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1995 - Mr Major’s Joint Doorstep Interview with Jean Chretien

Below is the transcript of Mr Major’s joint doorstep interview in London with Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, on Saturday 6th May 1995.


PRIME MINISTER:

It is a pleasure to welcome the Prime Minister again to London. We have had the opportunity of a lot of bilateral discussions over the last year or so and they are always very worthwhile and very productive occasions. I will invite the Prime Minister to say a word or two first, I will then follow that up and then we will take a few questions. If I could just say at the outset, we will need to be fairly brief, we both have to be in black tie and best bib and tucker and elsewhere before too long.

PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN:

Thank you, Prime Minister. It was another good discussion. We discussed mainly the G7 and Bosnia where we have to work together. We want to make a success of the G7 and we are preoccupied about the situation in the former Yugoslavia; we are there with troops and we are very keen to work to have peace and to make sure that our soldiers can perform the task they have got and we are looking forward to meeting again in Halifax.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, Mr. Brittan has been saying in Ottawa that there has been a breach in Canadian/European relations following the halibut war. Do you think it is a breach that cannot be healed or repaired?

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

There is no breach that can't be healed or repaired. Leon Brittan is speaking for the European Union. I think you know that there was the occasional ruckus between ourselves and our European partners over that issue. Now I hope that is behind us and I an sure my European partners would wish to put it behind us as speedily as possible.

PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN:

I would like to take the occasion to thank the people of Great Britain for the great support that they have given to us during this episode. Probably one of the proudest moments since became Prime Minister was when the British fishermen were on TV with the Canadian flag; it gave me a lot of pleasure that day and I would like to say thank you to your people for that.

QUESTION:

You talked about Bosnia. I wonder whether you spoke about the possibility of having to pull troops out if things escalate there, under what conditions that might be necessary and how it might be accomplished.

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

We discuss Bosnia a lot both when we meet and over the telephone. We have been working very closely over Bosnian policy and our relative troops contributions; Canada has made a remarkable contribution there and kept in very close touch as well so yes, we did discuss the present situation.

Clearly, what has happened in Croatia is very disturbing. We certainly need the ceasefire to continue and there is a real danger that if the war were to escalate in Bosnia generally that the position of the protection forces in Bosnia could become impossible. It is not my wish to see that nor the Prime Minister's; we think that the troops there, with humanitarian aid and other matters, have done and are doing a remarkable job, many people are alive who wouldn't be but for them but they are not equipped to be in the middle of a full-scale war and the position that we have both taken is that if the war were really to erupt there are circumstances in which the protection forces could not safely be left there. That is the position and has been for a long time but the Prime Minister may wish to add something to that.

PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN:

Well said, Prime Minister!

QUESTION:

[In French]

PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN:

[In French]

QUESTION:

Do you fear that there may come a point where we would have to withdraw our troops?

PRIME MINISTER CHRETIEN:

It is always possible that there will be a circumstance where we will have to withdraw. We have said that many times and the Prime Minister just mentioned that a minute ago.

QUESTION:

As well as the things that you seem to be in great agreement on, can you tell me whether you have managed to come to an agreement on that vexed pension issue which comes up annually or biannually?

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

We had the opportunity of a further discussion.

QUESTION:

And how did it go?

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

It was, as ever, good-natured, frank, worthwhile and to be continued.

QUESTION:

Prime Minister, can I ask you for your reaction today to the speech of Chancellor Kohl in which he equated the suffering of the Germans during the War with that of the [Inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER MAJOR:

I haven't seen any speech that Helmut has made today. I will certainly look at it but I am not commenting on a speech I have not yet seen.