Source: France-Diplomatie – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development
1. Lebanon – Introductory remarks by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, at his meeting with the press (Beirut – May 7, 2021)
Hello ladies and gentlemen.
I’m finishing a short visit to Beirut and will be heading back to Paris in a few moments, but I’d like to give you an update, first of all to remind you that both in prosperous periods and at painful times, France has always stood by the Lebanese people. On August 6, 2020, the French President reiterated this promise to Lebanese people. I was next to him. I’ve come to emphasize it again: France remains and will remain mobilized in the long term to support the Lebanese population.
Even before the tragedy of August 4, France was helping Lebanon face up to the crisis that was already hitting it. I’m well placed to know that, because I myself brought the international community together over Lebanon in December 2019. Since then, given the urgent nature of the situation, this mobilization on our part hasn’t weakened: quite the contrary. This mobilization has benefited all Lebanese people in a very practical way.
France is delivering on its commitments. More than €85 million has already been pledged to Lebanon. In the four priority areas we’ve identified, our promises have been kept: on reconstruction and the protection of heritage; on access to food; on support to the medical and health sector; and on support to schools and the educational sector. I was able to see this during my discussions with Lebanese people yesterday, and by observing the results of our support activities on the ground: at the Collège des Saints-Coeurs Sioufi; at a health centre situation in the Bourj Hammoud district; at the Oriental Library of Saint Joseph University; and of course at the port of Beirut.
France’s action is also part of a broader collective effort. The President brought the international community together twice, on August 9 and then on December 2, with the United Nations. €250 million in donations were announced: those announcements have been exceeded.
But after more than eight months of deadlock, it’s now clear that Lebanon needs a real modernization of its political and institutional practices. Lebanese society, in all its richness and diversity, is playing an active role to this end. To do so, it can draw on the tradition of democratic pluralism that makes this country strong.
That’s why we are also focusing on the future – and this is my second message. In the face of obstruction from the political parties, during this visit I’ve witnessed once again the vitality of Lebanese civil society. It was those committed Lebanese people that I visited: those working actively to protect Lebanon’s future, its model of society, its unity in diversity, the peaceful coexistence of its communities and cultures. That’s what creates Lebanon’s strength and special unity. In this respect, I believe our support to Lebanon’s schools is essential: that’s where this country’s future talent is formed. It’s where this country’s cohesion takes root. In 2020, we supported more than 180,000 schools and some 90,000 pupils. And we decided to maintain and increase the fund for Middle Eastern schools, which once again this year should provide assistance of some €2 million to the Lebanon’s French-speaking Christian schools.
Preparing the future also means counting on the strength and vitality of Lebanon’s democracy and the active efforts of all its citizens, particularly its young people, to enable the reaffirmation of a State capable of addressing its population’s legitimate needs and aspirations. In this regard, the elections in 2022 will be of major importance. I listened with great interest to several representatives of parties and movements intending to promote plans for different political models. Yesterday evening I also met some exceptional Lebanese women engaged in some tremendous mutually-supportive citizens’ initiatives.
And I have to tell you here that it’s for the Lebanese people and them alone, in full independence and sovereignty, to choose what they want for their country. I note that there are lots of ideas, lots of plans – an abundance. The 2022 elections must provide an opportunity for a genuine democratic debate on Lebanon’s future.
Indeed, it’s urgent to overcome the political deadlock the country is in – and that’s my third message. I clearly expressed this need during my discussions with the President, Speaker of the Parliament and Prime Minister-designate, because they are institutionally responsible for agreeing on a government.
To date, I note that the political players haven’t yet shouldered their responsibilities and haven’t yet started working seriously on the country’s swift recovery. Unless they really step up responsibly today, they’ll have to accept the consequences of this failure, and the consequences of reneging on the commitments they themselves made to the French President on 1 September 2020.
In the meantime, we ourselves are refusing to stand by in the face of obstruction – and I mean obstruction. So we’ve begun to implement restrictive measures in terms of access to French territory, on figures responsible for the political deadlock that exists and figures implicated in corruption. It’s only a start: if the stalemate persists, these measures may be toughened or extended. They may also be augmented with the means of pressure the European Union possesses, on which discussions have already begun with our European partners. Everyone must shoulder their responsibilities: we’re shouldering ours; it’s for Lebanon’s leaders to decide whether they want to overcome the stalemate they’ve been organizing for more than eight months. I’m convinced it’s possible. It’s possible if they want to. They can act. It’s up to them to do so.
To conclude, I repeat: if France is making active efforts, it’s for the Lebanese people, all Lebanese people, so that they don’t lose faith in the possibility of a just State and effective governance. It’s for all Lebanese people, to support them in building a future whose shape they must define themselves. At several moments yesterday I met Lebanese citizens who have decided to take up this challenge, with not only courage but also great dignity. It’s to them that I’ve come to send this essential message: France will be listening to them and will support their legitimate aspirations.
2. United Kingdom – Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Deputy Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris – May 6, 2021)
Do you have any comment on the deployment of British military vessels off the Jersey coast because of the fishing dispute? Are direct negotiations taking place between Paris and London?
Amid the tensions that followed the British failure to abide by the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement in regard to licenses for our fishermen in British waters, we are acting in a spirit of responsibility.
We hope the situation will be swiftly resolved by the full and total implementation of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which provides for continued access to British waters for fishermen with a history of working in those waters prior to Brexit. It is our only goal, and we want to use all the leverage at our disposal to protect the fishing industry and enable it to continue its activities.
The Trade and Cooperation Agreement provides frameworks for dialogue between the United Kingdom and the European Union in the event of difficulties. We are working very closely with the European Commission, which represents the EU in these bodies, and the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke this morning with David Frost, Britain’s Minister of State responsible for relations with the European Union.
Together with the Ministry of Marine Affairs, we remain committed to supporting our fishing industry. On April 23, the European Commission approved a €100 million plan to support that sector. (…)
3. United Kingdom – Conversation between Franck Riester and Greg Hands, Minister of State for Trade Policy (May 5) – Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris – May 5, 2021)
Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will speak today with Greg Hands, British Minister of State for Trade Policy
The Minister Delegate will discuss the importance of fully implementing and upholding the Withdrawal Agreement, especially the Northern Ireland Protocol, as well as the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, notably in order to ensure a level playing field.
The Minister Delegate will underscore the importance of strengthening the multilateral trade system. He will reaffirm France’s support for the establishment of a carbon border adjustment mechanism and his attachment to the key role of the G7 with respect to trade and sustainable development. The Minister Delegate will also discuss the dispute between Airbus and Boeing and will reaffirm the need to find a swift solution.
Lastly, the Minister Delegate will reiterate to the British Minister of State the need for France to be able to continue to send volunteers in the International Internship (VIE) program to the United Kingdom and to swiftly define the appropriate framework. (…)
4. Foreign Trade – Attractiveness – Interview given by Mr. Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to the daily newspaper Ouest-France (Paris – May 6, 2021)
How healthy are foreign-oriented businesses?
Obviously the international context has deteriorated. There was a reduction in trade in 2020 – nearly 10% globally. Some industries were especially affected. That was the case with the automotive industry, aerospace and tourism. But our export system is resilient. It’s solid. For example, at the beginning of 2021 we regained the number of exporting companies we’d had in 2020. There are almost 130,000 of them.
The crisis has speeded up new modes of consumption. Is there a threat hanging over exports?
It’s important for us to relocate some of our production to France in order to be less dependent on foreign, particularly Chinese, suppliers. One of the goals we’re pursuing when it comes to the recovery is to support that relocation. However, we mustn’t turn in on ourselves. We have international opportunities that are exceptional.
You’re in Mayenne today, Thursday. How do you view the attractiveness of the regions?
France’s attractiveness depends on its regions. In 2020, 70% of foreign investment projects in France were in towns of under 20,000 inhabitants. That nurtures the regions. There are some very quantifiable factors to attractiveness, like taxation, administrative constraints, etc. They play a role. There’s also quality of life: educational and health conditions. It’s increasingly sought after by skilled individuals who leave the major metropolitan areas or return to France after an international career.
5. United Nations – Syria (chemical) – Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations at the Security Council (New York – May 6, 2021)
[translation from French]
I thank Ms. Nakamitsu for her briefing and once again I wish to commend her work and that of the OPCW.
France welcomes the adoption, by a very large majority, of the decision we proposed on behalf of 46 delegations at the 25th Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention. This is an important decision taken by responsible States Parties. But let’s be clear, we are not pleased about having to suspend some rights and privileges of a State Party. It is the flagrant and repeated violations of its international commitments that have left us with no choice.
The publication of the second report of the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) on April 12, 2021 highlights, once again, the crimes of the Syrian regime. It identifies the perpetrators of an attack by dropping at least one cylinder of chlorine from a military helicopter in the locality of Saraqib on February 4, 2018. That attack claimed 12 lives. We are now certain that the perpetrators of these attacks belong to the Syrian Air Force under the authority of the 25th Division of the Special Mission Forces. The use of these weapons by the Syrian regime, once again documented and irrefutable, is unacceptable and will not go unpunished.
If Syria hopes to restore its rights and privileges, then it must comply with its international obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention to which it chose to adhere. It must behave as a responsible player and finally shed full light on its initial declaration. I note with regret that new pending issues continue to be added to the list of older issues, as the Secretariat’s communication of 16 April confirms. How is it that we are still at this point more than seven years after the adoption of Resolution 2118?
I say this in all seriousness: the use of chemical weapons cannot go unpunished. The perpetrators of chemical attacks must be held accountable for their crimes. Prosecutions will take place, including before national jurisdictions. These proceedings are necessary to deter anyone from using these weapons. An international convention cannot be violated without consequences. That would only encourage others violate it.
It is in this spirit that we launched in January 2018 in Paris the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, which is now supported by 40 States and the European Union.