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Official speeches and statements - March 1, 2021

Published on March 1, 2021

1. European Union - Statement by the members of the European Council, February 25 and 26, 2021 - excerpt (Brussels - February 26, 2021)

I. COVID-19

1. We are determined to continue to work together and coordinate our action to tackle the pandemic and its consequences. The epidemiological situation remains serious, and the new variants pose additional challenges. We must therefore uphold tight restrictions while stepping up efforts to accelerate the provision of vaccines.

2. For the time being, non-essential travel needs to be restricted. We welcome the adoption of the two Council recommendations on travel within, and into, the EU, according to which restrictions can be introduced in accordance with the principles of proportionality and non-discrimination and taking into account the specific situation of cross-border communities. The unhindered flow of goods and services within the Single Market must be ensured, including by making use of Green Lanes.

3. Vaccination has now begun in all our Member States and our vaccine strategy has ensured that all Member States have access to vaccines. Even so, we need to urgently accelerate the authorization, production and distribution of vaccines, as well as vaccination. We also need to enhance our surveillance and detection capacity in order to identify variants as early as possible so as to control their spread, as set out in the Commission Communication on the “HERA Incubator: Anticipating together the threat of COVID-19 variants". We support the additional efforts by the Commission to work with industry and Member States to increase the capacity of current vaccine production as well as to adjust vaccines to the new variants as necessary. We also support the Commission’s ongoing efforts to accelerate the availability of raw materials, facilitate agreements between manufacturers across supply chains, scope existing facilities so as to help production scale-up in the EU and further the research and development efforts. Companies must ensure predictability of their vaccine production and respect contractual delivery deadlines. Transparency with regard to the overall efforts should be enhanced.

4. We call for work to continue on a common approach to vaccination certificates and will come back to this issue.

5. We reaffirm our solidarity with third countries and underline our determination to step up our global response to the pandemic. We remain committed to improving access to vaccines for priority groups in our neighborhood and beyond, based on common principles, and to supporting a global approach through the COVAX Facility. We welcome COVAX’s first plans to distribute vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries. We commit to contributing the EU’s fair share to the funding of ACT-A.

6. We will continue to keep the overall situation under close review and take action as needed. (...)

[source of English text: European Council website]


2. United Nations - High-level pledging event for the humanitarian situation in Yemen - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations (New York - March 1, 2021)

I would like first of all to thank Sweden, Switzerland and the United Nations for organizing the conference. I am speaking on behalf of my Minister, who could unfortunately not join us today.

Thanks to you, this event allows the international community to remain mobilized for a country in distress, Yemen.

The immensity of humanitarian needs is known to all. The particularly alarming degradation of food insecurity and the outbreak of a famine putting at risk millions of lives is intolerable, as well as the continuation of attacks against populations and civil infrastructures.

We call on all parties to ensure a safe and unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need throughout the territory of Yemen, in particular in the areas controlled by the Houthis. For millions of Yemeni people, it is vital that humanitarian aid reaches them effectively and expeditiously.

Furthermore, we call for a cessation of hostilities, in particular of the offensive led by the Houthis in Marib, where about one million displaced people are located, as well as the strikes on the Saudi territory. We call for an immediate ceasefire. The time of war has to come to an end: it has lasted for too long. We call for the resumption of negotiations. In this regard, France continues its constant commitment, in close cooperation with the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Yemen, towards a global and inclusive political solution.

In 2021, France will contribute to the humanitarian response in Yemen up to at least eleven million euros. We have also substantially increased our unearmarked contributions to the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs as well as to the World Food Program.

Finally, I would like to commend the continued efforts of the United Nations and underline our willingness to work with David Gressly, the new United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen.

Our unity is more necessary than ever to put an end to the plight endured by the Yemeni people.

I thank you.


3. United Nations - Middle East - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations at the Security Council (New York - February 26, 2021)

[translation from French]

Mr. President,

I would like to thank the Special Coordinator as well as Oren Gian and Malak AbuSoud for their briefings.

France is consistent in its support for a two-State solution in accordance with agreed parameters, international law and the resolutions of this Council.

This framework is the only basis to date that has made it possible to bring about a just and lasting peace and thus contribute to the stability of the region. This is what Israeli and Palestinian youth aspire to, as our two briefers reminded us. This solution is the only one likely to ensure Israel’s security, on which France will never compromise, and to respect the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, to which we are deeply attached.

That is why France will continue to give its full support to the creation of two States, living in peace and security, within secure and recognized borders based on the 1967 lines, both with Jerusalem as their capital.

In this context, we regret the growing number of "faits accomplis," which threaten the viability of the two-State solution.

We are very concerned about the record level of demolitions of Palestinian structures, while the figures for 2021 already exceed those of 2020.

In this regard, we condemn the new demolitions and confiscations by the Israeli authorities, including those of humanitarian structures financed by the international community, including by the European Union and France, in the Palestinian village of Khirbet Humsa. France calls on the Israeli authorities to put an end to this as soon as possible, to facilitate humanitarian access and to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention to which Israel is a party.

We condemn the continued colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in particular its progress in sensitive areas such as Givaat Hamatos, Har Homa and the E1 zone. We call again on Israel to reverse these decisions.

It is important to make progress on the Palestinian electoral process.

France welcomed the publication by President Abbas of the decree on elections. These elections must be an opportunity to give a new voice to Palestinian civil society and to renew the democratic legitimacy of the institutions. France and its European partners are ready to support the organization of transparent, free and impartial elections.

France calls on all stakeholders to act constructively to enable the Palestinian people to appoint their representatives. These elections must also be organized throughout the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.

France will remain mobilized to help gradually rebuild trust between the parties with a view to resuming negotiations. We will continue to work on this with our German, Egyptian and Jordanian partners.

The meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) once again stressed the importance of increased cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians in order to strengthen the resilience of the Palestinian economy and the effectiveness of their economic relations.

This cooperation is all the more necessary in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. We welcome the efforts made, including by Israel, to enable the Palestinian Ministry of Health to provide several thousand doses of vaccine. We hope that this positive momentum will continue and benefit all Palestinians, including in Gaza.

In this difficult context, UNRWA is providing vital assistance to millions of Palestinians. France calls on all States to provide it with support that is commensurate with their financial means.

It is around this pragmatic result-oriented agenda that France calls on this Council to unite in order to relaunch the peace process.

Thank you, Mr. President.


4 .United Nations - Middle East - Joint Stake-out by the current and former EU Members of the Security Council, and Norway and the UK (New York - February 26, 2021)

I would like to make the following statement today on behalf of the three current EU Members of the Security Council, Estonia, France and Ireland and the former EU Members of the Council, Belgium and Germany, and Norway and the UK.

We are deeply concerned at the recent repeated demolitions and confiscation of items, including of EU and donor funded structures carried out by Israeli authorities at Humsa Al-Bqai’a in the Jordan Valley, as well as at its impact on its community of approximately 70 people, including 41 children. These large-scale demolitions and confiscations confirm once again the regrettable trend of demolitions and confiscations since the beginning of 2020. We reiterate our call on Israel to halt demolitions and confiscations. We further call on Israel to allow full, sustained and unimpeded humanitarian access to the community in Humsa Al-Baqai’a. We recall our firm opposition to Israel’s settlement policy and actions taken in that context, such as forced transfers, evictions, demolitions and confiscations of homes and humanitarian assets, which are illegal under international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, and are an impediment to a viable two-state solution.

We reiterate our call to all parties to refrain from taking unilateral measures, which risk undermining the recent progress made in Israeli-Palestinian cooperation.

In this regard, we welcome the engagement of the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the Ad-hoc Liaison Committee on February 23, alongside the international community and key donors. We encourage the parties to build on this momentum to take steps to build trust. In line with the AHLC recommendations, we encourage them to continue cooperation on vaccines and other measures to bring the pandemic under control, as well as to engage in solving the outstanding fiscal issues which can substantially increase and stabilize the revenues to the Palestinian Authority. The technical committees required to advance key projects, including the Joint Economic Committee, should resume.

Demonstrating commitment to improving the health and economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territory is crucial to building trust between the parties and creating an environment that is conducive to future direct negotiations that can lead to a peaceful two-state solution.