Post sponsored by NewzEngine.com

Source: France-Diplomatie – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development

1. Lebanon – Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs – Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, 31/10/2019)

Following the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri on 29 October, it is crucial for Lebanon’s future that a government be formed swiftly that is capable of carrying out the reforms the country needs.

Amid the economic, social and political crisis that has been sweeping Lebanon in recent weeks, it is up to all Lebanese political leaders to promote a spirit of national unity and responsibility to guarantee the country’s stability, security and general interest.

In this spirit, everything must be done to avoid provocations and violence, and to preserve the right of citizens to protest peacefully.

It is vital for all political forces to immediately facilitate the formation of a new government capable of responding to the legitimate aspirations expressed by the Lebanese and to take essential decisions to ensure the country’s economic recovery. Within the framework established by the CEDRE conference, France stands ready to support Lebanon on this path.

In this crucial moment, France, as always, stands side by side with the Lebanese people. (…)./.


2. Turkish offensive in Syria – Discussion of the proposal for a resolution on condemnation of the Turkish military offensive in north-east Syria – Speech by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, at the National Assembly – excerpts (Paris, 30/10/2019)

(…)

When the Turkish offensive began, France proposed a ministerial meeting of the [Global] Coalition against Daesh [so-called ISIL]. Indeed, we were extremely surprised that when the Coalition against Daesh was launched, all the countries met to decide on a shared initiative and that, when we were starting to get significant territorial victories, at a given moment two members of the Coalition, the United States of America and Turkey, without consulting the Coalition against Daesh, took initiatives that contradict the approach of combating the terrorist group. We thought this initiative was unacceptable. We called for a meeting of the Coalition. All the members of the European Union approved our move, and the meeting is finally going to be held on 14 November. France will take part in it, obviously, and I’ll send a frank and uncompromising message to our partners there. It will be a meeting of clarification and confirmation. It’s in a fortnight’s time.

First of all, we’ll have to agree on the need to continue the Coalition’s efforts to combat Daesh, update plans to that end, and ensure everyone takes into account the developments of recent weeks. On this occasion we’d like each member of the Coalition to shoulder its responsibilities, and we’d then all like to draw conclusions from this, in the new context.

A clarification by each Coalition partner, a clarification of the intentions of each Coalition partner, is now required. The question is simple: how can we continue together the fight against Daesh? The answer must be clear. We must be true to our word, consistent, and support and maintain respect [for] and the autonomy of the Syrian Democratic Forces. That’s the big challenge of this ministerial meeting we wanted, which is finally going to be held for the essential clarification.

I’d also like this Coalition meeting to provide an opportunity for a very frank discussion about the issue of Daesh fighters. It’s a central issue for the region’s security. It’s a central issue for Iraq’s security. But it’s also a central issue for France’s security, although I understand the repeated questions about French fighters, of whom there are 62 – a significant number, but compared to the more than 10,000 Daesh fighters who are currently in prisons in north-east Syria, it’s a small figure, and you have to tackle the issue of fighters comprehensively: ensure that the issue is central for the Russians, the Tunisians, the Moroccans and the Iraqis, and that we can provide a collective response, together with those who would like to make a contribution to that response.

Finally, this meeting of the Coalition will have to review in detail our humanitarian support and stabilization activities in this context. In addition to north-east Syria, Iraq – which is in a very difficult situation – must also benefit from assistance and support in the face of the influx of additional refugees it’s receiving from Syria.

In addition to the Coalition and this confirmation and clarification meeting, it will also be important for us – because some of you have emphasized it – to clarify, at the NATO summit at the beginning of December, i.e. a fortnight later, Turkey’s status as a NATO ally. The meeting should provide the opportunity for a significant discussion between allies, a frank discussion, an uncompromising discussion, a discussion with the American position and a discussion with the Turkish position. As you know, the French President has expressed his willingness to take part in a preparatory meeting with the British Prime Minister, the German Chancellor and the Turkish President to discuss, before the meeting, the state of our relations with Turkey. This offer is still on the table, with the aim of clarifying very clearly the various parties’ intentions. I remind you that we’ve suspended our aid to Turkey. I also remind you that in the two meetings that will take place, we’ll be taking an extremely firm, extremely clear and extremely uncompromising position. (…)

I had the opportunity to say in the National Assembly a few days ago that I’ve experienced two tragic moments in the Syrian civil war. On 31 August 2013, as Defence Minister, I saw the impact of an American decision not to take action. On 13 October 2019, as Foreign Minister, I saw the consequences of a new American decision not to take action. It seems to me we’re facing a strategic turning point in this crisis, and this strategic turning point shows the compelling need for a real European surge towards greater European sovereignty and greater European strategic autonomy. The time has come to share responsibility; the time has come to ensure Europe shoulders its responsibilities. The time has come for Europe to adopt an uncompromising approach, otherwise Europe will be left behind by history. And in this regard, we must indeed recognize that this situation – the concomitance between the Turkish action and the American action -sows discord within the transatlantic relationship. I wanted to say this here, at the conclusion of this debate.

I have to say, on behalf of the government, that we appreciate the unanimity which is emerging and the determination to ensure we continue the fight against terrorism and solemnly express here our solidarity with the Syrian Democratic Forces./.


3. Saudi Arabia – Reply by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to a written question in the National Assembly (Paris, 29/10/2019)

France maintains a demanding dialogue with Saudi Arabia on human rights and the death penalty.

As regards the Khashoggi affair, France is asking for the facts to be clearly established on this extremely serious matter and for all the necessary investigations to be carried through to the end. The French President has clearly expressed this expectation.

Yemen is also regularly discussed with the Saudi authorities. France is very concerned about the humanitarian situation in that country. All in all, 24 million people – i.e. nearly 80% of the population – today need humanitarian aid, and 2.4 million people are still displaced inside the country.

France constantly asks the parties to respect the principles of international humanitarian law in the conduct of hostilities, particularly the principle of proportionality. As party to an armed conflict, the coalition has responsibilities in this respect. France maintains a regular dialogue with it on respect for international humanitarian law. These messages have been passed at the highest level to the Saudi and Emirati representatives.

France has also stepped up the level of vigilance in its procedure to review export licence applications in this context. Export licences are issued under the Prime Minister’s responsibility, following the opinion of the interministerial commission for scrutinizing war material exports. Licences are issued in strict adherence to France’s international obligations, inter alia the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty and the eight criteria in [EU] Council Common Position 2008/944, following a meticulous case-by-case examination. The assessment takes particular account of the nature of the material, the end user, respect for human rights in the country of final destination and respect by that country of international humanitarian law, as well as the preservation of peace, security and regional stability.

Finally, France is mobilizing actively to allow full, safe, unhindered humanitarian access to the people affected, and fully supports the return of the parties to the negotiating table, with a view to reaching a comprehensive, inclusive political agreement, with due regard for Yemen’s territorial integrity.

The worsening security situation and weakening of the Yemeni State are playing into the hands of the terrorist groups in the country, particularly Daesh [so-called ISIL] and AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). This is why, as a matter of urgency, the conflict must be ended by implementing an inclusive political solution.

So France will continue to call on all the parties to commit resolutely to the path of a political settlement, and it fully supports the efforts and diplomatic action deployed in this respect by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen./.


4. Yemen – Reply by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to a written question in the National Assembly (Paris, 29/10/2019)

France is very concerned about the conflict under way in Yemen. It urges all the parties to the conflict to respect international humanitarian law in the conduct of hostilities – in the first place, the principles of distinction [between civilians and combatants] and proportionality.

It is an issue France is tackling with members of the coalition, which, as party to an armed conflict, has responsibilities in this respect. It has also urged all the parties to carry out transparent, impartial and credible investigations into violations of international humanitarian law and human rights in Yemen, in accordance with international standards, and bring the perpetrators to justice. It is paying the closest attention to the work begun by the United Nations mechanisms for monitoring the human rights situation in Yemen.

France has also stepped up the level of vigilance in its procedure to review export licence applications in this context. Export licences are issued under the Prime Minister’s responsibility, following the opinion of the interministerial commission for scrutinizing war material exports. Licences are issued in strict adherence to France’s international obligations, inter alia the provisions of the Arms Trade Treaty and the eight criteria in [EU] Council Common Position 2008/944, following a case-by-case examination.

The assessment takes particular account of the nature of the material, the end user, respect for human rights in the country of final destination and respect by that country of international humanitarian law, as well as the preservation of peace, security and regional stability.

Finally, France is mobilized to facilitate full, safe, unhindered humanitarian access to the people in need. It calls for an end to hostilities to allow the parties to return to the negotiating table with a view to reaching a comprehensive, inclusive political agreement. The worsening security situation and weakening of the Yemeni State are playing into the hands of the terrorist groups in the country, particularly Daesh [so-called ISIL] and AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula). Only a political solution will make it possible to end the suffering of civilians.

So France will continue to call on all the parties to commit resolutely to the path of a political settlement, and it fully supports the efforts and diplomatic action deployed in this respect by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen./.


5. Syria – Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, 30/10/2019)

The Pentagon announced yesterday that the United States will keep control of the oilfields in northeastern Syria and will not even allow Syria to use them. It also pledged to use the money from the sale of oil to finance the Syrian Kurdish groups. Can you comment on this decision, particularly in terms of international law? Is the consent of the international community – for example the UN – needed for such a measure?

THE SPOKESPERSON – We have three priority objectives in the region, which will be at the heart of our messages and efforts at the ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition against Daesh which we proposed, and which is scheduled to take place on 14 November in Washington:

 first of all, the continued fight against Daesh [so-called ISIL] terrorism and the preservation of the Global Coalition’s achievements. The risk of Daesh’s resurgence in northeastern Syria is real. This is why, as the Minister stated, the fight against Daesh must be undertaken together, within the framework of the coalition, taking into account the latest regional developments.

 we must also work to protect the civilian populations and prevent a further humanitarian disaster.

 lastly, since the only way to resolve the Syrian conflict is through a political solution, we support the resumption of the process aimed at finding a comprehensive solution to the Syrian crisis, under UN auspices./.

MIL OSI Europe News