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Official speeches and statements - October 18, 2016

Published on October 18, 2016

1. Iraq - Announcement of the ministerial meeting on the stabilization of Mosul - Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (Paris - October 18, 2016)

The Iraqi forces have just initiated the military operations to liberate Mosul, with the coalition’s support. France is playing its full part in these operations. Given what is at stake, I will co-chair, together with my Iraqi counterpart, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a ministerial meeting on the stabilization of Mosul on Thursday.

More than 20 countries and organizations have been invited to attend in order to lend the necessary support to the Iraqi government. They all share the same determination to ensure that the operations to liberate Mosul guarantee, in the most effective way possible, that the threat posed by Daesh [so-called ISIL] is eliminated and that they will restore freedom, peace and security to the inhabitants.

This meeting should provide an opportunity to jointly address three priorities:

(i) the protection of the civilian populations currently trapped by Daesh in Mosul and in the neighboring villages, and exposed to combat zones;

(ii) the provision of aid and humanitarian assistance needed by the inhabitants of the Nineveh Plain against the backdrop of the fighting in Mosul;

(iii) the development of a plan by the Iraqi authorities to stabilize the city of Mosul and the surrounding region, and more generally the areas liberated from Daesh. Good governance of the city and its surrounding region will make it possible to respond to the aspirations of the local population in all its diversity, while respecting the unity and sovereignty of Iraq.

2. European Union - Foreign Affairs Council - Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, on leaving the EU Council - excerpts (Luxembourg - October 17, 2016)

We - all the members of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers - had a long and extremely serious discussion, because everyone is well aware that what’s happening in Aleppo is extremely serious.

If what Bashar al-Assad’s regime wants - namely, the fall of Aleppo and a massacre of the population - occurs, it will leave an indelible mark on Europe’s history. It’s the biggest conflict Europe has seen since the Second World War, so Europe must be spurred into action. And what emerges from this discussion is the same assessment of the dramatic nature and tragedy of Aleppo, the same repulsion over the massacres, the bombing of hospitals and schools, the massacre of women and children. And it’s the same insistence in demanding an end to the bombing. That’s what we said, and we wanted to say it together, to show the unity of the European Union.

Everyone spoke at length. Staffan de Mistura described the situation in Aleppo in very strong terms. He recalled his extremely difficult work making every effort to resume a negotiation process. I myself reported at the EU Foreign Affairs Council, with Spain among others, on France’s initiatives at the UN Security Council. We said very clearly that we won’t give up.

We didn’t envisage the use of military force, but what we want to use is political power, moral power, and we addressed Russia, telling the Russians: «you can stop this massacre. You can have our unequivocal support if it’s a question of continuing to combat terrorism - Daesh [so-called ISIL], al-Nusra -, but there’s one precondition, namely an end to the bombing, and allowing access to humanitarian aid.» (...)

3. Syria - 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 - October 16, 2016)

This meeting was important for the countries which support the Syrian opposition and which are also committed to an independent Syria, a Syria which protects its minorities, a Syria which preserves its unity and, at the same time, a non-sectarian Syria which can rebuild itself with democratic institutions. That’s our political objective. It can be achieved only through negotiation, with due regard for the United Nations Security Council resolutions.

So this is what we - the so-called group of «like-minded» countries, i.e. those which share this objective, so countries such as France, Britain, Germany, Italy, the United States, and also the Arab countries and Turkey - are committed to. All those which are committed to this peace process and have come together today to hold discussions on the basis of information John Kerry provided us with following the Lausanne meeting. It’s an endeavor, but one essential issue is clearly a sticking point: the bombing of Aleppo. So this meeting demonstrated the group’s unity and what this group of countries is demanding: a halt to the bombing of Aleppo.

Of course, we discussed a whole series of other issues. For example, we discussed the Syrian opposition’s situation, and we know that within the Syrian opposition there are so-called moderates, but there’s also the al-Nusra group, which is part of al-Qaeda. We’re fighting it as we’re fighting Daesh [so-called ISIL], and the difficulty is how to make a distinction. And we’re willing, of course, to work. The Russians are talking about this issue as if it’s the only that matters. We have a priority issue, a precondition to all the others: a halt to the bombing of Aleppo. And we’re seeing that the regime - with Russian support, moreover - has other objectives, other areas which risk, in the coming days, being subjected to the same attacks, the same bombing, the same determination to destroy. Clearly we’re still willing to talk - talk to the Russians, of course, to the Iranians -, but we’re insisting on this precondition: a halt to the bombing.

4. Climate - Montreal Protocol - Use of hydrofluorocarbons - Communiqué issued by the Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Marine Affair (Paris - October 15, 2016)

A historic agreement was finally secured overnight between the 197 countries party to the Montreal Protocol to reduce the use of HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons).

The agreement will enable the gradual disappearance of HFCs, used in air conditioning (offices, homes and vehicles), domestic appliances, commercial refrigerated display units, restaurants and warehouses. These substances have emerged in recent years to replace substances harmful to the ozone layer (CFCs and HCFCs).

In the absence of an agreement, experts estimated that these substances would be responsible for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 and would cause up to 0.5ºC of global warming between now and 2100.

The agreement reached overnight will lead to a reduction in the use of hydrofluorocarbons when the amendment comes into force, and this will be done gradually to enable replacements to begin in the countries which use the most refrigerant fluids, particularly the United States, the European Union and China. It is also legally binding and includes a timetable for a gradual phase-out in every country.

A revision clause was also added to the agreement to enable a more ambitious timetable to be included taking account of technological progress and the beneficial impact of any sharp reductions already made in the countries that use the most fluids. Ségolène Royal would like this revision to be an opportunity to accelerate the drive, just as the revision of the same protocol to phase out HCFCs led to the timetable being speeded up.

According to the initial estimates in the agreement reached overnight, we can expect the equivalent of some 72 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions to be avoided between now and 2050 (including eight billion tonnes due to European and American legislation adopted recently and included in the agreement).

An additional saving equivalent to some 8-10 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions is also expected from measures to recycle and phase out by-products with high warming potential in industrial units manufacturing HFCs. As a reminder, France’s man-made emissions amount to 0.5 billion tonnes of CO2 a year.

The agreement will also enable the use in homes and businesses of alternative refrigerant fluids which are currently available: hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, ammonia, water and other synthetic chemical substances called hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs).

France, spurred on by Ségolène Royal in particular, has made great efforts in recent months to encourage the agreement: discussions with ministers from other countries, financial commitments, setting an example through calls for projects and funding to finance both R&D activity and the industrial conversion of sites to produce equipment with alternative fluids.

Ségolène Royal stresses that the agreement will enable the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to between 1.5ºC and 2ºC by 2100 to be strengthened.

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