France's Role on the International Stage
Ambassador François Delattre of France
Photos | Transcript

alt Washington, DC—On December 15, 2011, WFPG closed its program year with an Embassy Series event hosted by French Ambassador François Delattre at his residence. Elaine Sciolino, Paris correspondent for The New York Times, moderated the discussion on France's Role on the International Stage. In his opening remarks, Ambassador Delattre gave an overview of French-American relations, the situation in France and the eurozone, and French policies towards the Middle East, especially Syria, Iran and Libya.

According to the Ambassador, French-American relations have never been closer. They are allies in the fight against terrorism, in Afghanistan, and in combating radical Islamist networks in the Middle East. The partnership and leadership of France and Britain in the NATO operation in Libya also strengthened the US-French relationship and showed the US that the French could be counted on. Delattre also addressed how the US and France are in the forefront of supporting democratic movements in the Arab world and in combating WMD proliferation. They have also been working through the G-20 and the G-8 to promote growth in the Middle East, through efforts such as the Deauville Partnership, which was launched during the French G-8 presidency. Delattre also asserted that they need to make sure that rising powers such as China, India and Brazil are part of these efforts and are more involved and responsible.

The Ambassador specifically addressed policy towards Iran and Syria. Delattre explained that unlike Libya, there is no consensus in the Security Council for decisive diplomatic or military action due to opposition from Russia and China. While one cannot give up, he recommends examining other options, including implementing tough sanctions, which Turkey and the Arab League have already agreed to. Additional steps include supporting opposition movements and sending in human rights experts. Turning to Iran, Delattre asserted that France believes that it is unacceptable for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. It would threaten the security of Israel and the weapons would quickly spread throughout the region. Short of military action, the only options are sanctions or banning all Iranian oil exports, which might provoke a split within Iran.

In discussing Europe and the eurozone crisis, Ambassador Delattre spoke about how France had taken the lead in the area of structural reforms by shrinking the government and reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, while simultaneously emphasizing innovation and structural reform. This connection, he said, is what is lacking in the eurozone. To Delattre, the three main challenges for the eurozone are "fiscal discipline, structural reforms, and most importantly, the creation of the governance of the eurozone" which have to be tackled together. Though this is a lengthy process, he is optimistic of its success due to the strong leadership of the "two couples in Europe: the Franco-British couple on the defense issues, and the Franco-German couple on the Euro issues." The French and the British account for 50% of the EU’s military spending, but Delattre emphasized that the EU needs the UK as a full member, noting that they "really have to choose—in this time of crisis, we need stronger, strong partners and not countries within and without." The Ambassador underlined France’s strong partnership with the UK and expressed hope that they will be "on board."


alt alt alt
Ambassador Delattre, NY Times Paris Correspondent
Elaine Sciolino and WFPG President Patricia Ellis

  Ambassador Delattre and moderator Elaine Sciolino

alt alt alt
Patricia Ellis asks a question

  Ambassador Delattre greets WFPG Board Member
Isabel Jasinowski and her husband Jerry Jasinowski

alt alt alt
Ambassador Delattre

  Elaine Sciolino

alt alt alt
Ambassador Delattre with WFPG Board Member
Carolyn Brehm and Patricia Ellis

    WFPG Board Member Mary Catherine Toker and
her husband Hasan Dossal

alt alt alt
Ambassador Muni Figueres of Costa Rica and her husband
with Ambassador Elena Poptodorova of Bulgaria

    Kelly Ralston of the Embassy of Australia,
WFPG Board Member Theresa Loar, and
Dmitry Cherkashin of the Embassy of Russia

alt alt alt
Sarah Kahn, Jenny Springer and Isabel Jasinowski

  WFPG Board Member Donna Constantinople with
daughters Nell and Lely

alt alt alt
Ambassador Delattre and Avis Bohlen

  Patricia Ellis, WFPG Board Member Dawn Calabia
and Jane Cicala

alt alt alt
John Henry asks a questions during the program

  Ambassador Delattre with WFPG interns and
Associate Director Kimberly Kahnhauser