Official speeches and statements - June 3, 2016
1. G7 summit - Economic policy - Fight against tax evasion and optimization - COP21 - Fight against terrorism - Brexit - Press conference given by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic - excerpts (Ise-Shima, 27/05/2016)
The G7 has just ended; the objectives France set itself, in this important international framework, were largely achieved.
The first objective was to get the world’s leading countries to reaffirm the priority they attach to growth. As one of the participants said, «things are going better, improving for the global economy»; there’s significant growth in the United States and growth is picking up in Europe.
But there are a number of uncertainties and difficulties. The first difficulty is the weakness of the emerging economies, even though the pace of growth remains impressive. The second uncertainty is the erratic currency fluctuations and volatility on the foreign exchange markets. Then there’s a third uncertainty, which moreover affects Europe: the British referendum and the possibility of a Brexit.
In view of both these indisputable improvements and these undeniable risks, the strategy is to boost growth by every means, through budget policies - where possible - as much as monetary policies (which explains the weak interest rates) and structural policies to further improve the labour market.
The crucial issue is investment, public and private investment. France has opted for the investment approach. We’ve supported the conditions for investment by increasing measures to promote innovation, and will continue to do so.
Similarly, we support domestic demand, consumption has also recovered, and we’re making sure that our fiscal policy, even though it is reducing the deficits, is implemented without undermining household income - quite the opposite, because taxes have gone down over the past three years.
Growth is also linked to trade. The second objective we had to seek at this G7 was to ensure that the negotiations of the major agreements can continue, but that conditions are set. I’m thinking of the TTIP agreement in particular, i.e. the European Union-United States agreement.
The negotiations are under way, but France has made sure the conditions are restated. There can be no agreement if there’s no reciprocity - I’m thinking of procurement contracts -, if there’s no transparency - which is the very condition for people to be informed about what affects them -, if there’s no recognition of the geographical indication of products - which mainly affects the agricultural sector -, if there’s no recognition of intellectual property - which affects the cultural industries -, and if there’s no will to make sure that all services are concerned, which obliges the United States to go much further than it wants at the moment.
It was very important for France to be able to get its partners to restate these conditions. For us, there can be an agreement with the United States, regarding the European Union, only if these conditions are fully and strictly observed.
Still on the subject of growth, there can be sustainable development only if transparency exists and tax evasion and optimization are combated. In this respect, what happened with the so-called «Panama Papers» scandal was useful in demonstrating that we must go even further. And this is what the G7 also acknowledges. As regards the exchange of tax information, lists of tax havens must be clearly drawn up, so that those on the list suffer the full consequences and the financial institutions can’t be involved in those markets or that finance. Finally, there has to be a coordinated battle against tax schemes whose sole objective, for the major multinational groups, is to escape tax.
Escaping tax through optimization, escaping tax through shell companies. Here too, the G7 went further in the fight against [tax] fraud, against optimization, and in actual fact against finance when it doesn’t reflect the goals of financing the real economy.
In the framework of this G7 meeting, I also wanted the success of COP21 to be followed up and built on. We were joined this morning by the United Nations Secretary-General, all the international institutions - the World Bank, the IMF - and also a number of countries representing not only Asia but also Africa.
There was an agreement to be swifter in ratifying the agreements signed in New York in April, so we must set ourselves the target for the agreement adopted at COP21 to come into force at the end of the year.
We must also implement what was launched in Paris, particularly the initiative on renewable energy and carbon pricing. And we agreed that the most developed countries should move even faster in putting together their strategy for a decarbonized economy, so that commitments can be shown before 2020.
We also stressed that the funding planned, the $100 billion from 2020 onwards, should be able to be identified, and some even released before that date.
In a way, COP21 invited itself here to the G7, and the G7 embarked on a new stage of implementing it.
France also wanted to launch an initiative on health at this G7 summit, and it was widely subscribed to. There are lessons we must learn from a number of scourges which, sadly, have occurred, particularly in Africa (Ebola, Zika etc.). So we must draw conclusions from them and create health emergency platforms, which the G7 member countries once again wanted to reiterate.
France also wanted the issue of medicine prices to be discussed, so that prices can reflect the needs, transparently, and so that the Least Developed Countries’ populations can be treated with medicines, which are accessible but still too expensive.
It’s a public health challenge for those countries, and it’s also a public health challenge for us. Moreover, we also committed ourselves - Mrs Merkel also emphasized this - to the goal of universal health coverage, which will take time and justifies our creating a sort of health structure on an international scale. In the coming months, the G7 member countries’ health ministers will meet to go further on these three goals.
But the G7 also necessarily embarked on the responses expected of it on the international situation. First of all, the G7 drew up an action plan against terrorism, with an essential exchange of information, a strengthening of air security, and a fight against everything that can help finance terrorism, particularly in terms of the anonymity of transactions. And this demands cooperation at the highest level to eradicate terrorism in all its forms, but also everything that can fuel terrorism.
TRAFFICKING IN CULTURAL GOODS
One of the concrete illustrations I’ve given is combating the trafficking in cultural goods which the terrorists themselves organize. They have two dark intents, which nevertheless accurately reflect their idea of the world. The first desire is to make money from world heritage, to pass on rare assets removed from the places they occupy and gain resources to fund their activities by means of this trade. There are always accomplices, traffickers, buyers, so it’s necessary to engage in the essential battle and identify those objects.
There’s also the terrorists’ wish to destroy, to wipe out the memory of civilizations, to act as if nothing existed before the barbarity they represent.
It’s very important for countries to coordinate to protect cultural goods. This may mean taking them in before it’s too late, in what’s called «asylum» or refuge for cultural goods, which we’re doing. And also piecing together cultural goods after they’ve been, as it were, rescued. That’s the goal that will be pursued by the G7 countries.
We also discussed the issue of refugees. It’s an issue which is, of course, of interest to Europe because of what’s happening in Iraq and Syria, and of interest to the Middle East, because it’s the countries of the Middle East that are making the bulk of the effort. But there are also millions of refugees in the world, in Africa, in Asia; many of them are climate refugees - the number in Asia is at least 20 to 25 million - and there are more every year.
So there’s a global plan to conduct, to organize, to ensure that the refugee issue is handled at the right level and before it’s too late.
As regards Iraq and Syria, we signalled a wish for negotiations to resume on Syria’s future; and regarding Iraq, we decided to lend financial support to that country, which has been experiencing war and instability for too long. And there was a package of loans that can be provided to Iraq, and France will play its part in that.
Yesterday evening we also discussed the Ukraine issue. We recalled the Minsk process. As you know, a few days ago we organized a Normandy-format teleconference between Mrs Merkel, myself, President Poroshenko and President Putin so that progress could be made. Progress was made, moreover, with the release of prisoners to ensure greater compliance with the ceasefire. The electoral law must now be drawn up, decreed and implemented. Sanctions will be adjusted in line with the implementation - including by the Russian side - of the Minsk agreement. I’m insisting that no time be wasted. The Minsk agreement provided for elections due to be held in the spring. They were postponed. It’s very important to have this electoral law so that it can give eastern Ukrainians the chance to express themselves. So sanctions will be maintained until the process is fully implemented, but they can be adjusted if it’s proven that the agreement is being implemented.
Finally, let me point out that the G7 supports the peace process between Israel and Palestine and the initiative France launched with the support of many countries in the region but also most of the countries that want a solution to be found, an initiative that will therefore lay the groundwork for the ministerial conference due to be held at the beginning of June.
That, essentially, is the response the G7 provided - a G7 that excluded no issues, a G7 that also wanted to discuss security, stability in every region. The G7 is not only a body whose first duty is to support economic activity and growth, to provide responses to people’s most urgent needs, it’s also a political body that must enable issues - particularly the most sensitive ones, the ones affecting peace and security - to be tackled. (...)
2. Israel - Palestinian Territories - Middle East peace initiative - Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to the daily newspaper Le Monde (Paris, 03/06/2016)
Q. - Why is this meeting taking place now?
THE MINISTER - Our desire is to emerge from the current status quo. On the ground, particularly in the Palestinian Territories, the situation is deteriorating. Settlement activity is continuing, organized or uncontrolled. For a visitor going there, the space available for a Palestinian state is tangibly diminishing. In the Palestinian Territories and the camps in Jordan and Lebanon, the propaganda of Daesh [so-called ISIL] is exploiting the despair. Everyone who is concerned about peace and wants security in the region is making the same observation. I’ve consulted widely: the countries in the region are worried about this dead-end situation.
The two-state solution - an Israeli state and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as the shared capital - has always been France’s position. It was presented by François Mitterrand to the Knesset in 1982, during his historic visit. That prospect is receding. There are no direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. So we must regain the initiative at international level to create a favourable environment.
Q. - Can this initiative be any more successful than the attempts previously made by the United States, particularly the one by Secretary of State John Kerry?
THE MINISTER - The American Secretary of State has really put his heart and soul into mediation. His assessment is similar to ours. A new climate must be created at international level, to tell the two sides: we’re not going to negotiate for you, it’s your responsibility as Israelis and Palestinians, but we want to help you. The last international conference was in Annapolis (in the United States) nine years ago. So our goal is to galvanize the international community again.
With this in mind, our starting point is all the work done until now: the UN Security Council resolutions, the Madrid principles, i.e. “land for peace”, the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and the Road Map of the Quartet (United States, EU, Russia and UN). On 3 June, I’ll be proposing the creation of working groups that will list the contributions of the different countries present, in order to highlight, for the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, the dividends of peace.
Q. - Namely?
THE MINISTER - After the meeting, I’m aiming for two results: confirmation of the prospect of a conference with the parties by the end of the year, and the establishment of several working groups. The theme of one will be economic incentives like, for example, the offer of a privileged partnership with the European Union and an association agreement for the future Palestinian state. A second group will focus on the regional environment and security guarantees.
Q. - The Palestinian Authority supports this approach. Are you waiting for anything else from it?
THE MINISTER - As I said both times I met President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians also have work to do: inter-Palestinian reconciliation and unity between the West Bank and Gaza. This can be done only on a very clear basis: that of the peace and dialogue agenda promoted by the Palestinian President. Hamas must take the first step and accept the framework set by the international community, namely recognition of the State of Israel and the agreements reached, and the renunciation of violence.
Q. - Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says the only solution is based on direct negotiations.
THE MINISTER -Today, those direct negotiations don’t exist. When I met Binyamin Netanyahu, he told me he supported the two-state solution but opposed the method we’re proposing. This disagreement on method can be overcome. Unless we emerge from the current impasse, we’re heading straight to disaster. The context has changed: the development of terrorism is having an impact, including in that part of the region. We’re talking about a danger for Israel. France is a friend of Israel, and there’s currently genuine concern about its security and its future.
Q. - With the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman to the defence portfolio, the current Israeli government is the most right-wing in the country’s history.
THE MINISTER - Israel is a democracy and the choice of its government is up to the Israeli people. Disagreements have been expressed publicly within the government itself, where a minister has just resigned. There are arguments within the army. Our initiative can only help move the debate forward, including in Israel.
Q. - The initial plan envisaged France recognizing Palestine in the event of the process failing. Why isn’t this being mentioned any more?
THE MINISTER - A few months ago, you would have told me such a meeting was impossible. I wanted to create the conditions for it to be held. I’m not thinking in terms of failure. The Palestinians I spoke to understood this perfectly, and they themselves decided to withdraw the draft resolution on settlement activity which they wanted to present at the UN. We must have the maximum number of countries around the table in order to overcome a situation of deadlock and arrive at this two-state solution.
Q. - The Americans are in an election campaign. Doesn’t that complicate things?
THE MINISTER - It’s bound to be less comfortable for the Obama administration, and at the same time it justifies even further our initiative to create momentum. John Kerry understands the purpose of our approach and will be present in Paris. That’s the case with many other countries and international organizations. It’s a fine political result; I see it as recognition of the consistency of France’s commitment and position on the conflict. Even when the people we’re speaking to express disagreements, no one doubts France’s sincerity.
The Participants met in Paris on June 3, 2016 to reaffirm their support for a just, lasting and comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
They reaffirmed that a negotiated two-state solution is the only way to achieve an enduring peace, with two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. They are alarmed that actions on the ground, in particular continued acts of violence and ongoing settlement activity, are dangerously imperilling the prospects for a two-state solution.
The Participants underscored that the status quo is not sustainable, and stressed the importance of both sides demonstrating, with policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution in order to rebuild trust and create the conditions for fully ending the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and resolving all permanent status issues through direct negotiations based on resolutions 242 (1967), 338 (1973), and also recalling relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and highlighting the importance of the implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative.
The Participants discussed possible ways in which the international community could help advance the prospects for peace, including by providing meaningful incentives to the parties to make peace. The Participants also highlighted the potential for regional peace and security as envisioned by the Arab Peace Initiative.
The Participants highlighted the key role of the Quartet and key regional stakeholders. They welcomed the interested countries’ offer to contribute to this effort. They also welcomed France’s offer to coordinate it, and the prospect of convening before the end of the year an international conference.