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Official speeches and statements - March 6, 2020

Published on March 6, 2020

1. Death of Javier Perez de Cuellar - Statement issued by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - March 6, 2020)

We were extremely saddened to learn of the death of Javier Perez de Cuellar, former UN Secretary-General, former President of the Council of Ministers and former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru.

I would like to pay tribute to this man of peace who served not just his country’s diplomacy with great talent, but the international community as well. As the head of the United Nations during the Cold War, he guided the organization with determination and courage in order to foster international peace and security.

I would like to pay tribute to a man who distinguished himself through his resolute commitment, notably during the Iran-Iraq war, in the peace talks during the civil war in El Salvador and during the process that led Namibia to independence.

The international community, and especially Peru, the country in which he was born and which he honored, has lost a statesman and a man of commitment and dialogue. France has in particular lost a Francophile friend since Javier Perez de Cuellar served as ambassador of Peru to France. A French speaker and the embodiment of multilingualism, he tirelessly promoted the use of the French language within the United Nations.

At this painful time, I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to his family, his friends and the Peruvian people.

2. Syria / Turkey - Migratory situation at the European Union’s borders - Replies by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to two questions in the Senate (excerpts) (Paris - March 4, 2020)


The crisis currently being experienced in north-west Syria is tragic. We’re heading for a real disaster in north-west Syria.

The crisis has a cause that must be identified, namely the violation of the Sochi agreement. That agreement stipulated that Idlib Governorate - with three million inhabitants - should be regarded as a de-escalation zone so that the many terrorist groups there could be dismantled and the population could live there normally, even though a large proportion of them are refugees. That agreement was broken.

And it’s Turkey that was responsible for this. Hence the conflict situation, because the regime decided to recapture territory, which means there’s still armed conflict at the moment between the Turkish forces present in that area of Syria and the regime forces.

This is bringing about a real humanitarian disaster in the area - I’ll have the chance to come back to this - and it’s led to unacceptable behavior by Turkey, which, in order to remedy the conflict, for both domestic and external uses has decided to exploit the migrants who have been on its own territory for a long time, to exert pressure on the European Union. This attitude is unacceptable - this hostage-taking, because that’s what it is; it’s not acceptable and it must be fought against.

So the initiatives we’re taking are twofold: firstly, to take action vis-à-vis Russia to get back to Sochi - and I think the meeting due to be held between President Erdoğan and President Putin will enable us to reach that result - and secondly, to signal our total solidarity with Greece.


France has total solidarity with Greece on this matter. It has total solidarity with Greece, first of all for humanitarian reasons and secondly for political reasons, because what’s happening in Greece concerns us all, since we’re all within the Schengen Area.

I’d also like to point out - although you’ve noticed it - that the migratory pressure currently on Europe’s doorstep, on Greece’s doorstep, slightly on Bulgaria’s and slightly on Cyprus’s is being organized by President Erdoğan’s regime to serve as blackmail against the European Union. The European Union won’t give in to that blackmail.

In March 2016 we reached an agreement with Turkey that guarantees significant finance to Turkey in exchange for the - admittedly difficult - handling of refugees who had come from the previous Syria crisis. €6 billion has already been pledged; half has been paid out. So we expect Turkey itself to fulfill these commitments which we ourselves have honored and continue to honor.

Now, you will have noticed that we’ve decided to organize a meeting of European Union interior ministers this afternoon. Tomorrow I’m going to Zagreb with my European colleagues to consider together how, in practical terms, we can help Greece today in this especially difficult situation.

I think we’ll be unanimous not only about developing the Frontex operation but also about making the resources available and helping that country in humanitarian terms to face up to this difficulty.

3. United Nations - DPRK - Joint statement by Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom (New York - March 5, 2020)

Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom are deeply concerned by the testing of ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on March 1st. The DPRK has conducted 14 sets of ballistic missile launches since May 2019. It has continued to operate its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. The panel of experts working on the DPRK has continuously highlighted such efforts.

We condemn such provocative actions. They undermine regional security and stability, as well as international peace and security, and are in clear violation of unanimously adopted UN Security Council resolutions.

We continue to urge the DPRK to engage in good faith in meaningful negotiations with the United States aimed at denuclearization, to take concrete steps to abandoning all weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and to refrain from further provocations.

There is no other way to achieve security and stability on the Korean Peninsula. Continued provocations risk undermining the prospect for successful negotiations.

It is vital that the Security Council ensures full implementation of its resolutions and that sanctions remain in place. We call on the international community to comply with the obligation to strictly enforce these sanctions, including by reporting on their implementation in accordance with the resolutions adopted by the Council.