Paris, February 23, 2012
I - Statement by Mr Alain Juppé, Minister of Foreign Affairs (Paris, Thursday 23 February 2012)
The Ministre d’Etat’s participation in the Friends of Syria conference (Tunis, Friday, February 24)
The Ministre d’Etat will represent France at the Friends of Syria conference which will take place in Tunis on Friday, February 24.
France called for this conference and we expect it to express the broad international consensus in support of the Arab League’s initiative aimed at putting an end to the crackdown in Syria. It will demonstrate the complete isolation of Bashar al-Assad’s regime. It will reaffirm the international community’s condemnation in the face of the regime’s strategy of forging ahead with its criminal policy.
We hope that the message will be heard by the entire international community, so that it can take collective action to put an end to the tragedy that the Syrian people have endured for almost a year now and for which the Damascus authorities will be held accountable.
The humanitarian situation is dramatically deteriorating in several regions of Syria and in particular in Homs. The tragic death of two journalists as a result of the bombings is yet another example of this regime’s total disregard for its international obligations. France reaffirmed the urgent need to repatriate casualties on medical grounds.
The conference in Tunis should provide an opportunity to implement international humanitarian assistance for Syria and to make progress toward finding ways to ensure access for this humanitarian assistance. Yesterday evening, the minister received at the Quai d’Orsay Mrs. Valerie Amos, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, with whom he discussed the mission that she is due to carry out soon in Syria and the humanitarian emergency in this country.
France also hopes that this conference will give impetus to the process to provide international support to the Syrian opposition, all components of which must be inclusive and united around the Syrian National Council.
II - Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Romain Nadal, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ deputy spokesman (Paris, Thursday 23 February 2012)
Construction of new homes in the settlement of Shilo and the outpost of Shvut Rachel
France strongly condemns the decision by the Israeli authorities to build 500 new homes and to retroactively “legalize” 200 others in the settlement of Shilo and the outpost of Shvut Rachel.
Israeli settlement activity as a whole is illegal and undermines the trust necessary for the resumption of dialogue between the parties. Outposts such as Shvut Rachel must be dismantled, as stipulated under the road map and not, under any circumstances, “legalized.”
Consequently, the Israeli government must reverse these decisions.
We also, once again, urge the Israeli and Palestinian parties to remain engaged in the efforts to relaunch direct negotiations and to make compromises in this direction.
Presidential election in Yemen (February 21)
France welcomes the holding of the presidential election that has just taken place in Yemen.
It commends the Yemeni people for their mobilization and the conduct of this ballot, which for the most part was peaceful. However it recognizes that serious acts of intimidation resulting in the loss of life were committed in certain southern governorates, notably in the city of Aden, in an attempt to jeopardize the success of this election. France strongly condemns these acts ; full light should be shed on them.
This election marks a new stage in the peaceful and ordered transition that has been initiated in Yemen, based on the initiative of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, agreed upon by the Yemeni parties and supported by the Security Council.
France addresses its congratulations to, and expresses its support for and trust in Mr. Abed Rabu Mansour Hadi. All parties must prove themselves equal to the Yemenis’ aspirations for change by contributing, in a responsible, constructive and peaceful way, to the success of a democratic process that will allow them to maintain their unity and establish the conditions required for their prosperity.
France will continue to stand alongside Yemen during the next stages of the process, particularly during the 2-year transition period which will now begin with the inauguration of a new president. This will be the case with respect to the institutional field, regarding which it has agreed to help Yemen, particularly with a view toward drafting the constitution and the electoral law.
New episode of the web documentary on Kenya
I would like to draw your attention to the new episode of the Quai d’Orsay’s web documentary on Kenya, an important East African country. This web documentary is available online on the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs’ website (http://destinations.diplomatie.gouv.fr).
This episode will allow internet users to find out about the scale and diversity of French cooperation in Kenya, emergency humanitarian programs, social and development programs, as well as funding projects for audiovisual work.
Through this web documentary, the Quai d’Orsay is continuing to diversify its digital communication activities and its goals with respect to digital diplomacy in three areas :
public service – travel advice and consular action
the priorities of French foreign policy
France’s influence and image throughout the world.
The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, a ministry that is leading the way with respect to digital communication, is the top French ministry in terms of social web presence. Its Twitter account now has 132,364 followers.