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Official speeches and statements - December 20, 2019

Published on December 20, 2019

1. Fight against terrorism - Handling the return of French jihadists from Iraq and Syria - Reply by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to a written question in the Senate (Paris - December 20, 2019)

The offensive unleashed by Turkey on October 9, 2019 led to an upheaval in the political, security and humanitarian balances in north-east Syria, putting the security interests of France and its partners at stake.

Given this situation, France called for a ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition against Daesh [so-called ISIL] to be held in Washington on November 14, 2019. It secured a reaffirmed commitment by all the Coalition partners to actively continue fighting together against Daesh in Iraq and Syria over the coming months, with the aim of consolidating the results already achieved through the end of the terrorist organization’s territorial hold and of progressing towards its long-term defeat.

At the meeting, France reiterated Turkey’s responsibility to ensure that no member of Daesh previously held in the areas where it intervened can escape justice, and that no person linked to Daesh can freely cross its border to resettle, in Europe or elsewhere.

The Turkish authorities publicly announced numerous arrests of Daesh members following their forces’ intervention and measures taken to step up surveillance of the border the country shares with Syria.

France also reiterated at the meeting its consistent position in favor of the secure, long-term detention of all Daesh fighters - including those French nationals who joined the organization - and their trial as close as possible to the places where those men and women committed their crimes. France’s European partners confirmed that they took the same position.

Our nationals detained or held in recent months by the Syrian Democratic Forces are still being held in north-east Syria, and Turkey has also pledged to respect the bilateral cooperation framework existing with France so that we may organize the supervised returns of the 11 nationals it expelled to France recently under the Cazeneuve protocol. Those people will be prosecuted, in accordance with the law in force, as soon as they arrive on French territory. Minors will receive care tailored to their situation.

The fight against terrorism remains a daily priority for the French authorities, the goal being to guarantee our fellow citizens’ safety and pre-empt any danger of attacks in France spearheaded or inspired by Daesh. This is what France was committed to when it secured from its partners, in Washington on November 14, a pledge to continue the fight against the terrorist organization and ensure that its members, including Europeans, cannot escape justice.

2. European Union - Russia: EU prolongs economic sanctions by six months - Press release issued by the Council of the European Union (Brussels - December 19, 2019)

Today, the Council prolonged the economic sanctions targeting specific sectors of the Russian economy until July 31, 2020.

This decision follows an update by President Macron and Chancellor Merkel to the European Council on December 12, 2019 on the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements, to which the decision on maintaining sanctions is linked. Given that the Minsk agreements are not fully implemented, the European Council unanimously took the political decision to renew the economic sanctions against Russia.

The measures target the financial, energy and defense sectors, and the area of dual-use goods. They were originally introduced on 31 July 2014 for one year in response to Russia’s actions destabilizing the situation in Ukraine and strengthened in September 2014.

The economic sanctions prolonged by this decision include:

  • limiting access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for five major Russian majority state-owned financial institutions and their majority-owned subsidiaries established outside of the EU, as well as three major Russian energy and three defence companies;
  • imposing an export and import ban on trade in arms;
  • establishing an export ban for dual-use goods for military use or military end users in Russia;
  • curtailing Russian access to certain sensitive technologies and services that can be used for oil production and exploration.

The duration of the sanctions was linked by the European Council on March 19, 2015 to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements, which was foreseen to take place by December 31, 2015. Since this did not happen, the sanctions have remained in place.

[Source of English text: European Council website]