Official speeches and statements - May 15, 2018
On Monday, May 14, President Emmanuel Macron spoke to King Abdullah II of Jordan - custodian, according to tradition, of the holy sites of Jerusalem - and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. On Tuesday 15 May he will talk to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The French President expressed France’s deep concern over the situation in Gaza, Jerusalem and the Palestinian cities. He deplored the large number of Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza today and in recent weeks. He condemned the Israeli armed forces’ violence against the demonstrators. He called for restraint and de-escalation by all those responsible and stressed the need for demonstrations in the coming days to remain peaceful.
In the special context of the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence and the commemoration of exile for many Palestinian families, the French President reiterated France’s disapproval of the American decision to open an embassy in Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s status can be determined only between the parties, in a negotiated framework under the aegis of the international community.
President Emmanuel Macron emphasized the Palestinians’ right to peace and security. He reaffirmed his commitment to Israel’s security and the steadfast French position of support for a two-state solution, with Israel and Palestine living side by side within secure and recognized borders.
He will remain fully focused on the situation in the coming days and weeks./.
THE MINISTER - Thank you, Boris, for your welcome. As you’ve all realized, we see each other very often. And this week we’re seeing each other today, Monday, tomorrow in Brussels to talk about Iran, and again on Friday to talk about our partnership on the fight against chemical impunity. We see each other very often, in relation to issues central to the world’s security.
The last time I came here for a bilateral meeting was in June last year. We see each other often, everywhere - also in the presence of the French President, but when I came here to London for a direct bilateral meeting with you it was in June, and it was essentially because of the attacks. Do you remember? It was also our first meeting, and unfortunately there have been those attacks and this new attack in France yesterday. I wanted to thank you for your condolences. It also shows the need to continue the fight against terrorism and for security - issues on which we’re totally in step.
So we were able to discuss together all the issues you’ve recalled, whether it be our position on Iran and the need to maintain the JCPOA and the Vienna agreement, because it’s the best way and the only way of guarding against the risks of proliferation. We were also totally in step on our assessment of the situations in Syria, Libya and Yemen. In short, our discussions are not only infused with great mutual trust - even, we can say, personal trust - but also mindful of our two countries’ security interest and the world’s security interest. And on the vast majority of issues, we have a common position, which enables us to discuss things very calmly.
That’s what I wanted to say. Finally, I’m very happy to be here - especially here in this place, Carlton Gardens, where there are memories of the history of the relationship between France and the United Kingdom, particularly with General de Gaulle.
Can I ask first about Iran? What are you prepared to do to save the Iran nuclear deal? What are you going to do to protect British and French firms from US sanctions? What are the proposals you are going to bring forward for Foreign Minister Zarif in Brussels tomorrow? For example, are you prepared to contemplate legal actions at an EU level? Are you prepared even to contemplate counter-sanctions against the United States?
THE MINISTER - We regretted this American decision, as we’ve said. We’re remaining in the agreement. We’ve said so and we’re confirming this. The fact that the United States is leaving an international agreement doesn’t mean the international agreement is null and void. We’re staying in the agreement and we want to maintain it. As long as Iran complies with it - currently, as Boris was saying just now, Iran is complying with it -, we’ll stay in the agreement and we intend to ensure not only that our businesses are protected against American sanctions but also that Iran can benefit from the dividends of that agreement, because the agreement is a win-win agreement, a give-and-take agreement. In exchange for nuclear renunciation, there are economic benefits. And so we’re going to talk to our colleague Zarif about this tomorrow. In any case, our position is shared, and it’s united with the German position. That doesn’t prevent us talking to the United States of America and telling it what our position is and how we see the future, with the delay that’s incumbent on us, because there’s a delay of three to six months on the implementation of sanctions.
Twenty-three months on, the referendum; the British government is still making up its mind about its negotiating position. What does France think about it?
THE MINISTER - Things are very straightforward for me. Firstly, I’m not a member of the British government, so I’m not going to address the considerations you talked about earlier. Secondly, there’s a negotiating mandate, a mandate of the 27. France is one of the 27. This mandate is carried out by a negotiator, Michel Barnier. The negotiating mandate has already produced positive results, but we haven’t reached the end yet, and time is coming for decisions to be taken. I think it’s essential, at June’s Council of heads of state and government, for major advances to be made. There was an agreement, an agreement in principle on the withdrawal, but it isn’t fully completed; we now need to move to the definitive decisions. The responsibilities lie with the British party, which knows the proposal and Michel Barnier’s negotiating mandate.
IRAN/PARIS ATTACK/FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISM
o come back to Iran, how do you both feel before this important meeting tomorrow? Are you positive about the possibility of keeping the agreement? Are we going to have to create a new one?
Second question, concerning the Chechen President’s remarks about the attack, about the attacker at the weekend, saying that the responsibility lay with France: what’s your response?
THE MINISTER - On the first point, I think our position is one of determination and unity, and a resolve to maintain this agreement, which required 12 years of negotiations, which commits our states as signatories and which makes it possible to prevent a spiral of proliferation. So it must be maintained, and we’re going to make very active efforts, in a climate of unity, to do so. Regarding President Kadyrov, we don’t need to be preached to by a dictator, who doesn’t even begin to respect the rule of law in his own country, and who, incidentally, knows very well that there are thousands of Chechens fighting alongside members of Daesh [so-called ISIL], who have fought and are fighting. So that position is frankly intolerable for us./.
Following the technical meeting held on 28 February and 1 March 2018 in Vienna, and exchanges between ministers in Ljubljana on 25 April, the ministers and representatives of the members of the Road Alliance, together with the Netherlands attending as an observer, met for their third ministerial meeting on 14 May in Brussels.
On the occasion of this meeting, the ministers of the Road Alliance formally welcomed Greece as a full member of the Alliance.
The ministers and representatives present at this meeting made the following declaration:
"We, transport ministers of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, wish first of all to reaffirm the principles and objectives pursued by the Alliance, conveyed in its initial Memorandum.
"The strength and future of the European Union is based both on its single market and on the respect of fundamental rights, especially social rights. These are the fundamental pillars to underline the added value of European integration. Therefore, social convergence is needed in order to improve working conditions in all member states of the EU.
"We aim to move more rapidly towards an integrated Europe where road haulage will be carried out in an economic area, where competition will be fair and healthy between economic actors, where social rights of workers will be better ensured, and where the safety of drivers and road users is enhanced..
"To achieve these objectives, we reiterate the following:
"Only when harmonization of relevant social legislation relating to road transport will be implemented in practice, discussion about further liberalization of the road transport market, in particular as regards cabotage by road, could be envisaged;
"The legislative framework for driving times and rest periods must ensure a high level of social protection and should not be weakened;
"The EU must promote more effective mechanisms for coordinating and enforcing controls to verify, in practice, the proper application of the rules applicable to the sector;
"Enhancing the profession of road driver at a time when many member states are struck by a shortage of workforce in the road transport sector.
"However, we regret that most proposals presented, in recent months, by the Presidency with regard to the Mobility Package do not respect these objectives, nor those pursued by the European Commission when it initiated this Mobility Package. These proposals risk maintaining legal uncertainty and differences in the interpretation of the regulations, making checks more difficult and leading to a deterioration of working conditions of lorry drivers and road safety, while further exacerbating social dumping, unfair competition and systematic cabotage practices at the expense of the already fragile balance of the European and national markets.
"Furthermore, the texts drawn up so far do not take sufficiently into account the remarks made on many occasions by the countries we represent, mainly with regard to the posting of workers, cabotage and driving times and rest periods. These issues have a direct impact on the lives of European workers.
"The Presidency’s new proposals do not constitute progress in the search for a real compromise that effectively and concretely prevents the misuse of European road transport law; a compromise on progress, which does not degrade social rules and strengthens the European project, is nevertheless essential.
"The prevention of fraud in cabotage, posting and combined transport, as well as the fight against letterbox companies and the control of the exponential development of light-duty vehicles and their uses, are all fundamental questions that must be answered in concrete and operational terms.
"Furthermore, we emphasize that the Mobility Package must be understood in a comprehensive and detailed approach. We cannot accept a package that is not properly balanced. These rules will commit the European Union and its member states for at least the next 10 years, and there is no question of adopting them if they are neither ambitious enough nor easily controllable.
"However, it must be noted that a lot of open issues still have to be addressed before an agreement can be reached in Council. Considering the current situation, an agreement by June risks being compromised.
"We therefore call upon the Presidency to take into account, as soon as possible, the requests formulated by our countries and reiterate our constructive mind. We are prepared to work out compromises on a reasonable and balanced basis, so that we can offer the citizens of the European Union high-quality road transport that respects everyone’s safety and living conditions."./.
(Source of English text: Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition.)