning also on joint defence interests. We set up last autumn the Franco/British Joint Commission on Nuclear Policy and Doctrine, the objective is to coordinate our approach to deterrence, to nuclear doctrines and concepts, anti-
We have looked also at joint defence projects, we reviewed collaboration in defence projects, Britain and France at the moment are working together on 21 separate projects, some of them also involving other countries as well. We have more British projects with France than with any other single international partner.
We discussed also briefly the Channel Tunnel and I am pleased to announce that Her Majesty The Queen and President Mitterrand will jointly open the Channel Tunnel on 6 May 1994.
We discussed also science and technology, we have decided to reconvene a Franco/British conference to explore fresh approaches to science policy. I think it will be a wide ranging conference, it will look at questions such as technology transfer, how to ensure that research leads to better product development and far better public explanation of scientific questions.
We also looked at the question of D-
We have covered a range of other issues but rather than running through them in great detail I will try and pick up any points of interest to you in the question period we will have shortly.
I will not add anything really to the list of issues that have been discussed, what you have heard is a very complete list and this gives you an idea of the subjects we have talked about. It will be for you to ask the questions you want to ask.
So I think it is more a question of the general spirit and atmosphere that I would like to talk about. We have had great pleasure in coming here to London and meeting our British partners and exchanging with them our positions and thinking and arguments on the problems on which we have diverging opinions and also we have been able to note that there were more and more points on which our views were the same.
In the field of foreign policy where our two countries have very long standing experience going back many many years, in Europe in particular, well there it was easy for us to reach common conclusions. On the new problems that are coming up, new in relation to this generation, in relation to history, in other words the setting up of the European Community and its consequences, its impact, its effects, and the development of world trade, on those matters we still have to define more closely our actual positions but we are delighted with the efforts that have been made successfully by the British government in order to enable the development of the Maastricht agreement. Of course each country will operate according to its own style and on the basis of the text which is the basis of the European Agreement.
What has just been said about the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of D-
At this stage I have got nothing further to add to that, thank you.
QUESTION (La Tribune):
Did you talk about the EMS this morning and has Mr Major any views on the chances of its survival and has Britain any particular interest in the EMS? On the French side, can we be told if the chances of escaping shall we say the British model with a more competitive currency at a lower rate of interest with more creation of jobs, is that likely to happen, or are the markets going to impose the same thing on France as it imposed on Great Britain last year?
We certainly spent some time discussing this matter this morning and I think the statement issued this morning by France and Germany, the Franco-
I would like to add something on that. Firstly, you asked the question in a way to elicit a certain response, I have never heard of a more competitive currency, a reference to that, what is important is that economies be competitive with one another. In France we have achieved good results on that, we are very much attached to monetary stability, we do everything we can to try and ensure it, and I note that the Prime Minister has just said that the English too want this monetary stability maintained in Europe and that they do not consider that there would be any advantage in greater instability.
What did you discuss on GATT? How did both sides look to the future in the negotiating process on trade agreements?
We had some discussions on the Uruguay Round this morning and our Agriculture and Trade Ministers also spent some time discussing it; it is clearly a matter of immense importance. All of us are agreed on the importance of the GATT Round and of a successful outcome on agriculture. We know that France has some particular difficulties with the Blair House Accord and it must be examined in more detail by the Community, hence the request for a Joint Council in September and I think in particular the constraints which Blair House would impose on internal management of the CAP, on growth in EC exports, erosion of Community preference, those are problems that France have raised and that the Community will have to discuss.
We all agreed that a durable and balanced agreement is necessary. I know in the discussion between Agriculture Ministers that Gillian Shepherd emphasised that in our view the Blair House Accord was a good one for the Community but these are matters we need to discuss. What is a matter of agreement between us is the overall desirability of a satisfactory and balanced GATT agreement.
We come back to an idea which already has been expressed at least a hundred times but I think should be reiterated with strength and that is that the GATT negotiations -
To come back to agriculture itself, the important thing is that the agreement should be a balanced agreement. You can't have an agreement which is one-
Concerning Blair House, this is a point of friction naturally because we think that the agreement needs to be revised because it happened under conditions which we think questionable. In any case, the only thing that really counts is the political decision, the actual political decision taken by the countries concerned; that carries much more weight than the purely technical discussions that take place beforehand. That is why we are quite prepared to say and repeat that an overall balanced and lasting agreement would be a good thing for international trade but it would be a bad thing if it turned out that those agreements were based on a grave injustice that we just don't want which I think people can easily understand.
Can I just add a further question? Can one say that there has been progress today on GATT?
It seems to me that there has been progress on two areas, firstly I feel that we better understand one another -
QUESTION (Adam Boulton, Sky News):
I wonder, in view of the reported comments in the Sunday papers this weekend, if Mr. Major could tell us how much longer he thinks he is going to be able to cohabit with some of his Cabinet and what advice the President and M. Balladur would give on cohabitation with ideological opposites. [Laughter].
It seems to work very well.
QUESTION (David Langton, Bureau of National Affairs):
Of course, no illegitimate questions from me at all!
On GATT, last week we had the Director-
Secondly, the French Foreign Minister, Alan Gerait [phoentic], was calling for trade policy instruments to be strengthened. Did you discuss the strengthening of trade policy instruments today, particularly in relation to, say, US anti-
Yes, we did. Mr. Major asked me questions about that and I gave him a certain amount of detail about what we would wish. The problems, as I said, will be dealt with in the documents that we will send to Brussels in the forthcoming weeks.
We have to find a solution to anti-
QUESTION (Tony Bevins, The Independent):
Have you apologised to the bastards, Mr. Major?
We have been discussing Anglo-
QUESTION (Keith Rockwell, Journal of Commerce):
Mr. Balladur and Mr. Major, was there any discussion of the EC's policy with regard to the import of Japanese cars and was there any discussion at all of Britain's role in all of that, whether British-
No, that wasn't discussed in our discussions this morning and don't believe it was raised when the Trade Ministers met.
QUESTION (Carol Walker, BBC TV News):
Given the attack on the French base in Sarejevo, was there any further discussion about the possible use of air strikes?
It is a subject that we started to deal with several weeks ago when the so-
I would like first of all to ask you about the latest escalation in the Lebanon and the latest Israeli aggression of the sovereign state of Lebanon. How do you see the effect of this on the peace process in the region?
My second question is addressed to the French President, M. President, changes in immigration in France have created an atmosphere of uncertainty among the immigrants in France and in particular among Arab immigrants and North African immigrants. Are you aware of this new atmosphere in the immigrant community and do you envisage any change that would take account of this situation which is unstable?
On the first point, we did not discuss Lebanon this morning. On the second point, I will let the President respond directly.
I would have preferred to have answered the first question as a matter of fact but when people fight each other on both sides of a frontier you ca n’t expect the sovereignty of each country to be fully respected and once that situation obtains then it is very natural that both sides have to accept the consequences of such a conflict and that conflict will necessarily make the peace process more complicated. There is an inherent contradiction in all this which is pretty obvious.
On the immigration legislation, you are talking about French political affairs there and I have not come here to London to talk about internal French political matters -
If they are not present legally on French soil -
QUESTION (France Two):
Mr. Prime Minister, have you discussed the future of the EBRD and is Britain going to support a French candidate to support M. Atteli [phoentic]?
The future of the EBRD for the moment is a matter of choosing a president for the institution. As you know, France has an excellent candidate and for the rest you must ask Mr. Major what his views are.
If Mr. Major allows, I will recall some memories perhaps which are more personal memories for me than for him because at the time when the various seats and headquarters and offices were negotiated among a number of international bodies, including EBRD, it had been understood that if the headquarters were to be in London then at least the first presidency and the first term of office would be a French presidency. If it isn't the same president nevertheless I think it would be right and only natural that it should be the same country and this would be accordance with the original agreements.
[Inaudible] excellent candidates. The Community are seeking a unified candidate. We have expressed our view to the President of the Community and I hope will reach a conclusion shortly.
QUESTION (George Jones, Daily Telegraph):
Could I ask the Prime Minister and the President, given what looks like the imminent collapse of the Exchange Rate Mechanism and all the turmoil there has been in France over Maastricht and in the British Parliament, whether they think the treaty is still relevant or should probably be torn up and the Community should start again on a more realistic and perhaps lowered-
I don't think the treaty should be torn up. The British Parliament has passed the treaty, it is now an Act, it has got Royal Assent subject to one outstanding court case which I hope will be swiftly cleared away and it will come into effect and I welcome that fact self-
On my side, of course, I submitted the Maastricht Treaty to a referendum in France, in other words it is the French people that voted and who chose finally what to do and there was a political battle which was a pretty difficult one where some important and very often excellent arguments were expressed on both sides. This was a national debate of considerable magnitude but the rule of democracy was applied and France adopted the Maastricht Treaty by popular vote and now the Maastricht Treaty is our rule. I was in favour of it, as you know and therefore I was delighted that this was the decision taken and the decision that was taken I would not say was more important than a vote by Parliament because I am very much in favour of representative democracy -
Your somewhat hasty definition, if I may say so, of the fact that now the time had come to tear up the treaty and that the EMS is completely excluded I think is subject to examination. We are precisely working through this and it is difficult but France's determination is unquestionable and we think that the future of Europe is important. We have different conceptions very often on this but we certainly will coordinate our efforts to the same goal and in my view at any rate it would be very harmful and very sad if the remarkable progress made among the Twelve should be brought into question whereas the prospect before us is that in a few years now we will have a single currency.