During his monthly “what’s up” call with ICANN Supporting Organisation, Advisory Committee and Stakeholder Group leaders, CEO Fadi Chehadé addressed recent tensions between ICANN and the government of France.
Responding to questions from Registrar Stakeholder Group Chair Michele Neylon and Non-Commercial Users Constituency Chair William Drake, Chehadé described his efforts to improve his relationship with France’s IT Minister Axelle Lemaire. Starting point for the conversation was actually a post published on this blog in early October. “The French secretary has been making a comment now for a couple months that was reported by Stéphane Van Gelder in his blog that she essentially wants a NETmundial based in France.”
“NETmundial does not intend to do meetings like the Sao Paolo meeting. This is not in the cards and therefore we’re a little puzzled. I checked with the Brazilian government. They have not heard from her about any NETmundial meeting. It’s my understanding that her request to do a NETmundial in France was presented (by France) to the European ministers in a recent meeting and that she did not get support for this.”
Relations between the French government and ICANN continue to be pressured by the .VIN and .WINE saga. Last June, Lemaire became the first French IT Minister to actually travel to an ICANN meeting. During this London meeting, she asked ICANN to put the two wine related TLD applications on hold until Geographic Indicators, recognised in France but not by some non-European wine producing countries like the US, could be afforded adequate protection.
“This minister has staked her name and her reputation by coming to London and frankly making a very passionate speech and a position on ICANN,” Chehadé said during the November 19, 2014 call. “And when she didn’t get what she wanted in London, she spent the rest of the month up to (the) L.A. (ICANN meeting) lashing out at ICANN and its inadequacy as an organization, in front of me and publicly as well.”
Chehadé explained that he is in frequent contact with Lemaire and that they’d managed “a bit of a truce”. “Luckily we have the support of the head of Europe in Italy,” Chehadé explained. “Despite (the fact) that Italy produces more wine than France, they’ve been more helpful on this issue and they’ve calmed the waters a little bit.”
Chehadé’s solution is for both governments and ICANN to stay out of the .VIN and .WINE situation. “Let’s stay out of it and let the applicants work this calmly with the application guys. Let these people figure out a solution to this tough issue.”