Official speeches and statements - March 25, 2021
1. China - Reply by Mr. Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the Senate (Paris - March 24, 2021)
Regarding the Chinese Ambassador, like you and all our fellow citizens, I was deeply shocked by his recent remarks and conduct.
Let me remind you of the facts: French parliamentarians are free to decide their planned visits and their contacts.
The Ambassador’s unacceptable remarks meant that Mr Lu Shaye was summoned yesterday morning, as you said, to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. He was urged to understand just how serious the situation is. The public war of words, the attempts to intimidate and the insults and abuse directed against the Republic’s elected representatives, academic institutions, researchers, media and, more widely, civil society - none of this can be tolerated in our Republic, and it has absolutely no place in relations between France and China.
Regarding the measures announced by China which you referred to, particularly against MEPs or national members of Parliament - like the MEP Raphaël Glucksmann -, researchers and diplomats, in response to the European sanctions, we’ve firmly and strongly condemned them.
Let me take this opportunity to emphasize, as you’ve done, that it’s the first time for 30 years that the European Union has adopted sanctions against China. It’s a historic, legitimate and necessary decision.
The Chinese Ambassador has been formally asked to inform Beijing that it’s not by attacking those who have criticized the violations committed, or lashing out at freedom of expression and fundamental democratic freedoms, that China will address the legitimate concerns expressed about the human rights situation in Xinjiang.
Regarding our trade relations, China is an unignorable economic partner at global level, but our relations must not be built to the detriment of our principles, our values and the model of society we uphold, and must not be free of reciprocity.
Specifically as regards the investment agreement between the EU and China, we believe that the latest serious developments, particularly the sanctions against MEPs, reinforce our desire to be very firm about our demands, particularly on forced labor, in future talks.
[translation from French]
I thank the Special Coordinator for his briefing.
A little more than four years ago, when it adopted resolution 2334, this Council reaffirmed the importance of achieving a just and lasting settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
At that time, we reiterated our commitment to the implementation of the agreed parameters and international law, reaffirming the goal of creating two democratic states, living side by side in peace, within secure and recognized borders.
We also jointly declared that the status quo was not viable and that there was an urgent need to reverse the negative trends on the ground and to create the conditions for successful final status negotiations.
Lastly, in this resolution, we affirmed that no changes to the 1967 lines other than those agreed between the parties would be recognized, and that all States had the obligation of distinguishing in their exchanges between the territory of Israel and the occupied territories of 1967. This distinction should be implemented in bilateral agreements as well as in commercial exchanges, for example through the differentiated labeling of products coming from the West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements.
This framework defined by the Council’s resolutions is the only one that will allow for a lasting stabilization of the region and ensure security of all Israelis and Palestinians. Any solution imposed by force will only fuel a spiral of despair and violence.
Today, in 2021, we must continue our efforts to achieve a lasting peace.
It is more urgent than ever that Resolution 2334 be implemented since the situation on the ground is continuing to deteriorate, as the Special Coordinator has just reminded us.
Israeli decisions on settlement expansion in recent months, particularly those concerning sensitive areas, contribute to increasing the risk of a de facto annexation of Palestinian territories, which jeopardize the viability of the two-state solution and constitute a major obstacle to peace. France has condemned these decisions.
We are also very concerned by the record increase in demolitions of Palestinian structures, including infrastructure financed by France and the European Union.
France calls on Israel to reverse these decisions and to halt the demolitions. It calls on all parties to refrain from any unilateral measures which undermine confidence and jeopardize the possibility of the two-state solution.
In this context, it is important to recreate the conditions for dialogue, by identifying concrete "small steps" to overcome the mistrust between the parties. This is the goal of our efforts with Germany, Egypt and Jordan, which we intend to pursue.
The resumption of coordination between the parties, particularly in the civilian, security and health fields, is encouraging. But more needs to be done. This is essential to address the economic consequences of the pandemic and to ensure that all populations are vaccinated. We hope to work on that with the parties and with the members of the Quartet, whose mobilization targets the same goal: the ultimate resumption of direct negotiations between the parties.
The elections announced by President Abbas should be an opportunity to give Palestinian civil society its voice back and to renew the democratic legitimacy of the institutions. France and its European partners stand ready to support the organization of transparent, free and impartial elections. France calls upon all actors to act constructively to make a success of this election process. These elections should take place across all Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem.
Finally, there is an urgent need to reiterate our political and, above all, financial support to UNRWA, whose work is essential for stability in the region.
France calls on this Council to take action in order to reaffirm the framework of the agreed parameters and finally relaunch a positive multilateral dynamic.
[translation from French]
I would like to thank UNSG Special Envoy Jan Kubis very much for his briefing and reassure him of France’s full support.
In the weeks and months to come, we have an opportunity to establish a lasting peace in Libya. Significant progress has been achieved in recent months, primarily thanks to UN mediation. But after ten years of deadly conflict, we no longer have the right to fail.
This Council recently welcomed the vote of confidence of the Parliament to establish the transitional government of national unity, which will have the task of leading the country up to the elections of the 24th of December 2021. This timeline must be respected. The United Nations must provide expertise and assistance to ensure the smooth holding of the elections. An agreement must be reached on a legal framework for the elections.
France welcomes the progress made in terms of women’s participation in exercising of power. The December elections, I hope, will provide an opportunity to go further.
To enable the Libyan people to freely choose their representatives, it is essential that the ceasefire be guaranteed. On the security track, I would insist on four points.
Firstly, this Council must respond to the Libyans’ demand and adopt without further delay a resolution authorizing UNSMIL to deploy a credible monitoring mechanism for the ceasefire agreement. The Secretary-General’s proposals, with today’s additions by the Special Envoy and following the deployment of the advanced team, will enable us to move forward quickly. The immediate success of confidence-building measures provided for in the agreement is essential. This will be an important first task for the monitoring mechanism. I am thinking in particular of the reopening of all the roads, especially the coastal road.
Secondly, foreign forces and mercenaries present in Libya must withdraw without further delay, in accordance with the request of the Libyan parties. The Libyans had set a deadline of 90 days. Yet today we are now more than 150 days after that request.
Thirdly, the flow of weapons coming into Libya must stop and the arms embargo must be fully respected. The final report of the Panel of Experts is quite concerning in this regard. I would recall that the European Union is fully contributing to stability in Libya, with the deployment of the EUNAVFOR Med IRINI operation, which is working impartially and in strict compliance with Security Council resolutions. We call on the flag states to act in accordance with Resolution 2292 and to fully cooperate with IRINI.
Fourthly, the militias must be disarmed as part of a demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration process within the unified Libyan army. The October 23 agreement outlines important provisions in this regard.
In the longer term, peacebuilding requires that two major challenges be met.
Firstly, there must be a fair and equal distribution of economic resources to benefit all Libyans. In the short term, it is essential that an agreement be reached on key positions, with a view to unifying the Libyan institutions.
The fight against impunity must continue and those responsible for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law must be punished. France is working to counter human trafficking in Libya, which targets many refugees and migrants. Alongside with Germany, France has proposed the designation of the trafficker from Zawiya, Ibrahim Osama Al Kuni, on the UN sanctions list. It is urgent that the Security Council proceed with such sanction. France stands ready to propose other individuals or entities guilty of human trafficking.
France is more than ever mobilized and committed to peace in Libya, to which it will continue to work tirelessly with its European partners. As announced by the President of the Republic, France will reopen its embassy in Tripoli as of next Monday.
I thank you.