The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - September 16, 2019
In this issue:

◢  Sudan – Visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian (September 16, 2019)

◢  European Union – Amélie de Montchalin's participation in the General Affairs Council (Brussels - September 16, 2019)

◢  Northeastern Syria

Sudan – Visit by Jean-Yves Le Drian (September 16, 2019)

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, is visiting Sudan for the first time today. He will meet with his counterpart, Asmaa Mohammed Abdullah, Prime Minister of Sudan Abdalla Hamdok, as well as with Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the Sovereign Council. He will also meet with actors in the Sudanese revolution and will discuss with them the ongoing challenges with respect to ensuring the success of the political transition in Sudan.

The minister will express France's support for the transition underway in Sudan and for the strong determination expressed by the Sudanese people to ensure democratic change and greater freedom, peace and justice.

At this critical juncture in Sudan's history, the minister will reaffirm France's determination to strengthen its support for Sudan within the framework of the major priorities identified by Prime Minister Hamdok: the country's economic recovery and the conclusion of a peace agreement with all of the rebel groups within six months.

European Union – Amélie de Montchalin's participation in the General Affairs Council (Brussels - September 16, 2019)

Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, is taking part in the General Affairs Council in Brussels today.

The minister will address the following points:

  • Multiannual Financial Framework – The Finnish presidency will provide a progress report and brief the Council on the procedure and next steps. An initial costed proposal will be presented at the European Council taking place from October 17 to 18, 2019. The goal is to reach a political compromise among the heads of state and government by the end of the year.
  • Preparations for the European Council from October 17 to 18 – In addition to the Multiannual Financial Framework, the ministers will discuss the monitoring of the EU strategic agenda for 2019-2024. This discussion, which France called for, should allow the European Council to ensure the coherence of the incoming Commission's work program with the priorities set by the heads of state and government. Amélie de Montchalin will call for the European Council on October 17 and 18 to hold a discussion on the EU's position in the fight against climate change, following the UN Secretary-General's Climate Action Summit on September 23, 2019, and ahead of COP 25 in Santiago, Chile, at the beginning of December.
  • Respect for the rule of law in the EU – The ministers will have an exchange of views on ways to improve respect for the rule of law in the EU. The minister of state will call for the promotion of synergies between the different tools, in order to strengthen awareness and detection capabilities in advance of lapses in the rule of law and to strengthen trust between member states. Amélie de Montchalin will reaffirm our proposals concerning the strengthening of cooperation between the EU and the Council of Europe with respect to the rule of law.
  • Article 7 TEU proceedings against Hungary – Nearly a year after the adoption by the European Parliament of the Sargentini Report, which triggered the application of Article 7 TEU proceedings against Hungary, the Council will conduct the first hearing with Hungary. The minister of state is notably expected to question Hungary on areas such as the independence of the judiciary, the freedom of expression and the media, as well as respect for academic freedom in Hungary.

Northeastern Syria

Some 10 families of French women and children held in Kurdish camps in Syria lodged a complaint with the Court of Justice against Jean-Yves Le Drian for "failure to provide assistance" in refusing to repatriate them. What is the Quai d'Orsay's reaction to this complaint, and what is the status of underage French children remaining in Syria? Are there new plans to bring them home?

We saw these announcements in the press.

We have already spoken on several occasions about the situation of children in displaced persons camps in northeastern Syria. We are working actively to deal with this situation in the children's best interest.

The minors being held in northeastern Syria are in camps controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces. They are therefore not under French control. Let me remind you that France is only bound to guarantee the rights protected in the international conventions it has ratified for individuals under its jurisdiction, that is, those who are located on its soil or in a territory over which it has effective control, or under the control and authority of its representatives.

Nevertheless, we consider it a priority to ensure the return of underage orphans or isolated children who are the most vulnerable. That is the purpose of the actions we are taking. The local situation, which is still one of war, makes it extremely difficult to obtain reliable information to identify and locate these children, which is crucial to bringing them back to France. Seventeen minor orphans or isolated children have, however, been returned to our care since March. We are continuing our efforts to identify other similar situations.

On the humanitarian front, we are also actively mobilized. Since 2017, France has allocated more than €45 million to northeastern Syria to implement humanitarian and stabilization programs. On the humanitarian level, our priority remains responding to the urgent needs of the population. Our response has helped fund NGO programs to provide tents, build sanitary facilities, operate mobile clinics, supply drinking water, and distribute fuel.

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