Official speeches and statements - July 16, 2018
(Check against delivery)
Ladies and gentlemen,
A few words, then, following this Atlantic Alliance summit, with the latest discussions currently coming to an end. First of all, this meeting provided an opportunity for the Alliance’s heads of state and government to take note of changes in the strategic context - we can come back to this in the discussions and questions - and continue the work started in 2014 at the Wales summit and in Warsaw in 2016. The past five years have clearly seen a profound transformation in our environment, and a major one for the Alliance, in particular in the face of both the invasion of Crimea and the strong and official emergence of Daesh [so-called ISIL].
Building on those decisions, we agreed to continue today to improve the collective defense mechanism and cooperate more, and above all to do so in accordance with a few principles that seem to me extremely important.
Those principles are, first of all, to have a credible NATO for our collective defense. Credibility itself is, precisely, central to our intervention methods: we adopted and strengthened NATO’s command structure, we took measures to increase our forces’ flexibility and mobility, particularly the Readiness Initiative, and we’re continuing our investment in cyber defense. We’re maintaining reassurance measures in the east of the Alliance, and in this regard France is part of NATO’s forward, reinforced presence in Lithuania and will return to Estonia next year; I was able to confirm this. And all these measures allow us to have an agile and defensive military posture. It’s in line with our international commitments and is accompanied by ongoing dialogue with Russia on reducing the risks of escalation and on transparency. Finally, for France, a credible NATO is also an organization that plans its enlargement without haste and in full awareness of its security interests.
The second key element of this strategy is a NATO that is effective in external theaters of operations. In the face of terrorism, NATO has a complementary role to play with national, European and international actions, and we endorsed the launch of a NATO training mission in Iraq, which will be deployed according to a timetable linked to the establishment of the new government in Baghdad.
Thirdly, a NATO that is modern, particularly in its use of resources. We encouraged the organization to ensure effective management of the resources provided to it by the allied nations, and I’ll pay special attention to that, and it’s central to the discussions I’ve been having with the Secretary-General in recent months.
Finally, a united and mutually-supportive NATO; I think it’s an important point; all the heads of state and government present reaffirmed - and it’s also central to the declaration, as the American President has just repeated - the commitment we all have to NATO and to the Alliance’s unity. It clearly guarantees its effectiveness and our collective security - that of both North America and Europe. This security isn’t measured only in accounting terms, even though we must recognize that NATO’s cohesion is possible only if responsibility for it is shared, and on this issue the summit also enabled us to make progress, on the one hand, and note the commitments made by the various parties, the increase in the European share in recent years, in keeping with the 2014 road map, and the reaffirmation that we’ll keep to the commitments made, which consist in moving towards 2% of GDP by 2024. This actually allows - as we’ve also noted in recent years - a rebalancing of NATO’s funding. France itself has committed itself strongly to this path, by voting a military estimates bill which I’ll be promulgating tomorrow and which enables us to provide visibility, and above all budgetary credibility, to the commitments France has made to its partners and for ourselves, because each of the countries present decides on its expenditure for its own security, first and foremost for national reasons.
These efforts must continue, and as I had the opportunity to emphasize at the European Council, for me they’re supported and strengthened by the growing credibility of a European strategy and determination. The defense ministers of France and Germany are present here, and I want to thank them for the work done in recent months. We clearly promoted a very strong Franco-German commitment with a road map on July 13, 2017, which enabled concrete steps forward in Meseberg on two industrial projects that were considered unfeasible by many Franco-German observers, and since June 2017 some very concrete steps forward: structured defense cooperation, a European defense fund and the European Intervention Initiative, which we’re promoting together with seven other member states. There are a total of nine of us in that initiative today. These factors are essential for European credibility; it’s compatible with NATO, it’s even, for me, a factor reinforcing NATO’s strategy, but it also shows a realization by the European Union: the need to protect ourselves and shoulder all our responsibilities in this context. And I say this especially in relation to the European Union member states, which have a special need for security - I’m thinking of the eastern border states and Baltic states. Europe is organizing itself, anyway, to always stand alongside them, France is taking every measure to do so, Germany too, and this factor of responsibility and contemporary realism also motivates us.
On these matters, we must never forget that we’re talking not only of our collective security but also of women and men on the ground who are risking their lives for us.
2. United Nations - Adoption of the resolution renewing the sanctions regime on South Sudan - Explanation of the vote by France’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Security Council - excerpts (New York - July 13, 2018)
France welcomes the adoption of this resolution, which renews the sanctions regime on South Sudan for one year.
France has nonetheless clearly listened to our colleagues from Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea and shares their desire for the Council to remain united in support of the political process and the action led by IGAD and the African Union.
This resolution is not intended to harm the IGAD-led negotiations. Its aim is to protect civilians. It allows the establishment of an arms embargo regime, which France has been urging for several years. This embargo, by limiting the flow of weapons into South Sudan, is one of the most important measures this Council could take to protect South Sudanese civilians.
The Security Council, by also adopting individual sanctions against two important military leaders from each side, is sending a very clear signal: impunity in violence perpetrated against civilians and the most basic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law can no longer be accepted. The individuals trying to prolong this conflict, with no regard for their fellow citizens’ lives, must know that they will suffer the consequences.
There will be no real improvement in the South Sudan situation unless the conflict is brought to an end. France is encouraged by recent progress on the political process. It welcomes IGAD’s involvement and asks the South Sudanese parties to finalize as soon as possible an agreement so that weapons finally fall silent and the South Sudanese people can, in an atmosphere of peace, get back to the life they aspire to. Rest assured of France’s resolute commitment to this. Thank you.
On July 14, Jean-Yves Le Drian met with Taro Kono, Japan’s minister for foreign affairs.
Given the terrible ordeal in Japan, which has been experiencing torrential rains, he expressed France’s solidarity and support.
This year our two countries are celebrating the 160th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. The Japonismes 2018 cultural season is marking that anniversary. Mr. Le Drian expressed his pleasure with this anniversary and raised with his counterpart the prospect of strengthening the exceptional partnership between France and Japan:
A/ On the bilateral level, Mr. Le Drian and his counterpart worked on a number of issues:
- economic relations: the ministers called for their expansion, thereby reaping all the benefits of the economic partnership agreement between the EU and Japan. This agreement offers new prospects by creating an economic zone of some 600 million inhabitants, representing about 30% of global GDP. Jean-Yves Le Drian and Taro Kono welcomed the signing, on July 13, of a statement on cooperation on innovation and the digital sector, which will serve as the foundation for a common effort by J-Startup and French Tech. They called for strengthening the French-Japanese partnership on civilian nuclear energy and hailed the decision to revive the bilateral dialogue on energy issues.
- the Indo-Pacific: they reaffirmed their wish to strengthen French-Japanese cooperation on the development of a peaceful, prosperous, inclusive Indo-Pacific region. They were pleased, in this regard, to launch a global maritime dialogue between the two countries.
- security and defense: they agreed to work together on concrete projects, including projects in the area of weaponry, and hailed the signing of a mutual logistical support agreement between France and Japan.
- culture and cooperation: they discussed the importance of facilitating mobility for students and researchers and promoting scientific and academic cooperation, as well as cooperation in film, sports, and tourism.
B/ Jean-Yves Le Drian and Taro Kono also spoke about the most important international issues:
- multilateral issues: they reaffirmed their shared commitment to the multilateral trading system and reiterated their commitment to combating climate change, especially through the ambitious implementation of the Paris Agreement, and a constructive dialogue to develop a Global Pact for the Environment. They agreed to continue coordinating ahead of the French and Japanese presidencies of the G7 and the G20 in 2020.
- North Korea: While lauding the momentum created by the inter-Korean summit of April 27 and the summit between the United States and North Korea on June 12, the ministers noted their full agreement on the need to maintain pressure with a view to the complete, irreversible, verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
Japan, represented by its foreign minister, will be honored at the Bastille Day parade in Singapore. It is the third-largest global economy, France’s second-largest trading partner in Asia, and the top Asian investor in France. Trade between France and Japan reached €16.28 billion in 2017. More than 13,000 French nationals live in Japan and about 30,000 Japanese nationals live in France.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, announced, on July 10 during the summit in London, the decision to expand the intervention mandate of the French Development Agency (AFD) to all Western Balkans countries (Albania, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia) in order to support regional integration and closer ties with the EU.
The agency’s new regional mandate includes three main areas:
- support for the process of forging closer ties between these countries and the EU, notably in the areas of connectivity and the strengthening of social cohesion;
- support for the transition towards sustainable development trajectories and especially the energy transition, as well as the territorial and ecological transition of these new counterparts, in keeping with the Paris Agreement on the climate;
- a strengthened French presence in the region, thereby helping to strengthen our bilateral relations in numerous areas.
AFD, which will use a very wide range of financial and non-financial tools in the Western Balkans, will provide its recognized expertise in the area of project structuring and support for local contracting authorities. Its intervention will complement that of other donors involved.
AFD’s establishment in the Western Balkans reflects France’s commitment to supporting the six countries in the region on the path towards sustainable development that will benefit all.