8 May 1995
FRANCE: PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
I join the Prime Minister in congratulating Mr Jacques Chirac on his election as France's President. Australia currently enjoys warm and excellent relations with France, and the Government looks forward to maintaining this relationship with the new Chirac Presidency.
We have no reason to believe that any difficulties of the kind that arose in the past on South Pacific issues will recur. The Government is particularly pleased to see Mr Chirac's commitment to the Matignon Accords process in relation to New Caledonia, and looks forward to continuing dialogue on this and related matters.
As to the question of nuclear tests, the Government has made very clear to French ministers and senior officials on many occasions that Australia would be strongly opposed to a resumption of France's nuclear testing; I raised this matter as recently as 14 April in discussions with Foreign Minister Alain Juppe.
We note that Mr Chirac has not confirmed that he will approve a resumption of testing, but has stated that he will base a decision on the advice of French scientific experts concerning the availability of simulation technologies, which France says it requires for modernisation and the maintenance of acceptable safety and reliability standards.
Australia very much hopes that France will weigh carefully the benefits it has derived from its much welcomed 1992 moratorium on testing, which laid the basis for France's acceptance as a constructive partner in the South Pacific, against the consequences which resumption of testing could have for its standing in the region, and for the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaties.