Official speeches and statements - March 4, 2016
1. Thirty-fourth Franco-British summit - Bilateral relations - Migration - Syria - Libya - Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Mr David Cameron, British Prime Minister - excerpts (Amiens, 03/03/2016)
THE PRESIDENT - Prime Minister, cher David Cameron, first of all I’d like to thank our teams who worked to organize this meeting, the 34th Franco-British summit, and thank all the regional, departmental and local authorities, and particularly Amiens city hall, which has allowed us to be here today.
PAST AND PRESENT CONFLICTS
This 34th summit also coincides with a centenary, and that’s why we met at Pozières Cemetery, where you yourself went at the age of 16 to visit those places of remembrance of one of the fiercest battles, the Battle of the Somme, with its many victims who, sadly, lie in these cemeteries today.
Let me remind you that the Commonwealth paid a heavy price, a heavy sacrifice, to ensure our country could be defended and freedom protected. Once again, I want to pay tribute to the memory of those fallen soldiers.
So we have a responsibility - the United Kingdom and France - to continue upholding the spirit of peace and ensure, wherever we can act, that we combine our efforts, particularly at the Security Council - because our two countries are permanent members - so that we can resolve the bloody conflicts which are raging in some parts of the world and, above all, creating flows of refugees, and we know here what that can mean.
So, throughout these hours of work, with the foreign, defence and home affairs ministers, we wanted to show that France and the UK share the same goals and use the same methods.
That’s true for Syria, where we’re seeking to ensure the ceasefire is honoured and ensuring this period can be used to provide essential humanitarian aid to martyred towns - I’m thinking in particular of Aleppo - as well as ensuring this period of calm can provide an opportunity for the discussions and negotiations that must resume in Geneva.
We’re putting pressure on all the players to ensure that there’s no resumption of the bombing and that there can then be genuine negotiation - i.e. that the opposition can play a full role in it and a transition can finally be embarked on.
We also want to put pressure on all the protagonists in this conflict, and also on Russia to ensure it properly understands that we need its participation but that we must also require it to understand that there’s an opposition which isn’t confused with Daesh [so-called ISIL] and that our enemy is Daesh, and terrorism is Daesh.
We’re also telling the Turks that they too have a responsibility and must be sure to understand that agreement is in the interest of the region’s stability.
We mentioned Libya because we know Daesh has taken up positions; there too we’re working together to ensure that a government can finally be established and that there can be an appeal for international solidarity, an appeal to which both the UK and France will respond.
Finally, we want to prevent there being more refugees. We’ll have a discussion, it will be on Monday at the European Council, and we shared the same objectives on this too. I’ll have the opportunity to talk about it to Angela Merkel as early as tomorrow. In parallel, I’ll be having a discussion with David Cameron, Angela Merkel and President Putin about Syria. But we have to resolve the refugee issue and ensure those refugees can be taken in humanely, as near as possible to their countries of origin. That’s why we must help Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. We’re ready to do so. Funds have been released, Europe only yesterday expressed its willingness and also the financial commitments it’s decided to agree to; that’s necessary.
But we must also do everything possible to ensure there’s no dangerous transportation for those refugees. Hence NATO’s role, and it happens that there, too, we can act together. This also concerns Turkey and Greece. Greece must also be helped as far as it’s concerned, i.e. with the hot spot centres. We ourselves must - once those hot spot centres are operational and can allow for readmissions but also relocations - play our part.
We’ll have to debate all those subjects on Monday, but you already have an idea of what Europe must do. It must show solidarity, it must be effective and it must be united. I know what the United Kingdom is preparing for the coming months. We had the opportunity, for two days and a night, to discuss this together, with David Cameron - when I say «together», it wasn’t just the two of us - but we found ways, procedures, enabling the British people to decide in good conscience what their future must be.
I expressed it on France’s behalf: I’d like the United Kingdom to be in Europe. It’s in the UK’s interest, it’s in Europe’s interest, but it’s the people who always decide in full sovereignty.
We must also act in relation to this issue of refugees, and I’ll come back to it in particular regarding Calais.
The town of Calais - and, more broadly, the whole region - is suffering. I’m also thinking of Dunkirk and Grande-Synthe. So we must ensure that those refugees who want to go to the United Kingdom, even though the United Kingdom can’t or won’t accept them - and I remind you that the UK isn’t in the Schengen Area - we must therefore make those refugees understand that they can ask for their rights and ensure they are accommodated in France if those rights can be recognized. But in the meantime, very great difficulty has been experienced for months, both by the local authorities and the population.
The interior ministers have worked a great deal, and today - I’ll come back to this, no doubt, in the questions that are asked - there are fewer migrants and refugees in Calais than a few weeks ago. We’re ensuring that those who remain there can be humanely accommodated, but it’s also been possible, finally to make things watertight so as to prevent trafficking. There have also been exemplary results when it comes to combating trafficking, but there’s also the very important issue for us of unaccompanied minors, and we’re ensuring we can address it: we discussed it together, so that those minors with families in the UK can be taken in to the UK.
Financial efforts must also be agreed, but David Cameron will talk about them.
Finally, we had some very important discussions between the defence ministers, because the UK and France are united by a treaty, the Lancaster House treaty of 2010, and on the basis of that treaty there’s been a lot of progress and shared determination, reflected in programmes which have led, for example in April, to there being a Franco-British force that will be able to carry out a number of humanitarian actions or intervention actions. It’s a very fine result of what we’re capable of doing together.
On the level of what are called capabilities, i.e. the defence industry, there’s also increasingly intensive cooperation, and indeed, as you know, France and the UK are two countries which have a deterrent, and we’re working together to ensure we can reduce its cost and improve its performance.
Finally, there’s everything regarding the future of our economies, particularly following the Climate Conference. I also thank David Cameron, because he participated very well at every level: the G7, the G20 and the European Union. The UK was more than an ally, it was a partner in the success of that conference. So we must act accordingly in terms of renewable energy, but also in terms of nuclear energy and modernization: that’s the so-called Hinkley Point project. I remind you that France supports that project, which is very important for both the UK and France.
That’s the spirit driving us. We want to work together; we’re two neighbouring countries, even though the UK will always remain an island, despite what we’ve done with Eurotunnel; we’re two neighbouring countries, we’re two friendly countries; we recalled history, including the Entente Cordiale. I confirm here that the entente is still cordiale and even amicale [friendly]. Thank you.
Q. - Those campaigning for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union say that with Calais you’re trying to frighten people, and that France is simply acting to ensure the UK remains in the EU. Do you agree with your Economy Minister, who says the border would be different?
THE PRESIDENT - France doesn’t intend to put pressure on the British people to dictate its choices. I’m not sure it would be doing a service to David Cameron or all those who want the UK to remain in the EU if France exerted that type of pressure. I too have experienced a referendum. I think it’s first of all up to Britons to decide on their future. But nor do I want to deny the consequences which the decision to leave the EU would have for the UK: consequences for the single market, for the movement of products, for the relations that may affect people. Beyond what the British people will have to say, my responsibility is to work with the British government to ensure we can find the best solutions for dealing with the issue of refugees, particularly those in Calais and Dunkirk, and more broadly because it’s a European issue. I’m also thinking of those who are currently in Athens, those who are travelling, I’m thinking of those who are in Syria and Turkey and plan to go further. That’s what we have to resolve. It’s a huge responsibility, a political responsibility, because what’s in question here isn’t merely one country’s presence in the EU, it’s Europe itself that is in danger.
Q. - What solutions exactly did you find on the case of unaccompanied minors? Why did you take so long to find this solution? Does the £17 million package seem to you sufficient? What are you going to do about it for Calais?
THE PRESIDENT - (...) What is France’s responsibility to those people in Calais? It’s to tell those eligible for asylum that everything has been prepared to take them in, not only in Calais but throughout France: it’s a commitment I made in September . The Interior Minister made centres available to those people and ensured that, for those eligible for asylum, the formalities could be facilitated. Once the documents can be given out, the people can be put where they’ll be warm, accommodated under good conditions, and can even hope to be integrated into our country. That’s the duty we had to fulfil.
There are also people who don’t want to stay in France, and there are others who can’t stay in France because they aren’t eligible for asylum. They must then be, as it’s called, readmitted to their countries of origin.
For those people who absolutely want to go to the UK, if the UK has decided not to accept them, bearing in mind that the UK has been acting differently to take in refugees, particularly through resettlement policies for people who may be eligible for asylum - without going to fetch them from Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon -, if there’s no possibility [for them] to go to the UK, the border, i.e. the access routes, are closed. The message we must send - because it’s a message of truth, and it’s also a message of humanity and dignity - is that coming to Calais means being certain of not being able to cross the Channel and of having no solution. However, solutions exist everywhere in France for those people.
There’s still the issue which has been raised of unaccompanied minors. We have follow-up for those people, those young people, but we’ve been clear to the British Prime Minister: when those people, those unaccompanied young people, those unaccompanied minors have family ties to the UK, those young people must go to the UK, quickly and efficiently. We’re working to ensure there can be accurate identification; the two interior ministers are doing this, and what we agreed here this morning was that this should be done even more quickly and efficiently.
Q. - You seem to be saying that the bilateral agreement between the UK and France, which is keeping people in Calais, must remain in place. Does that mean you disagree with your Economy Minister? (...)
THE PRESIDENT - I don’t wish to frighten people, but to tell the truth. There will be consequences if the UK leaves the EU. There will be consequences in many areas: on the single market, on financial centres, on economic development between our countries. That doesn’t mean everything will collapse - I don’t want to maintain this vision of catastrophe - but there will be consequences, including on the issue of people. It won’t call our relations into question. (...)
1. For over a century, French and British soldiers have been fighting side by side against all the threats to our security. In 2016, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, which symbolises an unparalleled expression of mutual solidarity. During the battle, some 400,000 British and 200,000 French soldiers were killed or injured. Our solidarity is the legacy of those terrible times.
2. We remain fully determined to face security challenges together. Our two countries, building on a common strategic culture, devote a substantial proportion of our national wealth to defence spending in order to fulfil all our responsibilities as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Our defence budgets together account for almost half of all European defence budgets.
3. It is this common resolve to face challenges and threats that is expressed in the Lancaster House treaties signed five years ago. These treaties, which have an unprecedented ambition, aim to strengthen a long-term and mutually beneficial relationship in the areas that best embody sovereignty: security and defence. They are unique and also an exceptional level of confidence in the common heritage of our two countries.
4. The results of the implementation of these treaties five years on attest to the validity of the initial project and the benefits that we have gained from them. Our bilateral defence relationship, which was already rich, has been further strengthened and is based on three robust pillars of cooperation on operational matters, capability projects and nuclear technology. In 2016, we are determined to take its development further.
5. Defence policies of our countries are structured around common values, responsibilities and interests, which form the bedrock of our bilateral cooperation. Our defence and security interests are converging and will be more strongly defended over the long term if they are based on joint structures and actions.
6. Since our last summit, France has been hit twice on its territory by unprecedented terrorist attacks which targeted both our common values and citizens from some 20 countries. Since these attacks, France and the United Kingdom have reiterated their commitment to fight with determination against Daesh, both from a military standpoint, where both countries have increased their participation in the international coalition, and from an ideological and political perspective. Defence ministers in Paris on 20 January and in Brussels on 11 February underlined the need to accelerate the pace of operations.
7. Following France’s invocation of Article 42.7 of the European Union’s treaty, members have provided increasing support to the overseas actions conducted by France. The United Kingdom stands alongside France and has provided a swift and strong response through its operational commitment in Syria, but also by proposing to increase its action to support the Mixed Multinational Force and its national components in the fight against Boko Haram. The United Kingdom is considering providing direct support to Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region, the modalities of which are still being discussed. France is grateful for this commitment and supports all its operational aspects.
8. France and the United Kingdom support work towards a more effective and global approach to Europe’s foreign and security policy, to ensure a common view of risks and threats that affect our continent, for the necessary continuum between the Union’s different instruments - in order to strengthen the capacities of our partners (CBSD) and to support the European defence industry - as well as for the complementarity of our actions between the EU, Atlantic Alliance and United Nations.
9. The EU’s missions and operations in Africa make an essential contribution to our security, particularly in Mali, Central African Republic and Somalia. France and the United Kingdom are supporting the planning work for the third mandate of the EU military mission in Mali (EUTM Mali), beyond May 2016, and for a two-year mandate for training programmes and operational training, as well as strategic advice, for a future EU military mission in CAR (EUTM CAR), which could be launched by the summer of 2016, following the end of the transition in the Central African Republic. The three EU missions and operations in the Horn of Africa and off the Coast of Somalia - Operation EU NAVFOR Atalanta, EUCAP Nestor and the EU military mission in Somalia (EUTM Somalia) - provide strong support to the Somalian authorities in the field of security and defence. France and the United Kingdom are supporting the ongoing planning work during summer 2016 for revised mandates for all three missions and operations until December 2018.
10. NATO continues to be the strongest military alliance in the world providing security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area. France and the United Kingdom will work together to ensure the next summit, which will be held in Warsaw in July, further strengthens NATO against current challenges from the east and south flanks and adapts to combat future ones. We welcome the important steps being taken towards modern deterrence and defence. We support a more focused and prioritized approach to partnerships and to strengthening co-operation between NATO and the EU. We welcome NATO’s support in dealing with the crisis in the Aegean Sea and its commitment to Afghanistan.
11. France and the United Kingdom will continue to play a leading role in promoting European and transatlantic security, in ensuring sufficient level of defence investments, halting the decline in defence spending in accordance with the Wales Defence Investment Pledge and in providing mutual support at the political and operational levels in order to address the threats to peace and international security.
Combined Joint Expeditionary Force
12. The Lancaster House Treaty provides for the creation of an Anglo-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF). Following ambitious and demanding exercises, which implemented all the components of our two armed forces, the Griffin Strike exercise in April 2016 will allow the full validation of the concept of the CJEF. We have reached an unmatched level of interoperability between our forces. France and the United Kingdom will therefore be able to envisage the planning and conducting of a first deployment operation with the quick reaction forces of both countries. In order to increase the agility of this force, in the coming months, the French and British ministers of defence will build scenarios for the way in which to use this force, including in high-intensity scenarios.
13. In order to facilitate the deployment of the CJEF, France and the United Kingdom are determined to build a common architecture for information and communication systems, increase their intelligence exchanges, and more effectively coordinate the national strategic planning mechanisms. The multi-annual training programme (2017-2022) will take into account this requirement and examine the conditions for a possible opening up to other allies.
14. The French and British air forces are working together in the Levant. Our naval forces are continuing to work in close cooperation, supporting each other for carrier groups and maritime patrols in the Atlantic. There are increasingly closer ties between our land forces at all rank levels. An exchange of general officers will be established in 2016: a British brigadier general will be appointed Deputy Commander of the French First Division in Besançon and a French brigadier general will be appointed Deputy Commander of the British First York Division.
15. Cooperation in the field of defence capabilities and equipment is a key pillar of the Lancaster House Treaty. The 2014 Brize Norton Summit saw UK and France agree to a very substantial package of equipment and capabilities cooperation spanning across all domains, most significantly on the Future Combat Air System (FCAS), on Complex Weapons and on Maritime Mine Counter Measures (MMCM). Since then we have delivered a number of significant achievements against all the key strategic objectives and we are willing to extend and deepen our equipment and capabilities cooperation.
16. Future Combat Air System. At the Brize Norton Summit in 2014, France and the United Kingdom agreed to work together in exploring future combat air systems. Our plan was to enter initially into a two-year feasibility study, which could inform a follow-on demonstration programme. The joint feasibility study, worth a total of £120 million, was launched in November 2014 and has focused on defining potential concepts and technologies. We are now looking to transition to the next phase in 2017, which will prepare for the full-scale development of unmanned combat air system (UCAS) operational demonstrators by 2025. This demonstration programme, the most advanced of its kind in Europe, will be centred on a versatile UCAS platform that could serve as the basis for a future operational capability beyond 2030. We intend to invest more than euro2 billion on the programme, with a technical review around 2020. In addition, we will strengthen our collaboration by working together to analyse the future combat air environment including how manned and unmanned systems might operate together.
17. Complex Weapons. We are fully supporting the long-term strategy to jointly deliver effective military equipment in the most efficient manner while minimizing national constraints and strengthening our common defence technological and industrial base. In support of this, defence ministers signed in September 2015 an Inter-Governmental Agreement enabling full implementation of Centres of Excellence into MBDA, a key step towards creating interdependence between us around key missile technologies. We also intend to develop in 2016 a portfolio approach to strengthen our industrial links and jointly address the current and future operational requirements of our forces. In that respect, France is for instance considering Brimstone 2 for next standard of Tiger combat helicopter and the United Kingdom is considering the Aster Block 1NT for equipping its T45 Destroyers.
18. Since the last summit, significant milestones have been reached on collaborative weapons projects: on the Future Anti-Surface Guided Weapon (Heavy)/Anti Navire Léger programme, a joint contract for the £500 million (euro600 million) worth Development and Manufacturing phase was signed in March 2014; on the SCALP/Storm Shadow Capability Enhancement Programme, a two-year Design Phase was launched in July 2014; there has also been extensive information exchanges in 2015 and building of understanding on portfolio opportunities. Besides, other key cooperative missile activities will be extended further in 2016, such as the sustainment of our Aster missiles stockpiles and the shared-studied enhancement of our SCALP/Storm Shadow capability. We signed today a SoI confirming our intent to enter into a joint concept phase for the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon (FC/ASW) programme to identify solutions for replacement of the Scalp/Storm Shadow missiles for both countries, Harpoon for the UK and Exocet for France. Any concept phase would seek to inform by 2020 decisions concerning a potential follow-on assessment phase. We are working with the objective to sign arrangement for this concept phase for the end of 2016, to pave the way for possible contracts by March 2017.
19. Maritime Mine Countermeasures. The MMCM project aims at developing the next generation of Maritime Mine Countermeasures capabilities, based on unmanned underwater vehicles, to better respond to the sea-mine threat in the long-term and operate more effectively. At the Brize Norton Summit in 2014 both nations committed to funding the system design phase and a joint contract was awarded by OCCAR to industry in March 2015. Today we confirm our intent to commit in 2016 to develop and manufacture the MMCM demonstrators/prototypes worth around €150 million.
20. A400M. A bilateral coordination on aircraft delivery timelines and acceptance strategy is carried on and an initial two-year bilateral support contract was signed end of 2014. We intend to expand it to other support activities and to encourage other nations to join.
21. Land domain. Our 40mm CTA cannon has been successfully developed after years of innovative collaborative R&T effort. It will be the main weapon for hundreds of our brand new armoured vehicles JAGUAR and AJAX, for which production orders were placed in December 2014 for France and March 2015 for the UK. Ongoing development of new ammunitions will broaden the fighting capabilities delivered by the system, and a bilateral agreement is under preparation to ensure common configuration management and support.
22. Opportunities for cooperation are being considered on a regular basis, namely to support CJEF capabilities development.
23. Research & Technology: As key ongoing programmes will continuously support major cooperation projects deliveries in the field of Complex Weapons, Air systems and UCAV, France and the UK are also deepening joint R&T innovation in the field of CBRN and emerging materials. While the joint PhD programme continues to expand, both nations have also agreed a new framework for cooperation with industry and academia through information about a Key Technology Plan. This aim at encouraging our scientists and engineers to network and fostering innovation amongst our industrial base.
24. France and the United Kingdom reaffirm the unique and essential role that nuclear deterrence continues to play in their respective defence strategies.
25. The French and British strategic forces have a specific role of deterrence and contribute to the global deterrence and security of the Atlantic Alliance. This contribution is made in a specific framework for each of our countries. France and the United Kingdom will work, ahead of the Warsaw Summit, for the role of nuclear deterrence in NATO’s defence and deterrence posture to be fully taken into account.
(Source of English text: UK government website.)
1. A scaled-up joint action to address the issues arising from migration pressure in the Calais region.
Joint declarations of 20 September 2014 and 20 August 2015 have laid down the framework of our common response to the challenges posed by migration flows, according to three priorities:
a. Security of the Port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel: the UK has contributed £63 million towards securing the Port and the Tunnel in the last year, including extra fencing and infrastructure, security guards, search dogs and detection technology. In parallel, French authorities have deployed more than 1,300 police officers to prevent intrusions and guarantee the security of persons and properties. Together, these actions have reinforced border security at the Port and the Tunnel against clandestine activity, and site incursions have dropped significantly. France and the United Kingdom will pursue their efforts in 2016.
b. Enhancing cooperation between French and UK security forces to better counter organized crime and fight against human trafficking. Our investigation services have strengthened their joint actions, leading to the dismantling of 28 networks in 2015 in Calais (14 in 2014). A joint information and coordination centre has also been set up in Calais. Two British liaison magistrates have been seconded to France, one of whom is specialized in combating immigration criminal networks in Calais. Our two countries are committed to pursuing and further strengthening this cooperation.
French and British services are actively cooperating so as to ensure the expulsion of illegal immigrants who cannot be regarded as asylum seekers, by pooling their resources (interpreting services, air transport) and cooperating jointly with the migrants’ states of origin. Thus, 1,700 migrants were expelled from the French territory in 2015.
c. Improving the reception of migrants. To that end, a particular attention has been given to the migrants who apply for asylum in France and hence are directed to special accommodation, as well as to those who agree to be relocated in another region and give up their plans to travel illegally to the United Kingdom. The French government has made available more than 2,000 additional places in 102 reception and guidance centres (CAO) throughout the French territory. Five hundred places are available in those centres and 500 more will be offered in the coming weeks.
Protecting the most vulnerable people is of paramount importance. In this respect, the United Kingdom has funded a project to detect and provide assistance to potential victims of human trafficking and exploitation in the camps. This action supplements France’s initiatives to improve the living conditions of migrants in Calais, especially women and children. A temporary reception centre of 1,500 places was opened on 11 January 2016 and hosts 1,300 migrants. In addition, 400 places have been mobilized to shelter vulnerable people and currently host 200 people.
France and the United Kingdom will pursue their cooperation with a view to significantly reducing the number of migrants present in Calais.
d. Recognising that further work in each of these areas is needed this year, and building on the significant financial investments already made, the UK is announcing today euro22 million for Calais in 2016. This reinforced financial commitment, administered by the UK-France Migration Committee, will be used for (i) priority security infrastructure in Calais to assist the work of the French police; (ii) efforts to move people from the camps to facilities provided elsewhere in France, and further support for the running of these facilities; and (iii) joint work to return migrants not in need of protection to their home countries.
e. France and the United Kingdom reaffirm their commitment to the principles underpinning the Dublin III Regulation, and in particular, the "responsibility of first entry member state" and the protection of vulnerable groups. On the latter, France and the United Kingdom pledge to work together to ensure more effective and efficient implementation of the Regulation. A British liaison officer has joined the French administration to help smooth the process.
2. Enhanced action on migration issues at European and international level
a. In the context of the current migration crisis, France and the United Kingdom fully support a more determined European response to contain migration flows and regain control of the external borders of the EU.
This means, in particular, the deployment of all hot spots in Italy and Greece. Their effective functioning has to be guaranteed so that: systematic and complete identification can be made; registration in the Eurodac database and security controls through the European SIS and SLTD databases ensured; secondary movement across the Schengen area prevented; and a proper assessment of status can be undertaken, including rapid return to the source countries for those not in need to protection.
b. Migrants not entitled to international protection will have to be returned to their home countries. In this context, it is crucial to conduct in-depth discussions at bilateral and European level with the principal countries of origin, in order for them to meet their obligations to take back their nationals.
To this end, France and the United Kingdom recall their commitments of 2 November 2015 on the coordination of their bilateral cooperation with third countries, which aims at:
stepping up communication actions for migrants, in Europe and source countries, to deter them from economic and irregular migration;
contributing to the effective establishment of the IOM multi-objective centre in Niger and provide joint support to that country with a view to strengthening border management and the fight against organized crime.
conduct joint diplomatic actions to obtain travel documents, and enhance the effectiveness of deportation measures, for instance with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sudan;
put in place common tools for the reintegration of deported migrants in the countries of origin that are especially cooperative as regards returns.
c. France and the United Kingdom will reinforce their financial assistance for and practical engagement with migrants’ countries of origin and transit, both in Sahel and Horn of Africa countries, taking into account the priorities set in the framework of the EU-Africa Valletta Summit on migration on 29 November 2015.
Consequently, they intend to enhance their dialogue to ensure projects presented to the forthcoming Operational Committee meeting of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, for the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa are based on sound evidence and deliver against the Valletta and Trust Fund Strategies.
d. France and the United Kingdom support the rapid adoption of the European Commission’s proposal on the creation of a European border guards and coastguards system.
(Source of English text: UK government website.)
Following the meeting of the 34th Franco-British Summit, held today in Amiens, France and the United Kingdom have agreed an ambitious bilateral cooperation agenda which aims at deepening their strategic partnership.
One hundred years ago, France and the United Kingdom fought together in the First World War. In memory of the sacrifices then made to defend their shared values, our two countries will commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme on 1 July in Thiepval.
One hundred years after those terrible times, France and the United Kingdom are still allies in overcoming new challenges and threats, notably terrorism. France will remember the expressions of solidarity shown by the British people after the attacks on its soil in January and November 2015, thus underlining the sense of friendship and the values that unite our two countries.
France and the United Kingdom amplify their strength to work for peace and stability in the world from being Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, allied within NATO and [as] member states of the European Union. It is these partnerships which help to keep us safe. Our role in the European Union strengthens the security and prosperity of our citizens and the competitiveness of our economies. That Union that was created to bring peace and stability between countries that 70 years ago were at war. We should never take that achievement for granted. Today, in the face of threats on Europe’s borders and from terrorism at home, we are convinced that the European Union gives us more capacity to project greater power internationally.
The President of the Republic and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom agreed to implement the following actions:
1/ A STRONG PARTNERSHIP TO ADDRESS INTERNATIONAL CRISES
Our security environment has dramatically changed. External crises are knocking on Europe’s doors - both east and south of its borders. They have immediate and tragic consequences on the European territory and on the safety of our citizens. In this context, France and United Kingdom are determined to stand together, mobilizing as appropriate all bilateral, European and international instruments at their disposal.
France and the United Kingdom:
will intensify joint coordination on all aspects of the Syrian crisis in order to promote an international response commensurate to the threat to the Syrian people, to the region and to Europe;
urge all parties to implement a cessation of hostilities, as agreed by the International Syria Support Group on 11 February, the US-Russia agreement of 22 February, and the United Nations Security Council in its resolution 2268 on 26 February, and to comply with their obligations under international law;
call upon all parties perpetrating violations of international humanitarian law, including Russia and the Syrian regime, to end immediately attacks on moderate opposition groups, cease any attacks against civilians including against medical facilities and personnel, and stop their drive toward Aleppo, which undermine the prospects for peace, threaten to dramatically escalate the refugee crisis, and benefit Daesh;
call for the immediate implementation of United Nations Security Council resolutions 2254 and 2258 to allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian assistance to all areas in need in Syria, including besieged and hard to reach areas;
reiterate their support to the Syrian opposition and welcome its commitment to a political settlement through genuine negotiation, as expressed by the Higher Negotiations Committee, including at its Riyadh meeting on 9-11 December 2015.
France and the United Kingdom:
call on the House of Representative to endorse the Libyan Government of National Accord by a positive vote without delay;
express their support to the efforts of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Martin Kobler;
look forward to working with the Libyan Government of National Accord to help it address the difficult challenges ahead to restore unity, stability and security for all Libyan people;
support the momentum toward the rapid return of the government to Tripoli and re-establishment of functioning institutions, consistent with the provisions of the Libyan Political Agreement;
reiterate their concern over the development of Daesh in Libya, which must be an order of first priority for the Libyan authorities with the support of the international community.
France and the United Kingdom reaffirm their cooperation to support peace and stability in Africa, and decide to:
intensify their efforts against Boko Haram, in liaison with Nigeria and the countries of the Lake Chad Basin, in particular through training for soldiers and operational support to security institutions;
encourage the mobilization of the EU, including a financial support to the Multinational Joint Task Force fighting against Boko Haram;
work on stepping up the stabilization missions carried out by MINUSMA and sustain and extend the mandates of EUTM Mali and EUCAP Sahel, in particular to fight terrorism and organized crime, including human trafficking;
with the support of International Financial Institutions, act for a long-term step-change in support to the Lake Chad and Sahel region, so as to reduce poverty, limit radicalization and prevent forced migrations;
call on the European Commission to swiftly implement the action plan agreed at the Valletta summit on migration, security and development, including through the EU Emergency Trust Fund;
reaffirm their readiness to support, through training actions, the African Standby Force, and, in agreement with European partners, to contribute to its funding;
support the proposal for the European Union to now train and equip the armed forces of African countries;
reaffirm their joint commitment to the promotion of democracy through strong institutions, and therefore recall their conviction that constitutions need to be respected to preserve peace and stability.
Post-Ebola - Global Health
Reflecting on our shared experiences of supporting affected African countries respond to Ebola, France and the United Kingdom:
commit to push forward strategic areas of work that would ensure a more effective and coherent international response to future epidemics;
this would include:
a UK and French commitment to work together to improve international data and information sharing during major crises;
further collaboration and action to help low-income countries build stronger health systems and meet their commitments under the International Health Regulations;
a joint effort in pushing for reform in the World Heath Organization.
A few days before the second anniversary of the illegal annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation and while the situation in Eastern Ukraine is not yet stabilized, our two countries:
recall their support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence;
call for the full implementation of the Minsk Agreement in the shortest possible time, so as to move towards the conclusion of the crisis and restore the borders between Ukraine and Russia. Recall the European Council’s commitment that the duration of sanctions on Russia should be linked to the complete implementation of the Minsk agreements.
also call on :
Russia to use all its influence to end violence in eastern Ukraine;
the Ukrainian political forces to unite their efforts to implement all necessary reforms.
Non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament
France and the United Kingdom:
welcome implementation of the joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and its role in promoting peace and security. Both countries confirm their commitment as members of the Joint Commission (the E3+3 and Iran) to fulfilling their commitments under the agreement and encourage all other parties to do the same and further call on Iran to engage constructively to contribute to political solutions to the regional crises;
will strengthen their coordination in the fight against nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation. In this respect, the two countries condemn in the strongest terms the nuclear test of 6 January 2016 and the launch of a long-range rocket on 7 February 2016 by North Korea;
will continue to work to achieve a firm and determined response from the international community, both at the United Nations Security Council and at the European level, including through an intensified coordination and cooperation in the fight against North Korea’s proliferation activity;
to cooperate in multilateral fora on a step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament in line with our Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments, taking the strategic context into account;
will cooperate in order to strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its implementation by promoting the negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons at the Conference on Disarmament and the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
2/ A DETERMINED CONTRIBUTION TO PEACE, STABILITY AND SECURITY THROUGH A COMPREHENSIVE DEFENCE COOPERATION
The UK and France are Europe’s principal security providers and defence investors. Our strategic defence partnership is crucial to delivering on our shared objectives around the world. Building on the success of the Lancaster House treaty signed in 2010, France and the United Kingdom reaffirm their commitment to maintain and strengthen the capabilities for collective defence, security and crisis management, underpinned by a competitive and technologically advanced industrial basis. In that respect, France and the United Kingdom adopt a declaration on security and defence that identifies the following key objectives:
validating the concept of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) and exchanging employment scenarios for this force starting in April 2016;
deepening cooperation on armaments, particularly in the field of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) programme, missiles, and maritime mine counter measures;
continuing cooperation on nuclear deterrence within the framework of the Teutates Treaty;
establishing a joint working group on innovation to share experience and identify potential further areas for cooperation;
carrying out firm, determined action against Daesh in Syria and Iraq together;
liaising closely ahead of the NATO Summit in July 2016 and continuing to work with NATO as it adapts to meet strategic challenges;
building upon successful Common Security and Defence Policy operations and supporting the development of a European Union strategy of foreign and security policy at the European Council meeting in June 2016.
3/ A RELENTLESS ENGAGEMENT TO ERADICATE TERRORISM
Europe is no longer a safe haven. The terrorist threat is growing, feeding on complex networks in and out of Europe and stemming from crisis zones. It constitutes a critical challenge to our core values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, equality, and the mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs. Considering these principles as the very foundations of their democracies, France and the United Kingdom reaffirm their unwavering commitment to promote and defend them. As recalled in the declaration annexed, our two countries aim at:
intensifying their fight against radicalization, particularly online: by building the capability of civil society to develop positive, counter and alternative messages targeted to those vulnerable to extremist and radicalizing influences; by promoting the sharing of best practice between counter and de-radicalization experts;
Following on from the work launched at national and European levels, particularly regarding the dialogue with major internet operators, the two countries call for stronger commitments and more concrete results as regards the detection and withdrawal of extremist propaganda;
implementing all useful measures to share intelligence on the various forms of threat, including foreign fighters;
encouraging better use of the possibilities provided by European and international mechanisms, in particular the Schengen Information System (SIS), Europol, Interpol and Eurodac;
developing their cooperation in the fight against arms trafficking (including exchanges of information on weapon traceability, ballistic comparisons), notably in the Western Balkans;
encouraging the EU to adopt and EU member states to implement without delay the European Passenger Name Record (PNR) system;
stemming the financing of terrorism, including by: reinforcing existing European mechanisms for the freezing of terrorist assets; strengthening cooperation between financial intelligence services; increasing the exchange of information with the banking sector; limiting payment anonymity, with a special focus on payment instruments outside of banking circuits, e.g. electronic money and virtual currency.
working together to coordinate national policies with regard to inbound flights where possible, calling on all states to comply fully with their obligations under the Chicago Convention, and committing to engage the International Civil Aviation Organization and its member states to improve inter alia its audit system and achieve greater transparency.
combating terrorism outside Europe, particularly where it threatens French and British travellers and wider interests; sharing information and collaborating on capacity building in third countries.
reaffirming their close cooperation with a view to reinforcing the protection of the EU’s external borders.
4/ AN INTENSIFIED COORDINATION IN RESPONSE TO THE MIGRATION CRISIS
As detailed in the declaration attached, and bearing in mind the declaration of home ministers adopted on 20 August, France and the United Kingdom have agreed to:
further intensify the work undertaken to reduce migratory pressure in Calais by continuing to secure the port and the tunnel, intensifying the fight against illegal immigration routes and improving the reception of migrants, including through a substantial financial support from the United Kingdom;
support a more determined implementation of the European response to contain flows and gain back control of external borders, notably through: an assistance to the setting up and the effective functioning of hotspots, in Greece and Italy; the full implementation of the EU-Turkey Action Plan in order to stem the irregular flows; the speeding up of the examination of the "European Border and Coast Guard" proposal, with a view to make the new system operational by summer 2016;
make further efforts to break the business model of the people smugglers and traffickers and intensify cooperation at all levels, bilateral, European and international, to dismantle criminal networks;
continue to support humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees and to the neighbouring countries around Syria and insist on the full implementation of the commitments made at the high-level conference in London on 4 February for Supporting Syria and the Region;
increase their coordination towards third countries, including in Africa, the Indian sub-continent, the Middle East and the Balkans, in order to help intensify returns and reduce flows from these countries;
establish concrete, concerted proposals to offer countries of origin and transit, in the framework of the decisions taken at the Valletta Summit in November 2015.
5/ A COMMON WILLINGNESS TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE THE ENERGY TRANSITION TOWARDS LOW CARBON ECONOMIES
The adoption on 12 December 2015 of the Paris Agreement was an unprecedented political achievement and represents a turning point towards the emergence of a low carbon world. We now need to sustain the momentum and make immediate and concrete progress. France and the United Kingdom will:
support the rapid implementation of the agreement, in four key areas: its signature and ratification, the preparation of the implementing decisions, support for the development and implementation of developing countries’ intended nationally-determined contributions and the continued mobilization of all state and non-state players, in the framework of the Lima-Paris Action Agenda;
together with other developed countries, scale up their level of financial support, with a view to achieving the joint goal of providing $100 billion annually by 2020 from a wide variety of sources, public and private, in the context of meaningful mitigation and transparency of action;
build upon the Paris decision regarding the important role of providing incentives for emission reduction activities, including tools such as carbon pricing, and continue in this respect the promotion of enabling environment at a national, European and international level;
support African solutions to the climate challenge, as well as the establishment of early warning systems for natural disasters and supporting the delivery of the "African Renewable Initiative" goals.
Actively engaged in the diversification of their energy mix, France and the United Kingdom agree to set up a comprehensive partnership on civil nuclear energy, in all aspects of the production cycle. EDF is currently devoted to prepare all necessary elements for the announcement of a final investment decision for Hinkley Point C in the near future, with the full support of the French government.
6/ SUPPORTING INNOVATION AND RESEARCH :
France and the United Kingdom undertake to:
enhance collaboration on the opening up of public data and using data to drive economic growth and improve public services, on the basis of the upcoming report of the Franco-British Taskforce on data innovation;
Further deepen research collaboration, including through cooperation on key scientific themes such as energy, climate and health, recognizing the important role of research and development in meeting these challenges and exchange best practice on national and regional systems of support for innovation.
develop concrete initiatives to make digital technology serve more transparent and collaborative public action, in the perspective of the upcoming Open Government Partnership Global Summit to be held in Paris in December 2016;
work jointly with the EU institutions to accelerate implementation of the Digital Single Market Strategy;
cooperate actively with the EU institutions to find and implement solutions that can stabilize the legal framework allowing the transfer of data to the United States and guarantee a high level of protection of European citizens’ fundamental rights;
Showing the same ambitions in space policy, France and the United Kingdom will: deepen their space cooperation; continue to seize opportunities for joint Earth observation missions, particularly the MicroCarb project dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide.
7/ BRINGING OUR CIVIL SOCIETIES CLOSER TO EACH OTHER :
France and the United Kingdom will:
launch the high-level "Young Leaders" exchange programme;
encourage the organization of conferences of the cross-border cooperation sector, meeting alternately in France and the United Kingdom, on all subjects relating to our near neighbourhood (migration, health, tourism, employment)./.
(Source of English text: UK government website.)
Policing and intelligence cooperation
1. Following the terrorist attacks that hit France and the United Kingdom hard in 2015, our two countries reaffirm their intention to continue and intensify their police cooperation, enhancing exchanges of information between their internal security forces and their intelligence services and making full use of existing bilateral, European and international instruments.
2. Aware of the need to make better use of the possibilities provided by the Schengen Information System (SIS II), our two countries undertake mutually to continue systematically entering all data on persons who could represent a security threat into the Schengen Information System. France and the United Kingdom advocate a harmonization of the criteria for systematic entry concerning foreign fighters under Article 36.3 of SIS II, provided for this purpose.
3. Convinced of the operational benefits of the Europol focal point on foreign terrorist combatants («FP Travellers»), France and the United Kingdom will continue entering data systematically.
4. Stressing the importance of identifying the holders of falsified, counterfeit or misappropriated travel documents, particularly at the external borders of the European Union, as well as stolen documents, our two countries agree on the need to enter data into and consult Interpol’s Stolen and Lost Travel Documents (SLTD) database.
5. France and the United Kingdom encourage their European partners to make full use of all these databases.
6. Seeking to be able to improve and facilitate the use of Eurodac data in a security context, France and the United Kingdom consider it necessary to amend the Eurodac regulation in this sense, while ensuring the necessary safeguards are in place.
7. France and the United Kingdom will strengthen intelligence cooperation through even more frequent technical and human exchanges between their respective departments and services.
8. Our two countries will carry out joint operations to monitor rail, maritime and air travellers in order to detect and prevent the movement of individuals who represent a security threat.
Security of external borders
9. France and the United Kingdom call on member states to implement systematic and coordinated checks at external borders, including on individuals enjoying the right of free movement.
10. Our two countries welcome the agreement reached by the JHA Council on 25 February as regards the reinforcement of checks against relevant databases at external borders.
11. Our two countries underline the importance of information sharing between member states particularly at the external borders, but not only, in order to face the increasingly different forms of threats.
12. In the deteriorated security context experienced by the European Union in 2015, France and the United Kingdom affirm their desire to achieve an ambitious review of directive 91/477 on the control of the acquisition and possession of weapons. Reviewing the directive is a major political priority. The two countries are convinced that the legal market will thus be better regulated and that the fight against trafficking will be more effective. France and the United Kingdom undertake to continue their joint efforts in order to better regulate the acquisition and possession of weapons, to combat arms trafficking and to ensure greater security for European citizens.
13. In accordance with the implementing regulation of 15 December 2015 establishing common guidelines on deactivation standards and techniques for ensuring that deactivated firearms are rendered irreversibly inoperable, France and the United Kingdom undertake to immediately implement the most demanding standards on deactivation of firearms, to ensure they are made irreversibly inoperable.
14. Lastly, the United Kingdom and France undertake to strengthen the fight against illegal arms trafficking, including in the Balkan countries and will submit, in this area, common proposals to their European partners.
15. With constant care to respect freedom of speech and fundamental values, France and the United Kingdom undertake to resolutely combat the abuse and misuse of the Internet for the purposes of distributing messages of terrorist and extremist propaganda. To this end, we will work together to exchange information and work with industry.
16. Following on from the work launched at national and European levels, particularly regarding the dialogue with the major Internet operators, the two countries call for firmer commitments and more concrete results as regards the detection and withdrawal of terrorist and extremist propaganda.
17. France and the United Kingdom undertake to work jointly to establish common communication strategies aimed at countering terrorist speech and building the capability of civil society. They will jointly develop their national strategies to combat phenomena of radicalization, particularly through exchanges and cooperation between experts. All actions aimed at promoting tolerance, non-discrimination, fundamental freedoms and solidarity will be sought.
Directive on the use of Passenger Name Records (PNR)
18. An agreement was reached in late 2015 for a Directive on the use of PNR. This will help identify and monitor the movements of persons who represent a threat to the security of our states and our citizens. Our two countries call for its immediate adoption and implementation by all member states, including the option to process PNR from intra-European flights and charter flights.
Combating the financing of terrorism
19. France and the United Kingdom welcome the presentation by the European Commission of an ambitious action plan to support the strengthening of the fight against the financing of terrorism, and call upon it to speed up its work so as to present legislative measures quickly. As regards asset freezes, France and the United Kingdom have joined forces in order to put forward an initiative to strengthen existing European mechanisms for freezing of terrorist assets in order to target Daesh fighters, particularly under United Nations Security Council resolution 2253.
20. France and the United Kingdom are determined to enhance cooperation between their financial intelligence units in order to increase the effectiveness of their action. They will also take steps in order to improve the regulation of payment systems used outside the banking systems, including cash, because of the risks they represent given the anonymity they provide in transactions.
21. France and the United Kingdom are determined to achieve concrete results in the fight against the financing of terrorism within international fora such as the G7, the G20 and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), including for the implementation of international standards worldwide and information exchanges.
Working together internationally
22. France and the UK will continue to collaborate to carry out firm and decisive action against Daesh in Syria and Iraq.
In recognition of the ongoing terrorist threat in Europe, France and the UK will work together to build the counter-terrorism capabilities of European partners, to reduce the overall threat to European nations.
France and the United Kingdom are determined to minimise the risks to global aviation and ensure all states comply fully with international aviation security requirements. We will do this by strengthening capacity building coordination, working closely within and beyond International Civil Aviation Authority and through all relevant fora, such as G7 and G20.
(Source of English text: UK government website.)
Firmly committed to the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement, France and the United Kingdom restate the crucial role of nuclear energy in the transition to a low-carbon economy as part of an energy diversification policy. France and the United Kingdom are convinced that civil nuclear energy helps to guarantee their long-term energy independence and contributes to their economic growth and the competitiveness of their industries. They will ensure highest standards of safety, security and safeguards are respected. They reaffirm their firm shared will to combat nuclear proliferation, and will ensure long-term management of radioactive waste, as well as environmental protection.
France and the United Kingdom welcome the major progress made in recent months with a view to confirming the project to build two EPR reactors on the Hinkley Point site. The signing of a framework agreement between EDF and China General Nuclear (CGN) on 21 October 2015 and the state aid approval by the European Commission of the methodology underpinning the waste transfer contract between EDF Energy and the British government represent significant milestones.
Following an in-depth internal review, the project’s organization has been fine-tuned to guarantee control of the main operational risks inherent to such a large project. EDF is currently devoted to prepare all necessary elements for the announcement of a FID for Hinkley Point C in the near future, with the full support of the French government.
This major strategic project is a pillar of the bilateral relationship and will be a key aspect of Britain’s energy policy, offering the guarantee of safe, competitive, decarbonized energy by 2025. It confirms the ability of our two countries to produce leading industrial projects together. Lastly, it marks an essential step forward in the recovery of nuclear energy in Europe, in support of the fight against climate change.
Together, the two countries will develop scientific, technical and managerial skills on nuclear projects. They will also encourage staff exchanges that can contribute to developing those skills. This will enable us to ensure the highest safety standards, respect for the environment and preservation of resources, as well as to increase our capacity for innovation to support technologies and industrial competitiveness.
While respecting their independence, the safety authorities (ASN, IRSN, ONR) will strengthen their cooperation, notably on staff exchanges, which are extremely useful for developing stringent, pragmatic approaches. The safety authorities will enhance their coordination in the European and international forums in which they participate, with a view to presenting joint approaches and solutions whenever possible.
France and the United Kingdom will develop joint approaches and innovative technologies on the basis of their shared experience. That collaboration will offer the twofold prospect of optimizing their national programmes and a competitive joint positioning in the international market, which is growing as a result of the ageing of the nuclear fleets currently in operation around the world.
With their historic experience in the nuclear sector, France and the United Kingdom are long-standing partners in combating nuclear proliferation. In the area of nuclear security also, their experience puts them at the forefront of current discussions, particularly in international forums.
Continued cooperation is encouraged between the UK and France on issues concerning plutonium management, noting the UK’s ongoing work to determine a disposition solution.
In the area of Generation IV reactors, the CEA and the NNL are collaborating actively to develop a joint roadmap for activities of mutual interest to support the ASTRID project. Within that framework, new «key» cooperation actions have been identified and will soon be the subject of a new agreement.
France and the United Kingdom will encourage stronger cooperation between the CEA and the NNL through the development of skills and knowledge and staff exchanges.
With the aim of balanced collaboration and co-construction of projects, the CEA and the NNL will pursue their discussion of the potential for shared use of facilities.
Before the next Franco-British summit, France and the United Kingdom and their respective competent organizations and manufacturers will hold a high-level seminar to clarify and finalize the new cooperation actions agreed in this declaration.
(Source of English text: UK government website.)
Ladies and gentlemen,
We met this evening in the so-called «Normandy» format to examine the proposals submitted to us by the OSCE. These proposals had been mentioned at the last ministerial meeting, which was held in Munich at the beginning of February. The discussions related to three specific points on this evening’s agenda: consolidating an actual ceasefire, the practicalities of local elections in Donbass, and making those elections safe.
The discussions went ahead in a direct, frank climate free of waffle, and this enabled us to make progress on a number of essential issues.
Firstly, on the consolidation of the ceasefire, there are several aspects to consider.
First of all, the ceasefire itself also requires a withdrawal of weapons. We called on the parties to reaffirm publicly their commitment to refrain from all use of weapons in the security zone, including for the purposes of training. In this regard, we welcomed the agreement reached in Minsk yesterday in the framework of the trilateral contact group, and we called for its swift implementation.
We called on the parties to supply all the information necessary for the OSCE’s monitoring and effective verification of the withdrawal of all heavy weapons, without delay.
We also called on the parties to complete the withdrawal of heavy weapons. I mentioned this several times in the speech; it was one of the subjects of the discussion that ultimately went well.
Now, as regards effective monitoring, verification and coordination of the ceasefire, commitments were also made.
We called on the parties to guarantee full, unrestricted access to the SMM, the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine.
We called on the JCCC, the Joint Centre for Control and Coordination, to identify those responsible for violations and ensure the necessary measures are taken to prevent them acting again.
We called for the establishment by 30 April 2016, in coordination with the OSCE’s SMM, of a mechanism to prevent and resolve incidents.
Finally, as regards the humanitarian and socio-economic aspects, we welcomed the agreement reached yesterday on mine clearance, also in Minsk, and called for its swift and full implementation.
We called for unrestricted, unhampered access for international humanitarian aid to civilians who need it in the areas affected by the conflict. Currently, many NGOs no longer have any access; it was important for a commitment to be made on that point this evening.
We also called for the release and exchange of all prisoners and all people detained illegally, by 30 April 2016. Access for the international Red Cross to all detainees linked to the conflict must also be guaranteed.
I’ll get onto the second major theme: the practicalities of holding local elections in Donbass.
We examined the proposals prepared by the OSCE, in particular about the electoral system, the administration of the elections and the role and participation of political parties. We emphasized the importance of the Ukrainian Parliament and government drawing up and adopting an electoral law, to enable local elections to be held, and we expressed the wish for those local elections to be held before the end of the first half of 2016, according to the sequence adopted by the heads of state and government in Paris on 2 October. The ministers discussed compromise solutions on the practicalities of organizing the elections. Proposals were also made by the OSCE’s political working group, and we reaffirmed the importance of compliance with Ukrainian electoral law and with international standards for the organization of those elections.
Finally, the third subject on the agenda of our discussions this evening was making the elections safe.
On this point, we called on the OSCE to provide us by 31 March with concrete, practical options for adequately making the elections safe: above all, it’s true, this requires responsibility from all parties, but at the same time we believed there could be no elections without a guarantee of security.
As you can see, the discussions were relatively lengthy, but the in-depth discussions this evening were, once again, held in a frank and direct climate, with a determination to make progress, even if we’re moving forward one step at a time. We made progress on concrete points, and that was my goal. As I’ve said, we avoided raking over the past. We worked on the basis of the Minsk agreements in a way, they’re our road map and in order to achieve an effective result we must remain highly mobilized. At any rate, that’s my strong belief this evening.
We set a number of objectives and a working timetable for the coming weeks, to continue working in the framework of the «Normandy» format, because it’s a good method. At the same time, we must take a new step every time. Nothing would be worse than to meet for nothing, which isn’t the case this evening. Our goal at any rate, it was that of Frank-Walter Steinmeier and myself when we went to Kiev a few days ago is to find solutions to this especially difficult conflict.
Russia and Ukraine must play their full role in the success of these commitments. We know there are still a lot of efforts to be made in this direction to ensure the process succeeds, but we’re confident, because there’s a determination, at any rate there’s a determination in organizing this meeting in Paris; there will most probably be others. Anyway, this evening we took a step. We’ll have more to take, but it’s the right track, the right path, and we’re going to continue with the maximum firmness and clarity.