Official speeches and statements - October 17, 2016
2. Migration - Ministerial meeting of the group of «like-minded» states - Press briefing given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (London, 16/10/2016)
THE MINISTER - The Europeans are putting across a very clear, very firm message: what’s happening in Aleppo is a humanitarian disaster. Everything must be done to ensure the bombing stops and humanitarian aid - and the EU is very committed - can reach the people, and to resume the peace process. There’s no other route. The situation today is in terrible deadlock.
We must say clearly that Russia is engaged alongside Bashar al-Assad’s regime on a path of destruction. One thinks, of course, of what happened in Grozny. This can’t be an option. You can’t close your eyes to this situation. Everything is being done to silence us and close people’s eyes, but that won’t be the thrust of this meeting.
France’s objective is to continue our fight against terrorism, against Daesh [so-called ISIL] - we’re part of the coalition, as you know - but also against the other groups that are involved in terrorism too: al-Qaeda and al-Nusra, which are part of that family.
For us, the situation is clear as far as Iraq is concerned: the battle to recapture Mosul from Daesh has begun. It’s a difficult battle, with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi army in the front line but with the support of the international coalition, to which France belongs. Obviously we must do everything to prepare humanitarian aid, because it will be necessary, with refugees who will be fleeing Mosul to protect themselves. The United Nations has constantly repeated that humanitarian aid must be organized. At any rate, France, with the EU, would like us all to shoulder our responsibilities. Finally, there’s the political dimension: what happens after Mosul is captured and Daesh defeated? The terms of inclusive political governance must be discussed with Iraq, and after the battle of Mosul we must be able to build the peace after having won the war.
Q. - Given the disastrous situation in Aleppo, shouldn’t we also be talking of sanctions against Russia?
THE MINISTER - We’re having a debate today during which we’ll look at all the options that will enable us to exert even greater pressure still on Bashar al-Assad’s regime, but also on his allies. France, as you know, has referred the matter to the Security Council, which has shown Russia’s isolation; but we must persevere, we must continue. The pressure must be stronger. The more the EU expresses its unity and determination, the more progress we’ll be able to make on what is a moral imperative, the imperative we should all uphold: to stop the people of Aleppo being massacred. Thank you./.
THE MINISTER - My friend and government colleague Bernard Cazeneuve and I talked about the unaccompanied minors who are in Calais. At the last Franco-British summit the British government made commitments to take in minors, particularly those with family in Britain. Further meetings have since taken place between the French and British governments, commitments in principle have been made by the British government - which, incidentally, has itself taken the issue of minors into account in its legislation.
So I repeated to Boris Johnson that this extremely sensitive, extremely important issue needs to be tackled as a matter of urgency. I had the opportunity to repeat this to him firmly, because the commitments, of course, must be put into practice, and at a time when the government is embarking on dismantling what’s called the Calais «jungle», it’s very important that this issue of minors is tackled with the utmost solidarity and humanity. I repeated this to Boris Johnson.
Q. - Why has this taken so long?
THE MINISTER - That’s a question for the British government, but I very much hope it will happen quickly; things are starting to move, but they must be speeded up./.