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Official speeches and statements - May 9, 2023

Published on May 9, 2023

1. India - Joint communiqué issued by France and India - Press release issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris, 05/05/2023)

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the France-India Strategic Partnership, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has accepted President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to attend this year’s Bastille Day Parade as Guest of Honour on 14 July 2023 in Paris.

To mark this important milestone, an Indian armed forces contingent will participate in the Parade alongside their French counterparts. Prime Minister’s visit is expected to herald the next phase in the France-India Strategic Partnership by setting new and ambitious goals for our strategic, cultural, scientific, academic, economic cooperation, including in a wide range of industries.

France and India have a shared vision on peace and security, especially in Europe and the Indo-Pacific and uphold the objectives and the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, which are also the basis of our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region.

This historic visit will also deliver common initiatives in order to respond to the key challenges of our time, including climate change, biodiversity loss and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals and will be an opportunity for France and India to reaffirm their commitment to multilateralism, including in the context of India’s G20 Presidency./.

(Source of English text: Elysée website)

2. Foreign policy - Interview given by Mme Catherine Colonna, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to France Inter (excerpt) (Paris, 04/05/2023)

Throughout the winter the Russian army tried to regain the city of Bakhmut; it didn’t entirely succeed. For months the Ukrainian army has been preparing a counter-offensive to recapture territories. Does it have the capacity to do so? And I’m not going to ask you whether we’re on the eve of this great counter-offensive, but seen from the Quai d’Orsay what scenarios are being envisaged at this stage, in terms of this war in Ukraine and what follows?

THE MINISTER – Indeed, I won’t be giving you the date of the Ukrainian counter-offensive, which is being prepared. I don’t know it and I don’t think it’s been set, either. It’s obviously up to the Ukrainians to decide on the moment when it’ll be possible and the moment it’ll be effective. What’s certain, however, is that we must continue helping Ukraine to defend itself, on the one hand, and to conduct a counter-offensive to regain ground, restore a more favourable balance of power, and maybe hope Russia returns to the negotiating table. Let me remind you, even so, that it was Ukraine which was attacked by Russia, Russia took the decision to invade it, it’s occupying 20% of its territory, it’s waging a war there with methods that violate international humanitarian law – executions, crimes, rapes, child deportations – and this must stop. But it’s up to the Ukrainians to be in control of their destiny, with our help. And why are we helping Ukraine? If you’ll allow me one more second…

Go ahead.

THE MINISTER – It’s because, of course, a country that is attacked has the right to defend itself. The UN Charter says so, but also because we must enforce the principles enabling people to live in peace and stability in international society, namely independence, non-aggression, territorial integrity – all those principles that are being trampled on by Russia.

Indeed, and at the heart of Europe. For the sake of our security, selfishly, must Ukraine win this war?

THE MINISTER – The Russian aggression must be defeated. I’ve just told you why: re-examining what underpins the international order and international life, what enables us to live in relative stability – even if that stability is currently affected by excessive disorder –, is essential to everyone, because if an attack were to be rewarded, then believe me it would be a lesson, it would happen elsewhere, and no one would be safe.

The Russian aggression must be defeated – does that mean Crimea will also have to return to Ukraine at the end of this conflict?

THE MINISTER – If you’re asking me what Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory is, I’ll reply to you, like everyone, that Crimea is part of it.

So if negotiations begin in the coming months or years, will they have to lead to Crimea returning to the Ukrainian fold?

THE MINISTER – That’s the aim at any rate; negotiations must still take place. And you know today that whereas Ukraine has always advocated dialogue, only recently set out a peace plan at the end of last year and is continuing to seek peace, Russia, for its part, is showing no signs of being prepared to conduct negotiations in good faith.

Can negotiations be conducted with Vladimir Putin, who has an arrest warrant against him issued by the International Criminal Court?

THE MINISTER – The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court means the person implicated, in this case him and one other Russian person, the Commissioner for Children’s Rights – very inappropriately named because she’s responsible for the programme of abductions and deportations of Ukrainian children –, would be arrested if they travelled to a State party to the Rome Statute, which is the foundation of the International Criminal Court. As long as he’s in Russia, with Russia not being a party to the Court, this scenario doesn’t arise. However…

So can he be put at a negotiating table…

THE MINISTER – …if your question is more political than legal, and I think it is…

It is.

THE MINISTER – There must indeed be negotiations, when the time comes and if it’s possible – and if it’s possible –, because, I repeat, with those now in power, Russia is showing no willingness to do so.

Can Emmanuel Macron – will he – talk to Vladimir Putin again, if Putin so wishes, for example?

THE MINISTER – It’s entirely possible: communication channels must be kept open – we’ve done so and others are doing so; I don’t think President Macron and Vladimir Putin have spoken since last autumn, they discussed the International [Atomic] Energy Agency’s return to the Zaporizhzhia and other power stations. Today instead it’s time to try and persuade [him] that it’s necessary to act differently. We made a lot of diplomatic efforts to ensure the United Nations General Assembly condemned the Russian aggression, that was done, and only recently we called quite simply for the complete, unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Russian troops.

Is the hand which for a long time, for months, has been held out to Vladimir Putin perhaps seen today as a strategic error? Or at any rate may it have been misunderstood by some of our European partners?

THE MINISTER – I don’t think so, and at any rate certainly not by the primary people concerned, namely the Ukrainians. President Zelenskyy’s advisers said so again, I think, a few days ago: it’s desirable for there to be channels of dialogue, it enables messages to be sent, it may allow calls for a return to reality when necessary. To say we’re being heard, no, that would be too simple, but we’re convinced that communication channels remain essential. One of the Russian leadership’s problems today is that it’s confined to a parallel reality, and we mustn’t reinforce, we have no interest in reinforcing this mental isolation, which, among other things, led to the strategic error President Putin made of deciding to invade a neighbour that in no way threatened him. And that’s what was done on 24 February last year. It’s a mistake. That mistake comes from a failure to appreciate reality, as subsequent history has shown.

Would you say this isolation is being reinforced as the days and weeks go by?

THE MINISTER – That’s the risk; it’s the reason why all communication channels with Russia… We’re maintaining them, we have an embassy there, we have contacts with the various parties, but also the contacts we’re encouraging. For example, when the President went to China, he spoke at length to President Xi Jinping, the Chinese President, about the advantage there would be for him in influencing the Russian President, to make him “come to his senses”, as he put it.

It didn’t really work.

THE MINISTER – Barely a few weeks afterwards, President Xi Jinping called President Zelenskyy, which he hadn’t done…

But not Vladimir Putin to tell him to pull back.

THE MINISTER – There was no need because he’d just seen him, but if you read the Chinese-Russian statement that was negotiated by the two countries concerned, adopted when President Xi Jinping visited Moscow, you’ll see that the friendship isn’t perhaps what some people were saying and that distancing is possible; we’re encouraging it. China repeats its commitment to the major principles of international law; well, we’re encouraging it to do so, to say so, and to say so directly to Vladimir Putin.

Apart from a military defeat, what can bring Vladimir Putin back to reality, because you say he’s in a parallel reality?

THE MINISTER – First of all, obviously – and this is what we’re working on – we must help Ukraine regain a better position on the ground. The path of negotiations will undoubtedly require better results on the ground; that’s why we’re helping it to be capable of conducting a counter-offensive, just as we’re helping it diplomatically, politically, on the humanitarian level and also economically.

For this counter-offensive, weapons are needed: is France going to deliver more weapons to Ukraine in the coming weeks?

THE MINISTER – First of all I’d like to remind you that it’s been concentrating its efforts on the delivery of what’s useful, i.e. today essentially the Caesars, whose effectiveness the Ukrainians have learned to admire, I think…

These are the long-range howitzers France produces.

THE MINISTER – The especially effective and mobile long-range howitzers, but also anti-aircraft defence equipment, ammunition, and armoured personnel carriers, which enable them to advance while being protected…

And so more weapons, more deliveries to come?

THE MINISTER – We’ve been concentrating on Ukraine’s needs, in a constant dialogue with Ukraine, and I repeat, the Ukrainians appreciate what we’ve done. They appreciate it especially because we’ve delivered everything we’ve promised, and we’ve delivered it on time. And yes, indeed, we’re working on a new assistance package.

On this weapons issue, European Commissioner Thierry Breton yesterday set out the EU’s plan to supply Kyiv with a million munitions in a year. The European Union is going to release €500 million to help European manufacturers move into war-economy mode, as Thierry Breton put it. Is this possible? Does France support this plan?

THE MINISTER – Not only does it support it, it’s been supporting it to such an extent that the plan is a reality. There are three aspects to what was adopted just over a month ago. First of all, helping deliver ammunition to Ukraine swiftly, through a mechanism enabling reimbursement through what we call the European Peace Facility, to the tune of €2 billion, one tranche of which you’ve just mentioned. The second element is joint purchasing mechanisms, also in order to act more quickly and perhaps also at a better cost. And the third element, the one you were talking about, is strengthening European industry’s production capacity, because while we had excellent equipment and a technological lead in many fields, there was actually no reason to have mass production. So now it’s necessary to increase that production to help Ukraine more and deliver to it the ammunition it needs to defend itself and conduct a counter-offensive.

I’m going to ask more personally how you feel. You’re a career diplomat, it’s already a long career…

THE MINISTER – Very long – thanks for emphasizing my age!

No, I’m not saying your age…

THE MINISTER – Go on, go on.

I’m just saying you have a lot of experience, you’ve seen a huge number of things. What’s your feeling when you see Europe rearming?

THE MINISTER – Europe is defending its values and its freedom of choice. It’s important to remind people – I tried to do so earlier – that what’s at stake in this war in Ukraine is obviously the fate of Ukraine and the Ukrainians, but it’s also, as you said, the European continent’s stability. But beyond that, above all it’s our ability to live in a world where rules are observed. So we’re defending our values, we’re defending our interests by defending Ukraine. And to that end, if we must help it defend itself, which is a legitimate right, we must do so, it’s in our interest. I repeat that if an attack is rewarded, other attacks will occur elsewhere. We don’t want to see that in Europe.

You talk about the continent’s stability: does it necessarily involve Ukraine becoming a member of NATO? The Poles and the Baltic countries are in favour of that; as for the Americans and Germans, they’re very reluctant. What is France’s position?

THE MINISTER – NATO’s policy since 2008 has been to reaffirm a basic principle of international law, the principle underpinning the reality of States, namely that everyone must be free to choose their alliances, so my answer to you is that this “open-door” policy is still there and it’s right to reaffirm it, it’s a possibility. Now, it seems to me that in the current circumstances we’ve just been talking about, the priority for Ukraine is to be able to defend itself, regain its sovereignty…

So the priority isn’t NATO membership?

THE MINISTER – The priority is actually to stop being attacked, occupied and targeted by missiles and bombs every day, as we saw again last night.

The problem is Article 5 of the treaty, which says an attack on one member of the Alliance is regarded as an attack on all the others. Does that oblige us to invest even more in the conflict?

THE MINISTER – We have invested, as much as necessary, with our European partners, our friends and allies, for as long as it takes, as you know, and on every aspect of support which is not only military but also humanitarian, economic, financial and legal. You were talking earlier about the ICC: we, the various parties, are helping the ICC to do its work, because France was among those countries that took matters to the International Criminal Court, just as it’s helping the Ukrainian courts in practical terms. The support being provided to Ukraine isn’t confined to the military aspect, even though it’s obviously important because a war is unfolding there.

Some people believe we’re witnessing today the first steps towards a genuine Defence Europe, a Europe which wants to be sovereign in order to ensure its security. But what purpose does it serve? And what would this Defence Europe be, when the first consequence is that NATO is very far from being brain-dead, NATO is emerging stronger from the crisis and most Europeans – especially in the east – believe that their best security won’t perhaps be found in Brussels, but Washington?

THE MINISTER – If you’re referring – and perhaps you are – to statements the President made in an interview at the end of 2019…

When I say NATO is brain-dead?

THE MINISTER – …you have to recognize – and the President made a clear statement calling for a strategic rewakening, which we’ve seen and are still seeing develop. Incidentally, you’ve seen that NATO is so attractive that, indeed, Finland and Sweden want to join it to increase…

Is the reawakening a result of Russia’s escalating invasion of Ukraine?

THE MINISTER – Not solely; it stems from things decided at the end of 2019 – the beginning of December, if my memory is correct – during the NATO summit, which took place just outside London, which President Macron participated in.

Without the invasion, would Finland still have wanted to join NATO?

THE MINISTER – Let me answer the second part of the question, which is an opportunity for me to emphasize that European defence complements the Atlantic Alliance, and that the two strengthen each another, as the Atlantic Alliance itself says and as we see it. So it’s important that in parallel to what the Atlantic Alliance is doing – perhaps more ambitiously and nimbly than before – Europe builds itself sovereignty, not just sovereignty in the military sphere. We mustn’t talk only about European defence: we must talk about our industrial and economic sovereignty and that of investing in up-and-coming technology – everything which will mean Europe is free to make its own choices and be master of its destiny. Who would want the opposite?

(…) Will there be Russian athletes at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games?

THE MINISTER – It’s a decision for the International Olympic Committee, which is independent. That decision – since the 2024 Olympics are in 2024 – hasn’t been taken yet. The situation will need to be looked at, of course, ahead of the Olympics, since all this is being prepared. It isn’t a decision for France, in any case.

It won’t be France that decides?

THE MINISTER – It’s the International Olympic Committee which takes decisions about the organization of the Olympic Games.

So even though France doesn’t want Russian athletes in Paris…

THE MINISTER – If you’re asking me what I feel today, the situation we’re in…

If the Games were happening tomorrow?

THE MINISTER – …it would be difficult to consider everything to be normal, even though I know how committed the Olympic bodies are to the idea of a truce and neutrality. And what does neutrality mean, when a country wages a war with capabilities which don’t adhere to the laws of war, let me repeat, and a large proportion of whose athletes are in, are often forced to be in the armed forces? (…)./.

3. European Union - European Peace Facility: Council adopts assistance measures to support the defence sector of the Republic of Moldova and Georgia (Brussels, 04/05/2023)

Today the Council adopted two assistance measures under the European Peace Facility (EPF) in support of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Moldova and the Georgian Defence Forces to enhance national security, stability and resilience in the defence sector of both countries.

“With these new assistances, we continue to support the modernization of the capacities of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Moldova and the Georgian Defence Forces. In a challenging geopolitical context and in line with their European aspirations, we are helping to strengthen their defence sectors and enhance their ability to participate in EU military missions and operations. This is the third assistance package for both countries under the EPF, clearly underlining the EU’s unwavering commitment to the region’s security and stability." - Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Building on previous EPF support, the latest assistance measures will contribute to enhancing the operational effectiveness of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Moldova and the Georgian Defence Forces, and accelerate their compliance with EU standards and interoperability, thereby allowing for better protection of civilians during crises and emergencies. The measures are also aimed at strengthening the Moldovan and Georgian capacities with respect to their participation in EU military missions and operations in third countries.

Republic of Moldova

The adopted assistance measure is worth euro40 million over a period of 36 months and will finance non-lethal equipment, supplies and services, to the units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Moldova including technical training, where requested. The approved equipment includes air surveillance, mobility and transportation, logistics, command and control, and cyber-defence equipment.

The assistance measure was requested by the Republic of Moldova on 6 February 2023, and complements the euro40 million assistance measure adopted in June 2022 and the euro7 million one adopted in December 2021.


The euro30 million assistance measure adopted today will cover a period of 36 months, and finance non-lethal equipment, supplies and services, to the units of the Georgian Defence Forces, including technical training where requested. The approved equipment includes engineering, command and control, medical, logistics and cyber-defence equipment

The assistance was requested by Georgia on 8 February 2023, and complements the euro20 million assistance measure adopted in December 2022 and the euro12.75 million one adopted in December 2021.


The European Peace Facility was established in March 2021 to finance the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) actions in the areas of military and defence, with the aim of preventing conflict, preserving peace and strengthening international security and stability. In particular, the European Peace Facility allows the EU to finance actions designed to strengthen the capacities of non-EU countries and regional and international organizations relating to military and defence matters. Other beneficiaries have been among others Ukraine, the African Union, Niger, Mozambique, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Mali.

The EU is committed to a close relationship in support of strong, independent and prosperous Republic of Moldova and Georgia, based on their respective association agreements. Pursuant to these agreements, the EU is intensifying its dialogue and cooperation with Moldova and Georgia, and promoting gradual convergence in the area of foreign and security policy, including the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)./.

(Source of English text: European Council website)

4. United Nations - Syria - Chemical weapons - Statement by Ms. Isis Jaraud-Darnault, political coordinator of France to the United Nations, to the Security Council (New York, 08/05/2023)

=Translation from French=

I thank Ms. Nakamitsu for her briefing.

Madam President,

As everyone knows, we are here because the Syrian regime has used weapons of mass destruction against its own population. Independent investigations by the United Nations and the OPCW have demonstrated this use nine times.

Yet, nearly a decade after the adoption of Resolution 2118, the regime has still not shared all required information on its stocks. We know, however, that not all of them have been destroyed. The lack of progress is frustrating, and the responsibility for this lies entirely on the Syrian regime.

It is imperative that the Syrian regime allow OPCW personnel to deploy to Syria, as it is its mandate. The restrictions that have again been imposed by Syria on the deployment of the initial statement assessment team are unacceptable. The limited deployment of OPCW teams to Syria, as occurred last month, is not a viable alternative. Syria must stop obstructing the work of the Secretariat and comply with its international obligations.

Despite the obstacles, the OPCW Secretariat continues its investigation with tenacity, independence and professionalism. I would like to comend it once again.

There must be no impunity for war criminals. The fight against impunity is the foundation of the effectiveness and credibility of the prohibition of mass destructive weapons. France will continue to work towards this goal alongside its partners.

Thank you./.