The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - May 3, 2018
In this issue:

◢  World Press Freedom Day – Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian (May 3, 2018)

◢  Syria – OPCW

◢  Palestinian Territories

World Press Freedom Day – Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian (May 3, 2018)

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, I would like to pay tribute to the journalists killed in Kabul on April 30, 2018, including Shah Marai AFP photographer.

I pay tribute to the courage of those who often risk their lives to continue to work to keep us informed.

On this World Press Freedom Day, France joins with Germany in issuing the following joint statement:

"On this World Press Freedom Day, France and Germany reaffirm their shared, constant and resolute commitment to press freedom, the freedom of expression and the protection of journalists all over the world, including on the Internet.

Media pluralism, the right to inform or be informed and the ability to express critical views are key to the democratic debate. In this respect, journalists, media workers and bloggers on social media play a critical role.

They are increasingly threatened including in Europe. We have a responsibility to pay tribute to the courage of these men and women and to combat those who seek to silence their voices through the use of force or threats or by discrediting them. It is not acceptable for journalists to be targeted or murdered because of their profession. By doing their jobs, they are defending our freedom. The defense of these principles and the protection of journalists carrying out their profession is a priority.

Our two countries are working toward this goal. We will continue to promote the right of everyone to freedom of opinion and freedom of expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. We are mobilized at the United Nations to defend this fundamental freedom and to combat the impunity of those who flout it. We actively supported the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the resolution on the protection of journalists, which, this year, highlights the situation of female journalists and aims to ensure closer monitoring by the UN secretary-general.

We call for the full implementation of resolution 1738 adopted on December 23, 2006, and resolution 2222 adopted on May 27, 2015, by the Security Council on the protection of journalists in armed conflict."

Syria – OPCW

Can you comment on the statements by Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, who told the Italian press that Russia hopes the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) conducts an independent investigation of the events in Douma with the participation of U.S. and French experts?

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is currently investigating the attack in Douma on April 7. It is completely independent.

The OPCW's mission is to establish the facts and determine the nature of the chemical agent used. It employs highly technical and extremely rigorous scientific methods that we have applauded on a number of occasions. The mission is not mandated to identify those responsible for the attack; only the Joint Investigative Mission of the UN and the OPCW (JIM) could do that, but its mandate wasn't renewed due to Russian opposition in the Security Council.

The rigor of the OPCW's methods and the expertise of its staff are incontestable. It is vital for the organization to have complete, immediate, and unhindered access to all sources of information, whether they be sites to visit, individuals to question, or documents to consult.

France reiterates its commitment to opposing impunity for the use of chemical weapons. It currently chairs the international partnership that provides useful information to international investigations under way and is working to complete the lists of individuals and entities involved in the use of chemical weapons. In the very near future, France will organize another meeting of the member states of this partnership to continue combating the use of these weapons and to demonstrate the total mobilization of the partner states to that end.

Palestinian Territories

In his speech on April 30, the Palestinian president said Jews living in Europe had experienced massacres every 10 to 15 years in some countries between the 11th century and the Holocaust, and that the hatred for Jews wasn't connected to their religion but to their "social function," that the problem facing the Jews in Europe was due to their work, because of their involvement in usury and banking. Do you have any comment on these statements?

France shares the emotions roused by these remarks by President Abbas. We deplore them and consider them false, unfortunate and inappropriate.

France calls on all parties to act in a spirit of peace and dialogue, in order to create the conditions needed for a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. This requires the utmost responsibility in the public expressions of each of the parties.

France reiterates its condemnation, in the strongest possible terms, of anti-Semitism in all its forms and its determination to relentlessly combat this scourge.

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