Statements made by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris - February 15, 2019)
Jean-Yves le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, will take part in the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on February 18.
The ministers will discuss the following topics:
- Ukraine: The ministers will reaffirm the EU’s support for Ukraine at a pivotal moment ahead of the presidential election on March 31. They will also take stock of the reforms implemented by the Ukrainian authorities since 2014. The discussion will provide an opportunity to address the tensions in the Azov Sea and to identify the types of support the EU can provide to the Ukrainian regions that have been severely affected. France, together with Germany, will present the status of discussions in the Normandy format, underscore the importance of the continued implementation of reforms in Ukraine, and express its concern regarding the militarization of the Azov Sea.
- Syria: France will underscore the importance for the EU to actively promote a demanding political process under the leadership of the new special envoy of the UN secretary-general and will express its expectations for the Brussels III Conference (March 13 and 14). This conference should confirm the EU’s humanitarian support for the Syrian people, while specifying that reconstruction can only be possible within the framework of a credible political transition. It should make it possible to mobilize new support and funding for refugees and the communities that are hosting them in Syria’s neighboring countries.
- Horn of Africa: The high representative will provide an update on her recent visit to the region from February 9 to 11. The discussion will provide an opportunity to take stock of new regional dynamics, notably the rapprochement efforts between Ethiopia and Eritrea, the political and economic reforms initiated in Ethiopia and the situation in Somalia. With respect to the EU’s considerable commitment in the Horn of Africa, Somalia is expected to implement its security and political commitments. The EU also has a role to play in promoting rapprochement and dialogue between the countries of the region.
- Venezuela: The ministers will re-examine developments in the situation. The high representative will present the results of the first meeting of the International Contact Group, of which France is a member, in Montevideo on February 7. The ministers will also discuss ways to allow the entry and distribution of European humanitarian assistance, while ensuring that it does not become politicized. France will reaffirm its support for the International Contact Group and the high representative’s efforts to promote a political solution to the crisis in Venezuela, involving the swift organization of a democratic presidential election.
- The ministers will also discuss the most recent developments in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Council will adopt conclusions on Yemen, climate diplomacy and the EU’s human rights priorities for 2019 in the UN forums.
The Philippine journalist Maria Ressa was arrested on February 13 before being released on bail.
We are closely following her situation and call for the legal proceedings against her to be conducted independently and in compliance with the principles of the rule of law, especially with respect to the rights of the defense.
We reaffirm our commitment to the freedom of the press and freedom of expression throughout the world.
How do you respond to accusations by U.S. Vice President Pence that the SPV for Iran is an unwise measure that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU, and create further distance between Europe and the United States?
France is committed to the implementation of the JCPoA, in respect of international agreements and international security. It will continue to support the JCPoA, which was unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2231 (2015), as long as Iran abides by all of its nuclear obligations.
France and its E3 partners (Germany and the United Kingdom) support an approach that includes the long-term management of the Iranian nuclear program, as well as the limitation of its missile program and destabilizing regional activities. On February 4, all of the EU member states asserted the need for a comprehensive, balanced approach toward Iran.
The work we have carried out with our European partners, especially Germany and the United Kingdom, on the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) is aimed at facilitating legal commercial transactions with Iran in line with EU law and UN Security Resolution 2231 (2015).
With regard to Syria, Sputnik announced that a bomb exploded at the French Special Forces base in Raqqa Hasaka, known as the "Sugar Factory." Injuries were reported. Before we turn to the Armed Forces Ministry, does the Quai d’Orsay have any public information?