Official speeches and statements - August 21, 2019
I would like to begin by saying how pleased I am to welcome President Putin. I would like to thank him for being here today in Brégançon after several other conversations, including discussions in Versailles in spring 2017 and in St Petersburg in spring 2018, as well as others, most recently in Osaka. And I am very pleased to be able to welcome him to this place, such a symbolic venue on the shore of the Mediterranean, a sea that has always been very important in the relationship between our two countries and in the Russian imagination. Many great artists, writers, painters and musicians, Russians, have stayed on and been inspired by these shores, including Nabokov, Turgenev and Stravinsky.
Today’s discussions are very important for me as this is a profoundly historic time for our international order, and so we need to talk first and foremost about crises, which is just about the agenda we set in Osaka.
We will talk about Iran. I believe we are both committed to a de-escalation of the Iran situation. We have worked hard in recent weeks precisely to avoid any deflagration, and have made multiple proposals. I have also had many discussions with President Trump, President Rouhani and several others, and we are of course committed both to full respect for the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) and to having a wider agenda for stability and security across the region.
We will of course also discuss Ukraine, where the stances and choices of President Zelensky are a real game-changer for the situation. President Putin has had several discussions with him in recent weeks and I believe this is also an opportunity for us to revisit the situation, to talk and also to prepare for upcoming meetings. In close liaison with President Zelensky and Federal Chancellor Merkel, we should consider whether a further summit in Normandy Format in the coming weeks, which I hope to see happen, is possible, if we can prepare a path to move forward.
We also need to discuss Syria, where a great deal of work has also been done together in recent months. In St Petersburg and in Istanbul, we have made progress to converge on negotiating formats and we have launched humanitarian operations together, but I must say our deep concern today is the situation that is being experienced in Idlib. The bombing is part of civilians’ daily lives in Idlib today, killing innocent people, including children. The ceasefire agreed and decided in Sochi needs to be respected, and we will be discussing that. I believe that is essential and we are greatly committed to it. Today, the regime’s attacks are killing innocent people and civilians. And on Syria, we will also discuss the political, constitutional and diplomatic calendar that we have established.
We will also discuss Libya, where, through a great deal of work and efforts with all stakeholders, we achieved a summer truce on 10 August. We now need to build lasting stability and re-establish an order in Libya. I believe we are both committed to that.
We will have many other subjects to discuss, but these crises will be central to our conversation as France is preparing the next G7 Summit, of which it holds the Presidency, and because Russia has an absolutely crucial role to play in all these crises. That is why I wanted to talk to President Putin about all these issues.
INTERNATIONAL SECURITY / INF TREATY
Beyond that, there are several other international subjects we are going to work together on. There is of course that of armaments and our collective security, following the decisions that were made in early August on the INF Treaty and ahead of events in the coming years. And I would like us to have extremely frank and detailed discussions on these subjects. I also hope to discuss the climate, and I welcome Russia’s decision to ratify the Paris Agreement. This is an extremely important development in our fight for the climate, and I believe it is a very important diplomatic and confidence-building gesture from Russia in support of the Paris Agenda.
I would also like to express our support following the terrible fires in Siberia this summer that the President has responded to. On the Arctic and on the situation of the permafrost, and on this climate agenda too, I would like us to make progress. In my view, this is central to the necessary reshaping of our international order, which is at an absolutely historic time. Multilateralism is under attack and we need to think up and build a reshaped international order. I am deeply convinced of this: that we need to invent new forms of relations and useful actions. It will be central to discussions at the G7, our conversation today, and France’s relationship with Russia, and Russia’s relationship with the EU is absolutely crucial in this regard. As I have said several times, I am aware of all that has pushed us apart, all the misunderstandings in recent decades. I am also aware of Russia’s debates on the relationship with the West.
RUSSIA IN EUROPE
I also know something else: Russia is European, deeply European. We believe in this Europe, which stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok. In The Adolescent, the great Russian writer, Dostoevsky - whom I cite imperfectly, off the cuff - said that what set the Russian apart from the German, the Frenchman or another, was that he was most Russian when he was most European, and in a way his nationalism was always greater than he and should encompass the European idea. I believe very deeply in that. That is why, in our reshaping of the international order, I believe that we need to reinvent a security and confidence architecture between the European Union and Russia. France has a role, and will play its full part. That means defining new threats as we see them and share them, whether they are in the armaments, nuclear or cyber fields. It means agreeing a common agenda and deciding on common security, action and de-escalation mechanisms in the framework of our neighborhood. I also believe that, because it is European, Russia is totally in its place within the Europe of values we believe in. That is why France, and I believe in this, has fought for us to find a useful, relevant solution within the Council of Europe. It is under the French Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers that we have reached a solution that will allow Russia to resume its position. It is on the basis of that position that we called this summer for the freedom of demonstration, the freedom of expression, the freedom of opinion and the freedom to stand for election, which apply in all countries, to be fully respected in Russia. I believe in this European Russia, because I believe in a European sovereignty: a stronger Europe that needs to reinvent itself in this dialogue. That is why I believe the presence of President Putin in Brégançon today is particularly important, and why the hours we spend together, after all those spent together before and the strategic discussions we have had, will be decisive in my eyes.
Thank you, President, my dear Vladimir, for making the effort to be here in Brégançon today. I am very pleased we will have this opportunity to talk.
What’s your reaction to the British Prime Minister’s letter to Donald Tusk proposing a solution to replace the backstop?
THE SPOKESPERSON - We took note of yesterday’s letter from the British Prime Minister which formalizes announcements made since he took office on the subject of the backstop. We will study the content of this letter with our European partners and European institutions, while noting that the proposals it contains have already been formulated and discussed by the negotiators. (...)