The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - May 29, 2020
In this issue:

◢  North Macedonia – Conversation between Amélie de Montchalin and the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia (May 28, 2020)

◢  UN – French Security Council Presidency (June 2020)

◢  Libya

◢  Hong Kong

◢  Iran

◢  Cyberspace

North Macedonia – Conversation between Amélie de Montchalin and the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia (May 28, 2020)

On May 28, Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke with Nikola Dimitrov, the Foreign Minister of North Macedonia.

Amélie de Montchalin and Nikola Dimitrov discussed North Macedonia's European prospects following the European Council's decision to open EU adhesion negotiations to North Macedonia and the adoption of a reform making the enlargement process more rigorous, credible and reversible. In this context, the minister underscored the importance for North Macedonia to pursue reforms, particularly with regard to the rule of law, an independent judiciary, and the fight against corruption. The European neighborhood policy and regional cooperation were also discussed.

With respect to bilateral relations between France and North Macedonia, Ms. de Montchalin and Mr. Dimitrov expressed their hope for a swift finalization of the agreement on conditions for the French Development Agency to operate in North Macedonia.

UN – French Security Council Presidency (June 2020)

France will hold the monthly UN Security Council presidency starting on June 1. The French presidency is one of three consecutive European presidencies, following that of Estonia and preceding that of Germany, and as in 2019, we are working closely with our European partners.

In keeping with the measures taken by the UN to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, Security Council meetings will continue to take place via teleconference.

Throughout the month, the Security Council will assess the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on peacekeeping and maintaining international security, and on all conflict situations. A meeting will be devoted to the pandemic's impact on conditions for holding peacekeeping operations and the security of their personnel. On July 18, France will also host a meeting with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi focusing on the pandemic's impact on refugees and internally displaced persons.

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian will chair a ministerial meeting on Mali and the Sahel with a view to renewing the mandate of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), with Mali in attendance.

June 26 will mark the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco. On that occasion, Jean-Yves le Drian and his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, will co-chair a ministerial meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism, which includes the nations most committed to international cooperation and supports modernizing the UN and opening the multilateral system more broadly to civil society actors and the private sector. This meeting will be devoted to reforming global health architecture to better deal with future pandemics and the fight against the manipulation of information in times of crisis.


Why did a French navy frigate stop a tanker that was on its way to load refined petroleum products from a port in eastern Libya?

The French frigate that intervened to stop the tanker was deployed as part of the EU operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI. In accordance with the conclusions of the Berlin conference, this operation, launched on April 1, helps enforce the embargo on weapons and illegal oil exports imposed by the UN Security Council. Thanks to France, in particular, this operation has naval, air and satellite assets to oversee oil flows regardless of their origin and beneficiaries.

This situation underscores the importance of the operation at a time when foreign interference in the Libyan conflict is on the rise, despite commitments made in Berlin.

Operation IRINI reflects strong French and EU efforts to resolve a conflict that has consequences for the security interests and sovereignty of European countries. France also stresses the need for a ceasefire and the revival of an inclusive political process under the auspices of the UN.

For operational details, we refer you to the Ministry for the Armed Forces.

Hong Kong

According to the Chinese foreign ministry, during a Tuesday phone call between Wang Yi and President Macron's diplomatic advisor, the advisor said that France is fully aware of the sensitivity of problems relating to Hong Kong and hopes they can be resolved in line with the "one country, two systems" principle. Do you believe this interpretation of the call is legitimate, or is its purpose to divide European nations?

France reaffirmed its unwavering position on the Hong Kong situation. It is in line with the position stated on May 22 and 29 by the EU High Representative on behalf of the European Union and its Member States, with which we fully concur. I also refer you to the Minister's statements to the Senate last Wednesday.


The minister said this week that the time needed for Iran to produce enough enriched uranium to make an atomic weapon continues to grow shorter. The goal of the E3 in January after the triggering of the dispute resolution mechanism was to bring Iran back into the nuclear agreement. Do you see any progress in your efforts or do you foresee ratcheting up the pressure on Iran to return to its commitments?

We remain fully committed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (PAGC - JCPoA), which is essential to global non-proliferation architecture and the only way to guarantee the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program.

Iran continues to take measures that are contrary to its commitments, particularly with regard to the stockpiling of low-enriched uranium and R&D.

That is why we and our E3 partners triggered the JCPoA's dispute resolution mechanism on January 14 to create room for dialogue within the framework of the agreement in order to find a solution that would make it possible to preserve that agreement.

Discussions got under way and the dispute examination period was extended with the participants' agreement. Dialogue is ongoing to obtain Iran's prompt agreement to once again fully abide by its commitments.


Germany accused Russia of being responsible for the 2015 attacks on the Bundestag and Chancellery offices. Has France drawn the same conclusion? How should the EU respond?

France stands with Germany to ensure that the perpetrators of those attacks be held accountable. Discussions on the mechanisms to be used in this context must be held within the framework of the EU.

Anyone who threatens the interests of the EU and its Member States in cyberspace must know that those actions will not go unpunished. That is why France actively supported the adoption of the sanctions regime on May 17, 2019, renewed for one year on May 14.

France reaffirms its commitment and its active involvement in promoting a free, open and secure cyberspace in which international law fully applies.

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