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Source: France-Diplomatie – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development

1. Turkey – Reply by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the Senate (Paris, 04/11/2020)

The questions you ask are legitimate and totally relevant. We’ve got a long list of very serious disagreements with Ankara. And as you said, we expect Ankara first of all to ensure that Turkey stops its belligerent behaviour in the European neighbourhood. Turkey’s unilateral action in the eastern Mediterranean, its aggressive policy in Libya and its policy in Nagorno-Karabakh are fomenting major instability.

Yet in the past few weeks we’ve reached a level in our relations with Turkey which is unacceptable between allies. The insults, the slander, the desire to foster a campaign of hatred towards France and Europe, are totally different in nature; they’re threats! So we expect the Turkish President and his government to put an immediate stop to this behaviour. Nor will we tolerate this hatred and violence being exported to French territory, relayed by very small groups for which there should be no place.

And I’d also like to say that the unanimous way the whole of Europe reacted in solidarity demonstrates that this isn’t just about a Franco-Turkish dispute, but rather attacks against Europe, its values and its model of fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. And I’d like to reiterate that the European Council set a deadline in October, even before the escalation which I’ve seen and you’ve seen; the deadline was that if Turkey doesn’t fundamentally and in concrete terms alter its posture before the December European Council, we’ll take the necessary measures at European level against the Turkish authorities. You’ve proposed a list and as regards this position of the December deadline, I must say here that all options are on the table./.

2. Council of Ministers’ meeting – French presidency of the Council of the European Union – Statement (Paris, 04/11/2020)

The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, made a statement on the French presidency of the Council of the European Union.

France will hold the Council of the European Union presidency from 1 January to 30 June 2022. Following the Portuguese and then Slovene presidencies in 2021, France will begin the presidency trio it forms with the Czech Republic and Sweden.

For France, a founding member of the European Union, this will be its 13th presidency of the Council but its first since the Lisbon Treaty came into force on 1 December 2009.

As for every European Union Member State that holds it, this will be a very important responsibility for France:

 firstly, an institutional responsibility: vis-à-vis the other Member States, because the presidency is there to promote the Council’s stances and defend its interests, and vis-à-vis the other major players in the life of the European Union, namely the European Parliament and the European Commission, with which the acting presidency is in constant liaison, particularly for its legislative work;

 a political responsibility too, because a presidency is tasked with furthering the issues on the agenda and making progress on the European strategic agenda decided by the European Council, which is manifested in particular in the European Commission’s annual work programme.

The French presidency will come at a unique time given the European and international situation, which calls for increasingly resolute and effective action by Europeans: crises in our immediate neighbourhood, a crisis of multilateralism, the climate crisis etc. This new scenario will have to be fully taken into account.

In this context, France intends to grasp fully this essential opportunity to help move Europe forward. Indeed, at a time when the number of global challenges (in the areas of health, the environment, democracy, security etc.) is constantly on the rise, it is essential to continue demonstrating the relevance of [action at] the European level and restore confidence in Europe’s ability to protect society’s choices in the long term and carry weight in the world. An aspiration exists today which we must meet: for a more united, more sovereign Europe; a Europe that asserts itself as a public area of shared cultures, where an identity develops that is rich in diversity but based on common principles and values; a Europe that exploits the full potential of the economic recovery and of the ecological and digital transition.

The French presidency of the Council could therefore be built according to the key words “recovery, power, belonging”.

On this basis, the French presidency will organize its activity around two priorities: firstly, the legislative work which it is hoped will be completed in 2022, in accordance with France’s political objectives, for example regarding digital sector regulation and climate and social ambition; and secondly, projects launched to build tomorrow’s Europe, through the Conference on the Future of Europe, whose work will be concluded in the first half of 2022. The conference should enable Europeans to be offered a societal project for the coming generation. The challenge is to identify what model we intend to build and what shared vision we want to develop. We shall have to ask ourselves what it means to be European and tackle issues of identity and culture. Throughout 2021, a national segment of the conference will put citizens at the heart of the proceedings. In this regard, the Ministry for Relations with Parliament and Citizen Participation will have a leading role to play.

To carry out the presidency effectively, it is essential to prepare well for it now and organize it clearly and meticulously.

To this end, a secretariat for France’s presidency of the Council of the European Union has been created in Paris, under the Prime Minister’s authority; it will oversee logistical coordination, accredit events organized in France by civil society in the margins of the presidency, and be responsible for communication. The city of Strasbourg, European capital, will be central to events under the French presidency. In particular, it will be the setting for the conference’s most emblematic moments on the future of Europe.

Meanwhile, the work of setting out the French presidency’s programme has begun under the coordination of the General Secretariat for European Affairs, in close liaison with the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and other ministries. This work will be done with the Permanent Representation to the European Union, which will chair the Council preparatory bodies and conduct negotiations with the other institutions, especially the European Parliament.

Finally, a cultural committee will soon be set up, under the Minister of Culture and the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs; its remit will be to bring Europe to life throughout France from 2021 onwards, be it through live performances (theatres, festivals, concerts), artistic and literary creativity, broadcast output (partnerships with public service broadcasters) or debates, including on social media and the major platforms./.

3. United Nations – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Joint Stakeout of Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom (New York, 05/11/2020)

We, European Union Member States of the Security Council, Belgium Estonia, France, Germany, joined today by Ireland, Norway and the United Kingdom, welcome the unanimous adoption of resolution 2549 (2020) which authorizes the EU military operation EUFOR ALTHEA for a further period of twelve months. This operation plays a key role in supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina’s efforts to maintain a safe and secure environment.

We welcome the progress made these past few months. In particular, the adoption of legislative amendments for local elections in Mostar leading to their organization on December 20, for the first time since 2008, is a major achievement. We call for the respect of democratic standards during the 2020 local elections and beyond. Further reforms are needed to ensure that the electoral framework is brought into line with European standards, including the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

25 years after the genocide in Srebrenica and the Dayton/Paris accords, we pay tribute to all victims and urge all political actors to demonstrate their genuine commitment to reconciliation. We strongly condemn revisionism, genocide denial and glorification of convicted war criminals.

We reaffirm our support for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s EU perspective as a single, united and sovereign country and call for the swift implementation of the 14 key priorities, identified in the Commission’s Opinion on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s application for membership of the European Union. We strongly underline the need for Bosnia and Herzegovina’s authorities to work towards strengthening the rule of law and to fight against corruption./.

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