The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - June 28, 2018
In this issue:

◢  OPCW / Fight against impunity for the use of chemical weapons – Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian

◢  Syria – Situation in the southwest of the country

◢  Humanitarian aid / Guatemala – Eruption of Fuego volcano

◢  Egypt – Visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian (June 28, 2018)

OPCW / Fight against impunity for the use of chemical weapons – Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian

Yesterday, by a very large majority, the States Parties to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) adopted the mandate given to the organization to identify and name the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria. This decision will also allow the organization to gradually obtain universal methods of investigation and attribution and to strengthen its ability to verify nations' chemical stockpiles and capacities.

I welcome this decision by the States Parties, who seized an historic opportunity to combat impunity for those who use or develop chemical weapons and to pass on a more peaceful, more secure world to future generations.

This is a victory against impunity, but also for our collective security. By taking this decision, the international community sent an unambiguous message, reaffirming the absolute confidence it has in this organization to carry out these investigations independently and with all due professionalism. The Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, launched in Paris in January and now numbering 35 nations, will provide all necessary support for the implementation of this important decision.

By strengthening the capacity of the OPCW, guarantor of the prohibition of these weapons, states provided the most appropriate response to the reemergence of chemical weapons, which we have been witnessing for several years in the Middle East, Asia, and now in Europe.

Syria – Situation in the southwest of the country

France is extremely concerned by the offensive conducted by the Syrian regime and its backers in southwestern Syria, especially around the city of Deraa, in violation of the de-escalation agreement that is supposed to guarantee the stability of this area. These attacks create a risk of escalation and regional destabilization.

We are especially attentive to the humanitarian consequences of this offensive on the civilian population and to attacks on medical and healthcare infrastructures, which constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law. These operations forced nearly 45,000 people to flee. These latest displaced persons join nearly a million people displaced by the conflict since early 2018. This is the largest movement of displaced persons since the beginning of a conflict that has already forced more than half of all Syrians to leave their homes.

That is why France is calling on Russia to enforce the commitments it agreed to on the cease-fire in southwestern Syria.

The latest events underscore the urgent need to establish a credible political process under the auspices of the UN and in accordance with Security Council resolution 2254, allowing the Syrian parties and main international stakeholders to agree on the parameters for sustainably ending the crisis. To that end, France supports the efforts of the UN special envoy to establish a constitutional committee and to create the necessary convergences within the international community.

Humanitarian aid / Guatemala – Eruption of Fuego volcano

Following a request for international aid from the Guatemalan authorities, France is working to provide support for populations affected by the eruption of Fuego on June 3.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs' Crisis and Support Center has just granted a subsidy to a project run by the non-governmental organization CARE to provide water, as well as medical and sanitation supplies and equipment, to populations in need. In addition, the Ministry funded the shipment of more than 400 kg of equipment donated by the NGO Pompiers de l'Urgence Internationale and intended for local populations.

In consultation with the Guatemalan authorities, our embassy is overseeing the coordination of French aid with that of other donors.

Egypt – Visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian (June 28, 2018)

At President Macron's request, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian will be in Egypt on June 28 for a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sissi to discuss regional issues on which France and Egypt share many points of agreement.

  • Libya: On this issue, which is the subject of an intense dialogue between France and Egypt, Mr. Le Drian will underscore the need to fully and swiftly implement the political declaration adopted at the International Conference on Libya on May 29 in Paris. In support of the mediation effort by the UN secretary-general's special envoy Ghassan Salamé, these commitments endorsed by the UN Security Council lay the groundwork for unifying civilian and military institutions and holding elections before the end of the year. Mr. Le Drian will convey his concern over the situation in the oil crescent and will recall the need to respect the prerogatives of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) in Tripoli. Aware of the strategic importance of these issues for Egypt, France marks its support for the Egyptian authorities with respect to the achievement of these goals.
  • Syria: Jean-Yves Le Drian will bring up prospects for reviving the political process under the auspices of UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. We share common concerns with Egypt: the dangers of regional escalation, the Syrian population's humanitarian needs, the ongoing fight against terrorism, the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the population displacement strategy implemented by the Assad regime.
  • Middle East peace process: France and Egypt support the two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within secure, recognized borders and with Jerusalem as their capital, in accordance with international law and internationally agreed parameters. Mr. Le Drian will evoke the situation in Gaza, particularly the resources that must be mobilized to respond to the serious humanitarian crisis in that territory. He will express France's support for Egyptian efforts aimed at inter-Palestinian reconciliation, which is vital to improving living conditions for the people and re-establishing a political horizon.

Jean-Yves Le Drian and President Sissi will also review the various aspects of our partnership, especially in the economic arena and in the fight against terrorism. They will continue the dialogue instituted with the Egyptian authorities on human rights. And the minister will reiterate the strong expectations of the loved ones of the victims of EgyptAir flight MS 804 and the need for our joint cooperation to shed all light on the reasons for that disaster.

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