The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - July 18, 2017
In this issue:

◢  Egypt

◢  Syria

◢  Middle East peace process

◢  Saudi Arabia

◢  Situation in the Gulf

◢  Turkey

◢  Libya

◢  Venezuela

◢  Ukraine

◢  Poland

◢  Europe / OSCE – Appointment of Harlem Désir as Representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe


Following the embassy's intervention with the Egyptian authorities in support of IPSOS's efforts, are you satisfied with the reasons given for closing the institute's office?

Please refer to the response given yesterday in the press briefing, to which we have nothing to add.

For more details, we suggest you contact the IPSOS Institute directly.


1/ Israel is opposed to the truce in the south of the country, because it believes that it strengthens Iran's presence. What is Paris's view regarding this?

As you are aware, France is attached to Israel's security.

The discussions underway between the U.S., Russia and Jordan are aimed at establishing a de-escalation zone in the south. All efforts to reduce hostilities are helpful.

France, in collaboration with its partners, is closely monitoring the conditions for establishing this zone, and notably the withdrawal of the militia groups.

2/ In addition, you did not give a clear response yesterday regarding the issue of whether Iran will be part of the new contact group proposed by France or not.

Jean-Yves Le Drian reaffirmed to Le Monde that a political solution in Syria must involve "the permanent members of the Security Council and the countries in the region, with the support of the UN."

We are in contact with our partners in order to make progress toward achieving this goal.

3/ Will the Kurds play a full role in the diplomatic road map and the negotiations?

In France's view, it is clear that national reconciliation involves taking all components of the Syrian population into account, within an institutional framework, which is for them to define.

The Geneva Communiqué and UNSCR 2254 form the framework for the inter-Syrian talks. These texts clearly define the parties involved in the UN-led negotiations: the representatives of the opposition and the regime.

This resolution also reaffirms that "the only way to resolve the Syrian crisis over the long term is through an open political process, led by the Syrians, responding to the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and conducted with a view toward fully implementing the provisions of the Geneva Communiqué of June 30, 2012."

4/ President Macron established red lines with regard to chemical weapons and the humanitarian situation on May 29, Mr. Le Drian visited Moscow at the end of June and Mr. Lavrov was received in Paris at the beginning of July. What progress has been made on the humanitarian front? Have you seen any concrete gestures from Moscow? With respect to chemical weapons, has Russia made any concrete commitments with respect to dismantling the regime's arsenal?

President Macron identified two strategic priorities in Syria regarding which tangible progress must be achieved as a matter of urgency.

On the humanitarian front—as reaffirmed by Jean-Yves Le Drian in Moscow on June 20—we would like "Russia to contribute to ensuring safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid everywhere it is needed." We are continuing to engage in dialogue with Moscow on this issue in order to strengthen the effectiveness of aid on the ground. The unimpeded and safe delivery of humanitarian assistance to all populations in need throughout the Syrian territory is a priority which France is discussing with its partners.

With respect to chemical weapons, Russia recognizes, like us, that sarin gas was used in the attack on April 4, 2017, which has been investigated by the OPCW and confirmed by the fact-finding mission.

It's on this basis that we would like to work with Russia, within the framework of the appropriate international forums, especially the OPCW. Russia and France have the same interest in protecting the chemical non-proliferation regime.

Middle East peace process

France is ready to support "all diplomatic initiatives." Is the international initiative launched by Paris last year still one of the options or has it been permanently shelved?

President Macron underscored that "France is now convinced of the need to relaunch a strong and credible political momentum," which will help the parties to renew the dialogue process and help them resume and conclude a political process.

It is with this in mind that he received Mahmoud Abbas on July 15 and Benjamin Netanyahu on July 16 in Paris. France, whose commitment to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is unwavering, will continue to mobilize its efforts in support of initiatives in this direction and will be involved in them. The conclusions of the meeting in January 2017 in Paris, which underscored the need for a two-state solution, must therefore be taken into account in the international community's efforts to promote Middle East peace, and France will ensure that this happens.

Saudi Arabia

Of the civilian contracts worth €27.5 billion signed in Saudi Arabia since 2012 how many are orders / firm contracts and how many are MoUs or letters of intent? In particular since the announcement that contracts worth €10 billion were signed in October 2015, how many are firm orders?

The contracts concluded by French companies mainly relate to the transport, urban services, energy, defense and security sectors.

Please contact the companies for more information.

Situation in the Gulf

Can we conclude that the minister did not receive any assurances during his visit to the Gulf that the Qatar crisis will have no impact on your trade relations in the region?

France has friendly, trusting relations with each of the GCC countries, and on the strength of that friendship and that trust, it expressed, via the President and the minister's visit, its concern and its wish to contribute to the search for a solution.

In the four countries he visited, the minister had intense, in-depth meetings with his counterparts and the highest authorities. He took the opportunity to discuss our bilateral relations and to agree on the next steps to exploit their full potential. At no time was he asked that France choose between any of its partners.

The dynamism of our trade with all the CCG countries testifies to the caliber of those relationships.


What was your reaction after Turkey upheld the detention of six Amnesty International activists?

We spoke about the human rights situation in Turkey yesterday and the terms of our response, as follows, are more valid than ever:

France emphasizes that respect for human rights and fundamental liberties—especially freedom of expression, the right to a fair trial, and the right to an effective remedy, all within a nation under the rule of law—is vital to the exercise of democracy. It is the crucial pillar of Turkey's European and international commitments.

France therefore remains concerned by the recent arrests of Turkish Amnesty International leaders and other human rights workers and journalists. We demand their immediate release.


Can you give us any details on the diplomatic initiatives the President announced on Libya?

Ending the crisis in Libya requires a political compromise that brings together the various Libyan actors in an inclusive way.

France will continue its dialogue with Libyan parties interested in a political compromise and will ensure that countries exerting influence on Libya work with it to achieve an end to the crisis as soon as possible. It stands prepared to facilitate the mission of the UN secretary general's new special representative for Libya, Ghassan Salamé.


Would you like to see the EU adopt sanctions against the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela if it carries out his project to create a Constituent Assembly?

For us, the priority is to encourage the government to take positive steps to end the violence and ease tensions, and to encourage all the parties to engage in a sincere dialogue.

We call for respect of the rule of law and a credible political dialogue based on the will of all the parties to reach a compromise to end the current grave crisis whose leading victim is the Venezuelans themselves.

High Representative Federica Mogherini expressed the same position yesterday following the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.


On Tuesday, the leader of the self-proclaimed People's Republic of Donetsk, Alexander Zakharchenko, declared the creation of a new state, Malorossiya. Do you have any response?

We call on Russia to denounce this fait accompli, which is a violation of the Minsk Agreement and betrays the spirit of the Normandy-format negotiations. Russia must step up its efforts to bring an end to this conflict.

France remains committed to the full restoration of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. The Minsk Agreement signed by Russia and Ukraine, with the endorsement of the Normandy Format and the UN Security Council, is the only recognized framework for all the parties to achieve a peaceful, lasting resolution of the crisis between those two countries.


Do you have any comment on the new judicial reform project in Poland and the demonstrations it has sparked?

We are concerned by the judicial reforms under way in Poland following the passage of two controversial bills on the National Council of the Judiciary and the nomination of court presidents. The Commission is doing a demanding job requiring great precision, and we support it fully.

We encourage the Commission to continue its efforts and urge the Polish authorities to provide the appropriate responses. France hopes the member states will remain involved on this issue.

Europe / OSCE – Appointment of Harlem Désir as Representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe

France welcomes the decision, based on the consensus of the 57 participating States of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), to appoint Harlem Désir as its Representative on Freedom of the Media, as of July 19.

The OSCE is an international organization comprising all the nations of the European continent, as well as the United States, Canada, the Central Asian Republics and Mongolia. It works to promote stability, peace and democracy. Its spheres of activity include political, military, economic and environmental cooperation, as well as numerous projects in the areas of human rights, democratization, and the rule of law. Established in 1994 following the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe and based in Vienna, it takes decisions based on the consensus of the 57 participating States in its Permanent Council or Ministerial Council, which meets annually. Its activities are implemented by the Secretariat, field operations and three autonomous institutions: the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the High Commissioner on National Minorities, and the Representative on Freedom of the Media.

France takes this opportunity to applaud the appointments of Thomas Greminger as secretary general, Ingibjörg Gisladottir as the new ODIHR director, and Lamberto Zannier as High Commissioner on National Minorities.

France will continue to fully support the activities of the OSCE and its institutions, championing in particular the respect of their mandate, their autonomy and their resources.

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