The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - December 10, 2018
In this issue:

◢  EU – Jean-Yves Le Drian attending Foreign Affairs Council (Brussels - December 10, 2018)

◢  EU – Nathalie Loiseau to attend the General Affairs Council (Brussels - December 11, 2018)

◢  Migration – Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Marrakech - December 10-11, 2018)

◢  International Human Rights Day – 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 2018)

◢  United Nations / African Union – Signing of a joint roadmap on African peace operations (December 6, 2018)

◢  Russia / Human rights – Death of Lyudmila Alexeyeva (December 8, 2018)

EU – Jean-Yves Le Drian attending Foreign Affairs Council (Brussels - December 10, 2018)

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian attended today's EU council of foreign ministers in Brussels. Discussions focused on the following issues:

  • Iran: at our initiative and that of our German and British partners (the so-called E3 format), we reaffirmed the EU's commitment to the JCPoA, whose implementation is rooted in the respect of international agreements and is vital to international security. The ministers reviewed efforts to preserve and maintain operational financial circuits with Iran so that that country might continue to enjoy the economic benefits of the agreement, as long as it continues to fully abide by its terms. Mr. Le Drian emphasized our approach—a combination of openness to dialogue and firmness toward Tehran—and our wish to discuss the post-2025-2030 Iranian nuclear program, Iran's regional role, and the limitation of ballistic activities, just as it fired another medium-range missile, on December 1.
  • Ukraine: the ministers exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine following the serious naval incident when Russia intervened on November 25 in the Black Sea, south of the Kerch Strait. They called on both parties to exercise restraint and deescalate the situation, notably by asking for the release of the sailors and vessels seized by Russia. They spoke with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and assured him of the EU's unwavering support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. Mr. Le Drian informed the Council of the latest efforts within the Normandy Format (consisting of Germany, France, Russia, and Ukraine) and of the implementation of the Minsk agreement. The Council adopted individual sanctions on nine of the main organizers of the illegal "elections" in the Donbass on November 11.
  • Western Balkans: the ministers discussed the breakdown in the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo on challenges related to the implementation of the Prespa agreement on the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina. They also reviewed the implementation of measures adopted by the EU-Balkan summit this past May in Sofia on youth projects, security, connectivity and the rule of law.
  • Venezuela: the ministers discussed the political and humanitarian crisis and its repercussions on neighboring countries. They discussed the terms of the EU's commitment with respect to this crisis and notably the creation of a contact group to foster the resumption of the political dialogue between the government and the political opposition, with the cooperation of regional organizations.
  • Cooperation between the EU and the African Union (AU): the ministers broached the subject of the partnership between the UE and the AU ahead of the ministerial meeting scheduled for January 21. The French foreign minister stressed the usefulness of the dialogue between the EU and the AU for peace and security in Africa and for promoting strong, effective multilateralism in the face of global challenges, including the sustainable development goals, the fight against climate disruption, and migration. He emphasized that increased investments must be an important component of our relationship with Africa. Mr. Le Drian underscored his commitment to the negotiation of the future "post-Cotonou" agreement between the EU and the countries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.

EU – Nathalie Loiseau to attend the General Affairs Council (Brussels - December 11, 2018)

European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau will attend tomorrow's meeting of the EU Council of Ministers (General Affairs) in Brussels.

The ministers will mainly focus on the following points:

  • EU budget for 2021-2027: the ministers will make preparations for the first discussion of heads of state and government, to take place at the European Council of December 13 and 14. Ms. Loiseau will applaud the advances made under the Austrian presidency but will note that progress remains to be made on several points that don't go far enough: the creation of new resources proper to the EU, especially with regard to the environment; and the establishment of conditions for allocating European funds relating to the rule of law and migratory, fiscal and social commitments. She will underline our other priorities relating to major challenges in the budget negotiations: support for new priorities without jeopardizing the common agricultural policy; and the immediate elimination of rebates.
  • Preparations for the European Council of December 13-14: Ms. Loiseau will reiterate our expectations on other priority issues that will be submitted to the heads of state and government in December: the results of citizen consultations, security and defense, the reform of the common European asylum system—and particularly the Dublin Regulation—and the fight against climate change.
  • Economic and Monetary Union: the minister will stress the goal of December's euro area summit, which is to give a clear mandate to the Eurogroup to move forward with the establishment of budgetary instruments for the euro area.
  • Rule of law - Poland: the ministers will move ahead with Poland's third hearing under the process set forth in article 7, paragraph 1 of the Treaty on European Union. Ms. Loiseau and her German counterpart will express themselves jointly. She will applaud recent measures taken by the Polish authorities to comply with the October 19th order handed down by the European Court of Justice, while emphasizing that this is only one aspect of the judicial reform which—as a whole—will continue to raise concerns about Poland's respect for the rule of law.
  • Rule of law - Hungary: the situation will be raised for the third time at the General Affairs Council since the European Parliament triggered the process set forth in article 7 of the Treaty on European Union. Following discussions, the Council will be asked to take up this matter raised by the European Parliament. Ms. Loiseau will indicate that we share many of the concerns of other European institutions, particularly with respect to the reform of higher education and the specific situation of Central European University, which recently reaffirmed its intention to relocate to Vienna as of the next school year because of this reform.

Migration – Intergovernmental Conference on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (Marrakech - December 10-11, 2018)

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was adopted today by 162 nations at the Marrakech Conference, at which France was represented by Minister of State Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne.

France supported the adoption of this compact because migration is now a global phenomenon that must be controlled through more effective international cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination. With this aim in mind, the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration outlines a collection of best practices on which nations may draw inspiration for migratory policies that also respect their national laws. This non-binding compact is a statement that establishes absolutely no legal obligations. Nor does it establish new rights for migrants, but underscores their fundamental rights as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In accordance with France's position, the Pact reaffirms the specific nature of refugee status and makes a clear distinction between legal and illegal migrants. It also establishes national sovereignty as a guiding principle, allowing states to control their own borders, while upholding their international commitments. As such, the pact urges all states to combat irregular immigration by dismantling illegal migration channels and encouraging countries of origin to ensure effective control of their borders and to facilitate the return and reintegration of irregular migrants. It also urges states to preserve legal migration channels and to encourage the integration of those who use them in the host societies. Lastly, it underscores the need to address the underlying causes of migration by investing more in the development of the countries of origin, by encouraging good governance, and by taking into consideration the emergence of new causes of migration, such as climate change.

France, which is committed to its core values, attached to respect for the law, and is mindful of the need for effectiveness, will continue to work toward greater international cooperation on migration.

International Human Rights Day – 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 2018)

70 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the Palais de Chaillot in Paris, France reaffirms its attachment to the 1948 declaration and to the universality of the principles that it embodies. As the minister affirmed at the United Nations in September, it is a common good of humanity which France is ready to defend and is determined to uphold.

On the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the minister for Europe and foreign affairs hosted two events at the Quai d'Orsay:

  • Today, Jean-Yves Le Drian invited Dunja Mijatovic, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, and human rights defenders to debate and bear witness to the current human rights situation. During this event the minister for Europe and foreign affairs announced the broad outlines of a new international strategy proposed by France in the area of human rights. This strategy has been put together in collaboration with civil society. An exhibition of cartoons from Cartooning for Peace, an international network of cartoonists, organized with the support of the Council of Europe was presented for the first time during this event.
  • a scientific symposium devoted to the 1948 declaration and to one of its main authors, René Cassin, was organized on December 11 and 12 by the ministry's Archives Directorate in partnership with the Council of State. Previously unknown documents and documents that have recently been made available to the public will be presented.

70 years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international news is marked by a deterioration in human rights around the world, with a resurgence in war crimes primarily targeted against women and people from ethnic and religious minorities, as well as the shrinking space for freedoms and civil society in many countries. France is not resigned to this and will continue to work with its international partners to defend the primacy and universality of human rights in the face of all attempts to undermine them.

This is why France is working to strengthen the international system to promote human rights and will seek membership of the Human Rights Council for the period 2021-2023. It will also continue to advocate for the implementation of the UN General Assembly declaration on human rights defenders, 20 years after its adoption. It will also continue its efforts to promote the following priorities: respect for women's rights, formally recognized by the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Nadia Murad and Dr. Denis Mukwege today; the fight against impunity for human rights violators and the accession by all states that have not yet done so to the Rome Statute; an end to arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances. Lastly, it will work to extend human rights to new areas, such as the digital space, and will remain committed to the universal abolition of the death penalty.

United Nations / African Union – Signing of a joint roadmap on African peace operations (December 6, 2018)

France welcomes the signing on December 6, 2018, by the UN Secretary-General and the chairperson of the African Union Commission of a joint roadmap on cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations on African peace operations.

France welcomes the implementation of the African Union Peace Fund and the $73 million contribution made to it by 44 African states.

It also welcomes the adoption of African Union policies on conduct and discipline, as well as the prevention of and response to exploitation and sexual abuse within the framework of its peace operations, on November 29 by the African Union Peace and Security Council.

These African peace operations are an appropriate response to a strong need for peace and security measures in Africa. They reflect the African Union's determination to become increasingly involved in the matter, in collaboration with the UN Security Council.

This progress confirms the value of adopting, by the end of the year, an ambitious Security Council resolution on future African peace operations. France strongly supports its African partners on the Security Council in this respect.

Russia / Human rights – Death of Lyudmila Alexeyeva (December 8, 2018)

France was saddened to learn of the death in Moscow on December 8 of Lyudmila Alexeyeva, a leading figure in the Russian human rights movement. France extends its heartfelt condolences to her family and friends.

Lyudmila Alexeyeva devoted her life to defending human rights in the Soviet Union and then in Russia, with a courage that was unanimously respected in Russia and abroad. A Soviet dissident and co-founder of the Moscow Helsinki Group, she endured exile before being allowed to return to Russia in 1993. She was a critical and uncompromising voice on all major social and political issues, but she was also a key player in the dialogue between the authorities and Russian society.

She won the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought as well as many other awards and her name was put forward several times for the Nobel Peace Prize. She was an Officer of the Legion of Honor.

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