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Official speeches and statements - September 8, 2021

Published on September 8, 2021

1. Afghanistan - Replies by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to two questions in the National Assembly (Paris - September 7, 2021)

You are right to emphasize the extremely difficult conditions in which our teams, Team France - not only the diplomats, police and military personnel who were at Kabul airport but also those who were in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Quai d’Orsay’s crisis centre, were able to ensure, day and night, that these evacuations could take place, and enabled us to evacuate 2,800 people in 10 days. I want to pay tribute to them here, and commend their cool-headedness and courage. Our ambassador will also appear tomorrow, behind closed doors, before the Foreign Affairs Committee.

On the underlying issues, we’ll have the opportunity to discuss them again at length, but there are five principles, five demands that the international community, in all its deliberations - whether it be the Security Council through its Resolution 2593, or the European foreign ministers, who met in Ljubljana last Friday and Saturday to talk about the issue, or the G7 - everyone agrees there are five demands for the de facto power, or the forcible power that is currently in place in Kabul:

1/ to allow free, unfettered movement;

2/ to renounce all links with all terrorist organizations;

3/ to ensure that basic rights, and in particular women’s rights, their history, women’s and girls’ rights in particular and the right to education are respected;

4/ for humanitarian aid to be accessible, and

5/ for a transitional government to be established.

On these five principles, there’s agreement; but now it’s important for the authority in place, the de facto power, the forcible power to show, through deeds, that it’s meeting those commitments.

For the moment, we have only words, including this morning, and for the moment those words are worth nothing.

***

Thank you for stressing the excellence of Operation Apagan, which we conducted with the Minister for the Armed Forces and which has brought the results I mentioned earlier.

There are still hundreds and hundreds of Afghans, plus a few French nationals, whose protection we must ensure, who it hasn’t been possible to exfiltrate because of the American forces’ accelerated departure, and in particular following the attacks.

I’d also like to recall here, in front of the nation’s elected representatives, that we mustn’t delude ourselves: the Daesh risk in Kabul is still present. And so the important thing now is to ensure that the Security Council resolutions - Resolution 2593, to which we contributed a great deal - can indeed be implemented.

That means security and safety: technical safety, because an airport has to be operated, and security in the environment so that the people we want to exfiltrate from Afghanistan, or who have asked for that, can do so without any risk.

And that’s what we’re currently working on. Not only us. We’re doing it in smooth coordination with Europe, but also in liaison with the United States of America.

To that end, there’s now an interlocutor designated by the authorities in place, the de facto authorities: namely Qatar, which is probably going to take on the technical running of the airport. And we must work with Qatar to enable the evacuation of our nationals and those Afghans who want to leave. We do have to work with the people who are going to authorize us to leave.

This is what we’re doing, and I’ll be going to the country myself, in a while, to make sure we can effectively implement both the safety and security of people wishing to return to France or other countries, since we’re working in coordination with the Europeans. That’s the situation.


2. Senegal - Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian’s meeting with his counterpart - Statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris - September 7, 2021)

Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, had a meeting today with Ms Aïssata Tall Sall, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Senegalese Abroad.

The Minister again flagged his concern about the forced takeover of power in Guinea on 5 September. He also talked about the situation in Mali. In this context, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian reiterated our full backing for the supportive efforts of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The Minister discussed several aspects of our bilateral partnership with Senegal, which is especially close. In the health field, he recalled France’s contribution to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Senegal, through the COVAX mechanism and the support lent by the Pasteur Institute of Dakar in developing vaccine production capacity. With regard to academic cooperation, the Minister signalled the shared desire to strengthen university cooperation projects through the establishment of the Franco-Senegalese campus.


3. United Nations - Debate on peace and international security around the "Elders" - Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, permanent representative of France to the United Nations, to the Security Council (New York - September 7, 2021)

[translation from French]

Madam President,

I would like to take this opportunity to recall that France has joined the calls of the African Union and ECOWAS to condemn the events that took place in Guinea on 5 September, to demand a return to constitutional order and to call for the release of President Condé. This crisis is emblematic of the importance of regional organizations, which the Security Council must take into account in fulfilling its mandate.

I thank Ms. Robinson and Mr. Brahimi for their presentations. Through them, I salute the work of the "Elders" in favor of international peace and security.

We are in complete agreement with you. The world needs strong multilateralism and an effective Security Council. This is essential to meet the challenges of our time. Collectively, we need to think about how to act more effectively.

As members of the Security Council, the guarantor of international peace and security, we must make full use of the tools at our disposal. The mandates we give to the United Nations are a valuable instrument. I would like to pay tribute to the work of the Secretary-General’s special representatives and the 80,000 blue helmets deployed in risky areas: in the Central African Republic, in Mali and in South Sudan. In Afghanistan, where UNAMA is playing a fundamental role alongside humanitarian agencies in a critical context. This role must continue.

Our unity is a condition for the success of the United Nations’ action. We demonstrated this unity in the case of Côte d’Ivoire in 2011, a country that is now well on the way to reconciliation. In Libya, peace is within reach. Our support for the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections on December 24 is essential for stability and reconciliation. In Syria, I call on this Council to set aside its differences to finally resolve the conflict, in accordance with resolution 2254.

Peace cannot be achieved without real equality between women and men, nor without the effective participation of women and youth in decision-making. The 10 billion dollars mobilized at the Generation Equality Forum in Paris last July must contribute to this.

In the current environment, it is essential to preserve the integrity of existing non-proliferation norms. At the center of these is the Non-Proliferation Treaty. This means responding to proliferation in a firm and united manner, including by working hard to encourage the United States and Iran to return to mutual compliance with their commitments under the July 2015 Vienna agreement. This also means working toward the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. These are the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all.

Madam President,

Making the best use of the tools at our disposal is one thing, but we must also see together how to go further.

France is committed to the reform of the Security Council to strengthen its authority and representativeness while preserving its decision-making character. We support its enlargement in both categories of membership and an increased presence of Africa. Furthermore, we call on all Member States, in particular the permanent members of this Council, to join the initiative that we are carrying, together with Mexico, for the voluntary and collective suspension of the use of the veto in cases of mass atrocities.

We can also flesh out our response. This is the sense of the project that the Sahel countries, France and their partners are carrying out with the Coalition for the Sahel. It aims to respond to all dimensions of the crisis: the fight against terrorism, the strengthening of military capabilities, the redeployment of government services, and humanitarian and development efforts. The European Union fully supports these efforts. The United Nations must do more.

Responding to crises also means fighting impunity and ensuring respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. We call on all Member States to join the Call for Humanitarian Action that we have launched with Germany.

Finally, the most effective tool for dealing with crises is prevention. Prevention means identifying tomorrow’s crises. It also means containing threats before they escalate. We have, for example, provided a collective response to COVID-19 with resolutions 2532 and 2565, but it is urgent to implement them.

We also know that the consequences of global warming are unprecedented. And if this issue is better reflected in our resolutions, its repercussions on international peace and security must truly become a central element of our response to crises in the future.

Thank you, Madam President.


4. Libya - Reply by the Ministry for the Armed Forces to a written question in the Senate (Paris - September 2, 2021)

Monitoring the embargo on arms deliveries to Libya was the focus of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions 1970 and 2292. Their implementation is collectively guaranteed within the European Union (EU), and France plays a significant part in this. On 1 April 2020, given the deteriorating situation in Libya and the risks of the conflict spreading, the EU launched Operation EUNAVFOR MED IRINI, whose mandate is focused on implementing the embargo on arms to Libya voted on by the UNSC.

Operation IRINI also includes three other dimensions: preventing illegal oil exports, combating people-trafficking and training the Libyan coastguard. In terms of air capabilities, the EU countries’ contributions are satisfactory. France is providing support in the shape of two Falcon 50 flights per month. In the naval field, Europe’s contributions are still more modest. Alongside the French capabilities, Greece and Italy are committing a unit on an ongoing basis. France is deploying French navy capital ships (frigates and attack submarines) for some 100 days at sea per year. It has a fleet-ready escort capable of swiftly strengthening the capability if need be.

The operation currently occupies second place in the French navy’s operational contract for the Mediterranean Basin and is taking on increasing weight. The serious incident that occurred in the spring of 2020 between two members of the [NATO] Alliance, France and Turkey, was discussed at the highest level.

At the meeting of Alliance defence ministers on 17 and 18 June 2020, we set out France’s concerns following a Turkish frigate’s unacceptable conduct towards a French frigate on June 10.

Subsequently, we ensured a reminder was issued within the Alliance of certain important principles such as the need to comply with the United Nations embargo on Libya, the appropriate use of NATO’s maritime signals, proper communication between allies at sea, and the goal of smooth coordination between the EU’s Operation IRINI and NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian.