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Official speeches and statements - July 18, 2022

Published on July 18, 2022

1. Niger - Statement to the press by Ms. Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Niamey - July 15, 2022)

Thank you very much, Minister.

Dear [ministerial] colleagues, I’m speaking after you, but in unison with your remarks, firstly to tell you how happy and honored I am – as is my armed forces colleague Sébastien Lecornu – to be your guest today, at this crucial time in the relationship between our two countries. A traditional relationship of friendship, as you know; a relationship we must strengthen and continue, at an especially important time in the development of the sub-region and generally of the world, as you’ve just mentioned, Minister.

We have friendship and admiration for Niger. And we’d like to continue developing a comprehensive partnership. I’d like to extend our most sincere condolences to the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks that have plunged the nation of Niger into mourning in recent years. We stand by you in that, but I wanted to officially express our sympathy to you, just as I’d like to pay special tribute to the families of the six French humanitarian workers and their Nigerien escorts who lost their lives two years ago, not far from here; we’ll never forget them either.

This morning President Bazoum hosted a meeting with us – it’s a great honor for Minister Lecornu and myself – and we had a working meeting this morning with the Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Minister of National Defense, and – although he isn’t here – the Minister of Finance, with whom I was able to sign two agreements. I thank them for their welcome, which was warm, as is proper and as is always the case between two delegations from France and Niger, but also, I believe, productive and positive. And I’d like to say a few words about it.

We’re here at President Macron’s request to signal France’s commitment to the Nigerien authorities and respond as effectively as possible to the needs you’re expressing, be it in terms of development aid, security or the fight against terrorism, as you’ve said, Minister, but also help Niger face up to the food insecurity that is spreading around the world. I’ll come back to that.

I think we’re both convinced, Minister – and allow me to say a word about our vision of our development policy – that we must walk on our own two feet. Security of course, and President Bazoum pointed out a few moments ago that the people’s main aspiration is to live in safety, which shapes everything else; and so yes, the fight against terrorism is essential; Sébastien Lecornu, Minister for the Armed Forces, will come back to this. But also development, to provide the young generation with the prospects they legitimately expect, in terms of education, health and employment.

That’s why, Minister, two weeks ago I asked my Minister of State, Ms. Zacharopoulou – thank you for hosting her and enabling our own visit to be prepared – to travel to Niger and visit Niamey and Agadez, to reaffirm our commitment, of course, and emphasize very practically what we’re doing together to make the agricultural systems more resilient, in order to make further progress in the fields of education and, in particular, young women’s education.

We’re at a special moment in international life, as you’ve said, cher M. Hassoumi Massoudou: war has returned to Europe and dangers are on the increase. The international order is the target of unprecedented attacks. So I’d like to commend the position taken by Niger with regard to the war chosen by Russia in Ukraine; it’s in line with our very principles of international life, which are the basis for our shared existence, and in line with the principles of the United Nations Charter. None of us, whatever latitude we’re speaking from, can allow these fundamental principles enabling the international community to live as peacefully and harmoniously as possible to be called into question. That’s what is at stake. So I want to express thanks for the position taken by Niger’s authorities.

Obviously we condemn in the same way the terrible crimes, the war crimes accompanying Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

There’s a second consequence of this war, namely that all over the world we’re seeing tensions grow, in particular in each of our countries: tensions over energy prices and difficulties in securing raw materials; Niger is also exposed to these unique consequences of the war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine, which are adding to the impact of the insecurity we’ve talked about, and which are adding to the impact of climate change, with all these factors creating a situation we can, I think, describe as dangerous.

And it’s also for these reasons that we want France to stand alongside Niger to address the food emergency. So President Emmanuel Macron has taken the decision to increase our budgetary aid to Niger to a higher level than was previously decided on; we’re increasing it this year to €20 million, so an increase of our overall package this year by a third, within which €8 million will be specially devoted to the food crisis so as to enable you to rebuild your food stocks.

We’ve also increased our humanitarian aid, in terms of food, to €8 million.

However, we want to support Niger in the long term, in addition to this emergency aid and, as I was saying, in support of the Nigerien Government’s strategies. Minister, you pointed out – thank you for doing so – that our [French] Development Agency has considerably stepped up its action alongside you, with a very sharp increase – a tenfold increase – in its commitments in Niger over the past 10 years. It’s conducting a very large number of development projects. We’re going to look at how to make them perhaps even more practical, to respond even better to the needs which you’ve both expressed to us and of which President Bazoum has just reminded us.

To give those listening to us an idea of the scale, I’d like to point out that every year our Development Agency’s new commitments account for more than €100 million on average.

This morning I signed two agreements with the Finance Minister. One agreement on the emergency aid I was talking about, going to your budget and specifically targeting food issues, and also a finance agreement many of your people are waiting for to strengthen Niger’s electricity network, for a significant sum – allow me to quote the figure, Ambassador, I think you’re as delighted as me that we were able to sign this agreement for a total of €50 million. So we’re supporting your country’s ambitious electrification policy.

This afternoon – a few words about the rest of our day – we’ll be going to the Ouallam region to visit a project co-funded by France, very largely funded by France, and implemented with the World Food Program, FAO and UNICEF. This project seemed especially advantageous to us, because it combines a response to the emergency, helping combat the malnutrition that risks taking hold, and a medium-term response, with a market garden created by women and a system of irrigation and water management optimization, bringing hope of agricultural development in the area.

So we’re creating medium-term economic prospects for your people – don’t get me wrong, we’re thinking about women in particular, but more generally about young people.

We’re also supporting – we talked about this to you and President Bazoum – the Niger Government’s efforts in the field of education. I know that education, and girls’ education, is one of his priorities, just as it’s one of ours. It’s a priority for President Macron. I want to remind you that gender equality is a priority for the second term, just as it was for the President’s first term, and we’re implementing it here, particularly through the Global Partnership for Education, whose funds benefit Niger.

And I pointed out all the advantages of the Great Green Wall project, which has now been given an accelerator and funding. And to secure that funding we must grasp the opportunity presented to propose specific projects that can make the most of the Great Green Wall’s advantages.

We talked about this at the beginning of last year, we also discussed it at COP26 in Glasgow, and we’d like to talk about it again, with practical projects, at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh at the end of the year.

Finally, we see our partnership in a broader framework. France is Niger’s leading bilateral partner. But Niger’s leading multilateral partner is the European Union. I pointed out to you, Minister, that being a European Union Member State, and contributing to it – when you talk about our partnership as we’re doing, you have to talk about both – you have to make full use, as I think you’re interested in doing, of what the European Union can offer us in addition to our bilateral action, in terms of education, in terms of sustainable development, in terms of food, too, and in every other field you’d like.

So we see our action in the long term, to look to the future, provide responses to future generations, and help you temporarily, as much as necessary – I hope there will be a solution to this – to combat insecurity and fight against terrorism, as we must currently do. (...)

2. Ukraine - OSCE - France welcomes the publication of a second independent experts’ report on the war in Ukraine - Statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Deputy Spokesperson (Paris - July 15, 2022)

France welcomes yesterday’s publication by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) of a second independent experts’ report "on Violations of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law, War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity Committed in Ukraine (April 1 – June 25, 2022)," under the so-called Moscow Mechanism. The report was launched on the initiative of 45 countries including France, following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

France was deeply concerned to learn of the conclusions of this report, which highlights "serious violations of IHL [international humanitarian law], attributable mostly to Russian armed forces." The offences described in the report are especially alarming, particularly with regard to allegations that the Russian Federation created "filtration centers" and centers for transferring detainees to the two separatist entities of Donestsk and Luhansk, where they risk the death penalty.

France remains resolutely committed alongside Ukraine, the Ukrainians, its international partners and the international courts to combating impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes. The report’s conclusions will feed into the investigations under way with a view to formally establishing legal and political responsibility for the atrocities committed on Ukrainian territory.

3. Palestinian Territories - Meeting between Ms. Catherine Colonna and her counterpart - Statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris - July 13, 2022)

Ms. Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, spoke on July 13 to her Palestinian counterpart, Mr. Riyad al-Maliki.

The ministers took stock of the situation in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories. Given the tensions, the [French] Minister reiterated the need to refrain from unilateral measures. She deplored the continued Israeli settlements policy, which goes against international law and jeopardizes the viability of the two-State solution.

Ms. Catherine Colonna reaffirmed that France is fully mobilized, alongside its international partners, for a political perspective to be restored. She said that only the solution of two States living side by side in security within borders recognized by the international community, with both having Jerusalem as their capital, can lead to fair, lasting peace in the region.

The Minister welcomed the recent release of European financial aid to the Palestinian population, which France had played a fully active role in securing. She reiterated France’s commitment to supporting the building of a future Palestinian State by deepening its bilateral cooperation in every area.