The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - February 5, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Ukraine – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and his counterpart (Paris - February 5, 2018)

◢  Migration – Jean-Yves Le Drian's participation in a ministerial conference (Rome - February 6, 2018)

◢  Portugal – Visit by Nathalie Loiseau (Lisbon - February 6, 2018)

◢  Syria

Ukraine – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and his counterpart (Paris - February 5, 2018)

Jean-Yves Le Drian received his Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, today in Paris. This meeting provided an opportunity to examine the prospects for strengthening our bilateral relations, take stock of the reform process in Ukraine and reaffirm our efforts to implement the Minsk agreements, which are the only way to find a political solution to the conflict.

With respect to the reform process, the minister for Europe and foreign affairs encouraged the important transformation efforts by Ukraine to move closer toward European governance standards, in spite of the difficult security context in the country on its eastern border. The recent visa liberalization and the entry into force of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement are tangible signs of our rapprochement and solidarity with the Ukrainians. Significant progress has been made with respect to cleaning up the banking system as well as with respect to energy sector reform and the development of a legislative and institutional mechanism to combat corruption. Together with its European and G7 partners, France supports Ukraine's efforts to implement these reforms and will lend its full support to their implementation. All efforts must focus on the fight against corruption, especially through the establishment of an operational and independent anti-corruption court.

The ministers also welcomed the cooperation projects between our two countries. French firms have a strong presence in Ukraine and many others are planning to establish themselves there. There are major projects underway in the renewable energy and sustainable urban development sectors. These are all future pillars of a strong and lasting cooperative relationship. In particular, France would like to make progress with respect to exchanges between civil society and young people. As such, the Ukrainian decision to make the 2018-2019 academic year the "Year of the French language in Ukraine" will contribute to strengthening our human ties.

Jean-Yves Le Drian and Pavlo Klimkin also addressed the situation in the eastern part of the country. France is attached to the sovereignty of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and does not recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea. The crisis is continuing in the eastern part of the country, where it is leading to casualties every week and where the population is struggling under difficult living conditions. France, which together with Germany, is acting as a mediator, calls on Russia to implement the Minsk agreements, especially in the area of security, and expects Ukraine to continue implementing the measures concerning it. Our goal remains a comprehensive political resolution of the crisis, the improvement of the security situation—which requires full compliance with the cease-fire—and the re-establishment of socio-economic ties between both sides of the line of contact.

Migration – Jean-Yves Le Drian's participation in a ministerial conference (Rome - February 6, 2018)

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will take part in the ministerial conference on cooperation between European countries and the main African countries of transit. This conference follows on from the first meeting which also took place in Rome on July 6, 2017, and the meeting of the heads of state of the European countries and transit countries in Paris on August 28.

The meeting in Rome will be aimed at further strengthening cooperation between host countries, transit countries and countries of departure in the fight against human trafficking, smuggling and exploitation and with respect to the protection of the rights of migrants and asylum seekers.

Jean-Yves Le Drian will reaffirm our support for the main countries of origin and transit and will stress the commitment taken at the last European Union - African Union summit held in Abidjan last November to work collectively to strengthen their capacity to face up to this challenge. The minister will also confirm France's commitment to facilitate voluntary returns, notably from Libya, and the resettlement of the most threatened refugees. Actions have been initiated by OFPRA to that end.

Finally, Mr. Le Drian will confirm France's intention to strive for European and international sanctions against the main parties responsible for human trafficking.

This trip will also underscore our solidarity with Italy and our support for the initiatives it has taken in Libya and Niger, which are in keeping with the President's visit to Rome on January 10-11.

Portugal – Visit by Nathalie Loiseau (Lisbon - February 6, 2018)

European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau will be in Portugal on February 6. She will meet there with Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva and Secretary of State for European Affairs Ana Paula Zacarias.

Their discussions will deal with the main issues involved in rebuilding Europe, in which Portugal is an important partner. Ms. Loiseau will present our citizen consultation approach, which is set to begin in April, and in which Portugal announced it would participate. The multiannual financial framework, the future of the cohesion policy and the deepening of the Economic and Monetary Union will also be on the agenda. She will also pay a visit to the European Maritime Safety Agency.

Finally, the minister will give a speech at the annual meeting of political science students (ENECP 2018), organized by the Higher Institute of Social and Political Science (ISCSP) of Lisbon. She will also serve with her counterpart, Ana Paula Zacarias, on the panel discussing the "Future of the European Union" and will then answer questions from students and members of civil society.


What is France's reaction to the intensification of Russian strikes in the rebel-held sectors of Idlib province?

France strongly condemns the indiscriminate bombardment of Idlib province by the Syrian regime and its allies, especially when it targets residential areas and civilian infrastructures, and particularly medical facilities. It is incumbent on all parties to respect international humanitarian law.

In this regard, the states that serve as guarantors for the Astana agreement, providing for the establishment of a ceasefire and de-escalation areas, especially in Idlib, bear particular responsibility.

There will be lasting stability in Syria only on the basis of a negotiated political solution consistent with the orientations of Security Council resolution 2254.

Several recent articles are raising the question of the Quai d'Orsay's involvement in the Lafarge affair. How do you respond to that?

Neither the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs nor any of his employees have been implicated in the legal proceedings currently under way.

It is our duty to help shed light on that case.

In this regard, our diplomats are testifying as witnesses, as they had contacts with the Lafarge group through their official duties. Likewise, we are making available to the courts the information or documents they have requested.

The French authorities have always made it perfectly clear that sanctions against Syria, which prohibit any transactions with Daesh, must be scrupulously respected. We accept no form of collusion with terrorist groups, in Syria or elsewhere.

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