Official speeches and statements - July 15, 2020
It was an important meeting. Today, at our request, we had an in-depth discussion about Turkey, without any taboo subjects, and Libya.
At stake are European interests and our security, and we agree on that. We also agree that the relationship is being made difficult by Turkey’s unilateral actions in the eastern Mediterranean, Libya and Syria in particular, which are raising significant concerns about international law.
There is strong consensus about getting clarifications from Ankara concerning respect for European States’ sovereignty and the commitments made at the Libya conference in Berlin, particularly as regards compliance with the arms embargo which was decided by the United Nations.
There is also broad support for looking at ways and means which would allow us to return to a constructive relationship with Turkey. We asked Josep Borrell, the High Representative, to swiftly put forward proposals to us on the possible options and levers, with a view to our next meeting in the autumn. In the meantime, work continues in the framework of the European regime established in reaction to the illegal drilling activities.
Finally, there is agreement to ensure full compliance with the arms embargo in Libya, violations of which are the chief destabilizing factor, by fully implementing Operation IRINI’s mandate and using the tool of sanctions against those violating the embargo and those sabotaging the political process.
2. Higher education - European Higher Education Area (EHEA)/Frédérique Vidal congratulates the 16 French institutions involved in the European universities selected in 2020 - Communiqué issued by the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation (Paris - July 9, 2020)
The European Commission today announced that it received 62 projects, testifying to a great diversity of approaches and involving more than 380 institutions from 32 European States. Given the quality of the projects submitted, the Commission decided to select 24 of them, including 14 which involve 16 French institutions. The allocation amounts to €120 million under the Erasmus+ programme. In total, the support the Commission is providing to all European universities amounts to €287 million.
The ambition of these European universities is to achieve an unprecedented level of cooperation between Europe’s higher education institutions, at every organizational level and in every field of activity (training, research and innovation). They should thus contribute to a more united and stronger Europe, open to the world, proud of its shared values and bringing together a new generation of Europeans capable of cooperating with different cultures, in a variety of languages and across borders and disciplines. In this way they will enable the quality, performance, attractiveness and international competitiveness of Europe’s higher education institutions to be significantly improved.
Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation, welcomes the complete success of this second pilot call and the enthusiasm shown by many French institutions for getting involved with their European partners in this context. She congratulates the 16 French institutions coordinating or taking part in the winning projects. France thus ranks once again among the main contributors to this new tool of European integration, with a total of 32 institutions involved in 28 projects. These planned alliances between institutions from at least three European countries will begin their activities in the autumn term of 2020 and will each receive funding of €5 million over three years, to which €2 million will be added from the Horizon 2020 program. Frédérique Vidal emphasizes the wish expressed by all the institutions to continue the cooperation projects started, with a view to creating alliances.
The Minister and the Secretary-General for Investment, Guillaume Boudy, announce that, as was done last year, the French institutions taking part in the projects chosen by the Commission will be supported financially thanks to the €100-million package released as part of the third phase of the Investing in the Future program (PIA3). The State’s support will also aim to ensure that the activities set in motion by the alliances are fully realized.
Finally, the Minister and the Secretary-General for Investment pledge to continue, with their partners and the European Commission, the work on deploying these projects following this pilot phase, particularly in the framework of the next European budget, in order to establish in the long term, from 2022 onwards, the first European universities fully integrated for the benefit of European students’ education and integration into the workplace and of excellent research at continental level.
I, too, would like to thank Special Representative of the Secretary-General Carlos Ruiz and civil society representative Clemencia Carabili for their presentations. I would also like to welcome the participation in this meeting of the Colombian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ms. Claudia Blum.
I wish to express France’s solidarity with the Colombian government and people in the fight against Covid-19.
Unsurprisingly, the pandemic weighs heavily on the implementation of the peace agreement, especially on the most vulnerable communities. The Colombian government and the various stakeholders have made serious efforts to ensure that the gains made in the implementation of the peace agreement are preserved in this context. They have our full support in this endeavor. The success of the peace agreement in the long term depends, as we well know, on the implementation of all its chapters in an interconnected manner.
We have noted that reintegration efforts have continued in recent months despite the pandemic and despite the impact of the lockdown on productive projects. Efforts to reintegrate ex-combatants into the health system are particularly important in this context.
Unfortunately, however, the killings of former combatants, social leaders and human rights defenders have also continued in recent months, as Ms. Carabili poignantly described in her personal testimony. Not only has the pandemic not slowed the pace of these killings, but illegal armed groups and criminal organizations have taken advantage of the situation to expand their territorial control. We believe that it is more necessary than ever to strengthen the response in that regard, including the protection of those at risk and the prosecution of the perpetrators. Progress is expected from the National Commission on Security Guarantees.
The comprehensive system of truth, justice, reparation and non-repetition is a cornerstone of the peace agreement, as we have regularly stressed in this Council. We have taken note with interest of the aspiration of the parties in Colombia to entrust the United Nations with a role in verifying the implementation of the sanctions of the special jurisdiction for peace. Those sanctions are one of the most innovative aspects of the peace agreement and should therefore be strengthened and legitimized to the maximum extent possible. We share the hope that the verification mission will contribute to the legitimacy of the transitional justice process.
The peace agreement has also provided original solutions on many other points to address the root causes of the conflict in Colombia, in particular with the illicit crop substitution program, which must be strengthened, with the principle of rural reform, greater political participation, and responses on ethnic issues, including the situation of persons belonging to the Afro-Colombian minority, as well as on gender equality. We support the efforts of the Government and of all peace stakeholders to strengthen their action in these areas.
We are also aware that the pandemic is not the only challenge facing Colombia. The presence of internally displaced persons and refugees, particularly from Venezuela, is a burden on Colombian society and the economy. These people must not be sidelined, particularly in terms of access to health services in the context of the pandemic. We would like to pay tribute to Colombia’s generosity in welcoming these migrants and refugees and we recall the support of the European Union, which was demonstrated in particular at the Brussels conference on 26 May.
Finally, we hope that the Secretary-General’s call for a comprehensive ceasefire, which was endorsed by this Council in resolution 2532 (2020) on 1 July, will contribute to the further entrenchment of peace in Colombia, wherever armed groups continue to use violence.
The peace process in Colombia is facing challenges that we do not ignore. France, in its national capacity, in the Security Council and in the European Union, will continue to give its full support to all those in Colombia who are mobilized daily to meet those challenges.