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Official speeches and statements - April 10, 2019

Published on April 10, 2019

1. Libya - Reply by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - April 9, 2019)

The latest information is not encouraging. Fighting is continuing around Tripoli, there have been dozens of deaths and a more serious confrontation is to be feared.

In view of this, three commitments must be made: firstly, to reach a ceasefire as soon as possible. This concerns both parties, not only Marshal Haftar but also Prime Minister Sarraj. The French President spoke to Prime Minister Sarraj yesterday, with this goal of an immediate ceasefire and then a resumption of dialogue. It’s all the more necessary because there was an agreement between the two parties in Abu Dhabi a few days ago, and this agreement enabled the transition to be ensured before political elections. The agreement was broken, so dialogue must be re-established on the basis of the Abu Dhabi agreement and under the responsibility of the United Nations and Mr Guterres’ representative on the ground, Mr. Ghassan Salamé.

Finally, thirdly, there must be the prospect of a political settlement, because there will be no military solution in that country. A political settlement is necessary on foundations which are more or less known by everyone, and it requires presidential and general elections before the end of the year.

As you can see, that country is essential not only for our security and for stability in the Mediterranean but also for controlling migration, and the country is suffering from the fact that, since 2014 in particular but since 2011 in fact, there has been no political will to achieve a resolution to the crisis. It’s actually the refusal to have political debate and a political solution that has brought about the instability, and not vice versa.

So it’s important for the parties involved to get together, under the aegis of the United Nations, to achieve these results.

France is actively working to this end by talking to everyone along the same lines.

2. European Union - Statement by Ms. Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, on her arrival at the General Affairs Council (Luxembourg - April 9, 2019)

THE MINISTER - The United Kingdom has asked for an extension and the European Council will have to decide on that request tomorrow; France’s position hasn’t changed. We believe this request is neither a foregone conclusion nor automatic and that it’s extremely important for the request to be accompanied by a credible political plan that explains what will happen during that requested extenson. The question also arises of the role the UK wants to play in the European institutions during this period. The question also arises of the date of 30 June: we don’t really understand what would be the future of the MEPs who would emerge from those British elections if they’re held, if they’re not going to take their seats.

In any case, what’s clear is that there will be no other withdrawal agreement than the one negotiated between the Europeans and the UK. We’re seeking, above all else, to leave tomorrow with a decision enabling us to make progress on the European project and preserve its content and ambition. We know, along with our partners, that the European project’s ambition is indeed to move forward: we’re going to discuss all that soon.

Q. - Do the 27 speak with one voice?

THE MINISTER - The 27 speak with one voice; they spoke with one voice during the last Council, on 21 and 22 March, and tomorrow we’ve got to continue speaking collectively, with a voice which also has to safeguard the ambition of the European project and its smooth operation, with a concern for protecting European citizens.

Q. - What do you want to have Britain saying? Theresa May said that she would have sincere cooperation with the EU if they are given this extension. What specific conditions does France want Britain to agree to in order to have this extension?

THE MINISTER - There are two levels of discussion: the first is on the sense. What is the political and credible backing of this extension demand? We understand there is a law voted yesterday night, we want to understand what the UK needs this extension for and what is the political surroundings around Theresa May to have this extension. And then comes the question of the conditions: what role wants the UK to play during this extension time, how does it want to decide and on what type of decisions it wants to play a role. And we have to understand how we can, on our side, on the European side, continue to have a European project that is ambitious, that has reforms undergoing and how we keep going on serving the interest of the European citizens.

Q. - Is Chancellor Merkel good cop and President Macron bad cop?

THE MINISTER - I am not sure we can describe the European Union in such terms. Theresa May is going to Berlin, she is going to Paris and we are going now to have a long discussion.

3. United Nations - Side event on Youth, Peace and Security - The "Connecting Tissue": Young people’s meaningful participation in sustaining peace - Statement by Mr. Gabriel Attal, Minister of State, attached to the Minister of National Education and Youth (New York - April 9, 2019)

I would like first and foremost to thank everyone for being here. I am looking forward to very powerful briefings we will soon hear from the distinguished panelists who are here today.

France is very honored to host this meeting on Youth, Peace and Security, together with the Dominican Republic, Germany and Peru.

I think the main question for us today is not whether Youth is relevant to take part, to take action in peace and security and in the achievement of peace and security. Because they obviously already are, and this is part of the important discussion we had yesterday with Jayathma. Youth is already in action and motion in many of this field. So the main question is whether the United Nations, the Security Council and all the relevant diplomatic processes are ready to acknowledge and admit the benefit of their ongoing efforts for peace around the world.

And France firmly believes that youth should be granted a space to speak, a space to express their views and a space to carry out positive actions to achieve sustainable peace.

All over the world, there are concrete and enlightening examples of very efficient initiatives carried out by young women and men, committed to bring a durable and sustainable peace to their countries and their regions. Last year, Madam Kessy Ekomo-Soignet, a young Centrafrican woman, eloquently briefed the Security Council and demonstrated by her own experience how young women can contribute efficiently to peace and security. Aya Chebbi, Emissaire for the African Union, is also another striking example of advocacy for peace on the whole African continent. There are many other anonymous examples of young people engaged in bringing positive changes to their societies.

Last year’s Independent Study, which was led by experts mandated by the UN, was very clear and very important: many initiatives are being carried out as we speak, whatever to promote social justice, Rule of Law or Human Rights, to eliminate female genital mutilations, to ensure democratic electoral processes or to prevent violent extremism. And I think we have many more actions to take about getting the whole data of how young people are committed in these processes. And that’s another topic we discussed yesterday: we need more studies and more data to be able to work on that.

And yet, young women and men are still the victims of stereotypes. They are seen as the problems and not the solution, which is a problem itself. They are too often seen as causes or catalysts of violence. And those stereotypes are quite often used against them to exclude them from the peace processes or from any kind of work to find solutions, to exclude them from the basic Human Rights they are entitled to and to make them the very first targets of repressive policies. So we need to fight those stereotypes in order to fight these situations.

They also face all forms of multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination. In particular, they are too often excluded from the world of work. Young women also especially suffer of gender inequalities. All of this has an effect on how they can interact and how they can play a role in the peace negotiations and peace solutions.

So, the question is: what can we do now?

The Independent Study I mentioned has brought to the fore the key role of education in fighting those stereotypes and discrimination. As you know, President Macron has made education a key priority both in France and at the international level. The President has increased France’s contribution to the World Partnership on Education, now amounting to 200 million euros.

Two resolutions - UNSCR 2250 and UNSCR 2419 - have already been adopted by the Security Council on the Youth, Peace and Security agenda.

It is high time they are implemented. We also expect the next report of the UN Secretary-General on that issue with great interest and we are ready to take further action, here at the UN and at the Security Council, as more regular young briefers in the Security Council. It is also a key point we discussed.

The First International Symposium on Youth Participation in Peace Processes that was just held in Helsinki is a very good step forward. In the context of the Peace Forum, which we organized in Paris last November, France also contributed to give a voice to young representatives.

So it is overall high time we fully grasp the gigantic potential of youth in achieving, building and maintaining peace and security. Youth is the time of possibilities, of accelerations, we say in France "le sourire de l’avenir", the smile of future. But I also find very important to say that youth is not only the future, we always say we have to take care of youth and empower them because they are the future, saying they are the future is always a positive way to highlight how they should play a key role but saying youth is the future is also saying "maybe they can wait a little bit longer before taking action and taking responsibilities", so I think we also have to fight for this idea that youth is actually the present and so they have to take part in every actions we implement in order to solve the crises the world is facing.

Thank you very much.

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