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Official speeches and statements - March 11, 2021

Publié le March 11, 2021

1. China - Situation of Uighurs - Reply by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the Senate (Paris - March 10, 2021)

You rightly mentioned the unjustifiable practices taking place in Xinjiang. All of what you say is happening - forced sterilizations, sexual abuse in camps, disappearances, mass detentions, forced labor, the destruction of cultural heritage beginning with places of worship, putting the population under surveillance - has been proven. And it’s why on France’s behalf, before the United Nations Human Rights Council, as you kindly pointed out, I spoke a few days ago about the fact that this is an institutionalized system of surveillance and repression on a large scale. I said this at the United Nations and I repeat it here, at the Senate; that was a few days ago.

I’d like to reiterate here the call I’ve made insistently for an impartial, independent, transparent mission of international experts to go to Xinjiang as soon as possible, under the responsibility of Ms. Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

I’d also like to repeat that French firms are responsible for ensuring the greatest vigilance, including as parent companies, about risks linked to the value chain and the need to prevent serious attacks on the fundamental rights of Uighurs. That is essential.

I’d also like to tell you that we’ve worked to ensure that, during the investment agreement between the European Union and China, the obligation to subscribe to the International Labor Organization’s Forced Labor Convention was put on the table by France, and we very much intend to ensure it is respected.

Finally, we’re working today with our European colleagues on having a common position, after documenting the facts, assessing them and consequently taking the initiatives we’ve got to take, which you partly mentioned, following the European Parliament’s vote.

2. COVID-19 - COVAX mechanism - Reply by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the Senate (Paris - March 10, 2021)

You’re right, international solidarity against COVID isn’t solely a moral issue; it’s a moral issue, it’s a moral requirement, but it’s also a requirement for collective effectiveness in defeating the pandemic. And in this regard, there’s an instrument we promote, which you mentioned and which works, namely COVAX.

That instrument was initiated at the request of France and Germany, with the European Union’s support. It’s now shared by virtually every country in the world, because we’d like to ensure - as you would, I think - that the vaccine is a global public good.

And that’s why we’ve now raised more than $2 billion through COVAX, to enable the 92 countries clearly identified as the weakest to have immediate access - not when we’re in a position to build a production unit in India or South Africa, but straight away! - with laboratories that have signed contracts with the World Health Organization, in other words very clearly identified in terms of traceability and safety.

And it’s not a figment of the imagination, because - you wanted figures - the funding now mobilized will enable us, before the end of the year, to have more than two billion doses for the countries most in difficulty, for free, financed by the international community. So a global public good isn’t wishful thinking, it’s the reality.

And specifically, the first doses have already arrived now in Nigeria, Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire... I can give you the whole list if you want, with the number of doses: Ghana 600,000, Côte d’Ivoire 504,000, Nigeria four million doses, Senegal 300,000 etc. So it’s an operation that works, initiated by France - which goes to show that when we say we want the vaccine to be a global public good, we’re firmly rooted in reality. And it’s also for our own safety.

3. COVID-19 - Relaxing of conditions for entering and leaving French territory for travel outside the European area - Communique issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign (Paris - March 11, 2021)

Five weeks after the introduction of a requirement for compelling reasons to travel outside the European area, these rules have been amended to take account of international developments in the epidemic and add a number of emergency situations which constitute compelling reasons.

In a decree to be published on Friday, March 12, it will no longer be necessary to have a compelling reason to travel to or from Australia, Israel, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea or the United Kingdom due to the very wide dissemination of the British variant in France and the specific health situation in those countries.

For travel to and from those countries, other restrictions on movement remain in force: among other things, it is of course still necessary to present a negative PCR test result less than 72 hours before departure. You are particularly advised to check the travel advice website and strongly advised to limit international travel as much as possible.

Secondly, the list of compelling, personal reasons has been extended to include all family relationships and add new situations linked to family separation for:

  • married couples and couples in civil partnerships (PACS), where one member lives abroad for professional reasons;
  • minors attending school in France whose family home is abroad;
  • separated couples with children, one of the couple living in France and the other abroad.

Students taking competitive examinations are also added to the list, as are those returning to their main residence when it is in France.

Templates for the exceptional international travel declarations will be updated accordingly.

4. Climate - Discussion between Jean-Yves Le Drian and John Kerry - Statement issued by the spokesperson for the ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - March 10, 2021)

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian will meet today with John Kerry, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy on Climate Change. This meeting comes in the wake of their telephone conversation on February 15, in which they addressed the U.S. return to the Paris Agreement and the Biden Administration’s climate priorities. The Minister and Mr. Kerry had discussed the international community’s expectations for effectively stepping up global climate ambitions as well as U.S. ambitions, and the road to making the COP26 Climate Conference a success.

During their conversation, Mr. Le Drian and Mr. Kerry will touch on the Climate Leaders’ Summit to be hosted by the United States on April 22-23, as well as potential cooperation on climate and biodiversity at the bilateral level. They will also discuss the goals to be achieved collectively in the areas of mitigation, adaptation and finance by the start of the COP26.

5. Foreign Trade - European Union and United States reach an agreement to suspend their mutual sanctions in the Airbus-Boeing dispute for four months - Communiqué issued by the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery (Paris - March 6, 2021)

Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy, Finance and the Recovery, and Mr. Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, welcome the agreement reached by the European Union and United States allowing the/a mutual suspension, for an initial four-month period, of all tariff sanctions in relation to the Airbus-Boeing dispute.

The European Union will thus suspend the additional customs duties it has imposed since November 10, 2020 on $4 billion of American products. For its part, the United States will suspend the additional customs duties it has imposed since October 18, 2019 on 7.5 billion dollars of European products, including 3.2 billion dollars of French products, as well as the additional sanctions on 1.6 billion dollars of European products which it imposed in December 2020.

Thanks to this agreement, the United States will, among other things, suspend the additional customs duties of 25% levied in particular on French exports of still wines and spirits, as well as the additional customs duties of 15% levied on our aerospace products.

This initial four-month suspension period will be used to find a long-term solution to the dispute and thus permanently remove the sanctions. The European Union and United States will now be able to forge ahead and define new rules governing public support to the aerospace sector, so as to more effectively combat unfair competition and distortions linked to the industrial subsidies practiced in particular by China.

The agreement is all the more welcome because, in the context of the unprecedented crisis we are experiencing, trade sanctions are especially detrimental to our economies. This is an excellent sign for French and European businesses and for transatlantic economic and trade cooperation.

6. United Nations - OSCE - Statement by Ms. Nathalie Broadhurst, deputy permanent representative of France at the Security Council (New York - March 10, 2021)

[translation from French]

Madam President,

Thank you, and I join all of my colleagues in welcoming Ms. Linde and thanking her for her briefing. And I would like to congratulate Sweden upon its program of work as Chairmanship-in-Office of the OSCE.

Madam President,

In line with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, the United Nations and the OSCE have the responsibility for coordinating their work to respond to threats to international peace and security. I would therefore first like to refer to several of these threats.

On the Ukrainian issue, France and Germany are continuing efforts, which remain difficult, in favor of the full restoration of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, more than a year after the Paris summit in December 2019. We fully support the mediation role that is played by the OSCE within the Trilateral Contact Group, in coordination with the Normandy format. We also welcome the work carried out by the OSCE Special Mission in Ukraine, whose role to monitor the ceasefire is crucial. The mandate of the special mission should be fully implemented throughout Ukraine, which means including close to the Russian-Ukrainian border. We strongly condemn all actions that undermine the security of the men and women who make up the mission and any obstruction to their mission.

With regard to Nagorno-Karabakh, France, as co-chair of the Minsk Group of the OSCE, is committed at all levels, together with our Russian and American partners, to reach a peaceful and lasting solution. We are determined to play fully our role in seeking this lasting solution following the ceasefire agreement that was reached on November 9, 2020. This is the mandate we have been given by the OSCE members. We will continue to attempt to fulfil this mandate. Particular attention must be paid to humanitarian access, the return of displaced persons, the situation of prisoners of war and other detainees and the protection of cultural heritage.

With regard to Belarus, where human rights have been violated and where the democratic aspiration of the people has been repressed by violence, we fully support the mediation initiative that you have launched with your predecessor Mr. Rama, and welcome his achievements during his presidency in 2020. We call for the implementation of the recommendations of the report of the independent expert Wolfgang Benedek after the activation of the Moscow mechanism that we requested with 16 other members of the OSCE.

Finally, France fully supports the OSCE in its attempt to resolve other crises in our neighborhood. This goes for the Geneva International Discussions, which must allow Georgia to recover its territorial integrity. We also support the OSCE mediating role within the 5+2 format so as to achieve a comprehensive, peaceful and lasting settlement to the Transnistrian conflict, in full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, within its internationally recognized borders.

Secondly, Madam President, France remains committed to the multidimensional approach to security that prevails within the OSCE.

In the context of the politico-military dimension, the weakening of arms control tools undermines our collective security interests and the European security architecture. We must put an end to this noxious dynamic.

The OSCE also focuses, through its human dimension, on the fundamental link between collective security and the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. In this regard, France reiterates its full support to the institutions of the human dimension, which continue to demonstrate their usefulness, and welcomes the priorities that have been led out by the Swedish chairmanship, in particular when it comes to gender equality, the defense of freedom of expression and the defense of press freedom. We believe that, on all of these matters, we must also give full consideration to the civil society of the States participating in the diplomatic and field activities of the OSCE.

Economic dimensions and, increasingly, the environmental dimensions of the collective security must also be taken into account.

Madam President,

The OSCE is in Europe the model of an effective, close to the ground multilateralism, which was built on the foundation of a bedrock of common values at a time when political antagonisms were absolutely glaring. The United Nations can, in cooperation with regional organizations, continue to invent a multilateralism that leads to results capable of responding to all the crises and challenges of our time.

Thank you.