- The Washington Times - Monday, July 19, 2004

NEW YORK — In a sign that relations between Washington and Paris remain a bit testy, a notice on the front door of the French Consulate in New York warns Americans applying for a visa to check their attitude before entering.

“Visas for France are not a right. Persons applying for visas are requested to show due respect for Consular personnel. Failure to do so will result in the denial of the application and denied entry into any of the EU countries,” says the sign posted in English at the French Consulate at 10 East 74th St., referring to the European Union.

French Foreign Ministry officials did not reply when asked for an explanation, making it impossible to determine when the notice first appeared.

Andre Sirois, a lawyer who practices international law at the United Nations, said the warning in French is even stronger:

“This is very rude, undiplomatic and probably illegal. … Actually, it could cause a good rift between France and those [European] countries who have probably not delegated their visa authority to the French government,” said Mr. Sirois, who is French-Canadian by birth.

Mr. Sirois said he knows of no law that gives any one European Union nation a veto over immigration actions of another.

On another front, the French declared Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon not welcome because Mr. Sharon had urged French Jews to escape anti-Semitic attacks by moving to Israel.

Mr. Sharon’s remarks, in which he said France was host to “the wildest anti-Semitism,” provoked a torrent of outrage yesterday, including remarks from the office of French President Jacques Chirac.

“A visit by the Israeli prime minister to Paris … won’t be looked at closely until the requested explanation is provided,” a presidential source said on the condition of anonymity, the Associated Press reported.

Mr. Sharon was considering a trip to Paris, but no date had been set.

Jacques Revah, the charge d’affaires of the Israeli Embassy in Paris, said Mr. Sharon’s comments to American Jewish leaders on Sunday had been misunderstood.

“Mr. Sharon had the same message for all Jews in the world, and if he pointed out France, it was to praise the position and the measures France has taken to combat anti-Semitism,” Mr. Revah said.

As for the sign on the consulate door in New York, it was not clear what brought on the warning, nor why Paris feels it has the right to exercise a veto over immigration to other European nations.

American tourists and business officials who visit France or the rest of Western Europe for short periods do not need a visa.

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