The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - July 20, 2018
In this issue:

◢  Azerbaijan – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Finance Minister Samir Sharifov (Paris - July 18, 2018)

◢  Djibouti – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and his counterpart (Paris - July 19, 2018)

◢  EU – Participation of Nathalie Loiseau in General Affairs Council (Brussels - July 20, 2018)

◢  Trade – Signing of economic partnership agreement between EU and Japan (July 17, 2018)


◢  Uzbekistan – Seventh Joint Commission (July 20, 2018)

◢  India

Azerbaijan – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Finance Minister Samir Sharifov (Paris - July 18, 2018)

On July 18, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian hosted Samir Sharifov, minister of finance of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

Following Mr. Le Drian's meetings in Baku on May 27, the purpose of this meeting was to prepare for Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev's working visit to Paris on July 20.

The ministers reviewed projects by French companies in Azerbaijan, especially in the fields of energy, transportation, the environment, urban development, and tourism, in the context of the diversification of the economy desired by Azerbaijani authorities.

Azerbaijan is France's leading economic partner in the South Caucasus, with a bilateral trade volume of €739 million in 2017.

Djibouti – Meeting between Jean-Yves Le Drian and his counterpart (Paris - July 19, 2018)

On July 19, Jean-Yves Le Drian met with his Djiboutian counterpart, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf. The meeting emphasized the longstanding and close bilateral relationship between France and Djibouti. It will provide an opportunity to further expand economic and commercial relations, which, since November 2017, have enjoyed the support of the France-Djibouti Business Group (GAFD). The ministers will also discuss strengthening the strategic partnership between our two countries centered on the security and defense cooperation treaty, as well as the ongoing presence of French forces stationed in Djibouti.

The ministers will bring up the new regional equation represented by the rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea, and the important role that Djibouti must play in fostering this development.

Finally, the meeting will give France an opportunity to applaud Djibouti's commitment to the stabilization of Somalia and its contribution to ending the crisis in Yemen, with the presence on its soil of the United Nations Verification and Inspection Mechanism (UNVIM) and its acceptance of many people who are fleeing the conflict.

EU – Participation of Nathalie Loiseau in General Affairs Council (Brussels - July 20, 2018)

On July 20, Minister for European Affairs Nathalie Loiseau will attend the General Affairs Council in Brussels, meeting in an article 50 format to examine the status of negotiations of the withdrawal agreement with the United Kingdom.

Chief negotiator Michel Barnier will present the status of the negotiations after a working session this week devoted to the remaining subjects in the withdrawal agreement and the framework for future relations. He will offer his vision of developments in the negotiations between now and October, when the withdrawal agreement must be concluded.

Ms. Loiseau will underscore the need to finalize the entire text of the withdrawal agreement as soon as possible, including its protocol on Ireland, on the basis of the Commission's proposal. She will reaffirm France's commitment to the negotiating principles established by the European Council, including the integrity of the internal market, the EU's decision-making autonomy, and the balance between rights and obligations in regard to which the White Paper published by the British government on July 12 must be analyzed. Finally, she will stress the importance of stepping up preparations in the event that an agreement cannot be reached, in line with the statement published today by the Commission.

Trade – Signing of economic partnership agreement between EU and Japan (July 17, 2018)

France hails the signing on July 17 of the economic partnership agreement between the EU and Japan. In a context of trade tensions, this agreement sends a strong signal by the two great economic powers in support of open, fair international trade, both mutually beneficial and based on stringent standards.

During their meeting on July 13, Jean-Yves Le Drian and his Japanese counterpart, Tarō Kōno, reiterated the prospects created by the agreement establishing an economic zone of 600 million inhabitants, representing some 30% of global GDP.

Japan is France's sixth-largest trading partner outside of the EU. Eight thousand French companies export to Japan, representing a volume of more than €6 billion; many of these companies are first-time exporters.

This agreement will benefit French farmers and exporters. The increased openness of the Japanese market offers new prospects for our agricultural sectors, especially beef and pork, but also cheese, processed foods, wines and spirits. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, minister of state for foreign affairs, emphasized this at the first meeting of the international agricultural and agrifoods commission, held on July 13. Indeed, the Japanese market offers great potential for French products, given its size and its demanding consumers. Thanks to provisions on geographic labeling, the agreement signed on July 17 will fully guarantee the protection of numerous French products, such as champagne. It will also allow for greater reciprocity in access to procurement contracts, which will create new prospects for many European companies, especially in the railway sector.

This agreement is also highly ambitious with respect to sustainable development. It includes major European principles on the right to regulate, high standards in regard to environmental and labor protections, and commitments to respect multilateral agreements and to ratify agreements of the International Labor Organization. It promotes action on the climate, includes measures to combat climate change, and requires both parties to implement the Paris Agreement and to cooperate to ensure that trade contributes to lowering carbon emissions.

A strategic partnership agreement was also signed on this occasion. It will expand our cooperation in numerous sectors to meet major global challenges. We are working with Japan, a country that shares our values, both bilaterally and in multilateral forums.


Do you have any comment on President Trump's remarks on Montenegro? Did he call into question the principle of collective defense among NATO members?

The Brussels Declaration on Transatlantic Security and Solidarity adopted at the NATO summit of July 11-12 allowed all the heads of state and government to reaffirm their unwavering commitment to collective defense (article 5 of the Washington Treaty).

Uzbekistan – Seventh Joint Commission (July 20, 2018)

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian will close the seventh meeting of the Joint Economic Commission between France and Uzbekistan today. It will be co-chaired by Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, minister of state for foreign affairs, and Sukhrob Kholmuradov, deputy prime minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

This meeting comes at a favorable time, while Uzbekistan is engaged in a process of diplomatic and economic opening. A forum for political and economic dialogue, this commission, with which businesses from both countries are associated, is tasked with examining all aspects of our cooperation and identifying new approaches in order to diversify and deepen our exchanges. The last meeting of the joint commission was held in Tashkent in July 2016.

Over the past year and a half, Uzbekistan has launched major reforms. Its good neighbor policy is creating a regional environment favorable to trade. Its relations with France have deepened thanks to many visits by high-level delegations in recent months. In 2017, bilateral trade rose to €126.5 million, including €80 million in French exports.


The president of the Indian National Congress party, Rahul Gandhi, told the Indian Parliament this morning, "I met the President of France. I asked him about the secrecy clause and he denied that any such clause exists in the agreement. He told me so and I don't have any objection if you tell this to everyone in the country; the gentleman clearly said there is no secret pact between the French government and the Indian government. So the defense minister has clearly spoken an untruth." Do you have any comment?

We took note of Rahul Gandhi's statements to the Indian Parliament. France and India have a security agreement concluded in 2008, which commits both states to protecting classified information provided by the partner that could impact security and operational capabilities of the defense equipment of India or France. Its provisions naturally apply to the intergovernmental agreement concluded on September 23, 2016, on the acquisition of 36 Rafale aircraft and their weapons. As President Macron said publicly on March 9 in his interview with India Today, "In India and in France, when the deal is very sensitive, we can't reveal details."

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