Official speeches and statements - December 9, 2020
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke by phone on December 8 with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu, at the latter’s request.
This conversation allowed them to address various matters relating to bilateral relations and Turkey’s relations with the EU following events over the last few weeks. In this context, the minister reiterated the French and European demands for clarification - a prerequisite for the resumption of constructive relations between Turkey and the EU -, on the eve of the European Council on December 10 and 11.
The withdrawal agreement signed between the EU and the United Kingdom protects EU citizens living in the United Kingdom and UK nationals living in one of the 27 EU member States at the end of the transition period.
Among other things, the agreement provides for rights linked to residence, based on conditions identical to those set out in the directive on free movement in the EU (Directive 2004/38/EC). In accordance with the withdrawal agreement, France pledged to protect the rights of British nationals currently living on its territory or wishing to settle here before the end of the transition period.
Depending on their situation, these nationals will obtain either a permanent residence permit (if they settled in France before December 31, 2020 and have proof of having lived lawfully on French territory for five years) or a document valid for one to five years (if they settled in France before December 31, 2020 and have been on French territory for under five years). Members of their family will also be able to have access to a residence permit. Residence permit applications are made online until July 1, 2021, via a Ministry of the Interior platform.
British citizens settling in France after January 1, 2021 will not fall under the withdrawal agreement unless they are members of a family whose link with a British national holding a right of residence was established prior to January 1, 2021 or unless it concerns children of that national born after December 31, 2020. The residence situation of British citizens settled in France from January 1 will be examined in the framework of the ordinary domestic law applicable to third-country nationals. Under these conditions, following the transition period British nationals wishing to make long trips to France (over 90 days in any 180-day period) will have to apply for a residence permit or long-stay visa issued by the national authorities.
This is the automatic consequence of the British people’s choice to leave the EU. On the other hand, an exemption is envisaged for short stays: following the transition period, British nationals will be able to continue making trips to France not exceeding 90 days in a 180-day period, without having to apply for either a visa or residence permit (provided the United Kingdom reciprocally grants all EU citizens exemptions from short-stay visas).
I would like to begin by thanking Ms. DiCarlo, Mr. Lacroix and Mr. Khare for their briefings.
And I would like to emphasize three points.
Firstly, France’s priority remains supporting the democratic transition in Sudan.
I pay tribute to the political will that the transitional Government continues to demonstrate in a context of increasing difficulties. This is true of the pursuit of institutional, economic and financial reforms as well as efforts to begin the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement. I refer in particular to the government’s efforts to engage in discussions with all parties. And we call on those who remain outside the peace process to join it without further delay.
We further welcome Sudan’s efforts to tackle impunity and ensure respect for human rights, particularly through cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the International Criminal Court. The planned ratification of two important conventions, including the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, is extremely encouraging. These advances must of course be followed up by tangible action.
We hope that the procedure for removing Sudan from the US list of states sponsoring terrorism will be completed as soon as possible. This is indeed a crucial step for a successful democratic transition. As President Emmanuel Macron has promised, France will organize a high-level conference to support the Sudanese transition as soon as Sudan is removed from this list. This event could be held in the first half of 2021.
A number of challenges further compound the difficulties of the transition itself: the acceptance of reforms has been weakened by economic difficulties, and the humanitarian situation has worsened, in connection with the persistence of insecurity in Darfur but also under the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, the floods and the situation in Ethiopia.
As such, we welcome Sudan’s efforts to host nearly 50,000 Ethiopian refugees in the East. The mobilization of humanitarian assistance from all UN agencies and Sudan’s international partners is absolutely necessary. France, together with its European partners and the European Union, will of course play its full part.
In this context, and this will be my last point, France supports the swift operationalization of UNITAMS and the appointment of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General to continue United Nations support on the ground. In Darfur, the transition from UNAMID to UNITAMS should be carried out in an orderly fashion. France recognizes the willingness of the Sudanese authorities to assume full responsibility for the protection of civilians in Darfur and encourages the government to continue implementing its National Plan for the Protection of Civilians with the assistance of UNITAMS. Nevertheless, civilians, particularly women and children, continue to face violence on the ground. The continuing of peacebuilding activities is also indispensable to build trust with populations still traumatized by the level of insecurity. Finally, it is necessary to accelerate capacity building and to support the implementation of the peace process. And in this regard, the participation of women is of course a major issue, as stated by many speakers. It is the responsibility of the Security Council to ensure that UNAMID’s withdrawal takes due account of the reality on the ground and all of its challenges, as it has always done for its peacekeeping operations. In that regard, I would like to thank Mr. Lacroix and Mr. Khare for setting out in detail the prerequisites of a process the Security Council must now define.
Thank you, Mr. President.