Sunday, July 19, 2009

What Bernard Kouchner REALLY said about Iran?

?I'm starting to translate it, and realized you probably already got a bunch of emails like this, but FWIW here's what I got:

I also got mad at the foreign minister when I heard about his statement (his background is in humanitarian work, you'd think he'd know better than approve of such a cruel regime... but he's not a good politician, imho, often said BS statements either for publicity or because he didn't think twice) and then did a little bit more digging, and here's the interpretation and re-statement by the foreign ministry:

  • 1:He was at parliament (national assembly) and people asked him what France was going to do wrt AN. (so this is an improvised statement, not an official press release).
  • 2:His words, translated as closely as possible, would have been: "I'm afraid he's not the first one [I'm assuming he's referring to something in the question, maybe they asked saying 'given fraudulently elected...'] who will have to be recognized. There have been some challenges to this election (...) but if everyone in Iran agrees to name him president, it would be useless and counter-productive to be the only ones to go against it"[gosh, I miss the Chirac days when Chirac was not scared of being "the only ones" to oppose something he thought was wrong ]

He then followed by statements of support to the democracy movement and of hope for a better future for Iran and of how exceptional the current situation was.

And of course finished by talking about nuclear stuff, because it's the only thing that western countries seem to care about.

  • 3:A few hours later, the french foreign ministry confirmed/rephrased his statement by making it clear that he was not recognized now, and that they would only recognize him "eventually" if "everyone" in Iran agrees to recognize him. That has been interpreted as meaning if the other presidential candidates do.

La France reconnaîtra Ahmadinejad s'il est proclamé président par tous - Spécial Iran - Information

Now I really, really hope that is the true interpretation and that France won't make an ass out of themselves and all the French citizens .
On another level, I wonder if the situation with Clotilde Reiss has something to do with it. France has been known to make some major foreign policy moves to get back even one hostage/detained person.

More on the links that were posted in the GB about the Kouchner statement, and some language analysis of his statements:

First of all, he speaks more colloquial french than most politicians, which means he uses "incorrectly' his tenses. So instead of saying "he would not be the first one [] who would have to be recognized " he said something like
"he would not be the first one [] who will have to be recognized" (in english the difference is easy, in french a lot of people are too lazy to conjugate that verb correctly). People skipped the " he would" part at the beginning of the sentence when translating.

Second, an "if" got translated as a "since" (and technically both translations are correct, this was an ambiguous sentence). And as we know, there is a huge difference between

"recognize him since he has been proclaimed pres. by everyone in Iran"


" recognize him if he has been proclaimed pres. by everyone in Iran"

Given the statements by the foreign ministry later, it sounds like the second option was the correct one.
Time will tell what will happen, but this was in no way an official statement of recognition or promise.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There are no grammar mistakes.

'Je crains que ce ne soit pas le premier qui va devoir être reconnu"

He uses the subjunctive 'soit'. which can be translated by a present or a conditional.

best literal translation : I'm afraid (or 'I fear') that he's not the first (one) who is going to have to be recognized.

You could also say '.. he wouldn't be the first', it doesn't change much, but there is no mistake in the french and it's certainly not colloquial.

If you translate 'va devoir' by 'will have to be' it's stronger than 'is going to'. But it's much the same.

"Si tout le monde en proclame l'élection d'un president, se serait bien inutile et contre-productif que d'aller tout seul dans le sens contraire'

If everyone in Iran declares (affirms) the election of a president, it would be (quite, in effect) useless and counter productive to go alone in the opposite direction.

He obviously says 'if' and not 'since' as that would have been 'puisque', which changes the meaning completely ! Ah the problems of translation, they sometimes cause bad incidents.

And as for his or president Sarkozy's comments (official and others), they have been outspoken against the regime's repression and policies. As for the French girl held in prison, some say it's just a tactic to shut them up as with all hostages.

Just a word about Bernard Kouchner, you can see alot of disparaging remarks from the left in France as he was a 'traitor' who joined Sarkozy's gvt from the left, and he has said a few indelicate things sometimes. (diplomatically)

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