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Official speeches and statements - July 10, 2018

Published on July 10, 2018

1. Balkans - Western Balkans Summit - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson - excerpt (Paris - July 9, 2018)

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Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will represent President Macron at the annual summit of the Berlin Process devoted to the Western Balkans, which will take place in London on 10 July and bring together eight EU countries (Austria, Croatia, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and the United Kingdom) and six Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Hercegovina, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia).

France has participated in this process since it was launched in 2014, and it hosted the summit in 2016. The political dialogue initiated on that occasion between several EU member states and the Western Balkans countries, as well as the concrete projects launched in order to revitalize trade, support young people and resolve bilateral disputes, contribute to that region’s lasting stabilization, economic and social development and closer ties with Europe.

The Minister will discuss France’s contribution to the fight against the trafficking of small arms and light weapons in the Western Balkans region thanks to a French-German initiative currently being implemented and, more broadly, our commitment, in cooperation with the countries of the region, to combating security threats. He will underline France’s support for reconciliation between the countries and people of the Western Balkans, notably through the Regional Youth Cooperation Office (RYCO), established on the basis of the Franco-German Youth Office (OFAJ).

The Minister will reaffirm France’s position, which is in line with the conclusions of the European Council of 28 June and consists in acknowledging and fostering the Western Balkans’ prospect of a future in Europe. The opening of membership negotiations with these countries must take into account the progress that has to be made on certain points identified by the European Commission, on one hand, and the updating of the EU’s operating rules, on the other.

Jean-Yves Le Drian will indicate our full support for the implementation of the agreement recently concluded between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia concerning the latter’s name, and will call on the leaders of Serbia and Kosovo to continue their efforts to reach a comprehensive agreement on normalizing their relations.

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2. Culture - Heritage - Signature of an administration arrangement relating to the Bayeux Tapestry by Ms. Françoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture, and Mr. Matthew Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of the United Kingdom (Paris - July 6, 2018)

The Bayeux Tapestry, dating from the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th century, is a masterpiece of medieval textile art, given its dimensions (70 meters long and 70 centimeters high) and the exceptional artistic and historical legacy it represents. Classified as a historic monument since 1840 and included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register since 2007, it is a National Treasure. Depicting the saga of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, and Harold Godwinson, culminating in the famous battle for the throne of England, the Battle of Hastings, it is an invaluable and original historical record illustrating France and the UK’s shared history.

The signature of an administrative arrangement by Françoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture, and Matthew Hancock, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on July 5, 2018 in the presence of local elected representatives, who are very involved in the project, looks set to strengthen cooperation on cultural heritage between France and the UK in relation to this iconographical masterpiece and unique historical document, which the city of Bayeux has been responsible for managing and presenting to the public since 1804.

Run by a dedicated committee comprising representatives from the two countries, the project consists of scientific and technical cooperation to preserve the Bayeux Tapestry, showcase it (with a view to possible loan) and broaden understanding about it at international level, particularly among the British public. It also provides an opportunity for collaborative efforts on the basis of museum projects, mediation and exchanges with institutions that have works likely to enrich our understanding and experience of the Bayeux Tapestry.

Françoise Nyssen thanks those involved in this cultural cooperation, on both the French and British sides, which is helping to raise the profile of French culture abroad. "The administrative arrangement we’re signing today is a decisive step. It will enable us to formalize and develop the cooperation that has been embarked on in recent months between our British and French experts and institutions, in order to deepen understanding of the tapestry and determine the conditions for the transfer and conservation of the work. It’s extremely fragile, and we must examine all the necessary conditions for preserving its integrity. In nearly 1,000 years, the Bayeux Tapestry has never left French soil."

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said, "The Bayeux Tapestry is a world treasure and a symbol of the deep ties between Britain and France. This agreement takes us a step closer to bringing the tapestry to our shores for the first time in almost a millennium. It also underlines the ongoing commitment from both nations for greater cultural, digital and scientific collaboration now and into the future. We are incredibly excited about the potential of the loan, to enhance further the bonds that tie us to our neighbors across the water."

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