The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - January 30, 2019
In this issue:

◢  EU – Jean-Yves Le Drian to attend the informal meeting of foreign ministers (Bucharest - January 31, 2019)

◢  Nuit des Idées – Launch of the fourth edition (January 31, 2019)

◢  Pakistan – Acquittal of Asia Bibi (January 29, 2019)

◢  Venezuela

◢  Libya

◢  Terrorism

◢  Syria

EU – Jean-Yves Le Drian to attend the informal meeting of foreign ministers (Bucharest - January 31, 2019)

Jean-Yves le Drian will attend the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Bucharest on January 31.

The ministers will consider several points:

  • Venezuela: They will discuss the latest developments in the political, humanitarian and economic crisis in that country. They will look at the measures that the EU will have to take in the absence of any announcement by Nicolas Maduro of new elections, and especially the question of recognizing Juan Guaido as interim president. They will also address the ways in which the EU can be involved, including the establishment of a contact group, which France fully supports; it would promote a negotiated settlement of the crisis, with the cooperation of the countries in the region and regional organizations.
  • Syria: The ministers will make preparations for the Brussels III conference on the future of Syria, which the EU will host on March 13-14. Mr. Le Drian will stress the importance of EU unity for the successful implementation of the political process under Resolution 2254. He will also bring up the EU's ability to exert pressure - for example, by imposing sanctions and political conditions on the funding of reconstruction aid.
  • The Eastern Partnership: In consideration of its 10th anniversary, the ministers will discuss the policy defining relations between the EU and six countries of the ENP East region: Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. They will make preparations for the EU-Eastern Partnership ministerial meeting that the Romanian Council Presidency will host in May. Mr. Le Drian will encourage the EU to strengthen concrete cooperation with its eastern neighbors, especially with regard to young people.
  • China: The ministers will discuss EU relations with that country before pursuing talks with candidate countries (the Balkans and Turkey). This discussion will highlight the importance of European unity ahead of the EU-China Summit and the New Silk Road Forum to be held in the first half of 2019. Mr. Le Drian will insist on the implementation of the EU-Asia connectivity strategy adopted in the fall of 2018.

Nuit des Idées – Launch of the fourth edition (January 31, 2019)

On January 31, the fourth edition of the Nuit des Idées ("Night of Ideas") will bring together several tens of thousands of people at more than 150 events held in France and in 70 other countries.

This year's theme, "Facing our Time," will tackle the major challenges of our age through in-depth dialogues on current political, economic and societal challenges.

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves le Drian will preside over the Nuit des Idées in Bucharest. The Institut Français of Romania and its partners will host a series of events nationwide on the manipulation of information; they will include debates by experts, workshops, and for the youngest guests, games involving awareness-raising and detection.

At the Quai d'Orsay, European Affairs Minister Nathalie Loiseau will host Philippe Descola, an anthropologist and professor at the Collège de France, and Theaster Gates, an American artist and urban planner and a professor at the University of Chicago, who will explore new relationships between humans and non-humans, between man and his environment, and between nature and cities, themes that are central to current considerations of the future of our world.

With the support of the Institut Français, an agency of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Culture, the Nuit des Idées offers an annual opportunity to formulate innovative proposals on cultural exchanges and exchanges of knowledge, and to showcase intellectual and cultural scenes from all over the world in a festive atmosphere. The Nuit des Idées underscores the commitment by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to the circulation of ideas and the public debate, and illustrates its policy on French-speaking cultures and the French language, which it promotes as a language of debate and questioning of the contemporary world.

Pakistan – Acquittal of Asia Bibi (January 29, 2019)

Pakistan's Supreme Court upheld the acquittal of Asia Bibi yesterday.

France welcomes this decision.

It reaffirms its deep commitment to the freedoms of religion, expression and opinion.


President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela said he's only ready to hold early legislative elections. Might this proposal be an end to the crisis, or are you also calling for early presidential elections at the meeting on Saturday?

The Venezuelan National Assembly was elected democratically in the legislative elections of December 2015, and its term should end in 2021.

Nicolas Maduro, on the other hand, is demanding a second presidential term based on the presidential election of May 20, 2018, whose results cannot be considered legitimate.

Far from helping to resolve the crisis, calling for early legislative elections would represent a new obstacle to a political solution to the current crisis. We reiterate our support for the National Assembly and urge respect for its members' rights and prerogatives, especially their constitutional immunity.


Are you considering reopening your embassy in Libya in the coming months?

The French ambassador and her colleagues are in Tripoli, where they are doing their jobs on the basis of a system devised to ensure both the effectiveness and safety of our employees.

They are carrying out regular missions in Libya and engaging in dialogues with political stakeholders in order to support the efforts of Libyan officials and the UN in Libya and foster an end to the current situation and the return of stability.

Our goal is to permanently reopen our embassy as soon as the necessary security conditions are in place.


With regard to the arrest in Germany of three Iraqis suspected of preparing a jihadist attack, did the French authorities contribute to the intelligence in this case?

It is not our practice to comment on this type of subject.


The current mayor of Raqqa is said to be visiting France; did he have a meeting at the Quai d'Orsay? Still on the subject of Syria, do the states of origin of jihadists held by the FDS formally exchange information?

In answer to your first question, we are in regular contact with our interlocutors from northeastern Syria.

As for your second question, I refer you to the press briefing of January 29.

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United States
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