Q&A at the Joint Press Conference with His Excellency Mr Emmanuel Macron

May 2, 2018
Transcripts

Kirribilli House, Kirribilli, Sydney

E&OE…

JOURNALIST:

[Translation]

Mr Prime Minister, Mr President, bonjour. I have a question regarding what happened on the occasion of 1 May in France. Do you think that the Government properly anticipated what happened or not? Next, do you fear the protest might get more and more radical?  What about the violence we saw on television?

HIS EXCELLENCY MR EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC:

[Translation]

The 1st of May is an international celebration of to the 19th Century. It is the day when we celebrate workers, not rioters. Last night I very much condemned - and strongly so - what happened. Then, it is wrong for me not to comment on what is happening at home when I'm abroad, as a matter of courtesy to Australia. So I did send a tweet, but I'm not going to comment in the presence of the Prime Minister of Australia and I will not comment any further.

In France, the Prime Minister present together with the Minister of State - and they have taken the right decisions - they are there. Some arrests have been made and all the necessary measures were taken.

All I can do here is, once again, condemn and firmly so, what happened. We shall not be too concerned about it. We shall stand firm. There is a Government, there is a state and there are leaders and there and it will continue to be so.

JOURNALIST:

Al Jazeera Television, Mr President, you’ve just been in Washington. Do you think President Trump has been persuaded to stick to the Iran deal or still can be persuaded? To both of you, do you think that Iran is sticking to its’ side of that agreement and if President Trump does re-impose sanctions on Iran or withdraws from the agreement completely after May the 12th, what do you think will happen next? President Macron first perhaps?

PRIME MINISTER:

Very good, well, you've been last in Washington. So you first?

PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC:

You're the host, I mean you're the one to decide.

PRIME MINISTER:

Okay well firstly, I’ll answer the third question and then since President Macron, you’ve addressed a question to him about his visit to Washington. We believe the JCPOA is the best option we have available and we support its continuance. So that's our policy, number one.

Number two, you're asking me to speculate on what might happen if the United States does not continue with it after the 12th May. With great respect, that is for you to speculate. I am not going to hypothesise about that.

But as to the President's perceptions on Washington, I'll turn over to the President.

JOURNALIST:

But, briefly Mr Prime Minister, do you think Iran is sticking to its side of the agreement?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look, I am not going to comment on that right now. But as I said, I'm not going to speculate, but we do believe that the continuance of the JCPOA is the best available option.

PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC:

I have to say my job is not to speculate as well. Because we pretty much have the same.

First, the JCPOA was absolutely, was a very important negotiation and is the best way to monitor the current nuclear activity of the Iranian government, the Iranian regime. I think this is important, was negotiated by our countries both. I mean, US was involved, and obviously France. That’s why first, as we negotiated it, we signed it. It's good to respect it and that for me, was a good beginning.

Is it sufficient or not? I mean my view is that it's not sufficient.

I made it very clear last September at the United Nations - I repeated it and I consistently discussed that with President Trump - I think we have to complete this agreement, with three additional pillars. One about the nuclear activity post-2025. Second, in order to have a better control and monitoring of the ballistic activity of the Iranian regime. Third, in order to have an eco-containment of the Iranian activity in the region, especially Iraq, Iran – I mean Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen.

Having said that, that's why I proposed to negotiate a sort of broader comprehensive deal to the President of the United States. He expressed himself very positively about the fact he negotiates this more comprehensive new framework agreement with the Iranian regime. I had the opportunity during the past days to exchange about that with President Putin, with President Rouhani and I'm not here to speculate. I don't know what's the US President will decide on 12th May.

I just want to say, whatever the decision will be, we will have to prepare such a broader negotiation and a broader deal. Because I think nobody wants a war in the region. Nobody wants an escalation in terms of tension in the region.

France is very much attached to the stability of the overall region. It's very much attached to the security of its allies. That's why we want to work on these new negotiations, in strong coordination with Germany and United Kingdom. We will work very actively in order to convince everybody to have, in the coming days, weeks and months, such a negotiation, which is the only way to progress and stabilise the region.

PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you, thank you Mr President. The next question is from Christophe Mallet.

JOURNALIST:

[Translation]

Bonjour Mr Prime Minister and Mr President, a question on free trade between Australia and the EU. It seems to take more time than expected. Why is that and how different is it from the American stance and protectionism? Australia is investing in the submarines, is it fair play?

PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC:

I can only confirm that we will stick to the calendar grade and France will be in favour of a negotiation mandate in the coming weeks, as soon as it is submitted to the council.

So we’re not wasting any time. We're not lagging behind, precisely because we have found the means and the solutions to the concerns we may have had. We have a strong commitment with Australia.

First of all, it is about protecting the French interests in the region and thanks to the strategic partnership, the actions we’re leading and we will continue to lead. We're being proactive and optimistic. It’s about providing all of our territories - and I have in mind particularly New Caledonia, which I will be visiting as from tomorrow - will want to provide them with the means of succeeding in terms of economy, tourism, no matter these negotiations.

They will have some very concrete discussions on agricultural issues. This is fully reassuring. We have in mind the trade relationship between Australia and France. At the moment, Australia imports more and also, because something very important for us is that our coming our future trade commitments should be coherent with our commitments on climate change.

So, we will have that in mind in the context of the mandate to be agreed with the European Commission. This is also our vision of global trade, which has to be free and fair. I can say that both our countries do not consider trade war or tensions to be something in our interests or in the interests of our values so we very much want to comply with the spirit of multilateralism and free trade, to which we contributed to designing.

PRIME MINISTER:

The next question is from Phil Williams.

JOURNALIST:

Welcome to Australia. It's great to see a French President come here that actually wanted to come here and not just turn up for a G20. It's great, welcome to you. I just wanted to ask, do you share Australia's concern about increasing Chinese influence in the Pacific? Did you discuss it? If so, what are the solutions and Prime Minister, in your discussions that included that topic I assume, can you shed any light on what approach you might take, a joint approach, you might take to tackle that issue?

Of course, also in the relevance, of course, extra relevance of course with New Caledonia possibly leaving the French family to some degree?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, can I start, respond in this way; we welcome the economic rise of China. China's rise has been unprecedented both in it’s scale and pace, in all of human history. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty and not just in China. That economic rise, that growth has been enabled and made possible by a rules-based order in our region.

The peace and relative harmony in our region, has been enabled by the adherence to the rule of law. Referring back to what I said about Lee Kuan Yew; a rule of law which says that might is not right, that the big fish cannot eat the little fish and the little fish eat the shrimps that is absolutely critical.

Now, that rule of law is what we, and that rules-based international order, Phil, is what we seek. Our policy seeks to maintain that in our region and everyone, every participant in the region - from the big fish to the little fish to the shrimps - will benefit from it. That is the critical objective.

So we welcome further Chinese investment in our region. We welcome the benefits of the growth of China. But of course, we are committed to the maintenance of the rules-based international order, to good governance, strong standards that will enable us all to continue this remarkable arc of prosperity, that has been enabled by that rule of law.

Mr President?

PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC:

First of all, let me start by saying “shrimps” and especially “new Caledonian shrimps”, so it's very much important in the context. Having said that, I do share Mr Prime Minister's view. I mean, there is nothing against or vis-a-vis China, in reaction to the Chinese race. I think Chinese race is very good news for everybody. Because it's good for China itself, for its’ middle class and it's good for I mean the global growth and the regional growth.

Now what's important is to preserve a rule-based development in the region and especially in the Indo-Pacific region. It's to preserve the necessary balances in the region.

It's important with this - precisely this new context - not to have any hegemony In the region. That's why for me, this partnership, it's a very important way to progress. Because all together with India and all the partners, this is not an initiative against or in reaction to. That's a positive initiative, to say: "We have something in common.”

We do, I mean, we do want to favour free movement in the region, free movement in Indo-Pacific region.

We do want to preserve our “common sovereignty, our liberty, our freedom”, to take your expression of last June in Perth. That's why this initiative from a geopolitical defence and economic, scientific and education and health point of view, is very much important.

So for me, this is very good news. But now, this new organisation we have all together, is consistent with the new order precisely to preserve balance in the region and the full respect of this rule of law.

JOURNALIST:

The implication is that China is not playing by the rules. What can you do to get them to play by the rules? What more-

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Phil, can I just say, you're making that assertion. I stand by what I've said. I'm sure the President stands by what he's said. The rules-based order in our region is what has enabled this remarkable growth in prosperity. That's what we're committed to and that's vital for all of us. For every country - the big fish, the little fish and the shrimps - for it to be maintained.

So thank you all very much. Mr President.

PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC:

Thank you.

PRIME MINISTER:

You have to go to a lunch with the French community in Sydney, who will be waiting for you with anticipation and joy, I know.

PRESIDENT OF THE FRENCH REPUBLIC:

For the French Gastronomy, the French winery, but I wanted to thank you for your welcome. Thank you you and your delicious wife for your warm welcome, for the perfect organisation of this trip. Thanks to you and Lucy, thanks to you very much, Mr Prime Minister.

[ENDS]

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