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Official speeches and statements - February 20, 2020

Published on February 20, 2020

1. China - Medical cargo shipment for use in hospital facilities in Wuhan and Hubei Province to show solidarity with China - Communiqué issued by the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs (Paris - February 19, 2020)

As President Macron announced on Tuesday during his telephone conversation with President Xi Jinping, France has decided to demonstrate its solidarity with the Chinese people in the face of the coronavirus epidemic.

An Airbus A380 chartered by France took off this evening from Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle Airport for Wuhan. This plane is carrying medical equipment to combat the coronavirus for use by the healthcare professionals mobilized to combat the epidemic.

This 17-ton shipment to show solidarity with China notably includes medical protective suits, masks, gloves and disinfectants.

This operation was coordinated by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ Crisis and Support Center, in close collaboration with the Embassy of France in Beijing and the Consulate General of France in Wuhan. It pools contributions from the public sector mobilized by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for Solidarity and Health, financial support from the LVMH group, which has agreed to take part in this operation, as well as contributions from civil society, in particular the Wuhan University Alumni Association. Lastly, it made it possible to send equipment provided by Latvia and Estonia.

On its return flight, this plane will bring those French nationals and their dependents who so wish back to France. As with the flight on February 2, France will express its wholehearted European solidarity by offering other EU citizens the opportunity to also take advantage of the return flight. The latter will be received by their countries’ authorities on their arrival. These measures have been implemented with the support of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism.

As with the previous return flights, stringent health measures will apply to the entire operation, which notably includes a 14-day quarantine period on arrival.

Our Consulate General in Wuhan remains open with a small team of volunteers to assist our compatriots in the area and to demonstrate France’s solidarity in the province.

2. Ukraine - Fighting near Zolote - Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris - February 19, 2020)

France deplores the intense fighting that took place on February 17, 2020 near Zolote, in Ukraine, resulting in further military casualties. The ceasefire violations and use of heavy weapons are in breach of the Minsk Agreement and the conclusions of the summit of heads of state and government held on December 9, 2019.

France calls on the parties to exercise restraint, to avoid further escalation on the ground. It calls, notably, on Russia to use its considerable influence on the armed formations it supports to ensure that the ceasefire is fully enforced.

France remains strongly committed to the full restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.

It is continuing to work steadfastly on efforts to resolve the conflict through negotiations in the Normandy format.

3. European Union - Brexit - 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 - excerpt (Brussels - February 17, 2020)


As you know, the French position on Brexit is very straightforward. We’re absolutely open to swiftly reaching an agreement that can offer - as Boris Johnson wants - zero customs tariffs and zero quotas. But we’re also very clear: this must be capable of being done with zero dumping. For the past 47 years we’ve found a way to have fair, balanced, honest relations. And we’ve been able to trade, on both sides of the Channel, for 47 years. We in the European Union didn’t choose Brexit. We can’t go and see our farmers, our businesses, our fishermen and tell them: so that’s it, for a reason you didn’t choose, which also isn’t what we ourselves chose politically, well, you’re now facing competition that ultimately comes from quite near you, from people we know very well who are going to apply different standards. The Green Deal is meaningless in the European Union if we accept that products which don’t respect, for example, the efforts we’ll be making on pesticides, biodiversity, chemical standards and carbon prices - if those goods come from an area that doesn’t comply with our standards.

So my point is, first of all, that we really must bear in mind that there will be checks whatever agreement we reach, there will be checks to ensure the safety of goods, to ensure the commitments made by the United Kingdom are honored, and I think we must have regulatory consistency. We can hugely open up the internal market, if we have rules that are still close [to each other] and consistent. I think the European Union’s decision-making autonomy depends on it. We’re an area that must be able to set its own rules. If we set rules for ourselves, you can well imagine that there can’t be, as Ms. Merkel said, a competitor on our doorstep who systematically chooses to do things differently. Then our businesses, our fishermen, our farmers would be in danger. (...)

4. European Union - General Affairs Council - Syria: EU adds eight businessmen and two entities to sanctions list - Press release issued by the Council of the European Union (Brussels - February 17, 2020)

The Council has today added eight prominent businessmen and two entities linked to those businessmen to the list of persons and entities subject to the sanctions against the Syrian regime and its supporters. Their activities directly benefited the Assad regime, including through projects located on lands expropriated from persons displaced by the conflict.

The sanctions list now includes 277 persons and 71 entities targeted by a travel ban and an asset freeze. EU sanctions currently in place against Syria also include an oil embargo, restrictions on certain investments, a freeze of the assets of the Syrian central bank held in the EU, and export restrictions on equipment and technology that might be used for internal repression, as well as on equipment and technology for the monitoring or interception of internet or telephone communications.

The sanctions on Syria were originally imposed in 2011. They are reviewed on an annual basis, with the next review due by June 1.

The EU remains committed to finding a lasting and credible political solution to the conflict in Syria as defined in the UN Security Council resolution 2254 and in the 2012 Geneva Communiqué.

The legal acts, including the names of the persons and entities concerned, are available in the EU Official Journal.

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