The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs
Spokesperson


Paris - July 19, 2017
In this issue:

◢  Climate – Meeting of the French-Chinese working group on the low-carbon green economy (Paris - July 17-18, 2017)

◢  Iran

◢  Russia

◢  Jerusalem

◢  Iraq

◢  Syria

 
Climate – Meeting of the French-Chinese working group on the low-carbon green economy (Paris - July 17-18, 2017)

France and China held the first meeting of the French-Chinese working group on the low-carbon green economy on July 17 and 18 in Paris.

This working group was set out in the joint presidential statement on climate change on November 2, 2015, and is aimed at strengthening dialogue and practical cooperation efforts on climate and energy-related issues.

This meeting provided an opportunity for France and China to reaffirm the irreversibility of the Paris Agreement and international climate action, as well as to discuss the prospects for strengthening our cooperation. It allowed us to confirm our joint determination to successfully complete the negotiations on the rules for implementing the Paris Agreement before the COP24 in 2018, to envisage new bilateral cooperation initiatives (notably with respect to green funding) and to discuss our respective legislation.

The next meeting of this group will take place in 2018 in Beijing.



Iran

The U.S. believes that Iran is violating the spirit of the nuclear deal, fostering destabilization in the region and supporting terrorism. Do you agree with this analysis by your ally and do you want to see economic sanctions that would target the Iranian elements that are destabilizing the region?

The Vienna agreement is a robust non-proliferation agreement that imposes strong constraints on the Iranian nuclear program for a period of more than 10 years and reduces the risk of Iran developing a nuclear weapon. There is no other credible alternative and France does not want it to be renegotiated.

The unity between the Europeans and the Americans has always made it possible to resolve any problems with implementing the agreement. It must be preserved.

Iran must of course strictly comply with all of its nuclear commitments under the agreement. This is France's message to the Iranians and we will continue to insist on this.

President Macron and the minister for Europe and foreign affairs have on several occasions discussed with President Trump and the American authorities the importance of the nuclear agreement and of Iran making a positive contribution to resolving the crises in the region, which is the subject of dialogue with the Iranian authorities.

The American secretary of state also certified to Congress yesterday that Iran was continuing to comply with its commitments under the agreement. This process is completed every 90 days. At the same time, the U.S. president decided to renew the waivers allowing the U.S. to continue to lift sanctions and comply with its commitments under the agreement.

With respect to the new sanctions announced by the Americans relating to Iran's ballistic missile program and its actions linked to the crises in the region, France's initial assessment is that the sanctions are targeted against individuals and entities linked to the Iranian ballistic missile program. The continuation of this program is inconsistent with UNSCR 2231 and could therefore potentially pose a threat to stability and security in the region. They also target the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. These new designations do not reintroduce sanctions that have been lifted under the agreement and therefore do not violate it.

France, like its European partners, reaffirms that any new restrictive measures must comply with the framework of the agreement and must not contain any extraterritorial elements that would penalize firms engaging in legitimate business operations in Iran.



Russia

What's your response to the most recent statements by the Chechen president on the homosexual community?

We call on the authorities of the Russian Federation to condemn the comments made by the Chechen president.

President Macron reaffirmed to President Putin in Versailles on May 29 that he was paying close attention to the situation of LGBTI persons in Chechnya. We reiterate our demand that full light be shed on the allegations of arrests, illegal detentions, torture and murder of people in Chechnya based on their sexual orientation.



Jerusalem

Are you asking the Israeli authorities to retract the new security measures on the Esplanade of the Mosques, including metal detectors, and the closing of prayer spaces?

France is concerned at the heightening tensions in Jerusalem, especially around the Esplanade of the Mosques, where the situation has deteriorated over the last few days.

In this context, France calls on all parties to refrain from any act or statement that could exacerbate tensions and to work toward easing the situation. France reaffirms that any attempt at calling the status quo into question could threaten to destabilize the situation.



Iraq

The number of acts of vengeance against the Iraqis suspected of belonging to IS are increasing in Mosul according to the UN. Are you concerned about what will happen next following the liberation of Mosul and do you think that the Iraqi government is maintaining sufficient hold of its troops and militia?

The protection of civilians and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law are an ongoing requirement for France. It is up to the Iraqi authorities to ensure this. This is essential to bringing about national reconciliation and defeating terrorism over the long term.

France will continue to lend its full support to the Iraqi government in its efforts to stabilize the liberated areas, re-establish the rule of law and address the challenges facing the country.

Have the Iraqi authorities confirmed the arrest of this French family? Are you in touch with the wife and her children or their family in France?

The Iraqi authorities were approached officially to learn of this family's specific situation and where they are being detained; we especially emphasized our concern for the situation of the young underage children. The Ministry has also made contact with the family in France, to inform them of these steps.

Can you give us an estimate of the number of French nationals, and particularly women and children, in the ranks of Daesh in Iraq or Syria?

I suggest you direct your questions to the Ministry of the Interior. For informational purposes, a circular was published by the Prime Minister's office on March 23 (http://circulaires.legifrance.gouv.fr/pdf/2017) that mentioned nearly 750 French nationals in combat zones in Syria and Iraq, including—according to certain estimates—some 450 minors. Among other things, this circular specifies the measures to be taken should these minors return to France.

According to Le Monde, "Personnel from the Quai d'Orsay's crisis center are even advising [people] to place plastic tags around their children's necks to identify them in case of death." Can you confirm or comment on this remark?

This press report is false, and we strongly object to this lie. On June 15, the Ministry's crisis and support center was in touch with the parents of a mother being detained in Iraq, and in the context of the fighting then going on in Mosul, they were given the following piece of advice: "It is recommended that your son and daughter-in-law report their presence and/or that of their children to the Red Cross, but especially to the Consulate in Baghdad or Erbil. And urge them to provide a way to identify their children if they are separated from their parents."

I would like to take this opportunity to give you some additional details:

French nationals who have committed offenses in Iraq and who are on Iraqi territory may be prosecuted by Iraqi courts, although they will have a right to consular protection.

However, French courts could also have jurisdiction if they consider that these individuals have violated French law.

Thus, under article 113-6 of the Criminal Code, French legal authorities have jurisdiction to hear crimes committed by French nationals outside of France (the so-called active personality principle). That is the case with association in relation to a terrorist undertaking. Under this category, the Paris Public Prosecutor has engaged in numerous actions to apprehend French terrorist fighters. All French nationals who have traveled to Iraq and Syria since January 2015 to take part in fighting, as part of jihadist fighter networks, or who are involved in the organization of such networks, are considered to be participating in a criminal association.

Criminal prosecution may take place as soon as such individuals are arrested on French soil. Their departure from Iraqi territory would however presume the agreement of the Iraqi authorities.

If the concerned individuals are tried by Iraqi courts, they cannot be tried in France on the same charges.



Syria

Mr. Le Drian explained that the aim of the contact group on Syria proposed by France would be to propose solutions to the Syrian belligerents and to exert pressure on them. The representatives of the P5 and countries in the region were supposed to exert such pressure in Geneva; how could this work better today?

Will this group still be under the auspices of the UN? What will special envoy Staffan de Mistura's role be?

Jean-Yves Le Drian noted that a political solution in Syria had to include "the support of the United Nations, the permanent members of the Security Council, and the countries of the region."

These efforts fall under UN Security Council resolution 2254, and our proposals are crafted in close cooperation with the UN secretary general's special envoy and in support of his efforts.

Russia considers that all of the Syrian government's chemical weapons have been dismantled and removed from the country in keeping with the 2013 agreement, and denies the regime's use of chemical weapons since then. Does this position enable you to cooperate effectively with Moscow?

For France, the use of chemical weapons is a red line. The President clearly said so.

Russia acknowledges that such weapons have been used in Syria, in particular sarin gas during the attack of April 4 on Khan Shaykhun. Our disagreements relate to who is responsible for such actions.

We would like to work with Russia on these issues within the appropriate international forums, particularly the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. We—both Russia and France—have the same interest in protecting the chemical non-proliferation regime.


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