The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs
Spokesperson


Paris - February 9, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Digital diplomacy – Launch of the Russian-language version of the France Diplomatie website and Twitter account (February 9, 2018)

◢  Thailand – Visit by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (February 12-13, 2018)

◢  Development – Food security

◢  Ukraine

◢  Syria

 
Digital diplomacy – Launch of the Russian-language version of the France Diplomatie website and Twitter account (February 9, 2018)

In the context of the development of its foreign language digital diplomacy, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs will inaugurate the Russian version of the France Diplomatie website (www.diplomatie.gouv.fr/ru) as well as its Twitter account in Russian (@francediplo_RU) on August 9.

These new communication tools are targeted at almost 300 million Russian speakers around the work, who will be able to experience, in their language, the diversity our diplomatic, cultural and economic relations and learn first-hand about France, its appeal and strengths. On this occasion, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, wanted to send a message of welcome to Russian-speaking internet users (see below).

Russian has now become the sixth France Diplomatie language, after Spanish and English in 2012, followed by Arabic and German in 2013. More concise versions are also available in Chinese and Japanese. We are the only foreign ministry in the world to communicate in so many languages.

The development of our digital diplomacy and our communication through social networks is a priority for the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Our social media audiences are constantly expanding, with in particular more than a million followers on our French Twitter account, which has been active since 2007. Our foreign language accounts have been active since 2010 in English, since 2012 in Spanish, since 2014 in Arabic and since 2017 in German.

* * * * *
Message from Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic

Dear friends,

Here we have the new Russian version of the French Foreign Ministry's website, France Diplomatie. It was created for all of you; you belong to the nearly 300 million people around the world who speak this language that we appreciate so much in France.

The goal of this site is to allow you to discover the France of today, a welcoming country that engages in the world.

You are already familiar with its culture, its heritage, its cuisine, and its art of living which attract visitors from all over the world every year. There were 89 million visitors in 2017. We are continuing our efforts to make it easier for you to experience France, for example by issuing visas within 48 hours when conditions allow, by ensuring your safety and your comfort, and by upgrading our infrastructure.

France is also a country of innovation and creativity and is a frontrunner with regard to respect for the environment.

Close to 300,000 international students come to France to train in many areas: science, engineering, business, culture and the arts.

Every week, 21 foreign firms choose to invest in France: Nearly 25,000 foreign firms are based in our country. The number of start-ups is rapidly expanding, notably in the digital and environmental fields, in a country where a business can be started in three and a half days.

Many international and European organizations and institutions, such as UNESCO have their headquarters in France. We also have a long tradition of hosting major international events, including sporting events such as the Olympic Games, due to be hosted in Paris in 2024.

Beyond France itself, this site aims to share with you the vision that we have for the world, notably through our diplomatic efforts. France would like to help resolve the serious crises threatening the global and European equilibrium. And they are considerable: with respect to climate change, by implementing the Paris Climate Agreement, which is crucial to the future of our planet; in the Sahel and elsewhere, by continuing the relentless fight against the terrorist threat; in Europe, by re-founding an EU that better responds to citizens' expectations, as proposed by President Macron; in Syria, by helping to put an end to a terrible war and finding a political solution in accordance with the UN Security Council decisions; and lastly in Ukraine, by helping to implement the Minsk agreements restoring Ukrainian sovereignty and by creating the conditions for reconciliation with Russia.

In the face of these challenges, my country is proposing solutions, working with its partners and trying to obtain the broadest possible support for achieving the goal of a world that is just, free and at peace.

I hope you will enjoy exploring our France Diplomatie site and I look forward to seeing you on our Russian Twitter account!

Jean-Yves Le Drian



Thailand – Visit by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne (February 12-13, 2018)

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will be in Bangkok on February 12 and 13.

He will discuss the strengthening of bilateral economic relations with several members of the government: Kobsak Pootrakool, serving in the Office of the Prime Minister; Minister of Science and Technology Suvit Maesincee; Minister of Industry Utama Savanayon; Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Virasakdi Futrakul; and Deputy Minister of Transport Pairin Chuchottaworn.

Mr. Lemoyne will speak with Thai investors about reforms implemented by the French government to promote our country's enhanced appeal to investors. This visit will underscore the high caliber of French assets in such strategic sectors as aircraft and aerospace, transportation, and food production, and to raise issues of market access. Thailand is France's second-largest Southeast Asian market and its second-largest destination in terms of French foreign direct investments. The minister will also visit the site of the future Alliance Française of Bangkok, to feature cultural and educational events in French in a country numbering 500,000 French-speakers.

During his trip, Mr. Lemoyne will also discuss the regional situation with the Thai authorities and prospects for strengthening relations between the EU and Thailand under the Thai roadmap to restore democratic rule. Conversations will focus on the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar, with France reiterating its condemnation of the severe human rights violations committed by Myanmar security forces and calling for the swift restoration of safe, unhindered humanitarian access as well as media access to the area and for the establishment of conditions allowing refugees to return home voluntarily, safely and permanently. Mr. Lemoyne will discuss this point in a meeting with Surakiart Sathiratha, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his capacity as chairman of the advisory board for the Committee for Implementation of the Recommendations on Rakhine State led by Kofi Annan.



Development – Food security

Since 2012, France has supported the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NASAN), an initiative launched at the G7 Summit.

An assessment of the impacts of its implementation in Burkina Faso showed mixed results. France has therefore chosen to withdraw from this initiative while continuing to work toward food security and to consider new approaches to creating a favorable environment for responsible agriculture investments.

France continues to work actively on behalf of food security and nutrition, especially in the Sahel. It promotes projects that support family farms and increase their resilience in the face of climate and economic shocks, while fostering their integration into markets and wealth creation.



Ukraine

February 12 will mark the anniversary of the signing of the Minsk Agreements. Were the expectations of these agreements and of the parties met? How can non-compliance with these agreements be explained? If we assess these agreements today, what could have been done differently?

Jean-Yves Le Drian discussed the conflict in eastern Ukraine on February 5 with his Ukrainian counterpart and spoke about it by phone with his Russian counterpart. Every week this crisis is causing additional casualties and making life harder for local people..

France, which together with Germany is acting as a mediator, calls on Russia to implement the Minsk Agreements, especially in regard to security, and expects Ukraine to continue implementing the measures pertaining to it.

Our goal remains a comprehensive political resolution to the crisis, the improvement of the security situation which implies fully respecting the ceasefire and the reestablishment of socioeconomic ties on both sides of the contact line.



Syria

President Macron (next to President Vladimir Putin) and the minister repeated several times that France has a red line with regard to humanitarian access in Syria. Can we say that this line has been crossed and, if so, what does France put forward as a consequence, in concrete terms?

The humanitarian situation in Syria, and especially in Eastern Ghouta and the Idlib region, is unacceptable. The bombardments have intensified and continue to deliberately target vital equipment and civilians, forcing several thousand to flee. In Eastern Ghouta, the regime continues its siege of 400,000 people, some of whom require emergency medical evacuations. The use of sieges as a weapon of war is unacceptable. We are also concerned by the Turkish intervention in Afrin, which must not further worsen the humanitarian situation.

The de-escalation zones provided by the Astana Agreement are not being respected. The nations guaranteeing that agreement have a major responsibility to enforce the commitments entered into, notably with respect to decreasing violence and humanitarian access to de-escalation zones, which Idlib and Ghouta are part of. It is imperative that they exert pressure on the regime to force it to abide by its commitments. UN convoys must have safe, complete, and unhindered access to besieged towns and populations in need.

France is working with its allies and partners to improve the situation. We are working within international bodies to ensure that concrete measures are taken as swiftly as possible and that violations of international humanitarian law do not go unpunished. We are actively engaged in seeking a negotiated political solution under UN auspices and according to the terms of Security Council resolution 2254, which alone will help restore peace in Syria.


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