The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs
Spokesperson


Paris - January 29, 2018
In this issue:

◢  European Union – General Affairs Council (Brussels - January 29, 2018)

◢  Democratic Republic of Congo – Attack against MONUSCO (January 27, 2018)

◢  Mali – Attacks against the Malian armed forces (January 27-28, 2018)

◢  Yemen – Clashes in Aden (January 28, 2018)

◢  Syria

 
European Union – General Affairs Council (Brussels - January 29, 2018)

Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, is taking part in the General Affairs Council (Article 50) in Brussels on January 29 involving the EU-27, which will be devoted to Brexit.

The ministers will adopt the negotiating directives relating to the transition period, in accordance with the guidelines adopted by the European Council on December 15. The latter authorize the EU negotiator to open discussions with London on the details of this period which will begin on March 29, 2019, at midnight, when the United Kingdom will leave the EU.

During this period, which will be precisely limited in time, the United Kingdom, which will have become a third state, must continue to enforce all current EU rules (the "acquis"), without however participating in its institutions.



Democratic Republic of Congo – Attack against MONUSCO (January 27, 2018)

France condemns the attack against MONUSCO on January 27 in Baraka (South Kivu Province), which killed a Pakistani peacekeeper and injured one other.

We extend our condolences to the victim's family, the Pakistani authorities and the UN. We wish the injured person a speedy recovery.

France calls on the Congolese authorities to shed full light on this attack in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.

France reaffirms its full support for the stabilizing activities of MONUSCO and its contingents.



Mali – Attacks against the Malian armed forces (January 27-28, 2018)

France condemns the attacks that took place on January 27 and 28 against the Malian armed forces in Soumpi and Menaka, which led to the death of 18 Malian soldiers.

We stand alongside Mali at this difficult time and extend our condolences to the victims' families.

France will continue to support Mali's efforts to combat terrorism and the enemies of peace, by supporting the Malian armed forces and the G5 Sahel Joint Force, which represents a coordinated response by the countries of the region against the terrorist groups.

Dozens of people have been killed in Mali since last week, further demonstrating the ineffectiveness of the peace agreements and the military response in the face of an increasing number of attacks by armed groups. In the current context, what does France want to see on the political front?

As with the attacks on January 27 and 28, France condemns this violence by groups that have not signed the peace and reconciliation agreement.

Standing alongside MINUSMA, France is taking part in the international efforts in support of the Malian armed forces and backs the swift operationalization of the G5 Sahel joint force, which represents the most appropriate response to this cross-border threat. This commitment was reaffirmed at the meeting held on December 13 at La Celle-Saint-Cloud.

On the political front, France continues to support the implementation of the peace and reconciliation agreement, which is the only road map leading to lasting stability. It calls on all the parties to promptly implement the commitments they've agreed to, with the priority given to the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration process and decentralization. We applaud the recent adoption of a timetable for priority actions and will spare no effort to ensure its implementation.

France is also taking action with respect to development assistance. It is doing so in particular through the Alliance for the Sahel launched on July 2, 2017, to support the emergence of real economic activities for local populations, especially in the most vulnerable regions. This is a crucial part of the efforts to achieve lasting stability.



Yemen – Clashes in Aden (January 28, 2018)

France is concerned by the clashes between separatists and the Yemeni army that left several dead on January 28 in Aden. We condemn this violence and call on the parties to exercise restraint and engage in dialogue in order not to hinder the resolution of the crisis.

The protection of local populations and civilian infrastructures and full, unconditional, unfettered access to humanitarian aid are obligations under international humanitarian law. They are mandatory for all parties and we ask that they abide by them.

The priority in Yemen is to resume negotiations leading to a political solution, the only way to preserve the country's territorial integrity, restore peace and security in the long term, and bring an end to a tragic humanitarian situation. It is therefore vital for all the Yemeni parties to unconditionally resume the peace negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations.



Syria

Following the deadlock in the negotiations in Vienna, which the minister had considered the last hope, what does France think of the Syria National Dialogue Congress in Sochi? Is Paris sending an official delegation, or only observers? Do you believe the Geneva process has failed, and if so, what more we can we expect from the Sochi congress?

We deplore the fact that the Assad regime has once again refused to engage in the inter-Syrian negotiations that are part of the Geneva process. It is responsible for the deadlock in the peace talks. It is imperative that the countries supporting that regime exert the necessary pressure to end this obstructionist strategy.

Negotiations under the auspices of the UN remain the only legitimate framework for resolving the Syria crisis, in accordance with UN Security Council resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communiqué. All other initiatives, including the Sochi meeting organized by Russia, must support the UN process and be part of that framework.

Indeed, there is no alternative to a negotiated political solution agreed on by the two parties—the regime and the opposition—under the auspices of the UN. In that regard, we take note of the Syrian opposition's decision not to travel to Sochi. France will not take part in the efforts there.

Do you consider the YPG/PYD a terrorist organization? According to you, does General Mazlum Kobane not belong to the YPG?

As a member of the international coalition, France was able to ascertain the commitment demonstrated by the Syrian Democratic Forces—within which Kurds and Arabs fight side by side—in the fight against Daesh.

It was thanks to them that Raqqa was liberated from Daesh, with the support of the international coalition. These forces continue to fight in northeastern Syria.

France also cooperates closely with Turkey in the fight against the PKK, which is on the EU's list of terrorist organizations.


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