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

1. European affairs – Brexit/European Union/recovery plan/climate/Turkey – Interview given by Mr. Clément Beaune, Minister of State for Europe, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to RTL (excerpts) (Paris – December 11, 2020)

Q – Are we heading straight towards failure, between London and Europe, on the future trading relationship between the two sides? These post-Brexit negotiations have been deadlocked for days, weeks, months; the deadline is Sunday evening. Be honest, do you think we’re heading towards a no-deal?

Listen, to be honest, we’re giving ourselves another chance to get an agreement, but it’s very difficult. I want to say two things. Firstly, we won’t accept – as we’ve said repeatedly – an agreement on bad terms, for fisheries or fishermen, for European or French businesses, in order to ensure there’s no uneven playing field between the UK and Europe. We won’t accept that.

Does that mean it’s still being negotiated this evening?

It’s still being negotiated, it probably still will be this weekend. So we’re giving ourselves a chance, because it’s better to get a good agreement.

The European Commission President was talking at midday today about weak hope of an agreement, as was Boris Johnson. In diplomatic speak, doesn’t this mean there’s a 95% chance it will collapse?

No, I don’t want to give percentages, because as long as there’s hope we’ll continue. We’ve continued for years, because it’s in our collective interest to get a good deal. Yet once again, our interests and our priorities are clear, and we won’t sacrifice them, either fisheries or the level playing field between the UK and us.

If it fails, who will be the big loser – Europe or the other side of the Channel?

Firstly, the UK – much more than us. To give you a rough idea, the British market is eight times smaller than the European market. So we’re strong. Now, if there’s no deal it’s difficult. So we’re preparing for every scenario. We’ve made preparations for customs checks and for helping sectors which might be in difficulty due to Brexit. I also want to say that, whatever happens, deal or no deal, there are changes occurring on January 1, a number of checks on goods in particular, so at any rate businesses, for example, must prepare. (…)

2. United Nations – Briefing on the international residual mechanism for criminal tribunals (IRMCT) – Statement delivered by Ms. Diarra Dime-Labille, legal advisor of France to the United Nations in the Security Council (New York – December 14, 2020)

[translation from French]

Thank you Mr. President.

I too thank President Agius and Prosecutor Brammertz for their report and presentation. We welcome their reappointment following the adoption by this Council of resolution 2529, which renews the mandate of the Mechanism for two years. We also welcome the appointment of Mr. Abubacarr Tambadou as Registrar. May they be reassured of France’s full support for their efforts to combat impunity and preserve the legacy of the ICTY and the ICTR.

In order to carry out all of its activities on two continents, the Mechanism must have adequate financial resources. By contributing more than 4 million dollars per year, France is actively taking its part. In return, it is obviously incumbent on the Mechanism to continue the pooling efforts undertaken between the two divisions, in the Hague and in Arusha.

The period covered by the report was obviously marked by the health crisis. However, the pending legal proceedings have moved forward, since three important decisions, in the cases Stanisić and Simatović, Turinabo and al., and Mladić, could be handed down as early as the end of the first half of 2021. We welcome the adaptability demonstrated by the three bodies and the personnel of the Mechanism to ensure the continuity of their activities in unison.

The trial in the Kabuga case is also expected to begin next year. Following his arrest in France, the result of close international cooperation, this trial will be another important moment for the victims, for national reconciliation in Rwanda and for international criminal justice. We have taken note of Mr. Kabuga’s initial appearance on November 11 in The Hague, where the accused was temporarily transferred pending a new judicial decision. Our priority remains to ensure that justice is done as soon as possible and we are particularly aware that the Prosecutor’s team based in Kigali is fully mobilized to move the proceedings forward.

Following the confirmation of the death of Mr. Augustin Bizimana, it is of utmost importance that the six suspects still wanted be able to appear before the courts. To this end, we once again urge States to cooperate fully with the Mechanism, in accordance with their international obligations. We regret that some partners are still refusing to do so, in spite of the numerous appeals from the Prosecutor and many Member States, relayed within this Council.

With regard to cases referred to national jurisdictions, France reaffirms its full mobilization to bring the Bucyibaruta case to a conclusion within a reasonable time frame. In particular, our objective remains to ensure that no crime of genocide can go unpunished, which has resulted in particular in the strengthening of judicial resources devoted to the prosecution of participants in the genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda residing in France. The creation of the National Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor’s Office on July 1, 2019 as a specialized prosecutor’s office including the unit in charge of the fight against crimes against humanity and war crimes allowed for the allocation of two additional prosecutor positions.

Finally, no lasting reconciliation can take place without an acknowledgement of crimes and responsibilities. The denial of crimes, the glorification of criminals responsible for genocide and war crimes convicted by international criminal tribunals after impartial and independent proceedings are unacceptable. In this year of commemoration of terrible events related to the conflicts of the 1990s in the Western Balkans, we renew our call to all those responsible to refrain from statements denying the crimes committed.

I thank you.

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