Official speeches and statements - September 15, 2020
1. Russia - Conversation between Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, and Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris - September 14, 2020)
The French President spoke to the Russian President this morning.
The French President signaled his deep concern about the criminal act perpetrated against Mr. Alexei Navalny and the requirement for full light to be shed, without delay, on the circumstances of this attempted murder and those responsible for it.
He emphasized that France shared, on the basis of its own analyses, the conclusions of several of its European partners about evidence of poisoning with a Novichok nerve agent, in breach of international norms on the use of chemical weapons. He signalled his wholehearted solidarity with Germany on the steps to be taken and the consequences to be drawn from the situation. Clarification is necessary from Russia in the framework of a credible and transparent investigation.
On Belarus, the President again stressed the need to support a peaceful solution that respects the Belarusian people’s profound aspirations, with no external interference.
On Ukraine, the President emphasized that the parties’ commitment to the ceasefire on 27 July constituted significant progress which must now be capitalized on in order to implement the measures endorsed at the Paris summit of December 2019.
On Libya, the President stressed the need to ensure everyone complies with the arms embargo, encourage the political process and involve Libya’s neighbours in order to implement the conclusions of the Berlin conference.
2. Foreign policy - China - Interview given by Mr. Franck Riester, Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to Europe 1 - excerpts (Paris - September 13, 2020)
So tomorrow there’s a France-China mini summit with Xi Jinping being held by videoconference. What exactly is it about?
THE MINISTER - It’s a summit between the European Union and China, so among others there’ll be European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Trade issues will obviously be discussed in particular, in the hope that there’ll also be a treaty, an agreement between the European Union and China on geographical indications; as you know, these protect products in terms of their geographical indication. It’s obviously very important especially for French wines, spirits and cheese. It’s a great step forward, resulting from the EU’s determination to defend its commercial interests more effectively in the face of major partners such as China. I hope this agreement will be signed before tomorrow’s meeting.
Because there’s a huge loss of income at the moment?
Yes, there’s a situation today, at any rate, where a number of our flagship products are being copied without payment for what should be paid to guarantee copyright, as it were, the right of French and other European producers to protect their brand and know-how. And so with this agreement we’re guaranteeing the protection of more than 100 geographical indications on the Chinese market. It’s important progress and demonstrates that, when we rally together in Europe, we can improve how international trade operates.
When we talk about China, we of course think of Huawei, the phone giant. Where are we on the issue? With this giant being blacklisted in the United States, Britain and Germany, are things still undecided? Where are we with the French position?
The French position is that, firstly, we don’t discriminate against any Chinese companies. We absolutely want to allow the trade permitted for every Chinese company. Yet we’re also very committed to ensuring that European sovereignty is guaranteed in a number of areas - especially as regards the digital field and 5G. So these are the discussions we’re having today with our European partners to see how we can guarantee our digital security, our trade security in the future concerning 5G, whilst also guaranteeing free access to the market for companies from all over the world, including Chinese ones, so long as they don’t encroach on our - again, digital - sovereignty.
But precisely, as far as 5G is concerned, when you see this morning in the Journal du Dimanche that environmentalist mayors are asking for a moratorium on 5G for a host of reasons, what’s your reaction?
Yes, well my reaction would be to say that we’ve obviously got to check all the potential consequences of the development of 5G, but we certainly mustn’t refuse to accept progress. And this is what we’ve been seeing for a number of days, indeed weeks, with these new environmentalist mayors who are adopting a very ideological stance, a very dogmatic stance, one which in a way refuses to accept progress.
It isn’t about supporting progress for progress’s sake; progress must be regulated, we’ve got to look at the consequences of the future 5G on the environment in particular. But we’ve got to remain firm and determined to innovate, and count on technological progress which for decades has allowed us to improve our compatriots’ quality of life. (...)
Excellences, dear colleagues and friends,
Let me begin first by thanking Madam Executive Director, dear Phumzile, as well as your predecessor, Michelle Bachelet, for all your work and dedication over the last 10 years. I would also like to commend all UN-Women teams for their unwavering commitment and their work in strengthening gender equality and women’s empowerment. And I want to thank the Secretary-General and you as well dear Amina Mohammed for your strong commitment on gender equality.
France would like to express its commitment to all those who work daily and on the ground to defend women’s rights, including women human rights defenders, particularly in developing countries. Recognizing their invaluable work, France has launched a 120 million euro fund last July in support of women’s organizations.
France fully supports the efforts of UN Women in responding to the pandemic and commends your work in raising awareness on the specific situation of women and girls in the context of this pandemic. France is proud to have increased its budgetary contribution to the agency. As we also celebrate the 25th anniversary of Beijing and the 20th anniversary of Resolution 1325, we must use these moments to reiterate our commitment to the rights of women and girls around the world.
Together with Mexico, France is very proud to be working closely with UN Women and many other partners to prepare the Generation equality Forum. The recent pushback against women’s rights and the disproportionate impact of the pandemics on women and girls have been an acute challenge in this regard. We must remain vigilant, as we agreed with Simone de Beauvoir who once said "Never forget that [any] crisis would suffice to call women’s rights into question".
The Generation Equality Forum is an answer to her call. It will be an opportunity for all of us to build back better, more equal and united. It will be a time to take a stand against any pushback and for new and strong commitments. It will be a time to promote an innovative inter-generational and multi-stakeholder approach, with civil society and private sector.
While the COVID pandemic has led us to postpone the Forum to 2021, our ambition remains unchanged. The Forum is foremost a process and a dynamic in favor of equality that no pandemic can alter. We are waiting for you in Paris.
Thank you and happy birthday!
4. United Nations - UN peacekeeping operations - Statement by Ms. Sheraz Gasri, political coordinator of the permanent mission of France to the United Nations at the Security Council (New York - September 14, 2020)
[translation from French]
Thank you Mr. President,
I, too, would like to thank the Under-Secretary-General, Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, for his insightful briefing.
On behalf of France, I would like to emphasize two points in particular:
First, we still have room for progress in strengthening the performance of peacekeeping operations.
That presupposes sufficiently trained and equipped personnel, appropriate financing and evaluation tools. Progress has been accomplished in pre-deployment visits which ensure the operational level of troops, but also with trainers who can be sent to the field if necessary. Finalizing the Integrated Performance Policy Framework (IPPF) must make it possible to consolidate this progress. France will remain particularly mobilized in supporting the training of troop-contributing countries, from French-speaking countries, with particular attention given to training in the area of international humanitarian law.
In order to perform well, peacekeeping operations also need to tailor their methods to evolutions on the ground. This requires the development of rapid deployment battalions, as was done with the DRC, in order to react as quickly as possible to an increase in tensions. It also implies improving equipments, filling-in capacity gaps, improving CASEVAC procedures, or adapting deployments on the ground, as it was done in the CAR or Mali in the context of the MINUSMA adaptation plan. Sharing of intelligence and innovative technologies also need to be developed. Finally, performance is also based on the posture and the mindset of the troops as well as their leadership.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that peacekeeping operations can be flexible and agile enough to adapt to changing circumstances and undertake new actions, be it support for host states, awareness raising, or the sharing of expertise. These efforts should be put to the credit of peacekeeping operations and it should be continued.
However, performance is only one prong of the Peacekeeping Initiative that France supports. This Initiative should be implemented in all its components. And that is my second point.
The effects of the Initiative are real. Operations further integrate the priority given to political solutions, mandates are clearer and given clearer priorities, and the training and equipment needs of the blue helmets are better defined.
But we need to go a step further.
As others have said before me, as we celebrate this year the 20th anniversary of the Women, Peace and Security agenda, it is necessary to bolster the participation of women in order to have a greater impact on the ground. In that regard, we commend the adoption of resolution 2538 on women and peacekeeping operations, which should help us to make some concrete progress in this area.
The Security Council also needs to be able to plan an effective transition between peacekeeping operations and the structures that will replace them, such as peacebuilding. The mandate on human rights that we entrust to peacekeeping operations should be an integral part of that strategy. The concept of partnerships with regional organizations, especially the African Union, should also be at the heart of our considerations.
The security of peacekeepers operating in increasingly volatile environments should be further improved. We pay tribute, as others have done before us, to those who have fallen for peace, more recently within MINUSMA, MINUSCA or MONUSCO. As was underscored by the representative of Indonesia in particular, crimes committed against peacekeepers should not go unpunished.
Mr. President to conclude,
Today, more than 150 states have signed the Declaration of Shared Commitments on Peacekeeping Operations. Among them, France is and will remain committed with determination and constancy to support these operations, which are the very DNA of the United Nations.