The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - January 23, 2019
In this issue:

◢  Central African Republic – Meeting within the framework of the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation (January 24, 2019)

◢  Italy

◢  Fight against the manipulation of information

◢  Venezuela

◢  Syria

◢  Khashoggi case

◢  Egypt

◢  Sudan

◢  Egypt

Central African Republic – Meeting within the framework of the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation (January 24, 2019)

France welcomes the holding of negotiations (in Khartoum, from January 24, 2019) between the government of the Central African Republic and the armed groups within the framework of the African Initiative for Peace and Reconciliation, led by the African Union and the countries and organizations of the region with the support of the UN.

We call on all parties to take part in a spirit of peace and consensus and to take into consideration the need for justice, inclusivity and reconciliation, as expressed by the people of the Central African Republic within the framework of the Bangui Forum in May 2015.

We hope that these negotiations will be a decisive step toward the swift signing of a peace agreement that will guarantee the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Central African Republic, ensure the restoration of state authority throughout the territory and ensure the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of fighters from armed groups.


What is your response to the recurrent attacks by the Italian authorities against France, including the most recent remarks by Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini this morning?

These baseless statements should be viewed in the context of Italian domestic politics. They are unacceptable.

This is why the Italian ambassador was summoned to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs on Monday. We reaffirmed the boundaries that must be observed in order to ensure that relations based on cooperation and friendship prevail between France and Italy.

Fight against the manipulation of information

With respect to disinformation, does the approach by both the EU's External Action Service and the Commission incorporate the purely French approach to combating disinformation? Or is there also a French approach with respect to the European elections?

The European and French initiatives aimed at combating the manipulation of information complement each other, while respecting the jurisdiction of each, as reaffirmed by Jean-Yves Le Drian during the most recent Foreign Affairs Council meeting on January 21.

France is playing its full role in this respect and also intends to make the fight against the manipulation of information one of the priorities of its presidency of the G7.

For its part, France recently adapted its legislation in order to combat this phenomenon more effectively, especially during election periods. More generally, we welcome the development of numerous initiatives by the media and civil society in recent years aimed at strengthening our society's resilience in the face of such manipulation.


While the opposition will demonstrate today in Venezuela, how will the European contact group function?

The International Contact Group being established by the European Union will bring together regional and international actors in order to help restore the conditions for a political solution to the crisis in Venezuela.

The current political deadlock demonstrates the need to eventually reach an agreement that will allow Venezuelans to choose their representatives freely.


Do you support the Israeli airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria in response to a surface-to-surface missile fired by the Iranians?

France has repeatedly expressed its concern over Iran's destabilizing activities in Syria. The missile fired at Israel on January 20 is the latest illustration of that.

That action confirms yet again the need for Iran to abide by UN Security Council resolutions and the urgent need to resume the political process in Syria. It underscores the need for negotiations on limiting Iran's ballistic and regional activities.

Khashoggi case

The Turkish diplomacy chief said yesterday that there are Western countries that are seeking to cover up the Khashoggi affair. France has often spoken of the need for an international perspective, but thus far this has not taken shape. Concretely, what kind of effort is France making to establish such an initiative?

From the outset, we have called for a transparent, thorough and credible response to the questions raised by the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

France supports adding an international dimension to the investigations. The President and the minister for Europe and foreign affairs have spoken about this with the Saudi authorities on several occasions.


With respect to Egypt: the UNHCR budget is steadily shrinking while the number of refugees is steadily rising (5 million according to the Egyptian president). In 2018, the UNHCR received only half the funds it needed to assist refugees in Egypt. Germany provides some of the financing for these funds, but not France. The EU wants to launch a new partnership on migration with Egypt; will this be discussed during President Macron's visit? Is France considering the possibility of providing financial support for Egypt in its effort to resettle refugees or not?

The High Commissioner for Refugees (HCR) is one of France's major partners, as illustrated by our financial support for its efforts (€33 million in 2018).

France's commitment to protecting refugees is reflected by the resettlement of refugees in France, in keeping with pledges made by the President. It may also be seen through our efforts to impose UN sanctions on migrant traffickers and on those responsible for human trafficking and slavery, to break up networks, and to address serious human rights violations. Discussions at the European level are aimed at responding in a coordinated, effective manner to the challenges raised by migration.

France attributes particular importance to its relationship and smooth cooperation with the HCR and with the International Organization for Migration to ease the suffering of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

It will continue to pay particularly close attention to the HCR's efforts and to all initiatives that can be carried out by the nations that have volunteered to assist refugees fleeing armed conflicts. It will continue working to find solution to crises that have tragically given rise to displaced populations.

Monitoring and managing migration is an important subject that France is discussing with Egypt, particularly on a bilateral basis.


In Sudan, demonstrations have been increasing throughout the country since December 19. The security forces have killed several dozen people and arrested a large number of demonstrators and journalists. Egypt—Sudan's neighbor and France's strategic partner—has declared its support for Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Do you also support the continuation in office of the current president, who is running for a third term, while the Constitution bars the same individual from serving more than two terms?

France is closely watching the situation in Sudan and reaffirms its attachment to respect for the right to demonstrate and to the freedom of assembly, association and expression.

We call on the Sudanese authorities to take all necessary measures to put an end to the violence against peaceful protesters and to prosecute the perpetrators of this violence.


In the fall of 2017, President Macron gave President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi a list of a dozen or so Egyptian political prisoners in order to call for their release. Since the re-election of the president in 2018, 15 journalists, as well as almost 40 lawyers and human rights activists (according to HRW), have been arrested. Have some individuals been removed from the 2017 list because they have been released? If so, how many? Will a new expanded list be given to the Egyptian president during his meeting with President Macron?

We engage in open and regular dialogue with Egypt on the issue of human rights.

We want to continue to discuss this issue, including with respect to individual cases, in order to achieve results, while reaffirming to the Egyptian authorities that this dialogue on human rights forms an integral part of our strategic partnership.

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United States
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