Official speeches and statements - September 7, 2020
Jean Yves Le Drian and Heiko Maas discussed today the poisoning of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, who is currently receiving medical care in Germany, with toxic chemical agents.
They are both appalled by this attack on Mr. Navalny, which constitutes a most serious blow to the basic principles of democracy and political pluralism. They note that this attack on the physical integrity of a Russian opposition figure was sadly not an isolated incident. They express in this context their expectation that the Russian authorities will guarantee the conditions for the exercise of fundamental civil and political rights by the Russian people.
They reiterate and reaffirm the fact that the use of chemical weapons, anywhere, anytime, by anybody, under any circumstances whatsoever, is unacceptable and contravenes the international norms prohibiting the use of such weapons. This new incident involving a Novichok nerve agent is profoundly shocking.
The two Ministers reaffirm their full support for the absolute prohibition of the use of chemical weapons, the tenet underlying the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), whose states parties are obliged to ensure its full and complete implementation on their national territory. Together with their partners they will coordinate with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to consider the implications of this event and, if need be, will seek the support of this organization.
It is, as a first step, essential that Russia, on whose territory this new violation of international law took place, urgently clarifies in full the facts and responsibilities behind this assassination attempt on a member of the Russian political opposition using a military-grade nerve agent that belongs to a group of agents developed by Russia.
Those responsible for this odious act must be identified and brought to justice. The two ministers recall their engagement in the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons, under the auspices of which they will work on joint initiatives.
The Governments of Germany and France again convey to Mr. Navalny and his loved ones their sympathy and support and their wishes for a speedy recovery.
Ministers, Excellencies, and dear representatives of the civil society of Belarus,
France supports the aspirations of the Belarusian people to freedom, sovereignty and respect for their fundamental rights. The protests in Belarus are not about geopolitics. They are about the right of the people to freely elect their leadership. Such protests cannot be silenced through violence and repression.
Therefore, France condemns the violence against the peaceful protesters following the contested presidential election of August 9 in Belarus. The reports of Human Rights violations gathered by the Special Rapporteur on Belarus, including torture, ill-treatment and enforced disappearance, are of particular concern. All political prisoners and peaceful demonstrators arrested in connection with the demonstrations must be released unconditionally and immediately. We expect a complete and transparent investigation into all alleged abuses. The OSCE, and more particularly the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, has the legitimacy and expertise to investigate. Arbitrary measures taken against journalists and media workers endanger press freedom and have to be suspended. These repressive measures won’t help the current crisis.
The European Union has clearly expressed its position on the elections, which were neither free nor fair, and did not meet international standards. The European Union has decided to impose sanctions on a number of senior officials directly responsible for election fraud, violence and repression. In addition, the Commission will allocate 53 million euros, as part of the European Neighborhood and Partnership instrument to support the people of Belarus.
Human Rights violations in Belarus are in large part linked to the current political crisis. This crisis can only be resolved in a way that respects democratic principles and fundamental rights and freedoms. Belarus being a member of the OSCE, we think that Belarus should abide by OSCE standards and we think that the OSCE Chairmanship-in-Office’s proposal to visit and facilitate a dialogue should be accepted by the authorities.
France will remain mobilized, alongside its partners, to find a peaceful solution to this crisis.
I thank you, Mr. President.