The Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry for Europe
and Foreign Affairs

Paris - September 25, 2020
In this issue:

◢  Singapore – Telephone conversation between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's Minister of Foreign Affairs (September 25, 2020)

◢  Guinea

◢  Libya

◢  Russia

◢  China

◢  Iran

Singapore – Telephone conversation between Jean-Yves Le Drian and Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore's Minister of Foreign Affairs (September 25, 2020)

Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign affairs, spoke by phone with his Singaporean counterpart, Vivian Balakrishnan, on September 25.

While France and Singapore are celebrating the 55th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations this year, the ministers welcomed our excellent strategic partnership in the areas of innovation, scientific research and cooperation, attractiveness and defense. Our cooperation in the area of health and with respect to digital and artificial intelligence issues reflects this dynamism.

France and Singapore are fully committed to multilateralism based on respect for the rules of international law and share the same goals in terms of international cooperation aimed at responding to the health, economic and political challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The participation by both ministers today in the meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism reflects this commitment. They also welcomed the presence, for the third consecutive year, of Singapore in the upcoming Paris Peace Forum through a data protection project.

Lastly, in accordance with France's strategy in the Indo-Pacific region, the minister reaffirmed our determination to further invest in Southeast Asia, particularly within the framework of ASEAN, which has just accepted our candidacy for the status of development partner.


ECOWAS experts indicate that the electoral register in Guinea, notably disputed due to the registration of 2.5 million voters without supporting documents, is "free of any discrepancies" and that it is now "of a sufficiently high quality for the forthcoming elections." What is your response?

France takes note of the results of the ECOWAS election assessment mission.

It supports the continued efforts of ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations to avoid any deterioration in the political climate and a new cycle of violence in Guinea.

France again calls on all Guinean actors, regardless of who they are, to demonstrate responsibility, engage in dialogue and exercise the utmost restraint so that the forthcoming elections can take place in an atmosphere of calm and gain the support of all citizens. It notably encourages the Guinean authorities to play a leading role in efforts to ease tensions.


The president of the Presidency Council of the Government of National Accord of Libya, Fayez Serraj, announced that he will step down by the end of October. What are your views about that?

France takes note of the statements issued by the president of the Presidency Council, Fayez Serraj. It is up to the Libyan people alone to decide on the political future of their country.

France reaffirms its attachment to the unity, sovereignty and stability of Libya. There can be no military solution to the crisis. France is attached to ensuring that the inter-Libyan political dialogue, regarding which there have been some encouraging developments over the past few days, moves forward in an inclusive manner under UN auspices. These discussions must lead to the end of foreign interference and to the holding of elections within the framework of the parameters agreed upon by the Libyan people.


The President has once again asked, before the UN, for prompt clarification from Russia concerning the poisoning of Alexei Navalny, adding that France would enforce its red lines. Is this rhetoric or are you considering a concrete response, given that Russia is sticking to its positions?

As the President said in his speech before the UN General Assembly, we expect Russia to fully investigate the assassination attempt that took place on its territory against a member of the Russian political opposition by means of a neurotoxin from the Novichok family, developed by Russia. Those responsible for this criminal act must be identified and prosecuted. France is in close touch with its partners, and especially Germany, to coordinate our response to this serious attack on international norms within the appropriate fora.


Since July, France has repeatedly asked for an international mission under the auspices of the UN to visit Xinjiang to report on concerns over the situation of the Muslim Uyghur minority. What are you doing to promote this initiative?

Indeed, we along with our EU partners have spoken out repeatedly to strongly condemn this unacceptable situation. We have called for the closing of the internment camps in Xinjiang and the dispatch of an international mission of independent observers under the supervision of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet to investigate on the ground and report objectively on the facts. President Macron reiterated our demand during his speech before the UN General Assembly this week. France will remain active in this regard, both in its bilateral contacts with Chinese officials and within the UN, notably before the Human Rights Council. It will continue to support this demand ahead of the upcoming EU-China dialogue on human rights, scheduled to be held by the end of the year.


On Thursday the United States imposed sanctions on the Iranian judge who sentenced a young wrestler to death over his role in demonstrations against the regime. Other than expressing your concerns to the Iranian authorities, are you considering sanctions at the European level?

France and its EU partners condemned Navid Afkari's execution in Iran on September 12. We are opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and in all cases without exception and committed to the freedom of expression and demonstration and the right to a fair trial. The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the European Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy are working actively on the worsening of Iran's human rights violations, which is central to our candid, demanding discussions with that country.

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