The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - May 29, 2019
In this issue:

◢  Ukraine – Visit to Kiev by Jean-Yves Le Drian (May 30-31, 2019)

◢  EU – Adoption of enlargement package by the EU Commission (May 29, 2019)

◢  UN – International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers (May 29, 2019)

◢  Yemen

◢  Syria

◢  Death of Kamel Eddine Fekhar

◢  Egypt

Ukraine – Visit to Kiev by Jean-Yves Le Drian (May 30-31, 2019)

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, will travel to Kiev on May 30 for their first joint visit since the election of President Zelensky.

They will express France and Germany's unwavering support for Ukraine at this important time. France and Germany are deeply committed to resolving the conflict in eastern Ukraine within the so-called Normandy Format. Their meeting with President Zelensky will provide an opportunity to reaffirm their wish to give new momentum to the negotiation process in order to restore Ukraine's territorial integrity, five years after the beginning of a conflict that still affects several million civilians in eastern Ukraine. France and Germany will remind President Zelensky of their deep commitment to pursuing the reform process and to making reforms irreversible, as Ukrainian citizens continue to express strong expectations in this regard.

This joint visit will be followed by bilateral meetings on May 31, at which Mr. Le Drian and the Ukrainian authorities will discuss ways of expanding our bilateral relations. In this Year of French Language in Ukraine, the minister will attend a traditional end-of-school-year ceremony at a school in Kiev. He will meet with representatives of French companies to review their development projects in Ukraine. Our economic and commercial exchanges have intensified since 2016. With nearly 160 companies, France is the leading foreign employer in Ukraine, and is the fourth-largest European investor in the country.

EU – Adoption of enlargement package by the EU Commission (May 29, 2019)

Today the European Commission adopted its annual report on enlargement policy ("2019 enlargement package"). This document is helpful for reviewing the situation of each of the countries aspiring to join the European Union.

France will examine the Commission's report and will give its opinion on its recommendations, in light of two requirements:

  • As President Macron has already said on several occasions, the enlargement process must first take into account the priority need to consolidate the EU and improve its operations.
  • We must pay especially close attention to ensuring that the candidate countries abide by all of the criteria established by the Council. The enlargement process is based on demanding criteria and the merits of the candidates themselves, with no pre-established timetable. It assumes considerable effort with respect to the rule of law and good governance. The reforms undertaken by these countries must be stepped up to achieve tangible, lasting, irreversible results.

As far as Turkey is concerned, we can only share the very troubling situation once again with respect to the status of the rule of law and fundamental rights as summarized by the Commission. Choices made by the Turkish authorities offer no long-term prospects for moving forward with the adhesion process.

UN – International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers (May 29, 2019)

On this International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, France hails the vital contribution to peace and international security made by the men and women who serve in UN peacekeeping operations.

Since 1948, more than a million of them have intervened in support of peace, stabilization, and the protection of populations in more than 70 operations worldwide. Ninety thousand peacekeepers from more than 120 countries are currently deployed in 14 operations.

France pays tribute to these staffers, who carry out their duties in often difficult conditions. It honors the memory of dead peacekeepers and remembers those who were injured in the course of carrying out their missions.


What kind of pressure are you putting on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to end the war in Yemen?

France is engaged in a regular dialogue with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as other regional actors, on the urgent need to end that conflict and the imperative to abide by international humanitarian law. This position is well known to all and has been expressed publically, most recently during the minister's visit to Saudi Arabia.

France actively supports the mediation effort led by UN Special Envoy Martin Griffiths, and calls on all the parties to work with him constructively to implement the commitments undertaken in Stockholm in December 2018.

It reiterates the importance of the United Nations Mission to Support the Hodeidah Agreement (UNMHA), whose presence on the ground is crucial to monitoring and facilitating the current redeployment in Hodeidah, in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 2452 (2019). The revival of negotiations on a comprehensive, inclusive political agreement that takes into account the diversity of the Yemeni actors, offers the only real prospect for ending the conflict in Yemen.


The minister deplored the lack of anger over the situation in Idlib. Is France preparing an initiative within the Security Council to hold certain protagonists accountable?

France expressed its deep concern over the offensive under way in Idlib province and the intensification of airstrikes by the regime and its allies, including those targeting civilian and medical infrastructures.

France underscores the special responsibility of the allies of the Syrian regime to preserve a lasting ceasefire in Idlib province. During a phone call with the President of the Russian Federation, the French President and German Chancellor reminded Russia to keep its commitments on upholding the ceasefire. The continuation of hostilities undermines the search for a credible negotiated political solution in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.

France will remain fully mobilized within the Security Council to support a de-escalation in northwestern Syria and to protect civilian populations in Syria.

Death of Kamel Eddine Fekhar

Do you have any comment to make about the death of Algerian human rights activist Kamel Eddine Fekhar?

France was troubled to learn of the death of Algerian human rights activist Kamal Eddine Fekhar on May 28 following a hunger strike. He had been in prison since March 31.

France offers its condolences to his family and reiterates its commitment to the freedom of expression throughout the world.


What is your response to the Human Rights Watch report accusing not only Islamic State but also Egyptian security forces of war crimes in northern Sinai?

France takes note of the report published by Human Rights Watch, which it will examine closely.

The human rights situation is the subject of a regular, detailed dialogue with the Egyptian authorities, including those at the highest level. If we want to establish a lasting climate of peace and security, the fight against terrorism must imperatively respect human rights and fundamental liberties, and maintain a dynamic and active civil society, which is the best bulwark against extremism.

France in the
United States
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