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Official speeches and statements - July 3, 2020

Published on July 3, 2020

1. European recovery plan - Reply by Ms. Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - June 30, 2020)

Yes, in Meseberg yesterday we witnessed an unprecedented, decisive moment for France, Germany and Europe. Unprecedented because it was the first time, following the Franco-German initiative of 18 May, that France and Germany paved the way together to their European Union presidencies. Tomorrow it’s Germany, in a year and a half it will be France, and after three years of the President’s tireless commitment to a strong, sovereign, mutually supportive Europe, three years of working jointly with Angela Merkel, they decided to join forces to make Europe succeed.

It was also a decisive moment, and the timetable is critically important because we’re duty-bound to deliver results, we’ve got to unite the 27 with an agreement in July on the European Commission’s budget proposal, it’s our common task.

It’s also the task I’m undertaking for the President; I’ve been to Austria and the Netherlands, and this evening I’m off to Sweden, because we’ve got to convince every member State that this plan is good for all European people and countries.

You’re familiar with the position France champions: this European budget must be ambitious, it must allow our climate, agriculture, defense and space sovereignty to be rebuilt. For us, the recovery plan should comprise at least €500 billion in grants - this is absolutely essential - for the hardest-hit sectors and regions, and we think we should do this through shared debt, with own resources to repay it, so that the burden on national budgets isn’t increased too much.

As you know, many benefit from Europe and don’t contribute enough to it. I’m thinking here of the polluters, I’m thinking of those who import plastic, I’m thinking of the carbon border tax, I’m thinking of the digital giants, I’m thinking of the financial players; this isn’t about new taxes on households and businesses, it’s about resources to finance Europe together. And on this last point, as you know, the French Parliament will have to have a discussion in the autumn. It will be a moment of political clarification: too many on these benches have paid lip service to Europe for a long time; in the autumn, they’ll have to clarify if they’re for or against this strong Europe which the [German] Chancellor and President Macron are building, following on from Simone Veil and many of our other founding fathers.

2. Syria - Brussels IV conference on Supporting the future of Syria and the region - Video conference speech by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Brussels / Paris - June 30, 2020)

A year after the Brussels III conference and nearly 10 years after the war began, it has to be admitted that the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. The country is being plunged into a spiral of permanent instability which is having a strong impact on the region. We’re continuing to mitigate the effects of this tragedy through the assistance we’re providing to the Syrian people and the refugees, through our resolute counter-terrorist action within the Global Coalition Against Daesh, of course, and in the face of the regime’s approach geared purely to military reconquest, our goal is still to restart the political process, have unhindered humanitarian access for 12 million Syrians in need and establish the conditions for a voluntary, safe, dignified return of refugees.

In this context France, through Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and Jean-Yves Le Drian, the [Foreign] Minister, has four messages.

The first concerns cross-border humanitarian access, which must take priority.

The worsening of the health crisis in Syria with COVID-19 has served as a reminder of the essential requirement to renew Security Council Resolution 2504 on cross-border aid. Several million people in north-west and north-east Syria are entirely dependent on that aid, and despite the efforts of humanitarian actors based in Damascus, access from the regime-controlled areas remains grossly inadequate to cover the needs. As the United Nations Secretary-General’s two reports stated, the vacuum created by the closing of the Yarubiya border crossing in January still hasn’t been filled and we must work collectively for the renewal in the next fortnight of Resolution 2504, which is a veritable lifeline for millions of Syrians.

France reiterates its call for this safe, full and unhindered humanitarian access to be guaranteed.

Second message: the solution to the Syria crisis remains a political one.

The search for a political solution negotiated under the aegis of the United Nations, of course, is the only possible way out of the Syria crisis. Only this will allow peace and stability - crucial for both the region and Europe - to return to Syria, and only this will guarantee the return of the refugees.

Above all, those refugees have fled the atrocities committed by the Syrian regime, the arbitrary arrests and the brutal persecution. These are political obstacles, and so there will be no genuine and lasting return of refugees unless a credible political process is embarked on and an inclusive solution enables the Syrian people to decide their future. In this context, it’s urgent that we get to work immediately on the preparation of future free, transparent elections under international supervision, in line with Security Council Resolution 2254, and all Syrians, including refugees and displaced persons, will have to be able to take part in them.

With this in mind, and with the Syrian regime continuing its obstruction of any political change, France and the European Union will continue to make the funding of Syria’s reconstruction and the normalization of relations with Damascus conditional on the implementation of a credible, sustainable political solution.

Third message: France and the European Union will continue to shoulder their political and financial responsibilities to support the Syrian people sacrificed in this war, and also obviously to support the host States.

We pay tribute to the exceptional mobilization of Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt in taking in Syrian refugees; it commands our admiration. Very clearly, the future of Syrian refugees is in Syria. That’s what they want, and it’s also what we want. But the conditions don’t currently exist, as has just been said. It’s important to continue supporting the countries and communities hosting refugees. Our attention is especially focused on Lebanon, which is facing a serious economic crisis that makes the effort made all the more remarkable and our support all the more necessary. Since 2011, nearly €20 billion has been released by the Europeans in response to the Syria crisis.

Today I have the honor of confirming, on behalf of the French Government, a new €845-million commitment for the period 2020-2022, with €208 million in donations and €637 million in loans to support the Syrian people and the countries actively taking in refugees, so that Syria and the region can finally return to peace and stability, and allow me to finish with the fourth message, about the fight against impunity, which is essential and is a guarantee for the safe, voluntary return of refugees.

No national reconciliation without justice, no return of refugees without justice, no lasting peace without justice. The fight against impunity is the key element of a political settlement to the conflict; today’s conference is a special moment to confirm our collective mobilization against impunity. A dedicated communication campaign is going to begin, and I invite you all to join it and express your solidarity. (...)

3. European Union - Russia/Ukraine/Council of the European Union renews economic sanctions linked to Ukraine crisis for another six months - Communiqué issued by the Council of the European Union (Brussels - June 29, 2020)

The Council today decided to renew the sanctions targeting specific economic sectors of the Russian Federation for a further six months, until January 31, 2021.

This decision follows the latest assessment of the state of implementation of the Minsk agreements - foreseen to take place by December 31, 2015 - at the video conference of the members of the European Council of June 19, 2020. Given that full implementation has not yet been achieved, EU leaders took the political decision to roll-over the economic sanctions against Russia.

Such restrictive measures were originally introduced in 2014 in view of Russia’s destabilizing actions against Ukraine, and target the financial, energy and defense sectors, as well as the area of dual‑use goods.

The sanctions limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for certain Russian banks and companies and prohibit forms of financial assistance and brokering towards Russian financial institutions. The measures also prohibit the direct or indirect import, export or transfer of all defense-related materiel and establish a ban for dual-use goods which may have military use or be used by military end users in Russia. The sanctions further curtail Russian access to certain sensitive technologies that can be used in the Russian energy sector, for instance in oil production and exploration.

[Source of English text: Council of the European Union website]

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