Official speeches and statements - August 10, 2020
Madam Deputy Secretary of the United Nations, dear Amina Mohammed, Heads of State and Government, Excellencies.
I would like to start by thanking you for making yourselves available today and for being present in such great numbers in record time at this international conference to support Beirut and the Lebanese.
This commitment is what we owe to the Lebanese people. A few days ago, I was in Beirut, where I saw with my own eyes the aftermath of the tragedy of 4 August. I would like to salute several leaders who have also travelled to Beirut, including President Charles Michel, who was there yesterday and the Secretary General of the Arab League as well. Beirut was already experiencing hardships. Today, it has been wounded right in its heart. The strong and sovereign people are mourning their dead, expressing their anger and wanting to hold their heads high again. Here, I would like to express, in all of our names, our support to families, to the victims’ loved ones and to all of those who are on the ground right now, providing care and help, those who are on the front line, dealing with urgent needs and the consequences of the tragedy of 4 August.
Our role is to stand by their side, by Beirut and by the Lebanese people. That is why I want to give you my special thanks for being present. I welcome President Trump, who wanted to be here in person, despite the time difference. We had an opportunity to talk two days ago, but there are Heads of State and Government from all continents on video to provide their support.
The United Nations has set out the needs of the Lebanese people clearly in a document that has been provided to you. The first is healthcare. Many hospitals and medical infrastructures have been affected and we need to respond to the immediate needs for equipment and medicine. The second is food. The explosion has destroyed food stocks and we need to ensure food security urgently. The third is education. Many schools have been destroyed and many children have been affected. These children and their families need to be cared for and they need to go back to school as soon as possible. The fourth is housing. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless. More than 300,000, according to the latest figures. We need to provide assistance for housing and reconstruction urgently. Once again, these needs are very real in a country that, along with Jordan and Turkey, has been affected by the migratory crisis stemming from the war in Syria. I welcome the presence of the King of Jordan, who is also on video. These countries have also experienced a deep crisis in recent years.
The purpose of today’s conference is to pool our resources to provide very practical responses to the needs of Beirut’s population in the coming days and weeks. And we can do this together, with coordination by the United Nations on the ground, in response to the urgent calls for help from the agencies, pooling material resources that we have mobilised and can now deploy.
France has already organised eight airlifts. We have two ships that have already sailed, several private-sector cooperation efforts, and an amphibious helicopter carrier that will sail in a few hours with more resources. I know that many of you have already organised many responses in the short term. Our goal today is to act quickly and effectively, to coordinate our aid on the ground, so that it reaches the Lebanese population as efficiently as possible. This offer of assistance also includes support for an independent, impartial and credible investigation into the causes of the disaster of 4 August. This is a strong and legitimate demand from the Lebanese people. It is a matter of trust and the resources are available and should be mobilised. I would like to thank everyone who will be able to respond to the requests from the Lebanese authorities.
Today, I am convinced that we will send a clear message of support to Lebanon, to our Lebanese friends, to tell them that we are all here to deal with the consequences of this tragedy together. As I said, President Trump is mobilised, along with more than 15 Heads of State and Government, and many ministers, when the Heads of State and Government are not present. We also reached out to Turkey and Russia. Turkey was unable to join the video, but will supply aid. I’m sure Russia will do the same. Israel has expressed its wish to provide aid. I would like to point out to everyone, that, even though geopolitical circumstances make things difficult, we need to organise our responses, because I believe we need to hold a true conference of unity today. Despite our diverging viewpoints, we must all support the country and the people of Lebanon. But the story does not end with the aid that we provide to the people and the leaders of Lebanon. It primarily involves this organisation. I think that the United Nations will come back to this topic.
What we should provide is aid with very close monitoring by the United Nations, which has defined the needs, making it possible to organise the aid on the ground with the support of the World Bank. I welcome the involvement of these organisations and the support of the IMF for many of the operations. It is important for this aid to go to public and private entities, to non-governmental organisations, to civil society, as rapidly as possible and in accordance with the needs that have already been assessed.
We know this, and I would like to end with this. We all know as well that this tragedy hit a country that has been going through a very deep and steadily worsening political and economic crisis for several months. The explosion on 4 August was like a thunderclap. It is time to wake up and take action. The Lebanese authorities must now implement the political and economic reforms demanded by the Lebanese people. It’s the only way the international community will be able work effectively alongside Lebanon for reconstruction. I told them so in Beirut a few days ago, and President Aoun, whom I welcome, knows it. Reforms are needed in the energy sector and public procurement, reforms to fight corruption. An audit of the central bank and the financial sector should be conducted. The IMF and all of the international institutions should be fully involved. The Lebanese are a free, proud and sovereign people. It is up to the country’s authorities to act so that the country does not go under and to meet the aspirations legitimately expressed by the Lebanese people in the streets of Beirut at this very moment.
All of us need to do everything necessary to ensure that violence and chaos cannot prevail. Yet, there are some today who have an interest in such division and chaos. They are the powers seeking to harm the Lebanese people in a way, to undermine peace and stability in Lebanon and in the whole region. That is why I believe that, at this very moment, and in the coming days, it is the very future of Lebanon that is at stake; the future of the Lebanese people, but also the future of a whole region. I don’t want to take up any more time. Once again, I thank you for your mobilisation and I am now going to hand over to the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed./.
Convened in immediate response to and support in the aftermath of the August 4th explosion in Beirut, the "International conference on support to Beirut and the Lebanese people" met virtually on August 9th at the invitation of the President of the French Republic and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
This emergency Conference gathered Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, Denmark, Egypt, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United-Kingdom and the United-States of America, as well as the League of Arab States, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank (WB).
The Beirut explosion on August 4th, which struck the city in its very heart, was a shock to all of Lebanon’s people, friends and partners abroad. The participants to today’s Conference stood in solidarity with Lebanon. They extended their most heartfelt condolences to the residents of Beirut, many of whom have lost family members and colleagues and friends. The participants to today’s Conference also wished a swift recovery to the wounded and traumatized.
The participants have commended the remarkable courage of first-responders, medical teams, search and rescue teams and all Lebanese and international personnel dispatched in Beirut to assist the victims and provide emergency efforts, notably the Lebanese Red Cross and Lebanese civil defense teams.
The international community, Lebanon’s closest friends and partners, will not let Lebanese people down.
The participants decided to act resolutely in solidarity to help Beirut and the Lebanese people overcome the consequences of the August 4th tragedy. They agreed to put together in the coming days and weeks major resources in order to best answer the immediate needs of Beirut and the Lebanese people. As assessed by the United Nations, needs are particularly visible in the medical and health sector, education, food sector and urban rehabilitation, which will be prioritized in international emergency assistance programs.
The participants agreed that their assistance should be timely, sufficient and consistent with the needs of the Lebanese people, well-coordinated under the leadership of the United Nations, and directly delivered to the Lebanese population, with utmost efficiency and transparency.
Assistance for an impartial, credible and independent inquiry on the explosion of August 4th is immediately needed and available, upon request of Lebanon.
Further to emergency assistance, partners stand ready to support the economic and financial recovery of Lebanon, which requires, as part of a stabilization strategy, that Lebanese authorities fully commit themselves to timely measures and reforms expected by the Lebanese people.
In these horrendous times, Lebanon is not alone. The international community, including Lebanon’s most crucial partners gathered together with France and the United Nations, standing alongside Beirut and the Lebanese people, and will continue to do their utmost to answer to their most urgent needs./.
I utterly condemn the deadly attack against a group of humanitarian workers yesterday in the Kouré area in Niger.
I extend my condolences to the families and friends of the victims who were murdered in a cowardly attack, as well as to the Nigerien authorities and people. The perpetrators of this despicable attack must be held accountable.
The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs’ Crisis and Support Centre and the Embassy of France in Niamey are fully mobilized, in close coordination with the Nigerien authorities and the NGO, ACTED, in order to provide all the necessary support and assistance to the victims’ families at this tragic time.
France is determined to ensure that the imperative to protect humanitarian and health workers is respected.
As President Macron reaffirmed during his discussion with his Nigerien counterpart, every effort is being and will be made to clarify the circumstances of this deadly attack. Our two countries remain determined to continue the joint fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel./.
4. Foreign trade - Japan - French beef gains wider access to Japanese market - Joint press release issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Food (Paris, 07/08/2020)
Japan has today officially lifted all the health restrictions which still applied to the export of French beef to that country.
At the beginning of the 2000s, following the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, so-called mad cow disease) crisis which hit several European Union member States, Japan, like many other States, imposed an embargo on beef from European countries, including France.
In May 2008, acknowledging the effectiveness of the measures deployed to prevent and control the disease, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) granted France the status of a country with "controlled BSE risk".
In 2013, after several years of negotiations between Tokyo and Paris, Japan re-authorized imports of meat from bovine animals less than 30 years old only.
A final round of negotiations has just resulted in the complete lifting of the Japanese embargo.
This result presents new trading opportunities for the French beef industry. It can now export meat with no age limit, including minced meat, to Japan.
This goal has also been achieved in the context of the implementation of the Franco-Japanese exceptional partnership’s road map for the period 2019-2023, approved during the President of the Republic’s visit to Japan in June 2019.
Finally, the French beef industry’s market in Japan will also benefit from the progress in the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement: since it came into force in February 2019, customs duties for French and European beef imported into Japan have already significantly decreased, and this decrease is set to continue in the coming years.
For Julien Denormandie, Minister of Agriculture and Food, "This success testifies to the excellence of the French and European health system in relation to food products, which has once again been recognized by foreign authorities. This agreement again offers new opportunities to create value for our livestock farmers and exporters."
For Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, "This good news for our beef industry is the result of active efforts by all the State services since the French President’s visit to Japan in June 2019, during which this goal was set out as a priority. Concurrently, significant customs duties imposed by Japan on our beef exports have been gradually reduced by the trade agreement between the EU and Japan, which came into force in February 2019. All the conditions now exist to ensure French businesses can grasp this opportunity to export more to that country, which is also committed to the quality of our national output."./.
5. United Nations - Briefing on the humanitarian situation in Lebanon - Statement by the deputy permanent representative of France to the United Nations, chargée d’affaires a.i. (New York, 10/08/2020)
Lebanon is going through a crisis of exceptional dimension as the blasts of last Tuesday came on top of an already very dire economic and social situation.
Lebanon is in need of urgent and sustained international support. We all stand in full sympathy, solidarity and also in awe of the courage and resilience of the Lebanese people.
We thank very much OCHA and the Lebanese permanent mission for organizing today’s briefing and are honored by the presence of the Secretary-General, the participation of the Executive Directors of UNICEF and WFP and by the presence of several Foreign Ministers, in particular from Algeria, Jordan, Egypt and the Deputy Minister of Italy.
As you know, after visiting Beirut on Thursday on the wake of the tragic explosions that took place Tuesday, President Macron took the initiative of organizing together with the United Nations, an international conference yesterday which gathered world leaders in order to express our joint support for the Lebanese people.
From preliminary tally, it seems that more than 250 million euros were pledged yesterday in favor of the Lebanese people and all those affected by the tragic explosions last week.
France expresses its full solidarity with the Lebanese people.
We are commending the UN system’s coordinated and direct response to the catastrophic events of last week. I think that what has happened has shown concretely the Â“One UN" in action and we welcome particularly the leadership of OCHA and of the resident coordinator, Najat Rochdi, on the ground;
For its part, France has organized 8 aerial rotations since last week, bringing medical teams and material as well as logistical assistance on the ground. Two ships are on their way and we have pledged more than 30 million euros in humanitarian relief, with an additional 63 million euros through the channel of EU funds;
As the penholder on Lebanon at the Security Council, France will also make sure that UNIFIL is in a position to support the efforts of the Lebanese to respond to the catastrophe.
To conclude, as the final statement of yesterday’s International conference on support to Beirut and the Lebanese people confirmed Â“The international community, Lebanon’s closest friends and partners, will not let Lebanese people down";
You can count on France’s continued engagement as we look forward to the consolidated needs assessment of the UN system. Thank you./.