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Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen, Excellencies, Members of Congress, Colleagues from the Jewish Communities of France and the United States, Dear Friends. I am Richard Sideman, the National President of the American Jewish Committee; and it is my privilege to welcome you to this extraordinary opportunity to meet and exchange views with a world leader of an unparallel vigor and uncommon principle, Nicolas Sarkozy; the President of the Republic of France. We meet in a spirit of friendship, between the United States and France and between France and the Jewish people. And we meet a time of trial and challenge, with liberty and democracy, the bedrock values of France and America under assault by forces of extremism and intolerance. With the looming specter of nuclear technology in irresponsible hands, threatening stability and security in the Persian Gulf and beyond and with yet unfulfilled hopes for peace and reconciliation between Israel, our sister democracy and its Palestinian and Arab neighbors. As we confront these challenges we draw a new confidence from the vision and leadership of President Sarkozy, who was hosted by President Bush at the White House last night; and has agreed to speak with us and hear from us before addressing the Joint Meeting of Congress later this morning. To frame our discussion with President Sarkozy on this his first state visit to Washington and to make a special presentation to the President, I now call on David Harris, the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee. David . Thank you, Richard. Mr. President, Bernard Akuayer, the President of the National Assembly of France; Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Rachida Dati, Minister of Justice; Christine Lagarde, Minister of the Economy; Rama Yade, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights; our friends, Diplomatic Councilors Jean-David Levitte; Ambassador Pierre Vimont; Advisor to the President, Philippe Douste-Blazy; Spokesmen, David Martinon; other distinguished members of members of your entourage and I saw Domenica Strauss-Kahn, the new President of the IMF sneaking this morning welcome to Domenica as well. Our cherished colleague, Richard Prasquier, the President of the CRIF the Representative Council of French Jewry, honorable members of Congress, Leaders of the American Jewish Committee, Leaders of sister Jewish organizations, friends. As a son of America and a grandson of France, whose Hungarian born father found refuge in France in 1938, and who's Soviet born mother found refuge in France in 1929, where they met and renewed life, it gives me particular pleasure to be here this morning. I have the distinct privilege of presenting AJC's Prestigious, "Light Unto the Nations Award" to Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France. A few years ago, the first world leader to receive this prestigious award which pays tribute to outstanding Statesmanship was President Bill Clinton. Today, we recognize another eminent world leader. Indeed, we could not imagine a more worthy honoree than you, President Sarkozy. He may be a relative newcomer to the French Presidency, but he is not a newcomer to us far from it. We have closely followed his remarkable career. We have marveled that all that he has achieved and we have admired his manifold efforts as President since he assumed the office earlier this year. Above all, we honor today his conviction, his conscience and his courage qualities that are in short supply in a world desperately in need of all three. President Sarkozy, you see, is a person of conviction. He has never been neutral in the struggle between democracy and despotism. He is clear eyed in distinguishing between friend and foe. He is a staunch advocate for the inviolability of human dignity, and he is unflinching in the defense of the rights of man. President Sarkozy, you see, is a person of conscience. He cannot abide those who would deny history; he is a steadfast in his opposition to anti-Semitism. We shall never forget his words expressed in this City just over three years ago at an AJC luncheon, "I consider any insult against Jew's an insult against France." He identifies with those whose human rights have been trampled on by the apostles of inhuman rights. He has been resolute in giving the words never again renewed meaning by seeking an end to the genocide in Darfur. And here I would also wish to note the efforts of you Foreign Minster, Kouchner with whom we had the pleasure of being in New York just last month. President Sarkozy stands in solidarity with women who are not free, who as he said just after his election are condemned to the Borka. And he offers a glimmer of hope and an extended hand to those marginalized by society's neglect. President Sarkozy you see, is a person of courage. He doesn't insatiably pursue the path of least resistance to the contrary; rather he is trailblazer who leads by example. Alexis de Tocqueville, the brilliant 19th Century observer of the United States, wrote in his classic, "Democracy in American". [Foreign language] "A new political science is necessary for a world altogether new". He was referring of course to the young America. In that forward looking spirit, Nicolas Sarkozy is introducing a new political science of his own, for a fast changing world and that's no mean feet. In his inaugural address in May, he spoke of a demand for change and added that any delay can be fatal. As you undoubtedly have noticed; he doesn't pull punches when he speaks. He doesn't seek to rap themselves in the tempting protective armor of political ambiguity. He reminds France that America is a friend and he acts accordingly as befits friends. And as a friend he reserves for himself the right to tell a friend the truth as he sees it even, when it may be an uncomfortable truth. He tells his Countrymen that Israel is a friend, and he acts in the same spirit. He has said that Israel's establishment is a miracle. He states with conviction that Israel's security is non-negotiable, and he grasps what he has called the visceral attachment of every Jew to Israel. He tells the world that the threat posed by Iran in defiance of the International community and determined to acquire nuclear weapons cannot simply be minimized, nor rationalized, nor wished the way; instead it must be confronted firmly and in partnership with like-minded nations. In doing so he takes the road less traveled. But history will surely judge him well for his 20/20 vision. He tells his nation that it is time to shop shedding crocodile tears over the least advantaged in the nation's suburbs. His governmental appointments and his support for medial measures underscore his determination to replace contrived anguish with concerted action. La Rochefoucauld, whom my late father-in-law, a graduate of the Alliance Israelite School in Tripoli, Libya, loved to quote, he said: [Foreign language] "The passions are the only orators that always persuade." Ladies and gentlemen, President Nicolas Sarkozy is a man of passion. And it is his passion, combined with his conviction, his courage and his conscience, that has quickly elevated him to a place of exceptional prominence and respect on the global stage. Mr. President, my dear friend, you honor us today by allowing us to honor you. Albert Camus, one of France's most celebrated twentieth-century authors, wrote: [Foreign language] "Don't wait for the Last Judgment. It takes place every day." Mr. President, our judgment is that we could not ask for a more deserving honoree; and therefore, on behalf of the American Jewish Committee, and in the presence of this distinguished audience, I am proud to present to you our "Light Unto the Nations Award" which reads, "Presented by the American Jewish Committee to Nicolas Sarkozy, President, The Republic of France in admiration of your tireless promotion of democratic values, human rights, and peace, and in appreciation for your devoted friendship with the United States, Israel, and the Jewish people. Washington, DC, November 2007." Ladies and gentlemen the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy. Dear friends, allow me to thank you for your welcome this morning and for your warm words. With what has just been said, I only have one choice left and that is to disappoint you. Because with such an introduction, naturally, it will be hard for me to meet your expectations. Please know that I am very honored to receive this inextinguishable flame of freedom. I want to see in it an homage to all who, daily, in my country and in the world, lead the fight against all forms of racism and anti Semitism. I am speaking under the control of the ministers who are here one of whom is Bernard Kouchner, who could have received this award of course. What I have tried to do here is to look at the situation head on. To fight anti-Semitism is first and foremost to refuse to minimize it. It's the first thing. Racism, anti-Semitism, are beasts that are so hideous, that the first reflex of a democratic society it to say it isn't so because it cannot be so. Me, I immediately thought, Bernard Accoyer, the president of the Assembly, most likely remembers a famous session of news questioning during which I said "yes, it exists, and one cannot fight something one ignores." And I wanted to acknowledge the seriousness of the phenomenon. Because if we do not all agree on a diagnosis, we cannot find the weapons to combat it. And I when I became minister of the interior I was surprised to see that the Jewish community of France, mister president, and the minister of the interior, were not even capable of agreeing on the number of occurrences of anti-Semitism and racism. Listen. How do you want to have an effective action if you are not even capable of analyzing what is going on? I remember a minister of the interior whose name I have forgotten, that's probably better, I remember him but, if I'm pushed, under torture, I will maybe reveal his first name, who said, "yes, there are synagogues that are burning, but there are also cars that are burning." I can't really get mad at him. It's more a consternation than anything else. And I wanted to say that France is not an anti-Semitic country, but that anti-Semitism does exist . There. It's the fist thing I wanted to do. And from the moment when we already agreed on the extent of the problem, now there is not one more polemic in France, I'm saying under the control of the president. None. On the number of attacks, threats, anti-Semitic insults. From that moment, we are aware of the phenomenon, we can attack it. That was the first strategic direction. And I wanted a second strategic direction. I was fascinated to see that anti-Semitism was being explained. And here I want to make myself clear. I want to say with gravity and solemnity that when one explains what cannot be explained it is in order to excuse what cannot be excused. And I am ready to repeat this sentence as often as it needs to be repeated. Anti-Semitism and racism must be combated head on. Intellectual analyses explaining the many ways to arrive at anti-Semitism are only forms of indirect complicity because if you explain anti-Semitism it's because there might be reasons to excuse anti-Semitism. If we explain racism it must be because there are paths better than other to get to racism. It does not make any sense. Anti-Semitism needs to be confronted head on, racism needs to be confronted head on, and one doesn't write whole books explaining the different ways to dislike Jews or the different ways to dislike Blacks. Too much intelligence on the topic drives to a sort of complicity. And does one explain why one rapes? And does one explain why one wants to rob a bank? So, there was anti-Semitism because of Zionism, there was bourgeois anti-Semitism, there was anti-Semitism from the extreme right, there was anti-Semitism from the extreme left, for me, they are all the same. It's the face of stupidity and the face of hatred. And stupidity and hatred do not get explained, they get combated. And once we've done that, we can get results. Third thing, I want to speak on the question of Israel and its neighbors. I have always thought, it's true, that Israel is a sort of miracle. Listen, all it takes is a little knowledge of world history. It took millennia to arrive at Israel. It didn't happen just like that. There was a Holocaust and a question of respect and the right of the security of Israel and the integrity of Israel. It's a question that doesn't only concern the Jews of the world. Because Israel is in a way this land that for each Jew throughout the World says "if something happens to me one day in my country, I can go there." It is always absurd to try to oppose the attachment of French Jews to France and the attachment of French Jews to Israel. I am talking about France because I am president of France. But this is valid for any other country. And it is an ante that goes well beyond the Jewish community. In the same way that the problem of anti-Semitism is the problem of the French republic. Because when a Jew in France is scared because he is Jewish, it is a stain on the French flag. It is not just a problem for the Jewish community of France. It's a problem for the community of our whole nation. Because it starts with the Jews but we know very well that it continues with all the others. And by defending the Jews, we're defending all those who, at some time or another, can think of themselves as minorities. And democracy is exactly that: the defense and the respect of the minorities. And I affirm that the question of the security of Israel, a question that touches me, no at all because I am Jewish myself, which is not the case, but because Israel, was in fact the upward way out of the worst period of the 20th century. Pardon me for shortening things when there is so much else to say, of this savagery, of this world turned upside down by this war that was middle-ages like, realize however, that, in the 20th century, in Europe, some want to exterminate Jews. It could be thought that this only happened in ancient history. No! It was yesterday. Israel's right to be secure is important. For me it's capital. And from that moment on, I want to have the freedom to say to the succeeding Israeli government that France agrees or does not agree. I am unconditional on the security of Israel. But I am not unconditional when it comes to the different governments of Israel. I am saying out loud what I am thinking just like I said it recently with Bernard Kouchner when I was invited to speak in front of the Knesset. And, afterward, because I said what I said, I want it made clear that I wish, also for the security of Israel, for a Palestinian state. Viable. And I think, you see, inversely from many people in the world, that it's specifically because nothing is working that all is possible. It's not a question of temperament. It's not a question of optimism. It is precisely because everyone has their back to the wall that they can only go forward. And that is why we need to be optimistic. And this why France is pushing for a treaty, a real treaty, right away, not tomorrow. Because we have already waited too long. Because it is in the interest of the president of the Palestinian authority, that there be a treaty, because it is in the interest of Israel, that there be a treaty because the first ones concerned by a treaty will be the Israelis. Because it is in the interest of the United States of America that there be a treaty. And because it is in the interest of the whole world that there be a treaty between the Israelis and the Palestinians. But it's said to me "but to have a treaty, risks have to be taken." Of course. But the worst possible risk is that there be no treaty. The risk is not that well meaning men say "OK, let's move forward" it would be that men who are not well meaning say "OK, let's not move at all." Because if there is no forward movement, the first ones who will feel the consequences will be the Israelis and Israel. And the whole world will feel the consequences. I will do everything in my power, and French diplomacy will do everything possible, and of course I am not ignoring the questions - and for me, one of the most difficult one is the question of the refugees - and that's the reason I have wished to try and help evolve (if we have the right to do so) to think - instead of the expression "2 states" I prefer the expression "2 nation states." It can appear semantic. I think it is important to step back a bit to look at and to have a certain ambition when it comes to the question of the refugees. It's an important question. The question of borders. The question of the status of Jerusalem. But all these questions can be dissolved. If we want to understand one thing and that is that Jews and Arabs in that part of the world have been living together for centuries and this has to continue. And for this to continue, there has to be an Israeli state that is respected, that Israel's right to be safe is guaranteed by the international community - in the front ranks of which we can find France, and that Palestinians be given the opportunity to live in a nation state. And that is France's message. And permit me to say something to all who might say of me "you are an unconditional of Israel?", no, I am an unconditional of nobody. I am simply saying that the international community has a responsibility vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â -vis the security of Israel which doesn't go against me considering that we need to have a dialogue with all the Arab nations. I find it coherent to say what I am saying and receiving Kaddafi. France is free to speak to everyone. To speak with everyone. And to say the same thing to everyone. But one thing I know is that Israel - because after Israel comes the sea - that is what needs to be understood, those who give advice from far away. After comes the sea. And when your back is to the sea, your negotiating power is a little weaker. And one thing I know is that Israel is more likely to listen to those she thinks are her friends than to listen to her enemies. And if you want to weight this difficult and important question for the future of the world, it is important for those involved in the dialogue to trust each other. And that is a big plus for France to have Israel's trust. And I don't put this trust to the service of an integrism. I put it to the service of peace, while saying that there is a right for the Israelis and there is a right for the Palestinians. But I want to say the same thing for Lebanon. You might say "Lebanon, of course, that's a French tradition" with a bit of a colonial vision... No! For Bernard, for me, for France-I'm sorry, first, Lebanon, it is capital because it expresses diversity in a region of that world that must preserve diversity. Lebanon is not simply the ancient implantation of France. It is not simply Francophony. Lebanon is another miracle. The miracle of diversity in a region of the world that needs to learn that diversity is a wealth. And that purity is a risk. I am talking about ethnic purity, religious purity, that feeds all extremisms. I tell myself, and I have been attacked a lot on this since I believe I was the minister of the interior who did the most for the Muslims of France. I was attacked for this. I have always fought for an Islam of France. And I have always fought against an Islam in France. The difference, one day, when you'll have more time, I am totally ready to explain it. I want an Islam of France. Not an Islam in France. And when in Lyons, which is no, as far as I know, Lyons, a great city of Muslim tradition, as far as I know... They build there, by the courage of local elected officials, the Big Mosque of Lyons, I went there many times. I applauded this choice. Because you are not fighting terrorism by stopping Muslims from practicing their religion. But I want to say to all the countries that are watching us: if diversity is good for us, it is necessary for you. I want to fight for the idea of reciprocity. It is important. We are not afraid of having mosques on our territory. We are only asking simply that all who preach in these mosques respect the values of the Republic. And we get rid of all who promote violence but you can't say to me that diversity if necessary in France but that it is not necessary on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. And that is why France is so attached to the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon. It's not simply a question of age or implantation. France would have never done anything to Lebanon that France would be attached to the sovereignty and independence of Lebanon. And I would like to end by saying one word on Iran and try to explain things I have said earlier, on which you may not agree with me, and that is totally your right. I have said to the United Nations that for Iran to have a nuclear weapon is not acceptable. I do not think I was ambiguous. And at the same time, I want to tell you with the same conviction, that the Arab countries, including Iran, have a right to have nuclear energy. And I will also not be swayed on the fight against nuclear weapons in the hands of the Iranian president (who I am not naming) and that I will fight for the energy of the future to allow the growth of a certain number of countries which, if they had to sink into poverty, would tomorrow be reservoirs for terrorism. And I would like for you to think about that. Iran is a very big country. It is a great civilization. And I am not reducing Iran's society to the personality of its president today. And it is true that with Bernard Kushner and France's diplomacy we are fighting for the reinforcement of sanctions. All the ministers who are here will be able to confirm that I have said to all major corporations in France: no double games. No political firmness and economical openness. Political firmness, economical firmness. Because if we play a double game, we lose everything. I have said this to a number of French corporations. I challenge anyone to think or prove that France is playing a double game. And at the same time, I want to say to you with the same conviction, that we most hold a dialogue, including with Iran, to show that there is one impasse which is the bomb, and that there is one opening which is goodwill, openness, and a future that involves nuclear energy. France's position, and this is very important to me, is the firmness and the openness. There is no possible contradiction. There is a complement. We can be firm because we are staying open as soon as a sign of goodwill presents itself. And what I am saying about Iran I say it also about Syria, for other reasons. And to those who would be astonished that I went to Libya and that I would receive Colonel Kaddafi, I want to ask them to think. If you ostracize heads of states who have followed a path to respectability, I want to say that Libya wanted a nuclear weapon and eventually gave up, financed terrorism and eventually gave that up too, and I am in a good position to know because the Libyan services are collaborating with security services throughout the world, American as well as French, I know something about it. If you do not encourage countries to come back to the camp of responsible and respectable states, what do you say to Iran? And what I am saying of Kaddafi I am also saying if of North Korea. If North Korea, with the progress we have just witnessed, if that doesn't translate into political overtures, then you are reinforcing the Iranian regime, by saying "look, it's meaningless," since they are in for a civilization shock. That is why I wish for French diplomacy to have a balanced position. We are of the family of democracies, we are friends and allies of the United States, we are fighting for the total security of Israel, and we want to speak with everyone. Because our friends know that we are a faithful and loyal friend ourselves. But independent, free, and upright. I don't know if this is what you expected of me, but it made me very happy to say it this way. I admit that there are other ways to discuss foreign policy. But I want to speak of this in a very simple manner. I hope I covered it in a fair and understandable way. I have had enough that a little elite explains to the people that these things are so complicated and that is convenient that they cannot understand where they are led. These things are complicated only by those who are not capable of understanding them. And the role of the leadership is to explain permanently where they are going and why they are going there. And I don't understand someone, I always get leery. And I hope that, conversely. you have understood France's position. Thank you I can only take one question because I met this morning with the director of the IMF, and I am about to get on the phone with Mrs. Clinton and I am then leaving for Congress. And I am asking you to understand that, really, since yesterday, I have not lost any time. And I'm lucky I have the plane flight to rest because it cannot be said that Washington is a big vacation spa. So please don't be upset; as you know, I love answering questions, converse, I do everything I can, but since early this morning and very late last night I had to meet a lot of people and then I have lunch with President Bush, we have a press conference and tomorrow morning I am expected to preside over the minister's council, since, theoretically, the president should be present at the minister's council. So I would like, really, to take one question, and, afterward to ask for your permission to leave. Rene Pierre Azria from Tegris Bank in New York but from Neuilly originally. I have a question on Iraq. As you know, in the United States, the big question revolves around whether we should leave now or in two years? Can France and Europe intervene in the debate on the side of the United States by widening political reflection on the topic of the future of iraq in order to avoid the installation of anarchy there and can we create an international forum that would let the United States save face? Thank you. We are not disappointed by the question. OK. It is not up to the countries that do not have soldiers in Iraq, for reasons that I will not go back to, to explain to others the calendar and the method of departure. However, I would like to say that the French minister of foreign affairs, Bernard Kouchner, went, with my full support and agreement, to Iraq. It is a move that I believe is important and that was taken as such both by the Iraqi people and maybe by the Americans. Secondly, France's position is that we want a united Iraq. There is no interest for the stability of this region of the world and for the world in general to have an iraq that is torn to pieces. We wish for an united Iraq. With consequences. Meaning an a multi-ethnic and multi- confessional Iraq. There is a logic, a coherence. We are begging for diversity so we wish for the Iraqi society, which is already made up of a variety, even if there are main ones, of facets that can live there. We want a democratic Iraq which would choose, itself, its own representatives. We had certain wishes during the elections; it wasn't a done deal ahead of time, what happened there. We want a stable and secure Iraq. And, to help with the construction of a democratic Iraq by investing in the training, the education, the development, the growth, we must talk about that. I do not think that the solution is strictly military and it's a euphemism to say it. And I know very well that it is impossible to say "go now" in the same way that it is impossible to say "don't ever leave." The earlier we will be able to have an Iraq that is independent, stable, united and safe, the better it will be. And what France will be able to do to help in the emergence of an Iraqi administration, France will do. For the rest, I have the feeling that the less advice we can give publicly, the more chance we have to be heard, if we keep in mind how sensitive all these questions are. And I won't be the head of state who will say "listen, now I will give you the solution to get out of this situation" because this would be perfectly counter productive, vis-ÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â -vis the American administration which is very aware of the problem. There. And if more discussions are necessary, we will hold these discussions during the meetings, the results of which are elliptical. Thank you. Thank you very much, Mr. President.