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Official speeches and statements - March 21, 2016

Published on March 21, 2016

1. Fight against terrorism - Arrest of Salah Abdeslam - Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with the Belgian Prime Minister (Brussels, 18/03/2016)

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Belgian Prime Minister, Charles Michel, has just confirmed that Salah Abdeslam has been arrested with two accomplices and formally identified.

My thoughts go to the victims of the 13 November attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis, because Salah Abdeslam is directly linked to the preparation, the organization and, sadly, the perpetration of those attacks. I’m also thinking of the families who were waiting for this arrest, as well as the arrests of all those who, directly or indirectly, took part in those appalling attacks.

I want to thank the Belgian Prime Minister and government for the action which has already been under way for several weeks, commend in particular the intervention of the special units, the role of the intelligence services, and finally say it was under the authority of the justice system that it was possible to take those actions.

Since the attacks, but even before the attacks, there has always been intense cooperation between France and Belgium. Once again, it’s proven its effectiveness, even though it’s taken a long time and isn’t yet over. We must continue to act. The cooperation is between the intelligence services, it’s also between police units, and I remind you that French police were present during the arrests in Forest, and we’ll be keen to continue and even extend this cooperation.

The cooperation is also judicial. A European Arrest Warrant had been issued for Salah Abdeslam and I have no doubt that the judicial authorities will very quickly issue an extradition request, and I know - because this isn’t the first time we’ve had to carry out this procedure - that the Belgian authorities will respond to it as favourably and as swiftly as possible, and here I want to thank the Belgian Ministry of Justice and the prosecutor for that.

We’re also aware that while the arrest is an important step, it’s not the definitive conclusion, either, because there have already been arrests and there will have to be others, because we know the network was very extensive in Belgium, France and other European countries. And so until we’ve arrested and, in the interests of public safety, locked up all those who may have participated in, contributed to, financed or maintained the terrorist ring that committed the appalling attacks, the acts of war of 13 November, our battle won’t be over.

From tomorrow morning, in view of the information I’ve been given, I’ll be convening a meeting of the Defence Council. The ministers in charge of our country’s security, and the services’ directors, will meet, because we have to continue and ensure the dismantling of this network, but also others, because we know very well that there are links, links which always lead us to Syria - where the terrorist group Daesh [so-called ISIL] instigated the organization, planning and financing of these attacks - and that it was Syria where a number of these protagonists left from.

We also have to fight this battle at European level, and it’s a coincidence - which history often produces - that at the very moment we were meeting in the European Council we learned of the possible arrest - it wasn’t confirmed - of Salah Abdeslam, and so this battle must be fought at European level and all the measures adopted by Europe must be very swiftly implemented.

I’m particularly thinking of the air passenger database and of the fight against arms trafficking, because we’re clearly seeing that these terrorists are always armed and have a formidable arsenal.

I’ll end by saying that it’s very important for us to have confirmation this evening that there will indeed be arrests enabling us to find out the whole truth and that justice can be done - the justice of the French Republic, since it’s the Republic which is responsible for it, but I’d also say justice for men and women who want to live freely.

2. Turkey - Attack in Istanbul - Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (Paris, 19/03/2016)

An attack was carried out this morning in central Istanbul.

I strongly condemn this heinous and cowardly attack which has left several people dead.

I extend my condolences to the victims’ families and express France’s solidarity with Turkey and the Turkish people in the fight against terrorism.

3. European Union - European steel industry crisis - Joint communiqué issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and the Ministry of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector (Paris, 16/03/2016)

Emmanuel Macron, Minister of the Economy, Industry and the Digital Sector, and Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, welcome the commitments the European Commission made today to tackle the European steel industry crisis.

The European Commission adopted a communication entitled «Steel: preserving sustainable jobs and growth in Europe», which envisages mobilizing all Europe’s tools to safeguard and modernize the steel sector in Europe: trade defence instruments to protect against unfair competition, European finance to invest in innovation, and in particular a competition policy and energy policy. The Commission undertakes, among other things, to reduce the period of time taken by anti-dumping procedures, which is a first important step forward and a response to a strong call by France.

The European steel industry is currently going through a difficult situation, a hallmark of which is a massive global overcapacity in production and falling demand, which are resulting in a drop in prices and often unfair competition practices. The challenges are huge: the steel industry directly employs 330,000 people in Europe and has 500 production sites.

Under the impetus of France among others, European efforts have been increased in recent months. In particular, on Emmanuel Macron’s initiative, seven member states (France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Poland, Belgium and Luxembourg) sent a letter to the Commission and the presidency of the Council of the European Union to ask for anti-dumping procedures to be speeded up and strengthened. Other member states lent their support to this initiative.

These efforts are producing results. Among other things, the European Commission has stepped up dialogue with China with a view to reducing surplus production capacity. It also adopted new anti-dumping measures in the steel sector in February and initiated three inquiries into Chinese steel imports. The communication adopted today reinforces this action.

Efforts must be stepped up further. Emmanuel Macron and Matthias Fekl are calling for anti-dumping procedures to be speeded up even more and are inviting their European Union partners to resume talks on the modernization of trade defence instruments, in order to make European anti-dumping measures more prohibitive.

Emmanuel Macron said: «Given the crisis in the steel industry, France is taking action and Europe is making progress. We’re taking action to both modernize our industry and protect it against unfair competition. Efforts must be increased further, and European procedures must be swifter and more effective. The steel industry isn’t our industrial past, it’s our economic future.» Matthias Fekl said: «France is fighting to ensure our trade defence instruments are strengthened. The French and European steel industry needs them when the conditions for fair competition don’t exist. Reciprocity must be the cornerstone of European trade policy. Swifter and more prohibitive defence measures will be more effective. Industrial employment in France is at stake.».