Official speeches and statements - May 12, 2020
1. Europe Day - "Europe: the strength of de facto solidarity" by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and Ms. Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs (Paris - May 9, 2020)
On May 9, 1950, Robert Schuman announced that France and Germany were laying the foundations of European integration together in deciding that "Franco-German production of coal and steel as a whole be placed under a common High Authority, within a framework of an organization open to the participation of the other countries of Europe."
Seventy years later to the day, let us remember the courage that was required to reach out to one’s former enemy; the audacity to focus a peace and reconciliation project on "regions which had long been devoted to the manufacture of munitions of war, of which they have been the most constant victims"; and the insight, to understand that, given the new geopolitical balances which were emerging, the strength of our nations would soon be determined by the closeness of our ties.
Let us assess together how far we’ve come, a spurt of progress as opposed to the tragic events of history - the ruins of the first year as opposed to the prosperity regained, and the division as opposed to the promises of regained unity based on humanist values that we share across Europe and democratic principles that we have chosen to adopt.
Let us fully revisit the spirit of the Schuman Declaration, not only to remain true to our common memory, but also to find responses to the concerns and questions of our time. In the face of the crisis that is completely overturning our lives and some of our constant beliefs, let us get back to the basics of European integration: the cooperation of States to serve the people, concern for concrete achievements and the strength of solidarity to serve human beings above all. This is what we need to do.
Because what has given us strength in recent weeks are in fact these acts of de facto solidarity that the Schuman Declaration recommended be a foundation for European integration: these acts of de facto solidarity performed by healthcare workers from Germany, Romania or Luxembourg busy saving lives of Italian or French patients, are expressed in each of the things we do to help each other and ensure the future of our economies and jobs.
In the future, to learn the most we can from this crisis, we should firmly pursue, in the field of public health, a Europe that protects, in line with the call issued by the President of the French Republic in September 2017. How? Again, by multiplying acts of de facto solidarity, to serve an even more proactive, sovereign and inclusive Health Europe. We must be able to ensure that the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control can more effectively sound the alarm at the first sign of danger, compile strategic stocks of health products and equipment, pool our research efforts and strengthen the ties between our hospital services. We must also be able to learn the most we can from this crisis to better organize our common Schengen Area, for example by setting up a more integrated mechanism for managing our borders.
The Europe of the Schuman Declaration is also a Europe that is capable of "creative efforts" to confront the dangers threatening it, with Europeans, but also with women and men from all over the world. It is a Europe working to defend multilateralism and global public goods, such as international peace and security, but also the environment, biodiversity and human health, which are intrinsically linked.
More than ever, our world needs a Europe that is determined to champion this vision.
Today, Europe is clearly up to the challenge. It has so far been able to raise 7.4 billion euros in pledges worldwide to support the global response for coping with COVID-19. It supports the efforts of the most vulnerable countries, especially in Africa, which, again, is completely in line with the Schuman Declaration that since 1950 has put an emphasis on the strong ties between Africa and Europe.
In the future, Europe will still be there, alongside its partners, to strengthen global health governance. We will advocate ambitious reform of the only universal public health organization, the WHO, which must have the means to fully play the vital role it has been given. We will advocate more effective coordination of those working in health across the globe. We will advocate making transparency a focus because it is the best way to prepare us for dealing with possible future pandemics. To alert governments and inform the public, a high-level global council on human and animal health could be created, similar to the IPCC.
To act "on one limited but decisive point", to bring to the world "the contribution of an organized and living Europe": this is what we proposed to Europeans, 70 years ago. Times have changed; today’s challenges are not the same as those of the past. But our continent has returned to a time when it has to make choices. We believe and we know that the spirit of the Schuman Declaration can still guide us. Let us never forget where we come from, let us never forget from where our continent draws its strength - and we will continue to write our history together, the great history of solidarity, which has formed Europe.
In response to the health emergency sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, France fully supports the initiative taken by the European Union in conjunction with humanitarian NGOs - particularly French NGOs - and humanitarian actors to launch an airlift to deliver humanitarian personnel and cargo to several countries facing an acute humanitarian crisis, most urgently in Africa but also in Asia and the Middle East.
Introduced by Janez Lenarcic, the European Commissioner for Crisis Management, this solidarity-based initiative coordinates the logistical resources of the EU, several member States including France, and numerous humanitarian NGOs belonging to the Réseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH) [Humanitarian Logistical Network]*. Its implementation was the topic of a number of discussions between Commissioner Lenarčič, several European foreign ministers, and Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs
Amid the suspension of air links as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the airlift will make it possible to bring humanitarian personnel and supplies to vulnerable populations, in cooperation with local authorities. The humanitarian supplies being delivered will help prevent and combat the pandemic. This EU initiative will usefully supplement the UN’s humanitarian response plan, and in particular the World Food Programme’s logistical response plan.
The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs supports this initiative, which illustrates European solidarity and puts it into practice with respect to the most vulnerable populations facing the COVID-19 pandemic, and facilitates the continuity of humanitarian activities.
Following a meeting in Lyon on 7 May with French NGOs, attended by representatives of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Commissioner Lenarčič accompanied the project’s first flight. An aircraft leased by the European Commission through the Bioport humanitarian association transported humanitarian workers and emergency cargo, including medical supplies provided by French NGOs, from Lyon to Bangui, in the Central African Republic. Two additional flights will carry humanitarian equipment to the CAR in the coming days./.
* The Réseau Logistique Humanitaire (RLH) [Humanitarian Logistical Network] includes ACTED, Action against Hunger, the French Red Cross, Handicap International, Médecins du Monde, Oxfam Intermón, Plan International, Première Urgence Internationale, and Solidarités International. Several NGOs are working with the RLH to provide a humanitarian response during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Alima, Bioport, CARE, La Chaîne de l’Espoir, Medair, Solidarité Sida etc.
I thank the SRSG, Ms. Hennis-Plasschaert, for her presentation and the outstanding work UNAMI is doing under her leadership. You have the full support of France for your mission.
France congratulates the new Prime Minister, Mr. Mustapha al Kadhimi, for his nomination and the formation of the Iraqi government. We are confident that the remaining governmental positions will be filled shortly, with the participation of women.
As the SRSG has underlined, Iraq is facing many internal, regional and economic challenges. And the COVID-19 pandemic adds to this already difficult situation. It is essential that we all bring our support to Iraq at this crucial moment to contain and mitigate the pandemic, which could have dramatic consequences, notably for the most vulnerable, and to consolidate the national democratic project of the country.
There are four main elements that I would like to underline in this regard:
First, it is essential that the new Iraqi government challenges the status quo in the country to live up to the expectations of the Iraqi people. Meaningful reforms are needed: fighting corruption, promoting sustainable economic growth and diversification, streamlining bureaucracy, improving public services, ensuring gender equality. Iraqi women have also courageously participated in the protests and the full diversity of their voices and demands must be taken into account in any political and decision-making process.
The first measures announced by Prime Minister Kadhimi are encouraging, in particular the commission in charge of identifying those responsible for the repression of the protesters. Indeed accountability is crucial for a stable and democratic Iraq in the long term. The inclusion of members of the civil society in this commission is a positive signal and we encourage the Iraqi government to pursue the engagement with civil society in all areas.
Free, fair, inclusive and transparent elections will also be a major milestone in the path towards a sovereign and democratic Iraq.
Secondly, it is crucial that Iraq stays away from regional tensions in line with the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire. It is essential for the stability of the country and to facilitate the fight against COVID-19. It is also indispensable for the pursuit of the fight against Daesh for which the international Coalition plays a crucial role in support of the Iraqi government. In this regard, it is also essential that all armed groups be effectively under the control of the State authorities.
Thirdly, the humanitarian situation remains of great concern, in particular in the context of the pandemic. We are deeply concerned by the situation of the 1.4 million internally displaced persons who are extremely vulnerable. Efforts to prevent and respond to the COVID-19 must be scaled up, notably in camps of displaced persons and refugees. A rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, which has become more difficult in the past few months, is more necessary than ever. In this context, France will continue its assistance efforts, in particular in the field of humanitarian assistance and health which has been a priority for us for a long time, notably the rebuilding and the development of the medicine faculty in Mosul and the construction of a hospital in Sinjar. France will, in particular, support the survivors of sexual violence in Sinjar in the context of the work of the Global Survivors Fund.
Fourthly, in this context, it is essential that UNAMI keeps a robust mandate in support of the Iraqi people and government. Its role in favor of inclusive political dialogue, reconciliation, electoral assistance, human rights and accountability is indispensable. We also strongly encourage UNAMI to pursue its engagement with the civil society.
Finally, I wish to say a word on the developments pertaining to missing Kuwaiti and third country nationals and missing Kuwaiti property, including the national archives. Progress is being made month after month on this important issue despite some inevitable delays due to the pandemic. It is important that the cooperation between all actors involved remains strong.
Let me conclude by saying that our conviction is that a sovereign, inclusive and prosperous Iraq is the key for a stable and peaceful Middle East. And my country is committed to stand firmly alongside the Iraqi people and their government in those challenging times. Thank you.