Source: France-Diplomatie – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development
1. Ukraine – Statements by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, at his joint press conference with Mr Dmytro Kuleba, Foreign Minister of Ukraine (Paris, 26/02/2021)
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today in Paris I’m pleased to be hosting Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, who did me the honour of answering my invitation despite the difficult health situation.
Our meeting provided an opportunity to discuss all the bilateral cooperation issues, particularly regarding economic relations between our two countries, which are developing very dynamically thanks to key partnerships between businesses from our two countries.
Today I noted the dynamism of our bilateral relationship, which has been revitalized since President Zelensky visited Paris in June 2019 and which was also demonstrated at the meeting of the Joint Economic Commission held in Paris in November last year.
I reiterated France’s support for the desire of Ukraine and President Zelensky to continue their efforts on the demanding path of reform, particularly on judicial matters and in the fight against corruption.
This morning we also discussed the conflict in the Donbass. We remain absolutely committed alongside Germany, within the Normandy format, to a resolution of this conflict. So we’re working on the implementation of the conclusions agreed at the Normandy-format summit held in Paris on 9 December 2019. We’d like everyone concerned to implement in good faith the commitments made and continue the constructive discussions on the agenda agreed at that summit.
I’d also like to recall, on this seventh anniversary of the Russian takeover of Crimea, which led to its illegal annexation, that France does not and will not recognize that annexation. And overall, we support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.
On all these issues, France and its European partners will continue to stand alongside Ukraine to help it build a prosperous, stable and democratic society.
Thank you. (…)
Hello, I wanted to know if your talks also covered regional security and political issues, and particularly if you both discussed the situation in Armenia. Thank you.
We didn’t discuss the Armenia issue. I understand why you’ve asked me about it, given that yesterday we saw very significant demonstrations, with risks of violence. We’re very committed to Armenian democracy and to the stability of that country, which has deep democratic roots. And France would like dialogue to be established in the country, based on the legitimacy of the Armenian President and Prime Minister, so that this dialogue can lead to a calmer situation in a country that has gone through difficult times, in the context of the war in Nagorno-Karabakh; we think the support we’re showing Armenia now should allow for a more stable and calmer situation. I also note that in Yerevan this morning the situation had become calm again. I think the components of Armenian democracy should hold firm.
My question is about the Normandy [-format] summit. Has the date already been set for the future summit of the four leaders? With this in mind, do you think it’s possible to go back to the content of the Minsk agreements, i.e. perhaps towards a Minsk III, given that the context has changed a lot in the past six years and that the current situation is something of an impasse? Thank you.
The benchmark now is the Paris agreements of December 2019. Those agreements were a step forward. I believe President Zelensky’s arrival and his first attendance at this type of body was a very positive and significant factor. The road map that was agreed then is still on the table. There’s been progress on security that has been reflected in a ceasefire, which has been observed but which is now beginning to falter a little. There’s been progress on the opening of crossing points, there’s been progress in heavy weapons disengagement zones, there’s been progress on mine clearance. Significant progress has begun to be made on the whole area of security. But at political level, it’s fallen far short of our expectations. So we must follow up the conclusions of this Paris meeting in order to reactivate the political dimension of the agreement, and especially be vigilant on the security dimension. The Normandy format seems to me the right one for continuing these discussions, even though at the moment it’s more complicated because of COVID, but this format has been recognized by everyone as the right one for moving forward. But in order to move forward, all the players must obviously be determined to do so./.
2. Libya – Conversations with Mr Abdul Hamid Dbeiba and Mr Mohamed al-Manfi – Communiqué issued by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris, 25/02/2021)
M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke to Mr Abdul Hamid Dbeiba, Prime Minister-elect of Libya, and then with Mr Mohamed al-Manfi, President of the Libyan Presidential Council.
The Minister assured his interlocutors of France’s full support in the task of completing the transition with which the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum entrusted them. He reaffirmed France’s desire for Libya to regain its full sovereignty, its unity and its stability.
The Minister emphasized the importance of a representative and credible government being formed in accordance with the road map adopted by the Political Dialogue Forum. He stressed the fact that only such a government would be in a position to successfully organize the elections, scheduled for 24 December 2021, and implement the ceasefire agreement of 23 October 2020, signed under the aegis of the United Nations. He specified that, in addition to the reopening of the coastal road, the dismantling of militias and the departure of foreign troops and mercenaries must be swiftly implemented by the new transitional authorities.
The Minister assured his interlocutors of France’s willingness to support the process under way, in coordination with the United Nations, with all its partners and with the Berlin summit follow-up committee./.
3. United Nations – Syria – Humanitarian situation – Statement by Mr Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations at the Security Council (New York, 25/02/2021)
Translation from French
I would like to thank Mr. Lowcock and Ms. Khush for their briefings.
The Syrian population continues to pay the heaviest price of this conflict, which started 10 years ago now. More than half of the population experiences food insecurity. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread and we all know that the figures are well below reality.
Everything must be done in order to put in place an immediate cessation of hostilities under UN supervision at the national level, as well as a humanitarian pause, in accordance with Resolutions 2532 and 2254, and the Secretary-General’s call. Ongoing air strikes in the Idlib region are an alarming sign, as is the instability in the Southwest and Northeast.
The protection of civilians must be an absolute priority. 14 humanitarian personnel have lost their lives in the North-West since the beginning of 2020 and more than 900 medical personnel since the beginning of the conflict: we strongly condemn these attacks and these crimes will not go unpunished. France will continue to fully support the mechanisms to fight impunity. Yesterday’s sentencing by a German court of a former Syrian security agent for complicity with crimes against humanity is an important first step in putting an end to impunity of the regime’s crimes.
The 20% increase in humanitarian and medical needs by 2021 makes it more essential than ever to ensure full humanitarian access. All parties, especially the Syrian regime, must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law. We call upon Russia to put pressure on the regime in this regard.
It is also essential to ensure equitable access to the vaccines against COVID-19. All guarantees must be taken to ensure independent monitoring of its distribution. The COVAX facility has a key role to play here.
The systematic blockages of humanitarian assistance by the regime show more than ever the need of preserving the cross-border aid mechanism. The approval rates of UN missions by the regime remain largely insufficient: how can we explain the refusal of 30% of these missions? We must also draw lessons from the loss of the al-Yaroubiyah crossing point: no operation to date has compensated for the disappearance of cross-border convoys. As long as the regime continues to blackmail of aid to punish the population, it is clear that “crossline” aid from Damascus will remain dysfunctional and cannot be the only viable option.
The donor conference organized by the European Union and the United Nations on March 29 and 30 will be an important step. The European Union and its Member States will continue to ensure full respect for the guarantees of impartiality and transparency in the delivery of aid, and the implementation of the ” Parameters and Principles ” document.
Attempts to accuse Europe and its partners of conditioning aid must not mislead anyone. I would like to recall that the European Union and its member states are the main funders of the humanitarian response in Syria, including in the areas held by the regime. Since 2011, nearly 20 billion euros have been mobilized by Europeans in response to this crisis. The humanitarian response plan was financed last year at about 85% by the European Union, its member states, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Finally, until a credible political process in line with Resolution 2254 has been engaged, France – like the European Union – will not finance reconstruction or any assistance aligned on the regime’s development priorities. States calling for the reconstruction of Syria should start by strengthening their contributions to the humanitarian response.
Our positions on the lifting of sanctions and normalization also remain unchanged.