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Official speeches and statements - September 9, 2020

Published on September 9, 2020

1. Russia - Alexei Navalny - G7 foreign ministers’ statement (Paris, 08/09/2020)

We, the G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union, are united in condemning, in the strongest possible terms, the confirmed poisoning of Alexei Navalny.

Germany has briefed G7 partners on the fact that clinical and toxicological findings by German medical experts and a specialized laboratory of the German armed forces have determined that Mr. Navalny is the victim of an attack with a chemical nerve-agent of the “Novichok" group, a substance developed by Russia. Mr. Navalny is in intensive care in a Berlin hospital and remains in a serious condition. Our heartfelt thoughts are with his family and we hope for his full and speedy recovery.

Any 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. We, the G7 foreign ministers, call on Russia to urgently and fully establish transparency on who is responsible for this abhorrent poisoning attack and, bearing in mind Russia’s commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention, to bring the perpetrators to justice.

This attack against opposition leader Navalny is another grave blow against democracy and political plurality in Russia. It constitutes a serious threat to those men and women engaged in defending the political and civil freedoms that Russia herself has committed to guarantee. We call on Russia to fulfill its commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to guarantee these rights, including the right to freedom of expression, to its citizens.

We will continue to monitor closely how Russia responds to international calls for an explanation of the hideous poisoning of Mr. Navalny. We remain strongly committed to our support for democracy, the rule of law and human rights in Russia and to bolster our support to the Russian civil society./.


2. European affairs - Belarus - Turkey/Greece - Interview given by M. Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to France 24 (excerpt) (Paris, 04/09/2020)

(...)

BELARUS/BALTIC SANCTIONS

You mentioned Belarus. The Baltic States have put sanctions in place; they’re somewhat alone. For the moment, there hasn’t been this kind of reaction in Brussels; is it for fear of the Kremlin’s reaction?

THE MINISTER - No, not at all. And moreover, I’d like to point out that the sanctions anticipated by the three Baltic States you mention will - in a few days, I hope - be European ones. The principle was endorsed by the heads of State and government themselves. Officials, very senior officials, even members of the current Belarusian government, will have sanctions imposed on them. And I think we had a very firm message, much more so than in previous cases in the region, right from day one, to support - I spoke to the opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya -, to signal this European political support. You’ll tell me “it’s symbolic", but that matters as well because there are people risking their necks on the streets of Minsk to defend democracy; we’ve got to be at their side.

THE MINISTER - Yes, and it’s a European Union member State which has taken her in.

The third element of this commitment by Europe, and President Macron in particular, is dialogue with Moscow, because there can’t be a solution without an agreement, consultation with Russia, there can only be one if - we sometimes haven’t done this in the past - we show our determination, including our sanctions, and our unity.

TURKEY/GREECE

The Greeks have accused Turkey of interference in waters where it wants to drill for gas, in Mediterranean waters. So France is rather in favour of using strong-arm tactics and has sent its frigates, while we get the impression that Germany clearly favours mediation. What do you want to achieve at the next European summit on 24 September as regards this Turkish matter?

THE MINISTER - First and foremost, we want the provocations to stop. Turkey is behaving in an unacceptable way in the eastern Mediterranean, both towards Greece and Cyprus. These are two European Union countries. If we believe in European sovereignty, we can’t say, “look, that’s nice, there go some ships." So there must be a firm reaction, including through a military presence. We aren’t trying to inflame the situation or have an armed conflict - not at all. But there are powers, including Turkey, which are constantly testing the unity and sovereignty, the strength of Europe.

Either we say nothing and put up with these provocations in the end, or we respond. This could also mean sanctions and it will - to be very specific and answer your point - be on the agenda of a new European summit at the end of September, where there will most probably be a range of options and sanctions vis-Ã -vis Turkey on this issue. (...)./.


3. United Nations - COVID-19 / Implementation of Resolution 2532 - Statement by the deputy political coordinator of the permanent mission of France to the United Nations at the Security Council (New York, 09/09/2020)

First of all, I would like to thank Niger for organizing this meeting at the request of France and Tunisia. I also thank Rosemary di Carlo, Mark Lowcock and Jean-Pierre Lacroix for their presentations.

More than two months after the adoption of resolution 2532, the time has come to draw an initial assessment but also, and above all, to call for a collective awakening: as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread, the top priority must be the implementation of a cessation of hostilities and a humanitarian pause. The progress presented by our three briefers towards the implementation of the resolution is an important first step, and I would like to pay tribute here to the work of all UN actors. But we are still a long way off and it is time to put words into action.

First of all, I would like to recall that the cessation of hostilities is an indispensable condition for an effective fight against the pandemic. While the Secretary-General’s appeal to that effect has been supported by more than 180 countries, more than 20 armed groups and numerous regional and civil society organizations, much remains to be done to achieve an effective cessation of hostilities. In Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan and the Sahel, the situation remains very unstable and civilian populations continue to pay the price.

As Jean-Pierre Lacroix indicated, the peacekeepers are relentlessly pursuing their efforts, often in very difficult conditions. I would like to pay tribute to them here. We must continue to support peacekeeping operations by enabling them to fully implement their mandates despite the pandemic. France is determined to do so. We are, in this regard, ready to welcome in our military hospitals foreign peacekeepers who are sick from COVID-19 and who require urgent care.

On the humanitarian front, we must collectively support the full and complete implementation of the Global Humanitarian Response Plan for COVID-19. France will continue to work to that end, both through its bilateral and multilateral support. President Emmanuel Macron was one of the first, last April, to call for massive support for the most fragile countries, particularly in Africa, to face COVID-19. Since the beginning of May, the European Union has coordinated more than 65 flights as part of a humanitarian airlift, transporting more than 1,700 humanitarian and medical personnel and more than 1,200 tons of aid. Last June, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to host one of the flights planned as part of this airlift, together with his Belgian counterpart and the European Commissioner for Crisis Management.

Everything must also be done to ensure safe and unimpeded humanitarian access and to protect humanitarian workers and medical personnel, whose remarkable work I commend. The increase in attacks against humanitarian personnel is extremely worrying. We will not compromise on this issue: the perpetrators of these crimes must be brought to justice. Respect for international humanitarian law is an obligation for all.

Stability and peace also depend on the resilience of health systems. In this regard, we must support the efforts of the United Nations and the WHO, which are coordinating the international response to the crisis. WHO must be strengthened in its normative, warning and coordinating role. This will not, of course, exclude the possibility of undertaking the necessary reforms and learning all the lessons from the management of the current crisis.

Finally, resolution 2532 recognizes the essential role that women play in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the negative and disproportionate effects that this pandemic has on women, girls, refugees and displaced persons in particular. It is essential that we work together to minimize these effects and enable their full participation in the development and implementation of the response to the pandemic. France, which will organize the Generation Equality Forum in the first half of 2021, in partnership with Mexico and UN Women, is more determined than ever.

Mr. President, there is no time to lose. We must collectively intensify our efforts to enable the full implementation of resolution 2532. There is no alternative to effectively combat the pandemic. You can count on France’s continued and unwavering support. Thank you./.

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