Official speeches and statements - February 17, 2021
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will host his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, and his British counterpart, Dominic Raab, in Paris on February 18. They will be joined by United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken via video conference. The meeting will be devoted mainly to Iran and regional security in the Middle East, within the framework of their regular exchanges on these issues.
[translation from French]
I thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for her briefing and I would like to assure her of France’s full support in the conduct of her mission.
We are at a turning point in the future of Iraq. The population has expressed legitimate aspirations to make the country more democratic, more just and more sovereign. It is the duty of the international community to accompany Iraq on this path.
This means, first of all, that we need to make sure the elections in October take place. The Iraqi government has sovereignly expressed its desire to see the United Nations involved in electoral observation. It is the responsibility of this Council to provide a response that lives up to its expectations, bearing in mind the strategic stakes that these elections represent for the future of the country and for the stability of the region. France will turn up for this discussion, as it has showed up in Brussels, to defend the idea of a European contribution to electoral observation. This is a matter of urgency. We must act.
Accompanying Iraq also means standing by its side to ensure that its security, sovereignty and territorial integrity are preserved.
The January 21 attack in Baghdad demonstrates that the Daesh threat remains and even intensifies. The Iraqi population is the first victim. Preserving the international coalition’s ability to act alongside the Iraqi security forces is essential if the progress made in recent years is not to be jeopardized. France condemns in the strongest possible terms the rocket fire that hit Erbil last night, which killed one person and wounded several. We express our solidarity towards the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan regional government.
The Iraqi government should also have our full support in its efforts to put an end to the destabilizing activities of certain armed groups which, in recent months, have notably attacked diplomatic targets.
Finally, the Secretary-General’s report notes the continued incursions into the north of the country. This situation is worrying. The Iraqi government’s diplomacy of balance and good neighborliness has our full support. Iraq’s hand extended to its neighbors must be seized.
Accompanying Iraq lastly means speaking the truth about what still needs to be done.
I have in mind the fight against economic and political corruption which is paralyzing the country.
I also have in mind the fight against impunity for crimes committed against protestors. Nine months after the announcement of the establishment of a fact-finding body, it is time for it to finally be made operational.
I also have in mind the situation of displaced persons. It is essential that their return be voluntary and that it be carried out in safety and dignity. It is essential to allow them to continue to receive assistance when they leave the camps, including health care assistance. This is all the more crucial in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is the responsibility of the international community to contribute to helping stabilize and rebuild the regions liberated from Daesh. France is taking its part in this with, in particular, a hospital project in Sinjar, the first stone of which was laid on November 24.
Lastly, the dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil needs to make much more rapid progress. It is urgent that an agreement be found on budget transfers.
Lastly, I would like to say a word on the repatriation of the remains of Kuwaiti nationals who disappeared in Iraq. France welcomes the cooperation between Iraq and Kuwait, which allowed to the identification of twenty Kuwaiti nationals. We wish it will continue.
There are many challenges, but France is determined to support Iraq. And we hope that all of Iraq’s friends will, when the time comes, be able to express their political and material support for the sovereignty of this country.