The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
and International Development

Paris - May 17, 2016
In this issue:

◢  Russia – Visit by Matthias Fekl (May 17-19, 2016)

◢  Armenia / Azerbaijan – "3+2" meeting on Nagorno-Karabakh (Vienna - May 16, 2016)

◢  United Nations – Candidacy of Philippe Douste-Blazy for the post of Director-General of the World Health Organization

◢  Egypt / Justice – Murder of Eric Lang

◢  Health / Tuberculosis – Shorter treatment times

◢  Yemen – Attack in Mukalla (May 15, 2016)

◢  Middle East peace process

◢  Libya

Russia – Visit by Matthias Fekl (May 17-19, 2016)

Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, will visit Moscow from May 17 to 19 in order to support economic relations between our two countries.

During his visit, Matthias Fekl will notably meet with Vassily Nebenzia, Deputy Foreign Minister, Ilya Shestakov, Deputy Minister for Agriculture, Alla Manilova, Deputy Minister of Culture and Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Representative of Vladimir Putin for International Cultural Cooperation. He will also meet with representatives of the French business community in Russia as well as French and Russian entrepreneurs in the tourism, sport, agriculture and aeronautics sectors.

Matthias Fekl will also hold discussions with representatives of the cultural community and civil society. He will meet with the French community and deliver a speech to students of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA).

Armenia / Azerbaijan – "3+2" meeting on Nagorno-Karabakh (Vienna - May 16, 2016)

France welcomes the results of the meeting on Nagorno-Karabakh on May 16 in Vienna, which made it possible to relaunch the dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan following the deadly clashes that took place from April 2 to 5.

Presidents Sarkisian and Aliyev, together with Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State, and Sergey Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, again expressed their attachment to compliance with the ceasefire as well as a peaceful resolution of the conflict. They also agreed to the implementation of confidence-building measures, including an incident investigation mechanism.

These commitments are very important. France calls on the parties to uphold them and will continue to act as a mediator in its capacity as co-chair of the Minsk Group, together with its Russian and American partners.

United Nations – Candidacy of Philippe Douste-Blazy for the post of Director-General of the World Health Organization

Professor Philippe Douste-Blazy is France's candidate to succeed Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, who will not stand for re-election in 2017.

Philippe Douste-Blazy, a cardiologist and professor at the University of Paris VII and Harvard, twice served as minister of health. He also served as minister of culture and minister of foreign affairs, as well as mayor of Toulouse, France’s fourth largest city, and former president of the Urban Community. He is the founder and chairman of the Executive Board of UNITAID, the international drug purchase facility, and also serves as under secretary-general of the United Nations, special advisor to the secretary-general on innovative financing.

Philippe Douste-Blazy will present to the international press at 10:00 am on May 18 at the Quai d'Orsay his candidacy and his vision of the WHO in terms of addressing new health threats, such as the epidemics caused by the Ebola and Zika viruses, promoting access to medical care for the most disadvantaged and ensuring that everyone has access to affordable medicines by addressing market failures.

Egypt / Justice – Murder of Eric Lang

The Egyptian justice system has handed down 7-year prison sentences to six fellow detainees of our compatriot Eric Lang, who was murdered in a cowardly attack at the police station in Qasr al-Nil on September 13, 2013.

The French authorities remain in close contact with Eric Lang's family. We will continue to provide them with consular assistance in their efforts to work with the Egyptian authorities, notably with respect to the complaint that the family has filed in Egypt against the police and the Ministry of the Interior. A complaint has also been lodged in France and an examining magistrate has been appointed by the public prosecutor's office in Nantes.

During his recent state visit to Egypt from April 17 to 19, President Hollande called on the Egyptian authorities to shed full light on the tragic circumstances that led to the death of our compatriot.

Health / Tuberculosis – Shorter treatment times

In 2015, a study known as "Initiative 5%"—funded by Expertise France in nine French-speaking African countries and coordinated by the International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease—demonstrated that it was possible to shorten the course of treatment for multidrug-resistant TB from 24 to nine months without major secondary effects.

As a result of this French-funded study, the World Health Organization is now recommending a shorter course of treatment for multidrug-resistant TB. This will open the way to simpler and less expensive care—something that offers great hope in the fight against this disease.

There are three times more cases of multidrug-resistant TB now than in 2010. Detected in more than 100 countries, such cases now represent 5% of all tuberculosis cases, 14% of deaths, and 27% of costs.

France is the second-largest international contributor to the fight against tuberculosis, particularly through its support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and for UNITAID.

Yemen – Attack in Mukalla (May 15, 2016)

France condemns the attack by Daesh against police forces in Mukalla, which killed 40.

We offer our condolences to the victims' families and reiterate our solidarity with the people of Yemen in the fight against terrorism.

France supports the efforts of UN special envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmad. It calls on the parties to solidify the ceasefire, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, and—while negotiations continue in Kuwait—to find a political solution.

Middle East peace process

This morning, President Hollande said on Europe 1 that the ministerial meeting on the Mideast peace process wouldn't be held on May 30 as scheduled. Can you give us the new date of the meeting?

As the President said on Europe 1 this morning, the French initiative on the peace process is necessary and urgent.

The meeting initially scheduled for May 30 will take place shortly thereafter. A new date should soon be set for early June.


Does France concur with yesterday's announcement by John Kerry that we can arm the Libyan national unity government?

Maintaining the arms embargo is necessary. France hopes that the mandate of EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia can soon be expanded to this end.

As was decided at yesterday's meeting in Vienna, it is vital to help the national unity government control and guarantee the security of Libya's territory. Only this government can legitimately request exceptions to the arms embargo.

France in the
United States
Embassy of France in Washington, D.C.
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