The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs
Spokesperson


Paris - September 22, 2020
In this issue:

◢  European Union – Clément Beaune's participation in the General Affairs Council (Brussels - September 22, 2020)

◢  Lebanon

◢  Algeria

◢  Navalny

◢  Mali

 
European Union – Clément Beaune's participation in the General Affairs Council (Brussels - September 22, 2020)

Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, is taking part in the General Affairs Council today, September 22.

This General Affairs Council meeting should provide an opportunity to discuss the following issues:

With respect to non-legislative issues:

  • Preparation for the upcoming extraordinary European Council meeting: The ministers will discuss the issues included on the agenda of the next European Council (internal market, industrial and digital affairs policy, foreign policy - Turkey, EU-China);
  • EU negotiations - United Kingdom: The ministers will discuss developments in the ongoing negotiations on the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, as well as the implementation of the withdrawal agreement, following the most recent announcements by the British government;
  • European coordination in the context of the Covid-19 epidemic: The ministers will discuss the European Commission's draft recommendations regarding movement restrictions in the context of the current pandemic. This exchange of views is taking place at France's initiative;
  • Article 7 proceedings triggered against Poland and Hungary: The European Commission will provide an update on the rule of law situation in Poland and on respect for the values of the European Union in Hungary. The states concerned will be able to provide their comments;
  • Legislative program: The European Commission will present its draft legislative program for 2021, following the general policy speech by the Commission's president, as well as its Strategic Foresight Report focused on strengthening European resilience.

With respect to legislative deliberations:

  • European Union budget: The presidency will report on progress made in the negotiations with the European Parliament on the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework.



Lebanon

What is your response to the statements by President Aoun indicating that there appears to be no solution on the horizon with respect to the formation of a government in Lebanon?

At this critical time in Lebanon's history, the Lebanese political forces are faced with a choice between the country's recovery or its collapse. It is a heavy responsibility to bear with respect to the Lebanese people.

In this context, France regrets that the Lebanese leaders have so far failed to uphold the commitments made on September 1. We urge them to urgently reach an agreement on the formation by Mustafa Adib of a mission-driven government, which must implement the necessary reforms. For its part, France stands alongside the Lebanese people, as it has always done.



Algeria

The French television channel M6 was banned in Algeria after airing a documentary on the "Hirak" popular protest movement in that country.
The Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebbounne also accused Reporters sans Frontières (RSF), which launched a solidarity campaign in support of its jailed correspondent, Khaled Drareni, of wanting to "destabilize" Algeria, adding "States are not attacking us head-on but are giving that mission to nongovernmental organizations." France seems to be clearly targeted by these remarks; what is its response to these latest developments?

We are cognizant of this decision. France reaffirms its commitment to the freedom of the press, the safety of journalists and all those whose expression contributes to the public debate worldwide. The freedom to inform is a fundamental right that must be protected.



Navalny

The Russian prosecutor general announced that he sent French authorities requests for "judicial assistance" with the Navalny case. He is requesting "information on the conduct of toxicology studies in France" and on "the investigation by foreign experts." Will France respond to this request or does it consider that the conditions are not in place at this stage?

We have received a request from Russia. It is currently being studied.

The priority is still for Russia to fully investigate the circumstances and responsibilities behind the assassination attempt against a member of the Russian political opposition that occurred on its territory by means of a military-quality neurotoxic agent belonging to a family of agents developed by Russia.



Mali

A retired colonel and former defense minister, Bah Ndaw, was appointed Mali's interim president with his deputy being junta leader Assimi Goita. Is this a first step toward restoring stability in that country?

France supports ECOWAS's efforts with regard to a short-term civilian transition with the goal of holding democratic elections.

We take note of these initial appointments which are an encouraging first step in the transition process in Mali, which must lead to the holding of legitimate elections. Other appointments are expected and consultations are under way with African and European partners to assess their scope.

France is ready to assist and support the civilian transition in Mali, which will take place under conditions set by ECOWAS.



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