Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, April 8, 2014)

Quai d’Orsay-Entreprises” meetings (April 8, 2014)
Foreign trade
Central African Republic – Protection of all communities (March 8, 2014)
Syria – Murder of Father Frans van der Lugt (April 7, 2014)
Egypt – Appeal court decision to uphold the sentences handed down to liberal activists (April 7, 2014)

Quai d’Orsay-Entreprises” meetings (April 8, 2014)

Economic diplomacy is a priority that involves the entire diplomatic network on an unprecedented scale. It only has one goal: to contribute to our country’s economic recovery. Since taking office, Mr. Laurent Fabius has encouraged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development to give priority to fostering business opportunities, putting the promotion of our economic interests at the heart of its action.

The creation of an international division under the authority of Mr. Laurent Fabius will allow us to reach a new milestone by increasing the effectiveness of the external economic action of all government departments.

It’s in this spirit that the Quai d’Orsay will host today from 2:00 pm the second edition of the “Quai d’Orsay-Entreprises” meetings. This event, which will consist of 8 round tables, is aimed at increasing the number of meetings, sharing experiences and strengthening partnerships.

Mr. Laurent Fabius will close the meetings at 6:00 pm.

The entire event is open to the press.

Foreign trade

Our trade deficit for February 2014 was €3.4 billion compared with €5.9 billion in January. The trade deficit stands at €59.1 billion over the 12-month period. It stood at €67.1 billion in 2012.

This monthly total, which remains unsatisfactory, can be explained in part by a significant reduction in our imports, especially imports of energy supplies.

Our exports fell slightly (-0.2%) and stagnated over the last 12 months.

Since 2012, the slight improvement in our foreign trade performance (-74 billion in 2011, 61 billion in 2013) is as much due to our continued export dynamism as it is due to the decrease in imports associated with weak domestic demand. The figures published today follow this trend.

The establishment within the government of an “international division,” bringing together foreign affairs, foreign trade and tourism, is aimed at improving the effectiveness of our system. It should help to improve our foreign trade performance.

Central African Republic – Protection of all communities (March 8, 2014)

France is attached to the protection of all populations in the Central African Republic, including of course the Muslim populations who are subject to intolerable threats and attacks. The protection of the populations is central to France’s action and is an integral part of the mandate of Operation Sangaris, in support of MISCA [AFISM-CAR].

France believes that the displacement of populations must be a last resort. Nevertheless, it is helping to facilitate evacuations when needed in agreement with the populations concerned, notably when their safety and access to humanitarian assistance cannot be guaranteed. Since 2013, Sangaris has therefore helped to protect and evacuate Muslim populations in immediate danger by making air assets available.

In collaboration with the transitional authorities of the Central African Republic, the UN humanitarian agencies and all stakeholders concerned, our embassy in the Central African Republic is assessing the situation of the various Muslim areas, notably to the north of Bangui. We are in favor of relocating those people who wish to be relocated.

Syria – Murder of Father Frans van der Lugt (April 7, 2014)

France pays tribute to Jesuit priest Frans van der Lugt, a man of peace and courage, who was
murdered in a cowardly attack in Homs on April 7. We strongly condemn this heinous act. We also condemn the regime’s continued siege of the city as well as the continued bombing which again led to the death of 13 people yesterday.

Father Frans van der Lugt spoke out on behalf of the Syrian people and chose to remain in Homs, which is being besieged and bombed by Bashar al-Assad’s army, among Christians and Muslims.

He had lived in Syria since 1966 and established the Al Ard Center to educate and integrate poor children, devoting himself tirelessly to helping the most disadvantaged.

We extend our condolences to his loved ones and express our deep sympathy to the Jesuit community and all Syrians who surrounded him.


Egypt – Appeal court decision to uphold the sentences handed down to liberal activists (April 7, 2014)

France deplores the appeal court decision to uphold the harsh prison sentences handed down to three political activists and human rights defenders, Ahmed Maher, Ahmed Douma and Mohamed Adel, on the basis of the law on demonstrations adopted on November 24.

We share the concerns expressed by the UN secretary-general, the UN high commissioner for human rights and the EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.


France reminds the Egyptian authorities of the need to comply with the commitments undertaken within the framework of the road map and at the national level, notably with respect to the freedom of opinion, the freedom of expression and the freedom to demonstrate peacefully.