US embassy cable - 05PARIS1055

FRENCH FORMER PRESIDENT GISCARD D'ESTAING ON TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS, EU, AND FRENCH POLITICAL SCENE

Identifier: 05PARIS1055
Wikileaks: View 05PARIS1055 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Paris
Created: 2005-02-18 12:04:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PREL FR TU IZ SY UK EUN LB PINT
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 PARIS 001055 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/16/2015 
TAGS: PREL, FR, TU, IZ, SY, UK, EUN, LB, PINT 
SUBJECT: FRENCH FORMER PRESIDENT GISCARD D'ESTAING ON 
TRANSATLANTIC RELATIONS, EU, AND FRENCH POLITICAL SCENE 
 
 
Classified By: Josiah Rosenblatt, PolMinCouns, Reasons 1 (b) and (d) 
 
SUMMARY 
-------- 
 1.  (C) Former French President Giscard d'Estaing, over 
lunch February 16, told Ambassador Leach that he had been 
impressed by Secretary Rice on her recent visit to Paris.  He 
thought that following the Iraqi elections and the 
constitution of an Iraqi government, France would be more 
open to assisting Iraq, short of sending troops.  Giscard, 
who presided over the Convention which drew up Europe's 
constitutional treaty, called for greater public support from 
the U.S. for a strengthened EU.  He did not think it would be 
possible to amend the constitution for quite some time, but 
eventually it would be necessary to introduce more direct 
public participation in electing the EU's leadership. 
Giscard made his familiar case against Turkish entry into the 
EU, and regretted U.S. support for Turkey's candidacy. 
Giscard thought the French referendum on the constitution 
would pass, predicting support around 53%.  However, 
intervening events could affect the outcome.  Distinguishing 
his approach from that of President Chirac, who has advocated 
"multipolarity," Giscard argued that the U.S. should welcome 
a strong Western partner in dealing with emergent China and 
India.  Giscard foresees both Chirac and Nicholas Sarkozy 
running for President.  With many scores to settle with 
Chirac, Giscard noted the difficulties his old rival faces, 
but he clearly does not count him out.  End Summary. 
 
Secretary's and President's Visits, U.S. Support for the EU 
 
SIPDIS 
--------------------------------------------- -------------- 
 
2.  (C) Giscard, who was a first-row attendee at the 
Secretary's speech at Sciences-Po, said he thought her visit 
 
SIPDIS 
had gone well.  She had conveyed effectively the 
Administration's desire to work cooperatively with Europe. 
She had projected well, coming across as someone who is 
thoughtful, intelligent, and fully in control of her brief 
("she clearly wasn't just reading a text").  Giscard also 
noted that the new Administration's foreign policy team is 
well regarded in Europe.  The Secretary's visit came on the 
heels of the Iraqi elections -- "a good first step" -- which 
had strengthened her hand.  Giscard said he believed France 
would now show greater openness on Iraq.  While military 
involvement will remain taboo, France should be able to 
engage in other ways, such as training.  The next phase opens 
when the newly constituted Iraqi government requests support 
from Paris.  The GoF should be able to respond affirmatively. 
 
3.  (C) Segueing from Iraq to the EU, Giscard commented that 
the schism that had opened in the EU over Iraq was in the 
process of healing.  The U.S. should value EU unity as well 
as the strengthening of the EU, represented by the 
constitutional treaty.  Assured by Ambassador Leach that the 
U.S. is supportive, Giscard called for an expression of 
support by President Bush, possibly in connection to his 
visit to the continent next week. Ambassador Leach reminded 
Giscard of the several recent occasions when the President 
and the Secretary had called for strengthened ties with our 
European partners, and of the outreach the President's and 
the Secretary's visits to Europe represent.  Giscard spoke of 
the need for a core EU group, consisting of France, Germany, 
and the UK, along with Italy and Spain, that the U.S. should 
be prepared to work with.  Giscard surmised that Tony Blair 
intends to "implicate the UK" to a greater extent in the EU 
once his own elections are behind him.  The U.S. should 
welcome this, as it should support a strong EU.  It is not 
healthy, after all, for the U.S. to be the only strong 
Western country.  A rising China and a rising India will not 
be all that easy to handle for the U.S. alone; it should have 
a strong western partner.  Giscard took the Ambassador's 
point that Chirac's approach seems to be not only to identify 
other "poles," but to strengthen them, whereas the U.S. and 
Europe, sharing the same values, need to work together to 
achieve common objectives. 
 
The EU Constitution, Turkey 
--------------------------- 
 
4.  (C)  Addressing the EU constitution, Giscard commented 
that its implementation will give the EU greater visibility 
on the international scene.  That said, the debates on the 
constitution in Europe are national debates.  Only between 
France and Germany is thought being given to the creation of 
a "unitary society."  Responding to the Ambassador, Giscard 
stated that once adopted, the Constitution would remain 
unchanged for quite some time.  It represents the maximum 
that could be agreed.  One problem that will need to be 
handled is the financing of the system.  Without a tax or a 
revenue base, the EU will not have the means to implement its 
policies.  The system, he continued, is currently blocked. 
The UK will not give up its rebate until after its elections, 
while the Germans, Dutch and Danes will not agree to continue 
to finance the rebate.  The EU will eventually also have to 
address how to amend the constitution.  A way needs to be 
found to increase the number of areas in which issues can be 
decided by qualified-majority voting, but the UK and probably 
others cannot yet countenance this.  Giscard, predictably, 
regretted U.S. public backing for Turkish entry into the EU. 
He laid out his well-known objections.  Just as its members 
are giving the EU greater powers, with decision-making based 
partially on demography, Europeans are being asked to 
contemplate turning over a significant say in their own 
affairs to an Asian and Muslim country. We should not forget 
what happened to Iran, which under the Shah was another 
modernizing Muslim country.  Turkey for its part, is being 
set up for a fall.  The Turks envision EU membership largely 
as financial transfers and an open labor market; they will be 
satisfied on neither score.  The UK supports Turkish 
membership because it is convinced the effort will fail.  A 
better alternative would be to define a European Economic 
Space  within which the EU would contribute to Turkey's 
economic development.  Its content would be negotiated 
between the EU and Turkey. 
 
5.  (C)  Giscard agreed with the Ambassador that the EU 
election process keeps it at a remove from the public.  The 
Constitution represents what the traffic could bear at this 
time, but admittedly doesn't go far enough in this respect. 
The next step, whenever it comes, should be election of the 
EU executive by a college of European Parliament deputies 
plus, in equal number, members of national parliaments, 
amounting to some 2,000-3,000 persons.  While a direct 
election would provide even greater legitimacy, that is a 
remote prospect, perhaps 30 years in the future.  (Is Europe 
ready for a German leader, asked Giscard.  German is the most 
widely spoken first language in Europe; any candidate with 
hopes of winning would have to speak it.)  Giscard also noted 
that Ukraine, more "European" than Turkey, has suddenly 
appeared as a prospective candidate, just at the moment when 
sentiment has turned against enlargement.  Giscard commented 
that while enlargement had probably proceeded too quickly, 
this was due to circumstances over which the EU had no 
control -- the breaking apart of the Soviet bloc.  That said, 
Europe could have integrated its members in stages, beginning 
with Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. 
 
French Referendum, 2007 Presidential Elections 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
6.  (C)  Giscard said he thought the referendum on the 
constitution (likely to be held in late May) would pass, with 
support in the range of 53 percent.  Intervening events, 
unpredictable at this time, could shift the political 
landscape.  Key questions remain:  Will the participation 
rate be sufficient to make for a convincing victory?  Will 
the French electorate be tempted to use the referendum as a 
means to register discontent with the government or 
opposition to EU enlargement?  Giscard thought Blair's 
rationale for placing Britain at the end of the referendum 
queue was to raise the stakes for the British electorate -- 
confronting it with the choice between approving the 
constitution or leaving Europe. 
 
7.  (C)  Interestingly, Giscard brought up the French 
presidential election, saying he thought both Chirac and 
Sarkozy would run.  Chirac would be handicapped by a general 
sentiment that Presidents should be limited to two terms, and 
that it may be time for a generational change.  Sarkozy would 
seek to amass overwhelming support, in the range of 75 
percent, in the majority party, the UMP, which he heads.  The 
Socialists, he agreed, have no obvious leader, nor does it 
have a clear policy.  It will be faced with its usual dilemma 
of how to appease the extreme left while remaining an option 
for centrist voters. 
 
Leach 

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