Official speeches and statements - April 13, 2022
How would you describe the attack on Kramatorsk station?
It was vile... It’s yet more carnage! But really, when you see the latest picture, what strength from the Ukrainian people, what determination, what a nation, what struggles! And we’re in solidarity with them. It’s yet more carnage; I remember coming here a few weeks ago and saying to you, "the worst is to come", and I still say the worst is to come. Russia’s war is continuing with these acts of violence, these killings, these rapes, these people in Mariupol who have neither electricity nor food, amid the complete and utter cynicism of Russia. And this war is going to last until the objectives President Putin has set himself are achieved. All the more so because the Russian public - who are now being totally exploited, because social media are banned, because information is tightly controlled - the Russian people believe what they’re being told.
So I think the fighting has, first of all, one immediate goal, namely to get to the big patriotic festival of 9 May with a few trophies. And what’s tragic about what happened at the station is that we know the achievable objective for the time being is the recapture of the Donbas territories in eastern Ukraine. He wants to try and achieve those objectives, and in order to do so he wants to try and cut the Ukrainian army in two. Hence those actions there, in that area, and hence the preparations the Ukrainian authorities are making with the population, urging them to leave the area because it’s going to be a conflict zone. And it’s then that he hits the station. He hits the station with refugees and therefore civilians in it. So that also fits with crimes against humanity.
And how is France supporting investigations on the ground to ensure truth and justice prevail, as President Emmanuel Macron has promised?
Yes, we’ve decided, at the President’s request, to provide support, expert support, both to the International Criminal Court, which has already launched an investigation following other tragedies, in particular [based on] the findings which we’ve made and which the Commission President has just made in Bucha, but also now with this vile business. And we also support Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, who has also launched her own investigation - the French Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation too - to find out the whole truth. These crimes can’t go unpunished. Experts are needed quickly, because we have to gather information quickly, we have to gather documentation urgently, so that we can then provide evidence of crimes against humanity.
"Crimes against humanity", you say... And not only "war crimes"...
"Crimes against humanity". The International Criminal Court, of course.
"The war is going to last, is going to get worse", you say. But what means are there of taking action, really, to try and limit the tragedies you fear?
The Ukrainian people are fighting, they’re totally mobilized; I was with my colleague Dmytro Kuleba in Brussels yesterday. I’m full of admiration for him; he’s now gone back to his bunker, because he’s leading Ukraine’s foreign policy - heaven knows it’s important - from secret and protected locations. They’re fighting, they want weapons. We’re supplying them with weapons. France is supplying weapons to Ukraine, Europe is supplying weapons to Ukraine. 1 billion euro already at European level...
The ones Ukraine needs?
What they’re asking us for, obviously within our means. Other allies are supplying weapons to Ukraine; that’s all they’re asking for, in order to fight. They want to fight, it’s their country, they’re defending it! Look at Kharkhiv in the Donbas region, which we were expecting to fall quickly: after many weeks of war now, Kharkhiv is still holding out. Mariupol is resisting, despite the tragedies we’ll discover if Mariupol ends up surrendering. Other towns and cities are holding out.
Siege warfare, which is the practice - the military practice - developed by the Russians but perfected by them in Grozny, Chechnya, and then in Aleppo, is still the same. It’s indiscriminate bombing, preferably of sensitive sites - that station, for example - and then the lure of humanitarian corridors potentially being opened, which don’t really exist because people are then directed towards Russia, among other situations. And then the lure of negotiations being opened. And then those who remain in the city are regarded either as terrorists or as Nazis, and the bombardment begins again. That’s the mentality of siege warfare.
But in order to wage siege warfare in Ukraine, given the range, and the number and size of cities, you need people, you need an organized army. There were probably plans to do that very quickly at the outset, and achieve real efficiency. That wasn’t the case, and today we’re seeing a reorganization of Russia’s military capability towards the Donbas region, which slightly explains the tragedy that has just unfolded in Kramatorsk. (...)
But can’t it (France) support [Ukraine], isn’t it in favor of a total embargo on Russian hydrocarbons?
I’ll get back to that. What we did yesterday was first of all the embargo on coal, which is 4 billion euros - that’s really not negligible - to be withheld from Russia; what we did yesterday was to step up sanctions against other banks; so now, in fact, the whole Russian banking network is going to be gradually hamstrung by sanctions consisting of asset freezes, travel bans and other constraints that are starting to weigh down the Russian economy. The recession...
Except banks that enter into gas contracts.
The recession... I’ll come to that. The recession is currently 10% in Russia, acknowledged, incidentally, not only in that figure but by the Russian Prime Minister, who for the first time is saying, "yes, we’re in an extremely difficult situation" - the goal being to show Putin that the cost of continuing the war is so great for Russia that it’s more worthwhile sitting down at the negotiation table.
Because what we’re seeking is negotiation. Believe it or not, Zelenskyy, President Zelenskyy, whose determination and courage I admire, hasn’t met or seen President Putin since December 2019. The last time they saw each other was here in Paris, where we thought we were going to be able to reach an agreement. We were looking only at the Luhansk and Donetsk areas - two very, very small areas. Since then, they haven’t seen or spoken to each other.
So they’ve got to meet...
Well, that’s what Zelenskyy is asking! Because when it comes to this...
And you’re in favor of this too...
When it comes to this - I’ll perhaps come back to the sanctions in a second -, the reality is that we can’t deem this war to be solely between two States in a supposed conflict situation, in which mediation must be found. No! This war is about an aggressor and an aggressee! And we’re on the aggressee’s side, very clearly. We’re on Zelenskyy’s side! Here and there - even during the election campaign - I hear people saying this and that. The reality is that we must call things by their name. There’s an aggressor who, for unjustified reasons, is attacking a country, attacking a democracy; and there’s an aggressee which we’ve got to support. That’s France’s position.
You’re thinking of those who say "the two belligerents", for example?
That’s one example. We shouldn’t say "the two belligerents", but the "aggressor" and the "aggressee." That’s what France says. It’s what Europe says. There’s an aggressor and an aggressee - we must call things by their name and support the aggressee.
Are you in favor of a total embargo on hydrocarbons?
On the sanctions - I’ve started talking about this -, there are sanctions on coal first of all. Through them we’ve begun attacking all the energy resources on which we’re dependent vis-à-vis Russia. I think we’ve got to go further. We’ve started discussing oil - that’s the next step. I hear it said - you cited Prime Minister Draghi, others - "we’ve got to move faster on oil"; we’re willing to. President Macron said we didn’t have any taboo subjects; we don’t. Then we’ve got to set in motion this discussion, the timescale, the supporting measures - that’s the next stage. (...)
(...) Can we acknowledge the fact that regardless of whether we talk to Vladimir Putin, regardless of whether we cajole or threaten him, the outcome is the same?
President Macron took responsibility for the discussion and meetings he had with President Putin. France is a permanent member of the Security Council, France holds the European Union presidency and France is France! So it was logical for President Macron to take initiatives first to try and stop the war escalating. You reported this on 8 February, I was there and I noted, after the one-to-one discussions which took place, that the meeting was extremely clear and extremely frank on both sides, and extremely intense as well. (...) That was to try and prevent war. It didn’t succeed, because President Putin was very, very strongly determined, and also because President Putin lies. He constantly manipulates - including his spokesman, who hasn’t changed, but is accustomed to the lies and the statements which aren’t subsequently carried through or applied.
Secondly, it’s President Zelenskyy who is asking President Macron to talk to President Putin, because President Putin doesn’t want to talk to President Zelenskyy. Because President Putin doesn’t respect President Zelenskyy. Because he doesn’t recognize him! Because he denies him any legitimacy!
And what’s actually happening is that President Zelenskyy himself is saying: "I want to talk, I want to negotiate, I’m putting on the table part of the negotiation I accept - i.e. the neutrality of Ukraine - provided a number of points are resolved and my security is ensured." He’s saying this. Except that President Putin isn’t talking to President Zelenskyy because he doesn’t respect him. And President Zelenskyy is saying to President Macron: "can you tell President Putin that?"
That’s also what diplomacy means, and also what keeping open a channel of discussion means. Because at some point it will be necessary to move to the negotiating table, and this needs to be as soon as possible. And the point of departure at the negotiating table is the ceasefire. Because you don’t negotiate - even if you’re President Zelenskyy, with the strength he’s got - with a gun held to your head.
You’re hoping for a ceasefire, but by when?
We’ve got to go on exerting pressure, pressure through sanctions - I’ve spoken about them -, pressure through international public opinion - we’ve already spoken about that; in particular, we’ve got to continue isolating Russia from the whole international community. This was done at the United Nations... (...)
On Sunday 10 April, following a very long investigation, the Directorate General for Internal Security (DGSI) uncovered a clandestine operation being conducted on our territory by the Russian intelligence services. Six Russian agents operating under diplomatic cover, whose activities were revealed to be contrary to our national interests, were declared persona non grata. In the absence of the Russian Ambassador, the number two was summoned to the Quai d’Orsay this evening to be informed of the decision.
[source of English text: Council of the EU]
The Council today adopted a directive and a regulation to ensure continued supply of medicines to Northern Ireland, and to Cyprus, Ireland and Malta. These texts will enter into force on the day of their publication in the Official Journal of the European Union, which is expected in the next few days. The measures will apply retroactively from January 1, 2022.
The aim of the directive is to preserve the uninterrupted supply of medicinal products for human use in Northern Ireland after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, under the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland. It will also, exceptionally and for a transitional period of three years, allow medicinal products from the United Kingdom to be placed on the market in Ireland, Malta and Cyprus under derogations from the requirement for authorization holders to be established in the European Union. The regulation is closely linked to the directive and is aimed at ensuring the supply of investigational medicinal products to the same markets.
With this legislation, the European Union intends to facilitate the implementation of the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland on the ground, in line with the measures for Northern Ireland presented by the Commission on 13 October 2021.
[translation from French]
I thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Carlos Ruiz Massieu for his presentation. I also welcome the presence among us of the President of Colombia, Mr. Ivan Duque.
In a world shaken by conflicts, Colombia is an example for the international community. The Peace Agreement is a historic achievement. The former guerrillas have laid down their arms. Former combatants have been gradually reintegrated and justice is paving the way for reconciliation. Society as a whole is striving to build peace on a daily basis. After half a century of violent conflict, we must therefore recognize and salute the progress that has been made. However, building peace also means being able to take a clear-sighted look at the implementation of the Agreement and therefore highlight the challenges that remain.
Allow me to come back to four specific aspects:
First, it is positive that the congressional elections were held without major disruptions. The election, for the first time, of representatives from the 16 peace constituencies is a step forward. This arrangement should be consolidated in the future. We hope that the presidential campaign will continue without tension and that the elections will be held in a safe and inclusive manner in all parts of the country.
Secondly, the continuing violence, especially in the Arauca region, is a major concern, as many of my colleagues have said. In every report of the Secretary General, we hear of killings of ex-combatants, human rights defenders and social leaders. Every massacre, every assassination, every displacement of people is a danger to the Peace Agreement. At present, security guarantees are insufficient, as the Constitutional Court has pointed out. It is positive that the National Commission on Security Guarantees has met for the first time in a year. It is important that it continue to meet regularly, as provided for in the Agreement, in order to implement a policy of dismantling armed groups.
Third, it is important to strengthen the presence of the state in remote areas in order to combat violence in these areas, but also to provide viable socio-economic opportunities for the populations that have suffered from the conflict. In order to win the peace permanently, more needs to be done in the areas of rural reform, access to land and access to housing. The chapters of the agreement that deal with inclusiveness and the plight of women and youth are also essential.
Finally, and this will be my last point, we welcome all the progress made in the area of justice, and the progress of the Special Court for Peace in particular. The opening of three new cases demonstrates the maturity of this system. The first restorative sentences will mark a turning point, placing victims at the heart of the process. We encourage all parties to engage in truth-telling, and the Truth Commission is doing an absolutely remarkable job. We will be watching closely for its next report in June.
The Peace Agreement is gradually taking root and we hope that it will become irreversible. Its full implementation is the best guarantee for this.
I thank you.