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Official speeches and statements - April 5, 2019

Published on April 5, 2019

1. United States - Syria/GAFA - Meeting between Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Mr. Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of State - Communiqué issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - April 4, 2019)

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian had a meeting in Washington with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. They discussed the situation in Syria, in the context of the territorial defeat of Daesh [so-called ISIL] announced by the Syrian Democratic Forces. The French Minister emphasized the need for a political solution to the Syria crisis. Jean-Yves Le Drian also spoke of the absolute need for continued international support for the areas recently liberated from Daesh in north-east Syria. France has supported them since the French President’s announcement in April 2018 of humanitarian and stabilization projects worth €30 million. It recently announced the deployment of emergency aid to deal with the humanitarian needs in displaced people’s camps in the region.

In answer to his counterpart, the Minister reiterated France’s steadfast position regarding the taxation of digital companies. The absolute need for fair taxation requires special measures to be defined for companies in the sector. He also asked the United States to join efforts led by Bruno Le Maire for France with a view to speeding up the negotiations begun on adopting international taxation on the digital sector at the OECD, which will replace national taxes.

2. Burkina Faso - Terrorist attacks and intercommunity violence in ArbindaPress - briefing given by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ Deputy Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris - April 4, 2019)

France condemns the attacks by terrorist groups and the intercommunity violence which have occurred in Arbinda, northern Burkina Faso, over the past few days and killed more than 60 people.

It expresses its condolences and sympathy to the victims and their families, and all the populations affected.

These crimes must be investigated so that the perpetrators are prosecuted and punished, as the President of Burkina Faso has pledged to do in a public statement. (...)

3. Syria - Joint Declaration (United States, United Kingdom, France) (Paris - April 5, 2019)

Two years on from the horrific chemical weapons attacks that took place in Khan Sheikhoun, and almost one year since the attack in Douma, we the United States, United Kingdom and France warn against, and remain firm in our resolve to respond appropriately to, any use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. The regime’s history of repeatedly using chemical weapons against its own people cannot be disputed, and we remain determined to hold it accountable for indiscriminately killing innocent men, women and children with these heinous weapons. These attacks violate international norms, have caused extreme suffering, and contributed to a worsening of the already acute humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The Assad regime was shielded from being held immediately accountable for its continued use of chemical weapons in particular in the United Nations Security Council with the dismantling of the independent investigative mechanism designed to attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Responsible states have remained committed to upholding the prohibition against chemical weapons and ensuring that there will be no impunity for those who use, seek to use, or protect those who use these weapons, in particular by strengthening the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team will now work to identify the perpetrators of chemical weapons use in Syria, an important step in ensuring accountability. The United States, the United Kingdom, and France reaffirm their strong resolve to work jointly in achieving this practical goal.

Only a credible, negotiated political settlement, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254, can end the conflict in Syria. The Assad regime must not repeat the use of chemical weapons in Syria. There should be no doubt as to our determination to act strongly and swiftly should the Assad regime use these weapons again in the future.

4. Iran - Humanitarian aid - Communiqué from the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - April 5, 2019)

The storms that hit several parts of Iran in recent days are severely impacting the Iranian population. France expresses its utmost solidarity with the Iranian people and offers its condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones.

Given this situation, and in response to the needs expressed by the Iranian authorities, the Crisis and Support Center of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is organizing an emergency humanitarian aid shipment to Iran. Twelve tons of humanitarian cargo, including 114 motorized pumps, will be sent by air. The first shipment is expected in the coming days.

5. False Information - Communiqué from the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - April 5, 2019)

Since yesterday morning, a Twitter campaign has highlighted France’s supposed refusal to grant a visa to a Sudanese asylum-seeker, Mohamed Azhari.

The email that supposedly provides evidence for this campaign is fake.

We are paying the utmost attention to this case, as we do for all visa applications in asylum cases. Mr. Azhari was asked to fill out a specific form that is required for all visa applications in asylum cases. We have not received a response.

This episode illustrates how important it is, before forwarding false information in the heat of emotion, to check with the institutions in question.

6. Brexit - French people settled outside France - Brexit - Reply by Ms. Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - April 3, 2019)

After months, after weeks, after votes of all kinds, the House of Commons hasn’t in fact managed to agree on any solution. Theresa May’s call for national unity last night is very positive, but we have no certainty of its outcome.

The European Council has asked Theresa May to present a plan on 10 April which can win a majority; yesterday evening she said she’d also like a further extension. I say to you, as the President said yesterday, that there’s nothing automatic about a long extension, which would involve the British taking part in the European elections. If Theresa May doesn’t propose a solid plan, that country - which will remain a friend and essential ally - will, de facto, have chosen to leave without a deal. We can’t step in and prevent failure for her. We’ll be ready, even without a deal - including in Calais, where construction work on the port was completed yesterday.

You’re right to be mobilized, because behind Brexit there are citizens, parents, workers and pensioners.

We’re being absolutely vigilant in order to protect French people in the country and protect their families. The United Kingdom has made commitments; it must honour them. This afternoon I’ll repeat this to the UK Ambassador, and very soon I’ll be meeting our compatriots in London.

Let me reassure you that focusing on the consequences of Brexit isn’t the only task the President and Prime Minister have given me. My mission is, above all, to spearhead a plan for all Europeans, and only yesterday an agreement was reached for our borders to be better protected. The Frontex agency will have 10,000 personnel and increased resources. I believe this is proof that there is a Europe that takes action and protects.

Thank you.

7. Brexit - European Union - Travelling with no visa requirement after Brexit: agreement between the European Council and Parliament - Press communiqué issued by the European Union Council (Brussels, 03/04/2019)

The Council and the European Parliament have agreed that, following Brexit, UK citizens coming to the Schengen area for a short stay (90 days in any 180 days) should be granted visa free travel. This agreement was confirmed yesterday by EU ambassadors on behalf of the Council and by the European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee today. The text now needs to be formally adopted by the European Parliament and the Council.

According to EU rules, visa exemption is granted on condition of reciprocity. The government of the United Kingdom has stated that it does not intend to require a visa from EU citizens travelling to the UK for short stays. In the event that the United Kingdom introduces a visa requirement for nationals of at least one member state in the future, the existing reciprocity mechanism would apply and the three EU institutions and the member states would undertake to act without delay in applying the mechanism. The Commission would monitor the respect of the principle of reciprocity on a continuous basis and immediately inform the European Parliament and the Council of any developments which could endanger the respect of this principle.


Visa policy towards third country citizens travelling to the Schengen area for a short stay is regulated under EU legislation. Existing rules include all third country nationals in one of two lists: nationals of third countries required to be in possession of a visa and those exempt from this requirement. Following Brexit, as a third country the United Kingdom will need to appear in one of these two lists.

(Source of English text: European Council website)

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