Official speeches and statements - December 8, 2017
A meeting of the International Support Group for Lebanon (ISG), chaired by the United Nations and France and attended by the Prime Minister of Lebanon, was held in Paris on 8 December. China, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union, the League of Arab States, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Development Programme, the Office of the United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon and the World Bank also took part in the meeting.
The participants reaffirm their commitment to the stability, security and sovereignty of Lebanon and their support for the ongoing efforts of the Lebanese authorities to restore normal functioning of institutions and prepare the holding of legislative elections by May 2018 and in accordance with international standards. The Group recalls the need to protect Lebanon from the crises that are destabilizing the Middle East and calls upon all regional States and organisations to work for the political, social, economic, and financial stability and security of Lebanon, in full respect of its sovereignty and integrity.
The Group expresses satisfaction for the return to Beirut of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, a key partner for safeguarding the unity and the stability of Lebanon. It welcomes his decision, made in agreement with the President of the Lebanese Republic, Michel Aoun, to continue his term at the head of the government. The Group notes the resumption of the Council of Ministers on 5 December 2017 and its decision on disassociation from any regional conflicts and wars and from internal affairs of Arab countries. It will pay close attention to the implementation of the Council’s decision by all Lebanese parties in the spirit of national concord and compromise. In particular, it calls upon all Lebanese parties to implement this tangible policy of disassociation from and non-interference in external conflicts, as an important priority, as spelled out in previous declarations, in particular the 2012 Baabda Declaration.
The Group reiterates the need for full implementation and full respect of all UN Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1701 (2006). It commends the role of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) in maintaining calm along the Blue Line and its cooperation with the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) with the aim of extending and consolidating the authority of the Lebanese State across the whole of the national territory. It expresses its deep concern at all violations in connection with Resolution 1701 (2006) in particular the incidents detailed in the reports of the Secretary-General to the Council on the implementation of Resolution 1701. It calls upon the LAF and UNIFIL to step up their cooperation, with the goal of speeding up the effective and durable deployment of the LAF in southern Lebanon and the territorial waters of Lebanon, in accordance with Resolution 2373 (2017), and encourages the LAF to continue the initial steps it has taken in this regard.
Given the security challenges faced by Lebanon, particularly the terrorist threat, and recalling the importance of implementing the previous commitments that require there will be no weapons other than that of the Lebanese State, the Group calls on all Lebanese parties to resume discussions towards a consensus on a National Defence Strategy and welcomes the President of the Lebanese Republic’s statement in this regard. The Group commends the role played by the LAF and by all State security institutions in protecting the country, its borders and its population. It recalls that the LAF are the only legitimate armed forces of Lebanon, as enshrined in the Lebanese constitution and in the Taif agreement. The Group calls upon the international community to continue, coordinate and step up its support to these institutions, which are crucial to cement Lebanon’s sovereignty and unity. In this context and in order to support Lebanese efforts in this endeavour, the Group welcomes the holding of the “Rome II” meeting to be hosted by Italy.
The Group commends the generous efforts made by the Lebanese people and the Lebanese authorities to host Syrian refugees. It recalls the importance, when conditions allow, of a safe, dignified and non-coercive UN-facilitated return of refugees, in accordance with international law and humanitarian principles, including the principle of non-refoulement. It calls upon the international community to increase its support for Lebanese host communities and refugees in Lebanon, and looks forward, to this end, to the holding of the “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” Conference, at the invitation of the European Union.
The Group calls upon the government of Lebanon, and in liaison with all Lebanese institutions and parties, to further accelerate its programme of reforms in order to enable all Lebanon’s institutions, economic players and citizens to ensure political and economic stability built on a functional, transparent and democratic State. In the light of the difficulties faced by the Lebanese economy, and in particular the economic consequences of the Syrian crisis, the Group calls upon private sector players and all regional and international actors to support Lebanon. It welcomes the holding of an international investors conference in support of the Lebanese government’s reforms and investment plan aimed at jump-starting growth, creating job opportunities and renovating infrastructures. It calls upon private and public players to contribute to these efforts. The group commends the important role played by the Lebanese Central Bank in maintaining financial stability in the country.
The Group welcomes the prospect of future meetings with different configurations and levels as needed, and reaffirms its commitment to support all efforts to overcome pressing challenges.
At the invitation of His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Emir of the State of Qatar, the President of the French Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron, made his first official visit to Doha on 7 December 2017.
This trip takes place in the wake of Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani’s recent visit to Paris on 15 September 2017, as well as numerous exchanges between both heads of State.
During their meeting in Doha, His Highness the Emir and the President of the French Republic highlighted the deeply-rooted friendship between Qatar and France and reaffirmed the quality of the relationship between both countries. They underlined the importance of pursuing and strengthening this relationship in all fields.
The visit of the French President to Qatar marks a major step in the affirmation of a common vision between both countries and a will to build a safer world. In this regard, the President of the French Republic also visited the Al Udeid military base and engaged with Lieutenant General J. Harrigian, Commander of US Air Forces CENTCOMr. After a presentation of the current state of play of Operation Chammal by General Parisot, the President of the French Republic exchanged lengthily with the French contingent deployed on this base to participate in the coordination of the International Coalition operations in Iraq and in Syria. This visit was an opportunity for the President of the French Republic to take stock of the progress of the fight against ISIS.
His Excellency Dr Khaled Al Attiyah, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of the State of Qatar, and his French counterpart the Minister for the Armed Forces, Mme Florence Parly, signed a Letter of Intent regarding an intergovernmental agreement.
The Emir and the President of the French Republic discussed the GCC Crisis and its impact on the region. The President of the French Republic reaffirmed France’s call for a swift solution within the framework of the Kuwaiti mediation. The two leaders also discussed the Libyan crisis and stressed the need to support the UN-led mediation, through specific actions towards all Libyan actors.
The fight against terrorism and violent extremism, which stands high on the agenda of the partnership between France and Qatar, was thoroughly discussed during the meeting between both heads of State.
The Emir of the State of Qatar and the President of the French Republic also witnessed the signature by Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the State of Qatar, and Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic, of the Declaration of Intent between the Governments of Qatar and France regarding the bilateral cooperation on combating terrorism and violent extremism which will be stepped up. This declaration is addressing the financing of terrorism and violent extremism as well as their social economic and political roots. In the light of this cooperation, both leaders discussed the international conference against the financing of terrorism that France is hosting in April 2018.
In a step that demonstrates the deep cooperation between the two nations, the President of the Republic and the Emir attended, today in Doha, the first session of the high-level bilateral dialogue, set out by the Declaration of Intent. Senior representatives from relevant ministries and agencies of both countries participated in this session. The session resulted in the adoption of a common understanding at several levels setting out concrete actions and programmes to further develop the cooperation between the two countries in the relevant fields.
Determined to strengthen the relation between the two countries in the field of education and higher education, the President of the French Republic and the Emir commended the signature between His Excellency Mohamed Al Hammadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education of the State of Qatar, and Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, of the 7th Executive Programme in the field of Education and Higher Education within the framework of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement signed in 1977.
The Emir of Qatar and the President of the French Republic also warmly welcomed the signature, by Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chairperson and CEO of the Qatar Foundation, and by Mr. Eric Chevallier, Ambassador of France to the State of Qatar, for the National Library of France (BNF), of a Letter of Intent between the BNF and the Qatar National Library for the development of scientific, technical and cultural cooperations.
The visit to Doha of the French President allowed for the signature of various agreements in several fields including education, culture and military, in the presence of both heads of State:
1 - Cooperation Agreement between Qatar Airways and Airbus Aviation Group
2 - Cooperation Agreement between the Public Works Authority, Ashghal, and the French group for water and waste management, Suez
3 - Memorandum of Commitment and Mutual Cooperation to provide services for the Doha Metro and Tram Lusail between Qatar Railways, the French national railways company and the independent transport operator in Paris
4 - A Letter of Cooperation Agreement between Qatar’s Ministry of Defence and Dassault Aviation.
5 - Letter of Intent for Cooperation between the Qatari Ministry of Defence and Nexter Systems.
THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE - We are about to have an important meeting on the JIM [Joint Investigative Mechanism].
Is France going to propose a new mechanism?
THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE - The truth is that the JIM has been killed, but its heritage is more important than ever. The death of the JIM cannot be the last word. We cannot simply look away. It would be irresponsible with respect to Syria and the use of chemical weapons in Syria and also with respect to the very future of the non-proliferation regime. For these two reasons, we cannot give up.
The need to shed light on the use of chemical weapons in Syria remains more than ever essential. Our mobilization to support accountability in the country is as strong as ever. This includes ensuring the full and sincere dismantling of Syria’s chemical weapons stock, because there are too many doubts and concerns here that still need to be addressed.
More broadly speaking, those who are responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria must know that they will not get away with their barbarous crimes. The stakes are too high for us to tolerate such deliberate breaches of the non-proliferation regime. So it is not only a question of strategic stability here, but it also raises risks for all countries’ security and we are by definition, as the Security Council, all responsible for that.
So the answer to your fair question is that we must fight to preserve the heritage of the JIM, more important than ever. And we must find ways to fight against impunity there [in Syria], to fight against the use of chemical weapons there and in doing so to support the very future of the chemical non-proliferation regime. We must find ways to do so. And, as France, we will not give up.
What outcomes are you looking for from this meeting on chemical weapons in Syria?
THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE - Again, France’s goal will be to make sure that the conclusions that I have just shared with you are widely shared at the table. To call a spade a spade, what we would like is to be able to roll up our sleeves and to work with everybody at the table, I mean really everybody, in order to pursue the objectives that I’ve just mentioned.
What kind of timeframe are you looking for?
THE PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE - On the JIM, no timeframe as this stage. It would be premature.