The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs
Spokesperson


Paris - February 20, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Serbia – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Ivica Dacic (February 20, 2018)

◢  Syria – Bombing in Eastern Ghouta

◢  Syria – Turkey

◢  Armenia – Azerbaijan

◢  Palestine

 
Serbia – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Ivica Dacic (February 20, 2018)

Jean-Yves Le Drian received Ivica Dacic, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Serbia, today in Paris.

During the meeting, the two ministers signaled their desire to strengthen the cooperative and friendly relations between Paris and Belgrade; the minister will soon visit Belgrade in the context of the commemorations of the end of World War One.

Following the publication by the European Commission on February 6 of its Western Balkans strategy, Jean-Yves Le Drian wanted to reaffirm France's commitment, as expressed by President Macron at the Sorbonne, to the accession by the Western Balkans countries to a reformed European Union, once these countries have fulfilled the necessary conditions.

The minister for Europe and foreign affairs reaffirmed that the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina under the auspices of the European Union is key to ensuring the lasting stabilization of the entire region and must lead to full normalization between both countries based on a comprehensive agreement.

Lastly, the two ministers discussed the prospect of the summit between the EU and the Balkans due to take place in Sofia on May 17. Mr. Le Drian hoped that a "positive agenda" for the Western Balkans would be promoted at the summit, based on concrete EU support measures for the transformation efforts expected by the states in the region, within the framework of their European rapprochement.



Syria – Bombing in Eastern Ghouta

The bombing by the regime and its allies has resulted in a hundred or so civilian casualties in Eastern Ghouta over the last few days. These indiscriminate attacks are deliberately targeted against populated areas and civilian infrastructure, notably including medical facilities. They constitute a serious violation of international humanitarian law.

This bombing campaign is taking place on a breathtaking scale while the humanitarian situation is already critical in Eastern Ghouta. 400,000 civilians are besieged by Bashar al-Assad's army, including 750 people awaiting emergency medical evacuation which is being denied to them.

The Syrian regime, as well as Russia and Iran, which are its main supporters and which, under the Astana agreements, agreed to act as guarantors of a ceasefire that is meant to apply to Ghouta, bear responsibility for these actions. France calls on all of its partners at the UN Security Council to assume their responsibilities in order to finally reach a humanitarian truce.

Yesterday in Eastern Ghouta the attacks by the Syrian regime's forces killed several dozen local residents (perhaps as many as 80 people were killed, most of them civilians). You are not talking directly with Damascus but you are talking with Moscow, which supports the Syrian regime. What are you saying to the Russians about this issue and what means of influence do you have in order to put an end to this massacre, given that there are almost 400,000 people in extreme distress in Eastern Ghouta. Have you had any recent contact with Moscow regarding this issue?

Please refer to today's statement.



Syria – Turkey

What is your response to the growing tensions between Damascus and Ankara regarding the town of Afrin and the Turkish incursion in this region which is currently under the control of the Kurds (YPG), allies of the Global Coalition against Daesh?

We have repeatedly expressed to Turkey our attachment to the security of its borders as well as our concern regarding a military operation in a region facing serious humanitarian risks.

The only way to restore peace in Syria and ensure Turkey's security is through a negotiated solution under UN auspices in accordance with the terms of UNSCR 2254. We are working in this direction in close collaboration with Turkey as well as with our other regional partners.



Armenia – Azerbaijan

During his party conference on February 8 in Baku, President Ilham Aliyev again publicly affirmed that "Erevan and Zangezur are our historical territories" and "we as Azerbaijanis should return to this historic land," "this is our political and strategic goal, we should gradually make progress toward achieving it." What is France's position with respect to these remarks, which not only contravene the Minsk Group principles, but also constitute a threat to the existence of Armenia?

France remains fully committed to the search for a negotiated solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

It calls on the parties to the conflict to work in good faith toward that end, notably by refraining from any statement or action likely to exacerbate tensions.



Palestine

The president of the Palestinian Authority will brief the Security Council today on the situation and the stalemate in the peace process, on Jerusalem and other issues. What are you expecting from this speech and Mr. Abbas's likely request for UN recognition of Palestine as a full member of the organization?

The president of the Palestinian Authority will address the UN Security Council today.

On this occasion, France will reaffirm its concern at the situation on the ground, reaffirm that there can be no alternative to the solution of two states living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the capital of both states, and will express its willingness to do everything possible to ensure that critical negotiations are finally launched in order to achieve peace.


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