Chirac reassures Germans on nuclear strategy
24 January 2006, VERSAILLES, FRANCE - President Jacques Chirac on Monday assured Germans that they have nothing to fear from France's new, more aggressive nuclear strategy.
24 January 2006
VERSAILLES, FRANCE - President Jacques Chirac on Monday assured Germans that they have nothing to fear from France's new, more aggressive nuclear strategy.
"No one in Germany should have the least worry," Chirac said at a press conference after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Versailles, outside Paris.
"Deterrence," the French president added, "remains a life insurance for our vital interests."
For her part, Merkel tried to defuse press reports that Chirac's announcement Thursday that France reserved the right to use nuclear weapons against any state that carries out a terrorist attack on its soil had led to irritation in Berlin.
"For me, this is not a critical issue," Merkel said. She expressed surprise at the debate that Chirac's speech provoked in Germany, "because the proposals of the president of the Republic were fully within the continuity of the French nuclear doctrine."
But France 3 television earlier quoted members of Merkel's entourage, as saying she was furious because she was not informed in advance of a fundamental change in French nuclear policy.
Politicians from the Social Democrats and Greens in Germany have demanded that Merkel distance herself and Germany from Chirac's position.
The talks between the two leaders, the 25th in a series of so- called informal summits begun five years ago, came at a time when the traditionally intimate relationship between Paris and Berlin appears to be fraying.
One reason was that Merkel has resisted repeated French pleas to agree to a lowering of the European restaurant value-added tax from 19.6 per cent to 5.5 per cent, primarily because she plans on raising Germany's restaurant VAT to 19 per cent.
On Monday, Chirac admitted defeat, telling journalists there was little chance of the restaurant VAT being lowered when the issue comes up in Brussels on Tuesday.
However, he seemed to go out of his way to show understanding for Merkel's position, saying that he "perfectly" recognizes the problems a rise in the VAT would cause in Germany.
Merkel praised "the high degree of agreement and the great number of ideas" that came from both sides on the question of Europe.
Keeping in mind Chirac's announcement that he would offer a number of proposals for projects to reform the EU's institutions, Merkel said, "A Europe of citizens must be a Europe of concrete projects."
She also echoed Chirac's longstanding belief that "Europe will stagnate when Germany and France are not its engine."
Before their talks, the two leaders opened an exhibition in the Versailles chateau of some 300 18th-century artworks from the Saxon royal court at Dresden.
Subject: German news