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Official speeches and statements - December 5, 2016

Published on December 5, 2016

1. Russia - Meeting between M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, and His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris - December 5, 2016)

The French President hosted a meeting at the Elysée this morning with His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia. During the meeting, the Head of State recalled France’s commitment to developing relations of friendship between the French and Russian peoples.

The President and Patriarch Kirill exchanged views on the shared responsibility of political and religious leaders to take action in support of peace.

They discussed the situation of Middle Eastern Christians. The Head of State recalled the special relationship based on history which France maintains with those communities, the attention being paid to their situation and the initiatives taken by France to come to their aid.

The President expressed to the Patriarch his strong belief that protecting religious diversity in the Middle East must involve the fight against terrorism and fundamentalism, as well as political resolutions to the crises the region is going through. This is why it is necessary to end the massacre under way in Syria, in order to provide assistance to civilians and finally embark on political negotiation.

2. Italy - Referendum - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris - December 5, 2016)

The French President notes with respect the decision by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to resign following the negative result of the referendum in Italy.

He pays tribute to his dynamism and his qualities, which he put at the service of brave reforms for his country. He shares his desire to steer Europe towards growth and employment, and emphasizes that Matteo Renzi is a committed player in a strong Franco-Italian relationship.

The President offers him his full sympathy and hopes Italy will find in itself the means to overcome this situation.

3. Austria - Presidential election - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris - December 4, 2016)

The President warmly congratulates Mr Alexander Van der Bellen on the clear, undisputed result which carries him to the Austrian presidency.

The Austrian people opted for Europe and openness.

4. United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi international conference on safeguarding endangered cultural heritage - Final statement (Abu Dhabi - December 3, 2016)

As a mirror of mankind, a guardian of our collective memory and a witness to the extraordinary creative spirit of humanity, world cultural heritage represents the foundation of our common future.

Today, armed conflicts and terrorism, across all continents are affecting millions of men and women, without sparing their centuries-old heritage. Extremists violently - and often deliberately - attack the cultures of the countries of the people they devastate, seeking to destroy the heritage which belongs to us all.

Threatening, attacking, destroying, and looting heritage represents a strategy to weaken the very foundations of the identity of peoples, their history, and the environment in which they build their lives. Without this heritage, their memory is erased and their future is compromised.

Heritage, in all its diversity, is a source of collective wealth that encourages dialogue. It is a vehicle for closer relations, tolerance, freedom, and respect. Its destruction is a threat to peace, as is the illicit trafficking of cultural property that often emerges in times of crisis.

Therefore, as heads of state and government, and their representatives, international organizations and private institutions, we are gathered here, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to reaffirm our common determination to safeguard the endangered cultural heritage of all peoples, against its destruction and illicit trafficking. We have decided to collectively join forces.

We commend the call made by the Director General of UNESCO and express support for the Global Coalition “Unite for Heritage,” launched to protect our shared heritage from destruction and trafficking. We welcome the “Strategy for the Reinforcement of UNESCO’s Actions for the Protection of Culture and Promotion of Cultural Pluralism in the Event of Armed Conflict.”

We need to ensure respect for universal values, in line with the international conventions of The Hague of 1899, 1907, 1954, and the latter 1954 and 1999 Protocols, which require us to protect human life, as well as cultural property in times of armed conflict. This process has to be carried out in close liaison with UNESCO, which has worked tirelessly since 1954 to protect heritage, to combat illicit trafficking, and to promote culture as an instrument to bring people closer together and foster dialogue.

In the spirit of universality and the principles of the UNESCO conventions, we are committed to pursuing two ambitious, long-term goals to guarantee the further mobilization of the international community for the safeguarding of heritage:

  • The creation of an international fund for the protection of endangered cultural heritage in armed conflict, which would help finance preventive and emergency operations, fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural artifacts, as well as contribute to the restoration of damaged cultural property.
  • The creation of an international network of safe havens to temporarily safeguard cultural property endangered by armed conflicts or terrorism on their own territory, or if they cannot be secured at a national level, in a neighboring country, or as a last resort, in another country, in accordance with international law at the request of the governments concerned, and taking into account the national and regional characteristics and contexts of cultural property to be protected.

At this conference, we, as heads of states and governments, and their representatives, international organizations and private institutions unite for heritage in support of international efforts to safeguard cultural heritage threatened by armed conflicts and terrorism. A follow up conference in 2017 will help assess the implementation of the initiatives launched in Abu Dhabi and the first projects financed by the international fund.

We recognize the eminent role of the United Nations and its institutions, and particularly of UNESCO, as the only UN organization mandated for the protection of culture, and call upon the United Nations Security Council to support us in achieving these goals, in full accordance with the United Nations Charter.