|Statement by M. Jacques Chirac, President of the Republic|
|My dear compatriots. The military operations have just begun in Iraq. France regrets this action initiated without United Nations backing. I hope these operations are as swift and cause as little bloodshed as possible, and that they do not lead to a humanitarian catastrophe.
Right to the end, France, with many other countries, strove to convince that the necessary disarmament of Iraq could be obtained by peaceful means.
These came to nothing. Regardless of the duration of this conflict, it will be fraught with consequences for the future. But France, true to her principles - primacy of the law, fairness, dialogue between peoples and respect for others, - will continue to do what she can to ensure that fair, long-tem solutions are found to the crises bathing the world in blood or threatening it, through collective action, i.e. in the framework of the United Nations, the only legitimate framework for building peace, in Iraq as elsewhere.
This is why, tomorrow, we shall have to meet again, with our allies, with the whole international community, to take up together the challenges awaiting us.
Similarly, France will not accept Europe remaining unfinished. Europe must realize the need to express its own vision of world problems and support this vision with a credible common defence. France is calling on her partners in the European Union and those going to join it to fulfil this ambition, in the service of peace and prosperity.
I have asked the Prime Minister today to convene a meeting of the government. Acting under his authority, the public authorities are implementing the measures demanded by the situation. Be it a matter of security, the economy or our national cohesion, I want to tell you that we are vigilant and totally mobilized.
Paris,03 31 2003