French Foreign Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie has told a gathering of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) that “France will take a strong stance against Iran.” She pledged to take a firm position on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions and said all form of economic sanctions would be envisaged if Iran continued to pursue the nuclear program. Alliot-Marie, a former defense and interior minister who replaced Bernard Kouchner as France’s chief diplomat a few weeks ago, spoke at a gala dinner concluding an EJC conference in Paris, which was attended by around 100 European Jewish communal leaders, representing 27 Jewish communities. Alliot-Marie said it was her first speech to an international organization since assuming office.
Alliot-Marie expressed her belief to Jewish leaders from across the continent that European Jewry had enriched European culture and helped to shape the continent's identity. She also addressed the close relationship between the France and its Jews and expressed hoped it would continue to grow stronger.
Minister Alliot-Marie was welcomed by Dr. Richard Prasquier, President of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France), who presented the French Jewish community and spoke of the importance of European values in his address.
EJC President Moshe Kantor outlined the threat a nuclear Iran posed to Europe and to world security. “We are getting very close to the tipping point where Iran will reach the point of no return regarding nuclear weapons capability,” Kantor said, adding: “France, the EU and the international community have to make every effort to prevent Iran from reaching this point. We will need to see unified, concerted and intensive efforts to achieve this aim vital for international security.” Kantor – who hosted the gala dinner – also spoke about contributing to a more tolerant Europe. He declared: “The need to strengthen tolerance in Europe is vital, not only for Jews but for the future of the continent.”
Israel’s new ambassador to France, Yossi Gal, also spoke at the dinner and offered his insights into the Middle East peace process.