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Official speeches and statements - April 19, 2021

Published on April 19, 2021

1. Ukraine - Meeting between Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris - April 17, 2021)

The French President hosted a meeting on Friday 16 April with his Ukrainian counterpart, Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky. He reiterated to him France’s commitment to Ukraine’s unity and sovereignty and the importance he attaches to developing bilateral relations in every field.

Noting the difficulty of reaching an agreement on the Donbas and the risks of a military escalation, the Head of State expressed his determination to ensure that the Minsk agreements are fully complied with and that a lasting political solution is found to the conflict.

The French President and President Zelensky also spoke via video conference to the German Chancellor, Ms. Angela Merkel. Together they noted that the conclusions of the Paris summit held on December 9, 2019 remain fully relevant and require Russia to engage with Ukraine to facilitate their implementation. The French President will soon speak to President Putin.

2. China - Conversation between Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, Ms. Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, and Mr. Xi Jinping, President of China (Paris - April 16, 2021)

President Macron and the German Federal Chancellor today held a joint video conference with the President of the People’s Republic of China.

President Macron and the German Chancellor spoke to President Xi about the prospect of upcoming multilateral events on the fight against climate change and the protection of biodiversity, in particular the climate summit on April 22, the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, COP15 in Kunming and COP26 in Glasgow.

President Macron and Chancellor Merkel drew the attention of the Chinese President to expectations concerning a high level of ambition and tangible results on climate, notably the goal of carbon neutrality. By ending the financing of coal-fired power stations, China will make a decisive contribution to this goal. President Xi reaffirmed the commitment to having greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2030, while emphasizing the prospect of more ambitious goals at the local level. China also agreed to implement the Kigali Amendment on HFCs.

President Macron and the German Chancellor stressed the need to direct international financing toward projects that comply with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement. China was invited to join the Finance in Common coalition, which brings together development banks committed to the climate and sustainable and inclusive development.

Concerning the protection of biodiversity, the Chinese President indicated that China envisaged joining the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People and fully supported the Great Green Wall in the Sahel. President Macron and Chancellor Merkel urged China to support the creation of a marine protected area in East Antarctica, a treaty on biodiversity in the high seas and the preservation of forests in Central Africa.

President Macron and the German Chancellor encouraged China to contribute, within the World Health Organization, to improving epidemic prevention and early warning mechanisms and to a transparent and independent evaluation of the response to the pandemic. They agreed that the ACT-A Initiative, including the COVAX facility, was central to the international response that aims to provide aid and assistance efficiently and equitably to the most vulnerable countries.

The Chinese President reaffirmed China’s commitment to improving access to its market and announced new opportunities for foreign investment.

In the context of a comprehensive relationship with China based on rigorous dialogue, President Macron and Chancellor Merkel discussed the issue of human rights as well as the situation in Iran, Myanmar and North Korea.

3. Heritage - Notre-Dame Cathedral, two years after the fire - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris - April 15, 2021)

Two years ago, a violent fire devastated the upper part of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. The people of Paris, France and the whole world watched Notre-Dame’s spire fall and a whole heritage disappear with it.

Nearly 500 firefighters were involved. For seven hours these women and men took part in an extremely complex operation and showed exemplary courage and determination. Exceptional resources were put in place. Their comrades from the police, the Culture Ministry, Paris City Hall, the emergency services and the Red Cross were also involved alongside them, particularly in evacuating the cathedral and rescuing the artworks.

President Emmanuel Macron visited the Notre-Dame building site, two years after the tragedy. He wanted to reiterate his thanks to everyone who helped save the cathedral from the flames and all those working daily on its restoration.

The rebuilding effort is a tremendous human and collective adventure. It is a catalyst of goodwill, expertise and skills. Many professions - carpenters, scaffolders, rope technicians, crane operators, organ builders, master glassmakers and many others - are actively involved.

Despite many constraints - lead, the health crisis and the dangerous-building order -, construction work has made good progress. The phase of making the building safe, which began the day after the fire, is now nearing completion. It is due to be completed in summer 2021 when the final two stages - making the vaulted ceiling safe and erecting an umbrella over the transept crossing - will be finished.

The actual restoration phase can then get under way in winter 2021. As approved by the President on 9 July 2020, the external architecture will be rebuilt identically.

The goal is still the same: to reopen for worship and to the public in 2024.

The President was also keen to pay tribute to the 340,000 donors worldwide who have made this construction work possible. They come from 150 countries and have raised euro833 million in donations.

As he said last year on the first anniversary of the fire, the COVID-19 pandemic must not make us forget the national efforts being made to rebuild Notre-Dame.

4. Climate - 1951-2021: from the ECSC to the Green Deal - making Europe a green power - Joint communiqué by France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (April 18, 2021)

The Treaty of Paris established the European Coal and Steel Community on April 18, 1951. Signed by our countries, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, this treaty created a common market for coal and steel.

On that day in Paris, our six countries took the simple and visionary path of cooperation to rebuild a continent that had been wounded and broken by six years of the worst armed conflict that the world had ever seen.

Who better than Robert Schuman could express the meaning behind the signing of this treaty, in his declaration in the Salon de l’Horloge "A new method to achieve an ideal of peace and prosperity." Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity. The solidarity in production thus established will make it plain that any war between France and Germany becomes not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible.

This method and ideal continue to inspire us today.

Coal and steel, which were key to the reconstruction and pacification of Europe in 1951, have given way to the matter of the impact of these raw materials on the environment and climate. As a source of energy, coal will gradually disappear from the European Union, to enable it to achieve climate neutrality in 2050. Steel, meanwhile, remains an essential component of European industry; it is still the cornerstone of our prosperity and we must produce it in a greener, more sustainable way, for example by using green hydrogen.

Six decades after the creation of the ECSC, it was in Paris, again, the historic global climate agreement was sealed. This is why, 70 years after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, we find ourselves in the same spot where it was signed, in the Salon de l’Horloge at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. The time that has passed has strengthened our Europe; it has also made the climate emergency more urgent. The time has come to build this future by drawing energy from this heritage that guides us.

In a few weeks, the European Commission will present its legislative proposals to implement the European Green Deal: we call on it today to show ambition and consistency, the sign of a Europe that is ambitious on climate, equitable and inclusive with its members, cooperative with its partners, sovereign in its choices and a pioneer of international climate and energy diplomacy. We must seize this opportunity to modernize our economies now.

That is why we want the Commission to work on a proposal for a carbon border adjustment mechanism that ensures that the EU’s policies are environmentally sound and avoids carbon leakage, in a way that is compatible with WTO rules.

Because at a time when, through the European budget and the recovery plan, we can invest massively in the ecological transition, we must seize the opportunity to modernize our economies without being penalized by a race to the bottom in terms of the environment.

Energy, a common thread linking two eras of reconstruction, is key to our union. Yesterday, it underpinned reconciliation and the sharing of key resources of a flourishing industry in the aftermath of a devastating war. Today, it is a symbol of our climate concerns, our sovereignty and the projects of our young people: a symbol of a European ambition to once more build together, as a Europe of twenty-seven.

5. India - Panel on raising climate ambition in the run-up to COP26 - Speech by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (New Delhi - April 14, 2021)

Let’s make no mistake: the very serious health and economic crisis we’re going through hasn’t made the other crisis - the climate crisis - go away; it’s no less formidable. Far from it.

On every continent, the impact of environmental upheavals is already being felt and calls for a swift, massive, collective response. For us, the fight against climate disruption really is the battle of the century.

That’s why, in my view, the Franco-Indian partnership for protecting the planet is absolutely essential. I’ve just had a meeting with [Environment] Minister Javadekar. This partnership is essential for our common goods, for the new generations and, in a nutshell, for our future.

2021 will be a decisive year for the planet, with the three COPs - among others, Glasgow’s COP26 on the climate. 2021 is also our France-India Year of the Environment.

So there’s a window of opportunity in 2021 for acting together. Our two countries have decided to play a driving role with a view to COP26.

As you know, the Paris Agreement’s goal is to limit global warming to 2°C, even 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century. If we don’t manage this, the consequences will be disastrous. The World Meteorological Organization reckons that the period 2016-2020 was the hottest on record. According to the UN, at the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, even if all the current commitments made by States are fully implemented, temperatures could rise by 3.2°C this century.

That’s why it is vital for all countries to increase their climate commitments between now and Glasgow’s COP26, as the Paris Agreement asks us to.

Among other things, this raised ambition must include new nationally determined contributions between now and 2030 and long-term strategies aimed at achieving carbon neutrality. Stopping the construction of new coal-fired power stations and gradually ending this method of electricity production are crucial on a global scale.

So it’s a matter of great urgency. But there are also, I believe, genuine reasons for hope. Despite the crisis, there has been good news in recent months. Major emitters have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality, China among others, even though discussions are under way on the timeframe. In total, over 130 countries now share this goal.

The United States is now back in the Paris Agreement and will be announcing its new emissions reduction targets in the next few days.

But beware: this good news certainly mustn’t serve as an excuse for slackening efforts. On the contrary, we’ve got to realize that this positive momentum will yield full results only if we actively keep them up.

In this respect, India and France have a key role to play, because since the Paris Agreement our two countries have always been leaders on the climate and have been able to forge very close cooperation in this area.

As you know, France is one of the countries which pushed for the European Union to pledge in 2019 to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, and we ourselves included the target in our national legislation. France has also worked extremely hard to get the European Union to adopt a new net greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels. This new commitment makes the European Union the most ambitious continental bloc in terms of emissions reduction. I say this with some pride.

In line with their 2015 commitments, France and the European Union are also shouldering their responsibilities in terms of solidarity with developing countries. At the Climate Ambition Summit last December, the French President pledged that we would increase our climate finance to euro6 billion a year and devote a third of it to adaptation, i.e. €2 billion a year. The European Union as a whole is the world’s leading provider of climate finance, with €22 billion in 2019. I’m proud to remind you of that, too.

For its part, as Prime Minister Modi recalled, India is ahead on achieving the climate targets it set itself following COP21: on issues linked to biodiversity, forests cover a quarter of its territory. India is improving its energy efficiency and developing renewable energy at remarkable speed.

At the Climate Ambition Summit, Prime Minister Modi even announced the development of 450 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030, which is an impressive target.

These resolute decisions, which are in the process of transforming our countries, are not only good for the planet. They’re also a tremendous opportunity for our economies and will enable us to create tens of thousands - or even, in India’s case, hundreds of thousands - of new, green jobs. That’s an aspect we must never lose sight of when we’re planning the ecological transition and telling our fellow citizens about it.

Despite these very promising steps forward, we know many challenges nevertheless remain along this path. So I’d like to restate here that France and the European Union are fully mobilized to cooperate with India so that it can achieve the ambitious targets it has set itself, but also to devise together the essential solutions for tackling the climate challenge, be they in terms of the ecological transition, renewables, energy efficiency, sustainable cities or environmental protection.

India is the French Development Agency’s main partner in the world. That underlines the strength of the cooperation uniting our two countries. The pace of new commitments is very sustained, with an average volume of activity of some €250 million a year. All the AFD’s activities contribute to the fight against climate change and to protecting the environment in India. The cooperation projects are concentrated in key areas for our economies’ transition: urban transport, green energy, water and sanitation, sustainable urban development, and biodiversity.

I’d like us to go even further together.

I’m thinking in particular of the energy transition.

As India has understood very well, the transition to a decarbonized electricity-production system that draws on every energy source is a major strategic challenge if we want to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, create new jobs and improve the quality of the environment.

The French Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) has been present in India for a long time and has forged close cooperation ties with its Indian counterparts to develop the next generation of photovoltaic cells and establish an Indian production network or support the development of nuclear energy.

Many French companies are investing massively in this field in India - for example, Total, which recently acquired a 20% stake in Adani Green Energy Ltd for the sum of €2.1 billion, to develop solar energy in India.

I’m also thinking of the development of new, especially promising cutting-edge technologies. And among other things, I’m convinced that hydrogen - provided, of course, it’s produced in a decarbonized way - can play a key role in reducing CO₂ emissions from our energy system and our industries. Now that France and India have both devised national strategies in this area, we must further deepen our cooperation in order to create, as quickly as possible, an industrial network that is competitive and enables us to lower production costs for decarbonized hydrogen.

Our cooperation will be especially fruitful because we share similarities in terms of our energy mixes, which are based on both renewable energy and nuclear energy and are a strong asset when it comes to developing our decarbonized hydrogen production.

These new technologies certainly represent major opportunities that India and France must grasp together. Already in 2019, our two countries, through the CEA-Liten research institute and India’s National Institute of Solar Energy, signed a memorandum of understanding with a view to launching industrial demonstrators. We must continue making progress in this direction.

The strategic partnership uniting India and France also enables us to bring our determination to the international stage.

That’s the purpose of the International Solar Alliance, which our two countries launched in 2017 and currently co-chair: to encourage the faster deployment of solar energy around the world, particularly in developing countries.

In the space of just a few years, it has acquired the status of an international organization and been joined by 75 countries. Dr Ajay Mathur, who is a world-renowned expert on the energy transition, has just been elected its director general, and we congratulate him.

France is contributing to the operation of the Alliance’s secretariat by making several experts available to it, and has pledged via the AFD to fund solar projects in the member countries to the tune of euro1.5 billion, euro1.15 billion of which has already been committed.

France is also contributing to the implementation of the project to create a network of training centres for solar technicians, promoted by the Alliance in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).

France and India are also cooperating together in the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, launched by the Indian Prime Minister in 2019. From our point of view, this coalition has a very important role to play in the Indo-Pacific region in adapting infrastructure to the consequences of climate change. There too, France will also make a practical contribution by posting an expert to that body in New Delhi.

France and India could also work together on the fight against single-use plastics. Our countries are taking strong decisions on the issue: the national policy being ambitiously conducted in India should bring results in 2022; for its part, France has started banning a number of single-use plastic products. It would be in our interest to invite other countries to join in the momentum, and - why not? - work on a moratorium on single-use plastic.

Finally, France knows it can count on India to send an ambitious message alongside it, with a view to the major international meetings in this crucial year.

As was already the case in 2019 under the French presidency, your country will once again be taking part in the G7 summit in June. India’s presence there is all the more essential because - with our British partners holding a dual presidency with that of COP26 - this meeting will be very much focused on climate ambition.

We’re also lending our support to the Italian G20 presidency, which would like to boost our cooperation on more sustainable cities and the transition to low-carbon energy - both key themes for the Indian economy!

Because it’s begun marking out a pragmatic path in keeping with the climate emergency, India can be - in Asia but also further afield - a model for many countries, alongside France and the Europeans, who also intend to lead the way.

Together we must shoulder our historic responsibilities, because the position we take between now and Glasgow will have a direct impact on the scale of our partners’ mobilization and the success of this decisive COP for our planet.

Thank you.

6. Iraq - Statement by Spokespersons of the Foreign ministries of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (April 16, 2021)

We, the governments of France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America condemn in the strongest terms the April 14 attacks in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region. Together, our governments will support the Government of Iraq’s investigation into the attacks to ensure that those responsible will be held accountable.

We are united in our view that attacks on U.S. and Coalition personnel and facilities will not be tolerated and reiterate our steadfast commitment to the fight against ISIS.

7. United Nations - Syria chemical - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations - UN Security Council Arria formula meeting (New York - April 16, 2021)

Mr. Chair,

I would like to say straight away that I regret that Russia and China have called us here today for a new disinformation exercise.

France welcomes the publication of the second report of the OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (IIT). This new report is damning. It concludes that units of the regime’s air force used chemical weapons in Saraqeb on February 4, 2018. It follows the report released on April 8, 2020, which concluded that bombs containing sarin and chlorine were dropped in Latamne, Syria, in March 2017. I say it strongly, the use of these weapons by the Syrian regime is unacceptable and cannot go unpunished.

France is fully mobilized. On behalf of 46 States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, we have submitted a draft decision entitled "Countering the possession and use of chemical weapons by the Syrian Arab Republic", which will be submitted to the second part of the 25th Conference of States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which will be convened next week in The Hague. I say this with gravity, it is time for the Syrian regime to be held accountable and I call on all States Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to support this draft decision.

Mr. Chair,

We have heard a good number of lies today. It is disturbing that so many efforts are being made to confuse, to protect a guilty regime and to paralyze international action. These accusations that seek to discredit the OPCW with pseudo-scientific expertise are just absurd. They do not convince anyone. And, above all, they are irresponsible. Instead of preserving the integrity of the Chemical Weapons Convention, these accusations contribute to undermining it. This near-universal convention is meant to enforce the ban and to work toward a world free of chemical weapons. It is a pillar of our collective security and we cannot tolerate such attempts to undermine it.

The IIT report was written with great professionalism, independence, and a robust and transparent methodology. There is no conspiracy. There is no pressure, there is no instrumentalization of the OPCW. There is just and simply the cold reality of the facts. We all know these facts: the Syrian regime has used weapons of war banned for almost a century by international law against its own people, and since then, these atrocious weapons have reappeared in Syria and elsewhere.

Mr. Chair,

There cannot be impunity for these crimes; those responsible must be held accountable and punished. This is why France launched in 2018 the international partnership against impunity for the use of chemical weapons, which today brings together 40 States and the European Union.

Thank you.

8. United Nations - Yemen - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations at the Security Council (New York - April 15, 2021)

Mr. President,

I would like to thank Mr. Griffiths and Mr. Lowcock for their briefings and I would like to reiterate to them France’s full support.

It is high time for the Houthis to make peace to Yemen.

They must immediately put an end to their offensive against Marib, which is home to millions of civilians. The attacks on Saudi Arabia must also stop.

There is an opportunity to put an end to six years of war through diplomacy. We welcome the diplomatic efforts of the United States and Oman and the Saudi Arabia announcement on March 22 in this regard.

The Yemeni parties, especially the Houthis, need to seize this opportunity. They must undertake constructive discussions with the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, in good faith and without any further delay.

The elements for a peace plan are well known. It is more than time :

  • to conclude without delay and without preconditions a ceasefire agreement throughout Yemenite territory,
  • to open the ports and airports to allow humanitarian and commercial supplies in,
  • to start credible political negotiations under the auspices of the United Nations.

There is only a political solution to the war in Yemen. It should be comprehensive and inclusive, and guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Yemen, in line with the Riyadh agreement.

To establish a lasting peace, we must fight impunity in Yemen. We are very concerned about the recruitment and use of children into the fighting in Marib. The conclusions of the Working Group on Children and armed conflict should be fully implemented.

We must also prevent an environmental disaster, which would also be a human and economic disaster for Yemen and more broadly for the region. The Houthis will be responsible for it if they do not immediately allow the UN assessment team to have access to the SAFER oil tanker. We call on them to act responsibly and for the Yemeni people.

The new wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is extremely alarming. It is essential to ramp up the vaccination campaign, thanks to the Covax facility, and to provide equitable access to the vaccine.

The risk of famine continues to increase on a daily basis.

In this context, it is more essential than ever to guarantee full humanitarian access to all those in need, particularly in areas controlled by the Houthis.

Finally, we cannot repeat it enough: even war has rules. International humanitarian law must be respected by all. I am thinking in particular of the protection of civilians. Violations of international humanitarian law will not go unpunished.

Mr. President,

You can count on France to remain fully engaged and mobilized for peace in Yemen and to work towards de-escalation and implementation of confidence-building measures in the region.

I thank you.