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Official speeches and statements - April 6, 2016

Published on April 6, 2016

1. Fight against tax evasion - Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (Paris, 04/04/2016)

This affair [the «Panama papers»] confirms that it’s possible to combat tax evasion, and all the information that is provided will give lead to investigations by the tax services and to judicial proceedings.

For several years we, France, have sought to be in the vanguard of international drives for greater transparency, less tax optimization and the fight against money laundering. We see that as we make progress and sign a number of agreements, there’s the possibility of knowing more about those things.

Even at legislative level, we want to show - it’s the purpose of a text which will come to Parliament very shortly - that France can also be in the lead on transparency and the fight against corruption, including when it comes to protecting whistleblowers. It’s thanks to a whistleblower that we now have this information. Those whistleblowers do useful work for the international community. They take risks, so they must be protected.

But what I can assure you is that as the information becomes known, every investigation will be conducted, every procedure will be carried out, and the trials may take place.

As you know, for several years we’ve been fighting this battle against tax evasion. For 2015 alone, those who had committed fraud were notified [of proceedings relating to] euro20 billion so that equivalent sums could be recovered. Of that euro20 billion, we’ve already taken back euro12 billion. So, if I may say so, it’s good news that we’re aware of those revelations, because it will bring in more tax receipts from those who have committed fraud.

So I thank the whistleblowers. I thank the press, which has played an active role. And I have no doubt that our investigators are fully ready to look into these issues, these dossiers and these cases, first of all for the sake of what we consider to be morality and also for the sake of our public finances. Thank you.

2. Nuclear Security Summit - Paris Agreement - Syria - Central African Republic - Meeting between M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, and the United Nations Secretary-General - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Washington, 01/04/2016)

The President had a meeting in Washington with the United Nations Secretary-General in the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit.

They discussed the preparation of the Paris Agreement signing day, scheduled for 22 April in New York. They noted that the vast majority of countries will take part in it at the highest level.

On Syria, the President paid tribute to the efforts led by Mr Staffan de Mistura, the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy. The truce must be fully observed. Advantage must be taken of it in order to move forward along the path to a genuine political transition. The President once again condemned the raids led by the regime in a suburb of Damascus.

They highlighted the military, humanitarian and political success of MINUSCA and Operation Sangaris in the CAR. Massacres were prevented, security was restored and elections took place in a transparent, pluralist framework.

Given the fresh allegations of sexual abuses committed by MINUSCA and Sangaris soldiers, the President and the UN Secretary-General expressed their same desire to establish the truth and reject any impunity. Such behaviour betrays the values and mission of the forces tasked with ensuring peace. On each occasion, France has immediately referred the matter to the courts so that the severest sanctions are imposed.

3. Nuclear Security Summit - Syria - Libya - Iraq - Daesh - Iran - Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, in his joint statement with the President of the United States of America (Washington, 31/03/2016)

First of all I’d like to thank President Barack Obama for organizing this Nuclear Security Summit. It was his wish as early as 2010 to make all countries fully aware there are risks. And those risks include terrorism.

The first purpose of this meeting is to discuss the global threat which terrorism poses to all countries. Europe is being hit harder, given that it’s the target of terrorists and particularly Daesh [so-called ISIL]. We saw it in Paris last year; we’re seeing it in Brussels. Together with President Obama, we’ve further coordinated our intelligence work to monitor those foreign fighters who can strike us. We’ve also ensured there can genuinely be very high-level coordination between Europe and the United States.

But we’re also aware that the source of Islamist terrorism is in Syria and Iraq. We must take action in Iraq and Syria; that’s what we’re doing in the coalition framework.

We’re observing that Daesh is retreating thanks to the strikes we’ve been able to carry out as part of that coalition. We must continue to support Iraq and the Iraqi government: that’s what we’ve also decided to do, so that it can recapture the whole of its territory, particularly Mosul.

In Syria, we’re taking action not only at the level of military support but also at political level. There too, we’re convinced that Daesh is currently losing the game. From this point of view, Raqqa is a goal for us. We must support all the forces - I’m talking in particular of the Arab and Kurdish forces - that are acting to ensure we can achieve that goal.

At political level, it’s also necessary to ensure that the truce which has been secured, and so far observed, can be used for a political transition and a negotiation in which all sides must be involved.

We’ll have the opportunity to talk to a number of heads of state and government in the region.

But it’s clear that the transition mustn’t lead to what was the very cause of the crisis and war in Syria being reproduced. There too, our goal is for another government, another regime to represent Syria’s future.

Finally, we talked about Libya. We must give our full recognition to the Libyan government, because it’s the Libyan government, led by Mr Sarraj, that will make international assistance and stability possible. Then we’ll be able to prevent migration, which can in fact both be tragic for the people concerned and provide an opportunity for the trafficking that fuels terrorism, and finally avoid Europe having to take in tens of thousands of people again, even though its duty is to ensure refugees can have access to the right of asylum. So we must do everything to ensure that stability in Libya can now be the priority.

We also discussed other subjects, including the agreement with Iran, because we - Barack Obama, I and of course all those who took part in the negotiation - played our role. And now we must ensure the commitments can be honoured.

That’s why it was important for us to be able to meet, and once again I want to pay tribute to the friendship between our two countries and also Barack Obama’s ability to stand alongside us in the fight against terrorism.

Thank you.

4. Armenia - Azerbaijan - Incidents in Nagorno-Karabakh - Meeting between M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and his German counterpart - Exchanges with the press (La Celle-Saint-Cloud, 05/04/2016)

Q. - With respect to Nagorno-Karabakh, how would you describe the situation to date? There’s a meeting in Vienna today. Are you worried that Russia and Turkey might be playing a sort of game with each other in this region in order to fuel this new crisis?

THE MINISTER - With respect to this issue, we are taking the same approach. It’s clear that a military solution cannot be the solution, but nor can the status quo. President Hollande took the initiative to bring the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan together in Paris in order to take a political initiative; we call this the Minsk Group. This will notably involve ambassador-level meetings that will take place in the capitals - in Baku and Yerevan. I spoke on the telephone to my Armenian and Azerbaijani colleagues to convey the same message: the need for an immediate cessation of hostilities in order to resume a political process. Obviously, we’re aware of the context, we’re aware of the tensions, but I don’t think that a spiral of violence in that region is in Russia’s interest and I share Frank’s view. I believe that our initiative aimed at relaunching the work carried out by the Minsk Group is really extremely helpful.

Q. - And what would Turkey’s role be?

THE MINISTER - We’ve seen the Turkish statements. But who would benefit from starting a new conflict? I think reason must prevail. In any event, our message is clear: the immediate cessation of hostilities and the resumption of political discussions. My interlocutors haven’t said no. In any event, we will take concrete initiatives to ensure that this is the case. There’s no other possible way forward and that’s the message we will convey to the Turks and the Russians. We will not stand idly by or remain indifferent to what’s happening. (...)

5. Franco-German working meeting - Libya - Meeting between M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and his German counterpart - Exchanges with the press (La Celle-Saint-Cloud, 05/04/2016)

Q. - A question on Libya: you said several times that you would support and respond to a request for help from the head of the national unity government. What kind of help? And are you asking for greater involvement on the part of your European partners as well?

THE MINISTER - We see eye to eye with our European partners on the Libyan situation, which is extremely troubling. We have defended the same position, i.e. the need to establish a national unity government that is recognized by the international community and based in the capital, Tripoli, where it can begin doing its work. Nothing is possible with Libya if this step isn’t taken.

I myself met Mr Sarraj in Tunis during an official visit to that country, and I saw someone who was strong and determined. And I must say I was pleased that he decided to go to Tripoli despite the many, many obstacles, even though it meant putting his own safety at risk. He’s someone who is extremely brave.

Now he is there, and we absolutely must support him. Important decisions were taken, notably by the central bank and national oil company, which both support him, and those were also the conditions enabling him to act. That’s extremely important, because Libya’s assets will play a key role when it comes to taking a number of actions.

We were very pleased to note that Tunisia has decided to reopen its embassy in Tripoli. The question of whether to reopen our embassies is obviously a topical one. We want to see this situation resolved. And if the Libyan government asks us to help guarantee its security, obviously we’re ready. But Libya is first and foremost a matter for the Libyans themselves; it’s not a matter of deciding something on their behalf, especially in light of past experience, with air raids that cannot be an option this time around.

We recently held a meeting in Paris with our British and Italian friends about the Libyan situation. I think Frank is right: the situation in Libya is key to the security of an entire region. I was in Algiers recently and we spent a lot of time talking about the Libyan situation, and there too, we saw eye to eye. I mentioned Tunisia, but I think we’ve now entered a new phase. We must build on it, and, in particular, we must continue our talks with our Egyptian friends - that’s very important.