Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
Interview with Ouest-France Newspaper (excerpts)
September 27, 2001
Do you think the terrorist attacks of 11 September will prompt people to
rethink the world order?
No world disorder can justify the barbarity of such acts. The roots of terrorism
lie in fanaticism, hatred of others, a destructive vision of the world and not
in imbalances in international relations. But, admittedly, in too many countries
we see tensions, frustrations, a radicalism stemming from social inequalities.
We know about the injustice in North-South relations, but there are also problems
in the South resulting from the absence of democracy, monopolizing of wealth,
and unfair and ineffective development models. These things must be corrected
by a more mutually-supportive organization of the world and, in the shorter
term, by finding solutions to some burning issues.
In the Middle East for example?
We must make sure that in our reactions, our analyses, the words we use, the
way we respond to the terrorist attacks, we don't contribute to one party in
that region coming to accept the murderous folly of very small minority groups.
Terrorism must be isolated. That's why we share the concern of the Egyptian
President, Mr Mubarak, with whom I had a meeting on Monday in Paris, to see
a resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue. The two peoples confronting
one another and their leaders must realize that the further they go down the
path of radicalization, the worse the problems will become. And it's a fact
that, at the moment, it isn't possible to demand that one of the parties totally
refrain from violence before any discussion of a ceasefire. That's why the meeting
between Arafat and Peres was necessary, since it is only through dialogue that
security can be restored.
US RESPONSE TO TERRORIST ATTACKS
We get the feeling that you have reservations about the military action the
Americans are preparing in retaliation for the attacks?
There aren't any reservations. We are standing four-square behind the American
people. We share their grief. We understand their anger. We are totally committed
to the fight against terrorism. At national level, we are demonstrating this
through effective efforts to dismantle networks. At European level, we are working
for better coordination of judicial and police policies. At international level,
our police and judicial services are cooperating far more closely and we are
defining a common approach to terrorism in the United Nations bodies and working
on ways to cut off its funding. The rapid change in the United States' attitude
to the fight against dirty money and control of tax havens is an excellent development.
Incidentally, yesterday we became, as far as I know, the first country after
the United States to freeze the assets of groups and individuals with terrorist
links. As regards a possible commitment of French forces, it's not a matter
of reservations but of adopting a wait-and-see policy. We have told our American
friends what we deem desirable and what, on the contrary, we consider risky.
We have declared that we are ready and willing [to help]. We shall take our
sovereign decision on the principle and possible forms of an engagement, if
this is what is asked of us.
Are you certain about bin Laden's responsibility?
The terrorist world is impenetrable and secretive. A series of clues implicates
the bin Laden group and others, which aren't necessarily linked to him. Action
must be taken against all these groups. I want to emphasize that, to fight terrorism,
we must remind States of their responsibility as members of the international
community. Some of them must stop colluding with terrorists or turning a blind
eye to their activities. The fact that Afghanistan seems to be a sanctuary for
terrorism is causing a problem which we're very probably going to see resolved.
That marks her out as the target for the response?
The Americans were the victims of a terrorism which threatens us all. We accept
that they have a right of legitimate defence. A resolution to this effect was
passed at the UN Security Council. Until we know the nature of the response,
it is difficult to start thinking about its consequences. What is clear is that
United Nations doesn't recognize the Taliban regime. They admit to having close
links with bin Laden and his groups. Irrespective of terrorism, they are imposing
on the Afghans - and to an even greater extent on the women - intolerable forms
of political and social organization. Somehow, while sparing the people who
have already suffered too much, this problem must be resolved.
Judging by the information in your possession, do you think France faces
a particular Islamist threat?
We have no information indicating that France might be targeted even though
we know that there could be US targets in our country. But we must be vigilant.
This is why the judicial and police services are very actively carrying out
operations which have led to arrests. This is also why, to protect and mobilize
the population we have activated phase two of the Vigipirate plan and stepped
up surveillance of public places and areas at risk. (...)
Discoveries of arms stocks have given the impression that the security services
were surprised by the increase in violence. Have they done what's necessary
to protect us?
The arrests of members of both fundamentalist Islamist networks and ETA demonstrate
the State, the Government's determination to ensure that judicial and police
action against terrorists, as in fact against all forms of crime, is carried
out with a firm hand. I might add that as regards intelligence our services
are always actively working on the ground. (...).