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Official speeches and statements - May 7, 2019

Published on May 7, 2019

1. North Korea - Missile launches - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Deputy Spokesperson (excerpt) (Paris - May 6, 2019)


North Korea conducted missile tests on Saturday.

France condemns these missile launches and calls on North Korea to refrain from any further provocation, as the UN Security Council has requested it to do so.

It urges North Korea to resume dialogue with the United States on denuclearization as swiftly as possible and to rapidly engage in a process to ensure the complete, verifiable, and irreversible dismantlement of its programs to develop weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles of any range as well as related programs, in accordance with the UN Security Council resolutions. This is the prerequisite for lasting peace in the region.

Until this goal is achieved, the UN Security Council sanctions must be fully and effectively implemented. This is a key point with respect to convincing North Korea to give up its illegal activities, which jeopardize international security and the non-proliferation regime. The international community’s unity remains critical. (...)

2. Russia - Air disaster - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Deputy Spokesperson (excerpts) (Paris - May 6, 2019)


We were deeply saddened to learn that some 40 people died when a plane burst into flames at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport yesterday.

France extends its condolences to the victims’ families and friends. It wishes the injured a speedy recovery. It assures the Russian authorities and people of its solidarity at this painful time. (...)

3. European Union - EU Reforms - European Parliament Seat in Strasbourg - Enthusiasm for Europe - Minimum Wage - Brexit - Excerpts from the interview given by Ms. Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to BFMTV (Paris - May 3, 2019)


Are you managing to galvanize people? You’ve taken over from Nathalie Loiseau at the Ministry for Europe [and Foreign Affairs] and so she’s heading the En Marche list for the European election campaign. The parties have been polling neck and neck for a few days. Several polling companies show that if the election were held today, Rassemblement National [National Rally, formerly National Front] would probably win it, taking first place ahead of the En Marche list. Does that worry you?

Amélie de Montchalin - What’s certain is that we’re starting on the basis of a worrying situation, namely that for years the main delegation to the European Parliament was the National Front; it was 24 MEPs who did nothing for Europe, they opposed everything...

But clearly you’re not really going to succeed in changing...

(...) For the past 18 months, the President—thanks to his active efforts, thanks to unifying work by the countries, the Commission and all the players—has got very practical things passed: we’ve passed things on posted workers, we’ve passed the European Labor Authority to have oversight, we’ve passed things on copyright, we’ve passed things on borders with Frontex, which is going to be able to have 10,000 coastguards, so we’ve done a lot of things. France must now regain influence so as to go further and ensure that a number of proposals—which also sometimes command consensus in Europe—can be fully completed. (...)

The work I’ve been doing for the past month is going to Strasbourg to explain that we need the seat in Strasbourg. Not because it’s pretty, not because some people tell you it’s too costly. We need it because historically there’s a point, because politically there’s a point in having a decentralized Europe. Not everything is in Brussels, we no longer believe in a federal Europe, we don’t want everything to be concentrated like in Washington in the United States and everyone to say to themselves: Europe...

It’s funny, because one wonders if this defense of Strasbourg isn’t the opposite of what you advocate, i.e. almost a kind of patriotism or nationalism! (...) Isn’t this way of defending our country the opposite of the Europe you’re proposing?

It’s a good idea that the European Fisheries Control Agency is in Vigo. You have authorities in every country; I was in The Hague, you have Eurojust and Europol; why do we have that vision? Because we say to ourselves: Europe must be close to the people, we don’t want to be a federal Europe shut away behind walls in Brussels which governs 500 million inhabitants from the city of Brussels. We have this vision of decentralization and Europe being close to the people. Strasbourg is one of those places, and if you look you’ll see that when Europe positions itself it’s often because there’s a historical meaning. And I don’t think we should forget that: we mustn’t forget our history, but we must be proactive, we must be on the offensive, we must want to do things. (...) So what I want to do in this campaign is first of all make people want Europe. Europe is a motivating project...

For the moment you can’t say it’s working, and there’s also - even beyond the issue of Nathalie Loiseau’s lower poll ratings - the fact that there’s no enthusiasm for this European campaign, there’s no desire to go and vote. Incredible!

I can tell you that the young people taking part in Erasmus want Europe, as do the apprentices we’re also going to enable to do those same Erasmus exchanges. As you know, students from the best universities want Europe. When we create a European solidarity corps where we send young people on humanitarian and social projects, we’re going to enable them to go on heritage projects; we’re creating a Europe that is the one my generation wants to build, so that my children can live on a continent that is peaceful, a continent where people know each other and above all a continent that reflects our climate choices, our economic choices and our social choices. When we propose a Europe-wide minimum wage, it’s not in order to reduce the minimum wage in France, it’s to say we’d like everyone in Europe who works to get out of poverty. It’s a principle...

Yes, but all the same, you do agree that the issue will be about the level of the minimum wage!

What’s been proposed is that each country sets the minimum wage at 50% of the median wage at least. What does that mean? It means that when you’re paid the minimum wage, you’re almost out of poverty or, at any rate, you’re not earning a token wage but are above the poverty line. These are very concrete things so that, when we say we’re European, we have shared values which we don’t just talk about but are visible in real life.


Even so, Emmanuel Macron is fairly alone in Europe.

I don’t believe he is.

It isn’t a question of believing or not believing; when you see, for example on Brexit, when he asked for the British to stop being given more and more time, he couldn’t get people to follow him.

Let me tell you something: when Germany says no and says no on its own, people say it’s strong; when France lays down principles and sometimes says no, people say it’s isolated - that’s not right. You know, on the subject of Brexit everyone was very clear about the objective: the British must resolve the matter themselves, it isn’t for Europe to resolve it. Then, tactically, some were saying “you’ve got to give them time", some were saying “you’ve got to give them less time." But basically we all agree, this isn’t Europe’s issue, it isn’t for the Europeans to decide whether we want the British or not - that’s not the issue. [The issue is] how we tell the British: you’ve held a democratic vote, you’ve got a Parliament, you’ve got a Prime Minister, find your solution and we Europeans will be clear. But we’ve got one condition, namely that this question has taken up too much of our time and diverted us from what we’re here for. European citizens have the right to ask us to focus on them and not Brexit for another 24, 36, 40 months...

So there comes a point when the British have to manage on their own.

So there comes a point when we pass the ball back to them: you brought about the issue, you need to resolve it. That’s where we are. We’re not nasty or kind, that’s not the question; it’s your issue and we Europeans have got to make progress and set out what our priorities are for the next five years. We’ve got to set out what we’re proposing to the European Parliament when it sits again on 2 July. So our objective was shared with Germany. But you know, I was in the Netherlands - we’ve got a huge amount of common ground with the Netherlands, which is a country the French don’t know. I was with my Estonian counterpart (...), we create coalitions with the Irish and the Portuguese. And what I want to do is create practical, pragmatic alliances... (...)

4. Iran - Statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action by the High Representative of the European Union and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom (Brussels - May 4, 2019)

We, the High Representative of the European Union and the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, take note with regret and concern of the decision by the United States not to extend waivers with regards to trade in oil with Iran. We also note with concern the decision by the United States not to fully renew waivers for nuclear non-proliferation projects in the framework of the JCPoA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].

The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the JCPoA - it aims at having a positive impact not only on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of the Iranian people. We deeply regret the reimposition of sanctions by the United States following their withdrawal from the JCPoA.

We remain deeply convinced that the JCPoA is key to increasing stability and security in the Middle East region.

Together, we emphasize our continued commitment to the JCPoA, a crucial element of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and essential for our national and shared European security.

The JCPoA is working and delivering on its goal, as confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 14 reports.

We note Iran’s continued compliance with the JCPoA, as repeatedly confirmed by the IAEA. We call upon Iran to continue implementing in full its commitments under the JCPoA as well as its obligations under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

The remaining participants to the JCPoA are committed to working on the preservation and maintenance of financial channels and exports for Iran, together with third countries interested in supporting the JCPoA. We are determined to pursue efforts, together with other European partners, to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran, including through the operationalization of the special-purpose vehicle INSTEX. In this regard, the shareholders are committed to significantly increasing their financial contributions to INSTEX’s operational budget. We encourage all countries, including Russia and China as JCPOA participants, to make their best efforts to pursue the legitimate trade that the agreement allows for, through concrete steps.

We recall the European Council conclusions adopted on 4 February 2019 and EU’s support for the development of EU-Iran relations in areas of common interest. Complementary to preserving the JCPoA, we support a comprehensive approach with Iran with a view to addressing all issues of concern including its contribution to regional instability and its missile activities.