Comments from Sarkozy G20 news conference

PARIS (Reuters) - Following are comments by French President Nicolas Sarkozy at a news conference to lay out his plans for France’s G20 presidency:


“If we don’t do anything (about rising food prices) we run the risk of food riots in the poorest countries and a very unfavorable effect on global economic growth.”

“The day there are food riots, what country at the G20 table will say this does not concern them? I don’t see a single one.”


“We want regulation of primary commodity financial markets. How can you explain that we regulate money markets and not commodities? We must improve transparency on physical markets. We must be able to know outlook of stocks.”


“Shortage fuels speculation and speculation fuels shortage.

“There’s the FAO, other agricultural institutions. Is it too much to ask them to provide information on the state of stocks.”

“France says we back an (agri commods) derivatives market.

“It’s not about killing but regulating them. There’s no market without rules. This is a truly key issue.”


“China is a major nation, far be it from me to tell them what to do about their currency. The inflationary pressure they see there, the need to stimulate domestic demand has led the government to seek to appreciate the yuan, but it will be done at their pace. It’s very interesting what is happening there.

“I think it is important the next meeting on the world’s monetary system will be held in China, it is not a minor detail (referring to seminar scheduled for end-March in China).”


“The dollar will stay the pre-eminent currency. Eighty-five percent of world transactions are in dollars. We want to reassure our American friends that the dollar will remain a pre-eminent currency.

“But a pre-eminent currency does not mean the sole currency. We have the right to reflect on other approaches. In Bretton Woods, there was basically one currency and one economy.

“We should not present this as a confrontation between the United States and China. Do you think it’s in the interest of the Chinese that the dollar collapses? I don’t think so. There are common interests, and the G20 is the place to speak about these issues.”


“I think the sanctions are starting to have their desired effects. We must strengthen the sanctions.

“France remains extremely cautious about the idea of military intervention.

“I say that in the case of Iran and also in the case of the Ivory Coast. There are sanctions, diplomatic and political tools to bring to bear and that is how we will resolve these situations.”


“I will ask (Prime Minister Francois Fillon) to prepare measures to help the transitional government in Tunisia. I hope these measures can be produced as soon as possible

“France sheltered almost all of the opposition democratic figures of Tunisia. How can you say that France did not help Tunisia when we did this? It was a sore subject in fact for the old regime. We accepted them and even protected them.

“If France did not have this history with North Africa, perhaps I would take more clear positions. But given our role as the former colonial power in many of these countries, I cannot speak as openly as many would like.

“We want all the plundered assets of Tunisia to be recovered for its citizens.”

“We will respond to every request made by the legitimate Tunisian authorities.”


“In the Ivory Coast, for France things are clear: there is only one legal and legitimate government, the one chosen by the people and the one recognized by the United Nations.”


“France supports a tax on financial transactions. We think it is a moral question, will serve to dissuade speculation, and raise funds for development ... I realize that this tax will have many enemies... France believes that a tax on financial transactions is the best solution but we are ready to discuss other solutions”


“I have no intention of responding to this man either from close or from afar.”


“In the face of barbarity...there is only one answer -- steadfastness and courage.”

“Faced with terrorism, the only option is to be firm. If you start being weak, you can never be weak enough. If you bow down on one knee, you will never bow far enough. If we start to apologize then no humiliation would be enough for them.


“I am not happy about what happened, and I ask myself questions about what we did. But fundamentally every time that democracies laid down, they paid a very high price and lots of dead.

“If you show weakness in politics, it will never be forgiven. To our countrymen, I can only tell them not to visit that region unless they have an absolute need to be there.”


“We think they are alive, we are certain. We are worried and not a day goes by that we don’t work on this. The less I say the better it will be -- we cannot speak of this. We will speak of all of this when they are safely at home. We must be discreet”

FRENCH ECONOMY MINISTER, asked by Reuters if Paris would be forced to lower ambitions on REFORM OF GLOBAL MONETARY SYSTEM

“No, certainly not. Not at all. Regarding the issues we are working on, what’s recognized is we won’t wrap them up fully, but we’re opening all possible channels.”

Reporting by Paris Newsroom