The following is a transcript of President Jacques Chirac's live nationwide television address after French voters rejected the EU constitution.
France has democratically expressed itself. You have rejected the European constitution by a majority.
It is your sovereign decision and I take note of it. Nevertheless, our ambitions and interests are profoundly
linked to Europe.
France, a founding member of the union, remains, naturally, within the union.
I want to tell you and our European partners, and all the peoples of Europe, that France will continue to occupy its place, whilst respecting its undertakings. I will ensure that.
The process of ratification is in progress across all the
countries of the union. Nine countries have already said "Yes".
Our other partners will in turn make their decision. Between now and then, the European Union will continue to function on the basis of the current treaties.
We have important meeting ahead of us. On 16 June, the European Council will meet in Brussels.
There, I will defend the positions of our country, while taking account of the message of French men and women.
But let us not be mistaken. The decision of France inevitably creates a difficult context for the defence of our interests in Europe.
We must respond to this by uniting around one requirement - national interest.
Dear compatriots, during this debate you have also expressed your worries and your hopes.
I intend to respond to that by giving a new and strong impetus to the action of the government.
In the coming days I will announce my decisions on the
government and its priorities.