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Official speeches and statements - September 24, 2021

Published on September 24, 2021

1. United States of America - Telephone conversation between Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and Mr. Joe Biden, President of the United States of America - Joint communiqué (Paris - September 22, 2021)

President Emmanuel Macron of the French Republic and President Joe Biden of the United States of America spoke on 22 September, at the request of the latter, in order to discuss the implications of the announcement on September 15. The two leaders agreed that the situation would have benefited from open consultations among allies on matters of strategic interest to France and our European partners. President Biden conveyed his ongoing commitment in that regard.

The two leaders have decided to open a process of in-depth consultations, aimed at creating the conditions for ensuring confidence and proposing concrete measures toward common objectives. They will meet in Europe at the end of October in order to reach shared understandings and maintain momentum in this process. President Emmanuel Macron has decided that the French Ambassador will return to Washington next week. He will then start intensive work with senior US officials.

President Biden reaffirms the strategic importance of French and European engagement in the Indo-Pacific region, including in the framework of the European Union’s recently published strategy for the Indo-Pacific. The United States also recognizes the importance of a stronger and more capable European defense, that contributes positively to transatlantic and global security and is complementary to NATO.

In the framework of their joint fight against terrorism, the United States commits to reinforcing its support to counter-terrorism operations in the Sahel conducted by European States.

2. United Nations - 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly - 12th article XIV conference of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty - Statement by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (New York - September 23, 2021)

Ladies and gentlemen,

Twenty-five years ago, our predecessors made the bold move of rallying States around a treaty aiming to prohibit nuclear tests with the participation of five nuclear-weapon States in a permanent and constructive forum.

To date, 185 States have signed the CTBT and 170 have ratified it.

The means of the Provisional Technical Secretariat are now fully operational.

Completing and maintaining the International Monitoring System, the effective keystone of the Verification Regime, remains a priority.

And as natural disasters increase, the CTBTO’s International Monitoring System is helping to fight the effects of climate change, including via the tsunami warning system, which France unreservedly supports.

France was one of the first States to ratify this Treaty. Since then, our commitment to the CTBT has been translated into strong and tangible acts.

In 1998, France definitively and transparently dismantled its nuclear test sites in French Polynesia, in partnership with the IAEA and the CTBTO. It is important to note that France is still the only country to have done so.

We have significantly reduced our nuclear arsenal and have definitively stopped producing plutonium and uranium for military purposes. The launch of the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, an indispensable supplement to the CTBT, is a priority advocated by France, especially within the P5.

France significantly contributes to the International Monitoring System. France operates 16 stations on its territory, 8 stations abroad and a radionuclide laboratory certified by the CTBTO. With the certification of station IS25 in Guadeloupe in 2021, France has now honored all of its commitments under the Treaty.

The mandate of the Article XIV Conference is clear: to facilitate the entry into force of the Treaty. North Korea’s nuclear tests remind us of the urgency of the matter. North Korea’s unilateral announcement that it was ending its moratorium on tests shows that serious threats to peace and security remain.

Eight Annex II States have yet to ratify the CTBT. And without them, it cannot enter into force. This requirement - I would like to stress - is what makes our Treaty effective.

That is why France has co-sponsored Resolution 2310, which urges all States, which have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the CTBT. This unequivocal call of the Security Council must be heard.

This is what I wanted to tell you on behalf of France, which - as you have understood - calls on all States to join its efforts to preserve and universalize the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

We fully support the declaration of the European Union High Representative.

Lastly, I would like to thank Mr. Lassina Zerbo for his resolute action towards the universalization of the Treaty and extend all my wishes for success to the new CTBTO Executive Secretary, Dr Robert Floyd: please be assured, Dr Floyd, of our complete determination to continue our cooperation with the Provisional Technical Secretariat.

Thank you.

3. United States of America - Communiqué issued by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (New York - September 23, 2021)

On Thursday, September 23, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, met the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Antony Blinken, at the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations.

This meeting followed a phone call the previous evening between the President of the French Republic and his American counterpart, and took place in the context of the joint statement released by the two heads of State.

The Minister discussed with his American counterpart the terms and main themes of the in-depth consultations between the two countries with the aim of rebuilding trust. He recalled that the first step had been taken with the call between the two presidents but observed that both time and actions would be required in order to resolve this crisis.

The Minister agreed to remain in close contact with Mr. Blinken to that end.

4. Foreign policy - 76th United Nations General Assembly - Press conference by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (excerpts) (New York - September 20, 2021)

Ladies and gentlemen,

I wanted to tell you first of all that it’s a great pleasure to be back with you practically in person for the 76th United Nations General Assembly. It’s also a pleasure to note that, despite everything, multilateralism is no longer where it was two years ago, when New York had its last "physical" UN General Assembly.

Because thanks to the steadfast efforts of France and the Europeans, the foundations of the multilateral system have held fast, despite the serious attacks we all remember - I’m thinking of the Paris climate agreement, which some people wanted to undermine. I’m also thinking of the attack on the WHO only last year, even though it’s the only global, international health organization.

So a certain pride that the walls have held. And I think the Alliance for Multilateralism, which I launched with my German colleague Heiko Maas two years ago, has contributed to that, because it’s enabled us to bring together 80 States on a whole series of actions to maintain the spirit of multilateralism. We may talk about this shortly, because it was also that Alliance which enabled the creation of the [International] Partnership on Information and Democracy, which will be a central focus of the end of my stay here in New York.

But there are new worries, because at the very moment when we’re facing huge challenges, we see that the instinctive reflexes of a time we hoped had passed have not disappeared: unilateralism, unpredictability and a lack of consultation between allies, which we saw in the decision taken by Australia and the United States. They’re persistent reflexes from a time we hoped had passed.

And the issue isn’t so much the declared breach of an arms contract, an industrial contract. It’s true that this breach is negative for France. But the issue first of all is a breach of trust between allies. And that breach of trust calls for serious discussions among Europeans about our idea of alliances and partnerships. I also note in today’s statements by the Commission President, Ms. von der Leyen, and by the European Council President, Charles Michel, that our questions and doubts are shared at European level. The situation also calls for European efforts to be speeded up in terms of setting out a common strategy on the Indo-Pacific region. And I’m going to discuss this shortly, after this press briefing, with all my European colleagues.

The issue isn’t only trust within the transatlantic relationship. The fact that I’m talking about it today - here, at the United Nations General Assembly - is because our ability to defend multilateralism together is at stake, and that means us really being able to work together. So for me, it’s clear that Europeans must continue championing their vision of multilateralism and must continue promoting their initiatives, tracing their own path and building with their partners, in good faith, this path of multilateralism. And we’re going to work towards that this week.

So shortly, as I told you, we’ll be having a meeting of the 27 that should be devoted to Afghanistan. As you know, at a meeting held in Slovenia a few days ago, we made several very clear demands of the Taliban, calling for unequivocal actions. And if they didn’t meet them, the Taliban authorities would make themselves a pariah of the international community.

Our first demand is the removal of all obstacles for those who want to leave the country. The second demand is a total break with terrorist groups, and particularly al-Qaeda. Thirdly, free access to humanitarian aid on Afghan territory, which is absolutely paramount. The fourth demand - and there’s no hierarchical order in this presentation - is respect for basic human rights, and women’s rights, because over the past 20 years Afghans have fought for the rule of law, for access to education for all, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression. They’ve made significant progress which mustn’t be erased. And finally, the fifth demand is the establishment of a representative government. We’ll be working on this point later on, since the main focus of the meeting of the 27 is the situation in Afghanistan.

But there will also be several meetings this week devoted to this issue. I’m thinking in particular of our partners in the Security Council on the matter, and also our G20 partners. And we must pay special attention to the situation of Afghan women and girls. There will be a specific meeting on this subject, just as there will also be a meeting on the humanitarian aspects with our interlocutors from the International Committee of the Red Cross and the World Food Program. On September 13, France announced that it was fully in line with the UN Secretary-General’s request for humanitarian aid to Afghanistan: we thus released euro100 million for the Afghan population, half of whom, as you know, are in humanitarian danger. There’s a strong European mobilization on this issue, since more than euro650 million has been released by the Europeans to support the Afghan population. This evening we’ll have an opportunity to discuss this and establish the criteria of a communiqué that will be issued after our meeting.

Continuing with crises, in the Middle East stability and security must be central to our priorities. They require regional dialogue, particularly in the new format established by the Baghdad conference of August 28. It was a somewhat exceptional meeting, and this week my Iraqi counterpart will be organizing, with our support, an initial follow-up meeting to the conference. It was an exceptional meeting because the people around the table were not used to meeting and talking to one another. And we were able to create a spirit around that Baghdad meeting and observe support for the desire to ease regional tensions in a broad new format, on the eve of major elections for Iraq, and to find ourselves around the table with Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey. It was an unlikely combination, but it’s created a spirit that we’ll try to maintain in a meeting we’ll be having in the course of this week.

Moreover, I mentioned that Iran itself was present at the Baghdad conference. So this may be an encouraging signal. In any case, we’ll probably also have a meeting of the Joint Commission of the JCPoA, probably this week. As far as Iran is concerned, we note that the resumption of negotiations has not taken place at its request and that it’s important to ensure that during this week we can try and initiate a positive momentum for resuming the Vienna talks on Iran’s and the United States’ return to the JCPoA. I note, however, that in the meantime Iran is continuing to violate the commitments it previously made. So these are serious concerns that we’ll also address, with both Russia and China.

Furthermore, I’ll be having a bilateral meeting on these issues with my Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, to discuss several issues, obviously including Iran but also Libya, Afghanistan and Ukraine.

In Libya, there are two priorities: the organization of general and presidential elections on December 24 and the departure of foreign forces and mercenaries. And with this in mind, I’ll be co-chairing with my German and Italian counterparts a ministerial meeting that will bring together the participants in what’s been called the Berlin process and the countries in Libya’s neighborhood. And in this run-up to the December elections, France will organize an international conference on Libya on 12 November, led by the French President.

There will also be many meetings devoted to other theatres. I’m thinking in particular of the Sahel and Haiti. I remind you that in all these crises it’s local people who suffer above all, and those who assist them are now being targeted.

In Syria, Yemen, Niger, the CAR, Ethiopia and elsewhere, humanitarian and medical staff too often pay with their lives for their commitment to serve others. Complying with international humanitarian law isn’t an option: it’s an obligation. Even war has its rules. That’s why, together with Germany, we’ll be chairing a ministerial meeting on September 22 dedicated to international humanitarian law and protecting the humanitarian space. We took this approach and these decisions several months ago, in liaison with Germany. And it will foreshadow the first European Humanitarian Forum, which we’ll be organizing in January 2022 under the French presidency of the Council of the European Union.

We’ll be having other meetings, other forums, in particular the meeting of the Global Fund for Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, in which France has an important initiating role, together with Dr. Mukwege and Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad. This is part of what we call the feminist diplomacy which I conduct on France’s behalf and which was one of the projects at the Generation Equality Forum we hosted in Paris in June together with Mexico and under the aegis of UN Women.

All this leads us to our fight for common goods. In the course of this week we’ll be having meetings focused on health, in particular to mobilize the Global Fund, which will be celebrating its 20th birthday.

We’ll also be holding meetings on the environment, since we’re now six weeks away from the Glasgow meeting, COP26. And as you know, the French President has just taken part by video conference in the climate summit organized by the United Nations Secretary-General, in particular to strengthen the climate-finance dimension, which is currently insufficient and which is due to be on the agenda in Glasgow.

Finally, as I mentioned at the beginning, on Friday there will be a meeting on reliable information, with the first ministerial summit of the Partnership on Information and Democracy, which I’ll be opening on Friday, with Reporters Without Borders. It will provide an opportunity to think collectively about the scope of the decision-making power that is actually given to platforms and social networks, and to learn lessons about the regulations we must implement in the digital space. It’s a project which we initiated ourselves two years ago and which is now starting to take on a much stronger dimension, as it feels so necessary and seems so essential in this period.

As you see, ladies and gentlemen, French diplomacy is active on many fronts, in the defense of our common goods and in handling crises. We have an approach: multilateralism. And a constant goal: to find pragmatic solutions. So I’ve come to New York this week to promote a diplomacy of the concrete and the real. (...)

The UN Secretary-General said in an AP interview over the weekend that the world could end up in a new Cold War that would be probably even more dangerous if the United States and China don’t start repairing their totally dysfunctional relationship. I wonder what France’s view is on that statement and the importance of trying to do something about the US-China relationship?

I think that with China we have a relationship - France, Europe, has a relationship based on three factors, whose role varies depending on the period. First of all, we’re partners. Earlier I mentioned COP26 in Glasgow, the fight against climate change. Only through a partnership with China can we have agreements on climate change. The same kind of idea prevails on health issues. So it’s a partner, and we must rely on it. But it’s also a competitor. It’s an economic competitor, a trade competitor, a technology competitor with which we must establish fair competition criteria - hence the close discussions on these competition issues. And it’s also a rival, and developments in China’s rearmament, its new offensive capabilities, its desire, as I said earlier, to take over the South China Sea, close it off from the free movement provided for in international treaties, is very disturbing. So we must constantly bring the three factors into play, and today it’s true that the systemic-rivalry element dominates. But if we forget one of those factors, we risk having an excessively acute confrontational situation. So the concern - and the discussions we must have among allies on this issue - is to organize the three factors as best we can, without being naïve, being very vigilant about our interests, being very vigilant about China’s offensive capabilities, also noting the significant reduction in domestic freedoms in China, but also having a chance to find a few areas of partnership on issues that concern the whole international community. So we always have those three factors in mind, and the Europeans have made this choice. (...)