The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - May 3, 2019
In this issue:

◢  European heritage – Meeting of ministers responsible for European affairs and ministers for culture (Paris - May 3, 2019)

◢  World Press Freedom Day (May 3, 2019)

◢  Cuba – Extraterritorial U.S. sanctions (May 2, 2019)

◢  Benin – Legislative elections (May 3, 2019)

◢  United States

European heritage – Meeting of ministers responsible for European affairs and ministers for culture (Paris - May 3, 2019)

Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will receive her European counterparts in the context of a ministerial conference on May 3 in Paris. Franck Riester, Minister for Culture, will hold a meeting with his counterparts in parallel. Following these meetings, the two ministers will chair a plenary meeting at the Louvre with all of the participants.

The purpose of this meeting, which follows a letter sent by President Macron to his European counterparts, is to jointly reflect, in the wake of the tragic Notre-Dame Cathedral fire in Paris, on ways to better preserve European heritage, including for example, the mobilization of a network of experts, youth involvement and existing funding models.

During this conference, Amélie de Montchalin will meet with Szabolcs Takacs, Hungarian State Secretary for European Affairs, as well as with Edgar Rinkevics, Latvian Minister for European Affairs.

World Press Freedom Day (May 3, 2019)

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, France reaffirms its constant and resolute commitment to the freedom of the press, the freedom of expression and the protection of journalists everywhere.

It reaffirms that a free, independent and pluralist press is critical to the proper functioning of democracies and pays tribute to the journalists who have been murdered, tortured, imprisoned or threatened as a result of their commitment to the right to reliable information.

While threats to the freedom of the press and the safety of journalists are increasing around the world, and the press is facing the challenge of disinformation, notably online, undermining the work of journalists to establish and verify facts, increased support from states for the right to reliable and verified information is necessary. A definitive solution to this issue, which impinges on the very principles of our democracy, can only be provided by public actors. It is up to civil societies to also develop the "antibodies" that can ensure our collective resilience, as Jean-Yves Le Drian reaffirmed during the conference on "Civil societies, media and public authorities: Democracies facing the manipulation of information" in April 2018. As such, we commend the Journalism Trust Initiative launched by Reporters Without Borders and its partners aimed at implementing a self-regulating system to provide guarantees with respect to the transparency and verification of information.

In this context, France intends:

  • within the framework of its presidency of the G7 and beyond, to promote, in accordance with President Macron's commitment, the International Partnership for Information and Democracy launched on the initiative of Reporters Without Borders and the international independent Information and Democracy Commission, welcomed through a joint statement by a dozen heads of state and government during the Paris Peace Forum on November 11.
  • to continue to make the safety of journalists and the promotion of the freedom of the press one of the priorities of its international strategy on defending human rights.

Cuba – Extraterritorial U.S. sanctions (May 2, 2019)

The United States has decided to enforce, as of May 2, Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which had been suspended since 1998.

France regrets this decision and reiterates its longstanding concern over the provisions in question whose extraterritorial scope is in violation of international law, as noted by High Representative Federica Mogherini and European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.

France and its European partners are determined to use the instruments at their disposal to protect the economic activities and legitimate investments of their nationals and companies in Cuba. France notes that the European regulation on embargoes applies here. It makes judgments rendered in the United States under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act unenforceable in Europe. European companies and nationals adversely affected by this act will be entitled to sue for compensation, in EU member state jurisdictions, the American individual or company, as well as its representatives, who originated the complaint against them in the United States.

France is committed to promoting democracy and human rights in Cuba, and together with other EU member states intends to pursue its dialogue with the United States on this common goal. However it believes that a policy of isolation and the enforcement of Title III of the Helms-Burton Act will not help facilitate the achievement of this goal.

Benin – Legislative elections (May 3, 2019)

Benin's legislative elections on April 28 were marked by a historically low rate of participation, its national electoral commission announced.

France regrets that the national political debates of recent months did not result in an inclusive, competitive election.

France deplores the violence seen on the day of the voting. In light of the obvious tension, especially on May 1 and 2, France calls on all political actors to show restraint and engage in a peaceful, constructive dialogue.

Do you have any comment after Benin's security forces opened fire Thursday in Cotonou to disperse a crowd of demonstrators who were protesting the exclusion of opposition parties from the legislative elections of last Sunday?

I refer you to the statement I made today.

United States

What do you think of the U.S.'s possible addition of the Muslim Brotherhood to its list of terrorist organizations?

We don't answer hypothetical questions.

France in the
United States
Embassy of France in Washington, D.C.
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