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Official speeches and statements - October 2, 2020

Published on October 2, 2020

1. Seventy-Fifth United Nations General Assembly - High-level meeting on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on women (Beijing+25) - Speech by Mr. Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic (New York - October 1, 2020)

Heads of State and Government,
Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Executive Director of UN Women,
Ladies and gentlemen,

In 1995, an unprecedented, almost unhoped-for event took place in Beijing. Fifty years after writing the equal rights of men and women into the preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, the international community put its words into action, adopting for the first time, and unanimously, an ambitious Declaration and Platform for Action for women’s rights.

One generation on, this is no time for commemoration or self-congratulation. It is a time for vigilance and renewed action. This is a secret for nobody. In 2020, the Beijing Declaration would have no chance of being adopted. That is where we are collectively. Everywhere, women’s rights are under attack, as are human rights, from which they are inseparable. Progress achieved by great efforts is being undermined even in our democracies, starting with the freedom for women to control their own bodies, and in particular the right to abortion. Schooling and pay inequalities, inequalities when it comes to domestic tasks, and inequalities of political representation have not declined sufficiently.

I cannot, we cannot, resign ourselves to this regression. This was why I decided to make gender equality the great cause of my term, and a priority for our foreign policy. We owe that to all the women who have been on the front line in the current public health crisis, in hospitals, services, and many of the most exposed professions. We owe it to all the women who suffered worse than men the direct or indirect effects of the epidemic, to the 11 million girls who might never return to school after the interruption of their studies, who are also direct victims of this crisis, and to the women deprived of contraception - 7 million more women this year may have fallen pregnant involuntarily - and the victims of femicides and domestic violence, all the more numerous during the crisis.

We also owe it to the men and women who stand firm in this fight for equality and humanity, sometimes risking their lives. I have in mind Nasrin Sotoudeh, a lawyer sentenced to 148 lashes for defending the freedom not to wear the veil. And Dr Denis Mukwege, who has received death threats for restoring the lives of Congolese women wounded by war, and the thousands of activists around the world that France now supports through a fund of euro120 million dedicated to feminist organizations active in developing countries.

We will continue this fight, alongside Mexico and under the auspices of UN Women, during the Generation Equality Forum that I will have the honor of hosting in Paris in June. A quarter of a century after the Beijing Conference, this Forum will bring together all those - governments, international organizations, civil society and businesses - who wish to act to change things and make the next generation, that of our children, the real equality generation. We have a lot to do. That should not discourage us. On the contrary, it obliges us. We have to catch up on the commitments we have failed to meet. We have new battles to fight, and above all we have a duty to continue condemning wrongs, even when it is uncomfortable, and acting to help all those men and women who unceasingly condemn and fight wrongs in their countries. You can count on our continuing, unwavering commitment.

Thank you.


2. Nagorno-Karabakh - Communiqué issued by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - October 2, 2020)

I spoke in turn to the Armenian Foreign Minister, Mr. Mnatsakanyan, and the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister, Mr. Bayramov, to discuss the major crisis under way in Nagorno-Karabakh since 27 September. The conversations built on many discussions held between France and those two countries since Sunday, at every level, particularly between the French President, Prime Minister Pachinyan and President Aliyev.

During the discussions, I once again expressed the urgent need to secure an end to hostilities, immediately and without preconditions. Their continuation would only increase the number of casualties - particularly civilian ones -, the material and human costs endured by both sides, and the threat of an uncontrolled escalation between Armenia and Azerbaijan. I warned my interlocutors about the threat of the conflict being internationalized.

In the spirit of the American, French and Russian Presidents’ statement on 1 October, I emphasized France’s determination, as Co-Chair of the Minsk Group, to play its full role, impartially, in securing an end to hostilities and the immediate resumption of substantial negotiations without preconditions, under the aegis of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE’s Minsk Group.

Finally, I thanked my interlocutors for their respective contributions to the medical evacuation under way of the two Le Monde journalists injured in Nagorno-Karabakh yesterday.


3. Nagorno-Karabakh - Joint statement by the presidents of Russia, the United States of America and the French Republic (Paris - October 1, 2020)

The President of the Russian Federation, the President of the United States of America and the President of the French Republic, representing the Co-Chair countries of the OSCE Minsk Group, condemn in the strongest terms the recent escalation of violence along the Line of Contact in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone.

We deplore the loss of human lives and extend our condolences to the families of those killed and injured.

We call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the relevant military forces.

We also call on the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan to commit without delay to resuming substantive negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions, under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs.


4. Brexit - Interview given by Mr. Clément Beaune, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to the daily newspaper Le Figaro (Paris - October 1, 2020)

Do you think an agreement is possible before the end of November?

Minister of State Beaune - We think an agreement is still both desirable and possible. Michel Barnier has even talked about the end of October, which would be the deadline for having a reasonable amount of time for ratifying, in accordance with national and European procedures. But obviously the British obstruction on many points of the negotiation and then the additional difficulties linked to the undermining of the withdrawal agreement, which has already been finalized and ratified, are slowing things down and making the negotiation more difficult. We’re still negotiating. But, as we’ve always said, the framework for the discussions is Michel Barnier’s mandate and the political declaration signed between the United Kingdom and the European Union a year ago. We don’t want an agreement at any price.

What leverage has the EU got to overcome the deadlock? At the end of the day, wouldn’t suspending the trade negotiations be playing into London’s hands?

No, it’s a bad European habit to always underestimate one’s strengths and view oneself as the side making the requests. Obviously we prefer to have an agreement, a trade one in particular, but also a political and strategic one. It’s in our interest. On the other hand, there’s no question of undermining the great principles of our market and compliance with our health, environmental and basic competition rules. The fact is, the UK needs an agreement - even a trade one - more than we do. A no-deal would be bad news for everyone. But it would be a much greater problem for the UK than for the EU.

Is the UK Internal Market Bill, which overrides part of the withdrawal agreement, a bluff by Boris Johnson to secure more favorable conditions or is he preparing for a no-deal exit?

It isn’t up to us to try and interpret the reasons why the British have tried to inappropriately disrupt this negotiation. When they attacked the withdrawal agreement, we were very clear and very firm. We’ve already defined a framework for market access, conditional on compliance with a number of fair-competition rules, on health and the climate in particular. Going back on these principles is inconceivable. If London continues down this path, we have possible legal remedies, but also obviously the leverage of a final agreement. As the European Parliament has said, it won’t vote on the final agreement if the withdrawal agreement chapter, which has already been closed, is reopened. We’re neither weak nor easily intimidated. Our approach won’t change because of provocations or tactical games if there are any, for domestic policy reasons. At the same time, we’ve continued the negotiation, without being naive, so we don’t fall into this game of provocation. That isn’t our method.

Can President Macron play the role of intermediary in order to reach a compromise, particularly on Northern Ireland? Some Britons seem to hope so...

That’s what the British sometimes ask for... Obviously Northern Ireland naturally has a European but also a bilateral dimension. We’ve never given in to the temptation of resuming our negotiations according to another method - that would be bad. We need European unity, and France is especially committed to that. We have a negotiator, Michel Barnier, who regularly meets the heads of State and government, including the French President, for a mandate by the 27. Therein lies the strength of these negotiations. France is committed to European unity, and its role is to ensure this unity holds.

What would the consequences of a no-deal be?

Obviously we’re also preparing for a no-deal and are going to step up preparations to that end in the coming weeks, particularly to face up to the consequences that such a scenario would have for fisheries. A no-deal would deprive French fishermen of access to British waters. But it would also deprive the British of access to our waters and our market. We’re preparing ourselves, as we are in every sector, because we must anticipate every eventuality.

But one thing is clear: a no-deal exit would be more dangerous for the United Kingdom than for the European Union.


5. Iraq - Press briefing by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris - October 1, 2020)

The ambassadors of 25 countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, have complained to the Iraqi Prime Minister about the repeated attacks against diplomatic missions in Iraq. A communiqué about this was published after this meeting. Why wasn’t France involved in this initiative?

Minister Le Drian - France condemns the attacks against foreign diplomatic missions in Iraq and deplores the civilian casualties they have caused. It calls for the strengthening of security measures in order to better protect diplomatic missions and the Iraqi population.

We have clearly expressed these expectations and conveyed this message directly to the Iraqi authorities. Within the framework of our bilateral trade with Iraq, we reaffirm our attachment to the preservation of Iraq’s stability and sovereignty.

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