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Official speeches and statements - July 16, 2020

Published on July 16, 2020

1. Council of Ministers’ meeting - Bill/return of cultural assets to Benin and Senegal (Paris - July 15, 2020)

The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Culture presented a bill regarding the return of cultural assets to Benin and Senegal.

The bill follows the speech delivered in Ouagadougou on 28 November 2017 by the French President, who cited the issue of African heritage as one of the key areas enabling a new relationship of friendship to be built between France and Africa and raised the possibility of returning works from French public collections, in order to allow young Africans to have access to the continent’s heritage in Africa and no longer just in Europe.

With this in mind, by means of a limited waiver of the key inalienability principle applying to French public collections, the bill authorizes the release from national collections, for transfer of ownership, of:

  • the 26 works of the royal treasure of Abomey, conserved by the Musée du Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac following their donation to the national collections by General Alfred Dodds (1842-1922), to Benin;
  • a sabre and its sheath, said to have belonged to El Hadj Omar Tall, conserved by the Musée de l’Armée following their donation to the national museum by General Louis Archinard (1850-1932), to Senegal.

In both cases, the bill provides for a maximum period of one year for the French authorities to return these works.

These returns are part of a comprehensive approach of casting the cultural partnership between France and Africa in a new mold, which is based among other things on the transfer of expertise and know-how in the heritage field. As such, the joint program of work with Benin, signed between the two parties in Cotonou on 16 December 2019, will allow us to deepen dialogue on various aspects of cultural cooperation between France and Benin (training of experts, creation of vocational courses, exchanges of expertise, financial support for creating or renovating museums etc.), intended to be a benchmark in the heritage field.

2. Russia - French-Russian consultations on strategic stability and regional and international crises - Communiqué issued by the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs (Paris - July 16, 2020)

On Thursday, the political directors of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry for the Armed Forces hosted their Russian counterparts in Paris for consultations on issues relating to strategic stability and regional crises, ahead of the upcoming meeting in Paris of the Cooperation Council on Security Issues (CCQS), which will be attended by the French and Russian foreign and defense ministers. The CCQS last met in Moscow in September 2019.

Taking place within a framework defined by two special presidential envoys, Ambassador Yuri Ushakov and Ambassador Pierre Vimont, this meeting focused on the implementation of the trust and security agenda launched at the behest of President Macron and his Russian counterpart last summer.

These consultations also addressed the political and military aspects of various regional and international crises such as the situations in Iran, Libya, Syria and on the African continent, and the geopolitical implications of the Covid-19 pandemic.