The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - May 22, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Belgium - European Union – Meeting between Nathalie Loiseau and the Belgian federal budget minister (Paris - May 22, 2018)

◢  European Union – Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne's participation in the Foreign Affairs Council (Development) (Brussels - May 22, 2018)

◢  Venezuela – Presidential elections (May 20, 2018)

◢  China / Human rights – Sentencing of Tashi Wangchuk (May 22, 2018)

◢  Yemen

◢  Iran

Belgium - European Union – Meeting between Nathalie Loiseau and the Belgian federal budget minister (Paris - May 22, 2018)

Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, is meeting with Sophie Wilmès, Belgian Federal Budget Minister, on May 22 to discuss the next European Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2021-2027.

The minister will reaffirm France's support for the improvements contained in the Commission's proposal: a clearer structure, providing a fresh response to the collective challenges facing the EU, notably in terms of migration, security and defense, as well as environmental challenges; greater support for innovation, the digital sector, research, youth mobility and the establishment of conditionality requirements with respect to the rule of law.

Nathalie Loiseau will reaffirm France's strong opposition to the drastic reduction in the direct payments under the Common Agricultural Policy, the need for a more ambitious approach with respect to the scrapping of rebates, the creation of new own resources and the modernization of the cohesion policy. In this respect, she will reaffirm that the future cohesion policy should also take into account the need to support the territories and sectors that will be particularly affected by the UK's exit from the EU.

Nathalie Loiseau had already met with Sophie Wilmès on the sidelines of the ministerial conference in Sofia devoted to preparations for the next Multiannual Financial Framework on March 9.

European Union – Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne's participation in the Foreign Affairs Council (Development) (Brussels - May 22, 2018)

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, is taking part in the Foreign Affairs Council (Development) meeting on May 22 in Brussels.

The agenda includes the following points:

  • the EU-ACP Partnership Agreement: While the Cotonou Agreement expires in 2020, the high representative will provide a progress report on the Council's draft mandate for negotiations on the renewal of the EU-ACP Partnership Agreement. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne will reaffirm the importance France attaches to relations between the EU and the 79 countries in the ACP group, which should be developed within a renewed, modernized and forward-looking framework, enabling a strengthened economic and mutually beneficial partnership;
  • emergency trust fund on migration: This point will provide an opportunity for an exchange of views on the continuation of funding and the thematic and geographic priorities to be supported;
  • financial instruments for external assistance in the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027): Two weeks after the publication of the Commission's proposal on the Multiannual Financial Framework, the ministers should discuss the future priorities for EU external assistance. France will continue to pay close attention to the goals of the future framework with respect to Africa, the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the EU's neighboring countries.

A lunch will be devoted to gender and development issues focusing on the EU's efforts in the area of gender equality, the Spotlight initiative and the role of women in peace and security; France is actively involved in these issues.

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne is also taking part in the International Donor Conference for The Gambia. During this conference, France will announce a contribution of more than €50 million.

Venezuela – Presidential elections (May 20, 2018)

The presidential elections that just took place in Venezuela cannot be considered to be representative, given the obstacles preventing the participation of several opposition parties and leaders, the lack of an agreement between the government and the opposition on the election calendar and voting procedures, as well as the lack of independence of the electoral judge and the many irregularities denounced by several candidates. Together with its EU partners, France expressed its doubts regarding the transparency and fairness of the elections. The record low voter turnout confirms that most Venezuelans do not consider the elections to be legitimate or credible.

These elections do not therefore serve to help resolve the very serious economic and social crisis affecting the country.

France expresses its deep concern following the announcement of the presidential election results and supports a political and peaceful solution to the crisis in accordance with the Venezuelan Constitution.

China / Human rights – Sentencing of Tashi Wangchuk (May 22, 2018)

France regrets the five-year prison sentence handed down to Tashi Wangchuk on May 22 by the Yushu Intermediate Court for inciting separatism. Tashi Wangchuk played a key role in protecting the Tibetan language under the laws of the People's Republic of China.

France is committed to the protection of human rights. It believes that dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the local population is critical to achieving a lasting solution to the tensions in Tibet while fully respecting the cultural and spiritual identity of Tibet, within the framework of the People's Republic of China.


What is the goal of the conference on Yemen scheduled to take place next month in France?

In parallel to the efforts to achieve a political solution, the humanitarian situation in Yemen requires immediate action. Indeed, the UN considers the crisis in Yemen to be one of the worst in the world and has included Yemen on the list of four countries in a state of pre-famine. 8.4 million people are currently facing serious food shortages.

In this context, President Macron and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia agreed on April 10, during the crown prince's visit to Paris, to organize a joint conference on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.

We are preparing the groundwork for this conference together with the United Nations, the main countries involved in the conflict and its resolution, and the NGOs operating in Yemen; it should make it possible to:

  • take stock of the humanitarian needs, the assistance provided and the response mechanisms, which must be improved;
  • define the humanitarian actions needed to improve the situation of the civilian populations.

This work, which should be a collective effort, will help restore the conditions for the resumption of political discussions under UN auspices.

France reaffirms that the protection of populations and civilian infrastructure as well as full, unconditional and unrestricted access for humanitarian assistance are obligations that are binding on all parties to the conflict. The only way to prevent the security and humanitarian situation in Yemen from deteriorating is through a political solution and we call on the Yemeni parties to resume the negotiations without delay or preconditions. In this respect, we reaffirm our support for the efforts of UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths.


Do you believe that the 12 demands made yesterday by the American secretary of state with respect to Iran provide a realistic basis for negotiation?

President Macron reaffirmed on Thursday in Sofia that Europe is united and determined to take action to restore peace and stability in the Middle East.

To achieve that, we must be sure that Iran will never possess a nuclear weapon. This is the goal that we have been working toward since the discovery of Iran's clandestine nuclear program in 2002 which resulted in the Iranian nuclear deal in 2015. Regional and international security and the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime are at stake. That's why France will support the agreement as long as Iran continues to strictly implement the nuclear provisions. This is what will make it possible to avoid an escalation of tensions.

The companies that wish to do so must be able to continue their activities in Iran. This is in exchange for Iran's commitment to upholding its nuclear obligations. This is why Jean-Yves Le Drian and Bruno Le Maire received the French firms concerned last week in Paris. The EU is also taking action and announced measures to this effect. The other parties remaining in the agreement must also do their part.

But beyond the nuclear issues, we remain concerned by Iran's ballistic missile activities and Iran's growing military presence – direct and indirect - in the Middle East. This is why we want to establish a comprehensive framework for negotiations with Iran. We want Iran to understand the need for a cooperative approach.

We will be in contact about this issue with the participants to the nuclear agreement, including Iran, Russia and China and with all our partners, including our American and European partners and the countries in the region.

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