MIL-OSI Europe: Official speeches and statements – October 4, 2021

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

1. Saudi Arabia – Visit by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian – Statement by the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs spokesperson (Paris, 03/10/2021)

M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, is visiting Saudi Arabia today.

The Minister will have an audience with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia and will also meet his own counterpart and the culture and energy ministers.

Jean-Yves Le Drian will talk to his interlocutors about all the regional crises and reaffirm France’s commitment to stability and security in the region. He will restate his desire to step up the momentum of regional dialogue initiated by the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership, in which Saudi Arabia took part on 28 August, and by the ministerial follow-up meeting organized in New York on 21 September.

The meetings will also deepen our bilateral relationship in the cultural, environmental and economic fields, in particular in the digital, transport and green-energy sectors. He will reiterate France’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement and discuss the prospects for cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the fields of renewable energy, decarbonized hydrogen and nuclear power./.


2. United Arab Emirates – Expo 2020 spotlights France – Communiqué issued by the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs (Paris, 03/10/2021)

M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and M. Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, went to the United Arab Emirates on 2 October for France National Day, which was held on the second day of Expo 2020 Dubai.

The Ministers officially opened the French pavilion, which will help stimulate greater awareness of France among its partners during the six-month-long Expo 2020 Dubai. At the heart of the Expo, the French pavilion showcases French excellence. By its very design, based on stringent environmental standards, it embodies France’s ambition to provide lasting solutions to present-day challenges and play its full part in the international fight against global warming.

France National Day on Saturday 2 October highlighted France’s know-how, expertise, ability to innovate and cultural richness, bringing together artists for a series of performances and also the Patrouille de France (1) and Thomas Pesquet, who had a live discussion with the Ministers.

France National Day, Expo 2020’s first national day, also embodied the exceptional relationship between France and the United Arab Emirates. As Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized in the inauguration speech he delivered, the relationship is unique and allows our two countries to coordinate closely on tackling regional crises, find joint solutions to the major challenges the planet faces in the future and jointly project our models of cooperation and influence abroad.

This Expo 2020 provides an opportunity for businesses to bounce back economically by creating new development prospects and speeding up the conquest of new markets.

Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, said:

“The French pavilion represents the best of what France can offer: excellent skills in both science and gastronomy, industrial excellence, a recognized ability to innovate but also traditional know-how, which is much in demand, and a rich cultural and philosophical heritage. It’s a tool for France to exert influence and an important means of accelerating its international recovery. France is more influential than ever!”./.

(1) French Air and Space Force acrobatics unit, roughly equivalent to the UK’s Red Arrows.


3. Human rights – Christians around the world – Reply by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to a written question in the Senate (Paris, 30/09/2021)

Throughout the world, France tirelessly defends freedom of religion or belief, as set out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. This means freedom to have or not have a religion, to change one’s religion or belief, and to express one’s religion or belief alone or in community with others, both in public and in private, through education, practices, worship and the observance of rituals.

Our country is strongly committed to respect for this fundamental freedom and thus pays the utmost attention to cases around the world where it is violated, of which very many people are the victims, including Christians. In this spirit, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) holds regular dialogue with organizations gathering information about these violations, such as the NGOs Open Doors, which publishes a global index of the persecution of Christians every year, and Aid to the Church in Need, which publishes a report on religious freedom around the world every two years. The MEAE examines these documents extremely closely.

The future of certain Christian communities around the world is especially worrying. France is fully committed to the promotion of and respect for freedom of religion and belief, both multilaterally and nationally. It promotes a universalist, indivisible idea of the fight against discrimination and condemns all violence and persecution against individuals for their religion or beliefs.

Within the United Nations, this commitment is reflected in France’s support for the existing legal framework and for the intensification of international cooperation under dedicated mechanisms: the Human Rights Council, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). France takes regular action to ensure the United Nations General Assembly and Human Rights Council condemn discrimination and violence of all kinds, including against people belonging to religious minorities. France is also one of 27 States participating in the International Contact Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief, which aims to share best practice and information in this field and promote freedom of religion and belief.

At bilateral level, France takes opportunities to meet the authorities of the countries concerned, to firmly condemn human rights violations of which people belonging to certain religious minorities are the victims and to discuss the most worrying individual cases. It speaks out publicly when the situation demands it, as it did for Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Catholic woman who had been condemned to death for blasphemy.

It urges those States which have not done so to adopt all the international instruments relating to human rights, including those which enshrine freedom of religion or belief, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and ensure that their legislation fully complies with their international commitments. France maintains its commitment to countries where the persecution of religious minorities is strongest, to support them in their efforts to combat terrorism and religious extremism.

France supported the adoption in 2013 of European Union (EU) Guidelines on Freedom of Religion or Belief. These provide a framework for EU action on this issue and, among other things, provide for the monitoring of violations of this freedom around the world, their discussion during appropriate high-level contacts, and the use of diplomatic initiatives and public statements whenever necessary, both preventively and in response to violations. France supported the appointment in May 2016 of the first EU Special Envoy for the promotion of freedom of religion or belief. It welcomes the appointment in May 2021 of a new special envoy, in the person of former European Commissioner Christos Stylianides.

France is one of the most committed countries on this issue. It has distinguished itself through its action in support of people who are victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East, including Eastern Christians. France has taken strong initiatives to mobilize the international community, in particular by jointly organizing with Jordan, in September 2015, an international conference for the protection of victims of ethnic or religious violence, which brought together some 60 States and 11 international organizations and resulted in the adoption of an action plan listing the priorities to be implemented in the political, humanitarian and judicial spheres. Two follow-up conferences in Madrid (24 May 2017) and Brussels (14 May 2018) continued this momentum and operationalized the action plan set out in 2015, which, for France, constitutes the international community’s road map on the issue.

Nationally, France has also created a fund to support victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East. Of the 100 or so projects supported in Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria under this fund between 2015 and 2020, 40 projects totalling nearly 11 million euros have directly benefited Eastern Christians. Finally, on 23 January 2020 the French President announced the creation of a fund dedicated to supporting French-speaking Christian schools in the Middle East. Now operational and co-financed with L’Oeuvre d’Orient, this fund supports many schools, particularly in Lebanon but also in the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Egypt./.

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