The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - June 14, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Finland – Visit by Nathalie Loiseau (Helsinki - June 14-15, 2018)

◢  Chemical Weapons – OPCW report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria (June 13, 2018)

◢  Security - Defense – 19th International Forum on the African Continent at the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Défense Nationale (June 19-27, 2018)

◢  Situation of Sophie Pétronin

◢  Cameroon

Finland – Visit by Nathalie Loiseau (Helsinki - June 14-15, 2018)

Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau will be in Helsinki today and tomorrow. She will meet with her counterpart, Sampo Terho, with Foreign Minister Timo Soini, and with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Petteri Orpo. The minister will give a lecture at the Finnish Parliament co-hosted by the Finnish Institute for International Relations on the future of Europe and France's vision. Ms. Loiseau will also take part in a citizen consultation with the French community in Finland.

During her visit, the minister will visit the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) whose headquarters are in Helsinki. This agency implements the REACH regulation, the pillar of EU environmental law, which aims to better assess risks and to progressively eliminate the chemicals that are the most dangerous to human health.

The minister will discuss the most important current European issues with her interlocutors. We are especially close to Finland with regard to the common security and defense policy. Preparations for the Finnish presidency of the EU Council, in the second half of 2019, will also be discussed.

Bilateral relations between France and Finland are excellent. They are characterized by ambitious commercial and industrial projects, such as the construction of the Olkiluoto EPR power plant. France was one of the very first countries to recognize Finland's independence, 100 years ago this year.

Chemical Weapons – OPCW report on the use of chemical weapons in Syria (June 13, 2018)

On June 13, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) published a new report investigating the use of chemical weapons. It confirms with a high degree of certainty that sarin was used in Latamneh, Syria, on March 24, 2017, and that chlorine was used in another attack on the same town on March 25.

The fight against the proliferation of chemical weapons is a priority. France is strongly committed to this issue, and on January 23 launched the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, supported by 34 nations. This OPCW report underscores the urgency of establishing, as swiftly as possible, a new mechanism to determine those responsible for these attacks, as Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized at the Partnership's first meeting in Paris on May 18. There can be no impunity for those who develop or use such weapons.

This is the sixteenth OPCW report confirming the use of a chemical weapon or a toxic substance similar to a chemical weapon in the Syrian conflict. As a reminder, the UN and OPCW's Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) had determined that the Syrian armed forces were responsible in at least four cases. Russia vetoed attempts to renew its mandate three times.

Security - Defense – 19th International Forum on the African Continent at the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Défense Nationale (June 19-27, 2018)

The 19th International Forum on the African Content (FICA) at the Institut des Hautes Etudes de Défense Nationale (Institute for Higher National Defense Studies – IHEDN) will run from June 19 to 27 in Paris, at the Ecole Militaire. It will study "current conditions for sustainable security in Africa."

This international meeting grew out of a partnership between the IHEDN and the Security and Defense Department of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. It provides an opportunity for high officials from partner countries and African regional organizations to delve into a certain number of challenges through conferences, workshops and teamwork; this year such issues will include national sovereignty, security reforms, and the prevention of armed conflicts.

The round table on June 25, "Imposing-consolidating-keeping the peace in Africa today," will be open to researchers, the media and think tanks, by invitation.

Situation of Sophie Pétronin

Can you confirm the authenticity of the video aired yesterday of hostage Sophie Pétronin?

A video of Sophie Pétronin was aired yesterday. It is in the process of being analyzed.

  • The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is in constant contact with Ms. Pétronin's family.
  • All government agencies are mobilized on behalf of our compatriot.
  • For obvious reasons of security and effectiveness, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs will continue to observe the strictest discretion in this regard.


According to the latest Amnesty International report, the Cameroonian army responded to demonstrations in that country with arbitrary arrests, torture, illegal homicides, and the destruction of property. The security forces destroyed villages and tortured at least 23 people, including minors, to extort "confessions" from them. Armed separatists attacked 42 schools and killed 44 members of the security forces. This matter was brought before the British and German Parliaments. Apart from condemning the violence on both sides, is France taking any initiatives to provide external mediation of the crisis?

We are closely monitoring the situation in Cameroon, a friend and partner, and we are concerned by the tensions persisting in the English-speaking regions. We reiterate our call for an end to the violence and call on all actors to show restraint.

As we have already said, we are convinced that only dialogue will make it possible to respond peacefully and in a concerted manner to the concerns of all the parties, in a way that respects the country's unity and integrity. That is a message we are sending to the Cameroonian authorities and we are prepared, in cooperation with our international partners, to support all efforts leading in that direction.

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