Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1982 Nov 5 Fr
Margaret Thatcher

Joint Press Conference with French President (Francois Mitterrand)

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: Elysee Palace, Paris
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Editorial comments: 1230-1300. The transcript does not include any contributions from the French President, who spoke before MT.
Importance ranking: Major
Word count: 1153
Themes: Agriculture, Defence (Falklands War, 1982), Trade, European Union (general), European Union Budget, Foreign policy (International organizations), Foreign policy (USA), Foreign policy (USSR & successor states), Foreign policy (Western Europe - non-EU)

PM

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, may I first thank the François MitterrandPresident and endorse the account that he has given of these bilateral talks. When we arrived in Paris we were told immediately that the President had decided that France would not support the Argentine Resolution in the United Nations. Naturally this set a particularly good atmosphere for our bilateral consultations. But there were other things too, which I think set a good atmosphere from the European view-point. We are close now to reaching a Fisheries Agreement, only Denmark's consent being outstanding. I think that shows that the Community can tackle very long-standing, and some had thought almost intractible, problems, can tackle those and reach a solution. The Nine of us are agreed and we hope Denmark too will agree.

There also had been agreement on the 1982 Community Budget problem. I mention those two things—one a longer term, the second a shorter term, to make the point that of course while there will always be some difficulties between partners, we look at those difficulties in a spirit that they must be tackled, and solutions must be found so that we can the better be able to make the Community work. And I think that kind of spirit has dominated this meeting. Yes there are problems. Yes we are determined to tackle them in a spirit of co-operation and for that purpose we are having consultations on a regular basis between officials. That will mean that we are better able to know one another's minds and better able to co-ordinate our efforts at international meetings. We brought a large team of Ministers because we regarded this as a very important bilateral, and you will have heard that they have discussed the whole range of topics. May I say that I found it a very valuable, friendly and enjoyable bilateral meeting.

Thank you, Mr. President, questions if colleagues wish.

Q

Prime Minister, John Dickie of the Daily Mail in London.

There are people already talking about the vote in the United Nations as a defeat for Britain. Do you see it that way? Do you think the vote has made you any more likely to [end p1] authorise negotiations to begin with Argentina in the next twelve months?

PM

No I don't see it as a defeat for Britain in any way. The vote will make no difference at all to our attitude, which has already been stated on the Falkland Islands. We believe in self-determination. We shall not start negotiations with the Argentine. We cannot start them, so soon when memories are fresh in everyone's minds. We have no doubt about our sovereignty and the Falkland Islanders are British and wish to stay British.

Q

Prime Minister, what was your reaction to President Reagan …   .?

PM

I thought it was incomprehensible and disappointing. We have always tried to be staunch and true friends to the United States.

Q

I wonder if I could ask the Prime Minister, please, to comment on the discussion on Britain's contribution to the Common Market budget and whether she feels that she has received satisfaction from the French President to be confident about reaching a longer term solution within the time period she has said?

PM

On the longer term solution we really have scarcely embarked upon negotiations. We have concentrated so far on solving the technicalities of the 1982 Budget. The amounts we have agreed—it is virtually settled. We have still to embark upon the longer term problem which remains. It must be solved for three reasons. One, because the burden on Great Britain is, I believe, totally unfair, and I believe it would be wrong to have a Community in which Germany and Britain were the only two contributors and everyone else benefitted out of the Community. Secondly, we shall soon come up to the ceiling in the Community Budget of 1%; VAT resources. And thirdly, if we are going to enlarge the Community, and we are both in favour of including Spain and Portugal, then there will by virtue of that enlargement be considerable budgetary difficulties. This gives us an opportunity to have a fresh look at a number of the [end p2] policies and their impact upon the Community. And we should take that opportunity and take it soon. And it would also provide the context for a solution to Britain's Budget problem.

Q

…   . Prime Minister, that the settlement of the British Budget problem could await the enlargement of the Community.

PM

No most certainly it could not. Because we already have a problem and therefore there must be some solution next year. But I am saying that the need to have a look at the Budget is even stronger than the need to satisfy Britain's problems, because of the other two reasons which I have advanced. But we cannot wait, no, we have to tackle next year's problems very soon and I believe that we should have a solution which lasts as long as the problem. It seems to me that that is a reasonable thing to ask.

Q

PM

The amounts are settled. I understand there are one or two technicalities not concerning us about how the payments should be made.

Q

… In the context of severe concern about growing protectionist pressures in the world …   .

PM

There is not at the moment a joint Common Market position. Obviously we shall be discussing that between Heads of Government and between Foreign Ministers. With regard to GATT we haven't got a joint position either but consultations between officials will continue and perhaps we shall find that we come very much closer to a joint position before the GATT meeting which as you know is this month. I entirely agree. There are considerable protectionist pressures. There are considerable protectionist measures, of one sort or another, not all tariff barriers, but some non-tariff barriers being operated at the moment. My approach from the view point of Britain would be that we believe in open trade and we wish to open up markets but that by definition means that other people must open them up as well. You cannot have half open markets and half protectionist markets. [end p3]

Q

Could I ask the Prime Minister whether she is in agreement with the position the President just outlined over sanctions and the pipe line, and in particular the President's refusal of negotiations on this matter?

PM

The sanctions are harming our industries. We wish them to be lifted. We wish them to be lifted without our entering into any committed position with regard to taking a specific line in future. Sanctions are quite wrong. They are harming us. And we are anxious to have them lifted and we are quite happy to enter into talks about how they should be lifted. But those talks would not involve us in any fresh commitment.