Paris, February 24, 2012
Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ deputy spokesman (Paris, Friday 24 February 2012)
Visit by Mr. Alain Juppé to Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali (February 24 to 26)
Mr. Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, will visit Benin, Burkina Faso and Mali from February 24 to 26. This visit will allow him to discuss with his interlocutors the major topical African issues, in particular issues relating to peace and security in West Africa and the situation in Mali. This will be his 4th visit to sub-Saharan Africa in the past year, following his most recent visit to South Africa and Nigeria in November.
In Cotonou, the minister will be received for a meeting, followed by a lunch, by the President of the Republic of Benin, Mr. Thomas Boni Yayi, in the presence of the Prime Minister, Mr. Pascal Irénée Koupaki, and other members of Benin’s government. The Ministre d’Etat will welcome the recent election of President Boni Yayi as head of the African Union and will reaffirm to him France’s attachment to the essential role played by the African Union in promoting peace, security and cooperation on the continent. The Ministre d’Etat will also meet with the French community in Benin.
Mr. Alain Juppé will then travel to Burkina Faso where he will be received by the President of the Republic, Mr. Blaise Compaoré, and the Prime Minister, Mr. Luc Adolphe Tiao, who conducted a working visit to France from July 4 to 8, 2011, shortly after his appointment as head of the Burkina Faso government. He will also meet with his Burkina Faso counterpart, Mr. Djibril Yipènè Bassolé, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Cooperation. France is one of Burkina Faso’s key development partners, with total bilateral official development assistance amounting to €101 million in 2010 ; this visit will give the Ministre d’Etat an opportunity to take stock of the country’s economic and social situation together with his interlocutors. Burkina Faso’s key role in resolving crises in West Africa will also be discussed during a review of regional and international affairs.
The Ministre d’Etat will end his visit to Africa in Mali, where he will meet the President of the Republic of Mali, Mr. Amadou Toumani Touré, at the Koulouba Palace. He will reaffirm France’s attachment to peace, stability and territorial integrity in Mali and will discuss with the Malian president the conditions necessary for a swift resolution of the crisis in the north of the country, as well as the issues relating to our bilateral relations.
Alain Juppé’s participation in the Foreign Affairs Council meeting (Brussels, February 27)
The Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, will participate in the Foreign Affairs Council meeting which will take place on Monday, February 27 in Brussels and will be chaired by Mrs. Catherine Ashton, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
At the Council’s meeting on Monday, the EU foreign ministers will work on the following topics :
1. The situation in Syria will be the focus of the debates, following the meeting of the Friends of Syria group on February 24 in Tunis. A decision will be taken on the adoption of new sanctions against the Syrian regime, targeting additional entities, including Syria’s central bank, and individuals associated with or funding the crackdown ;
2. A political assessment of the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo will be carried out, notably in preparation for the debate and the decision that is to be taken by the General Affairs Council on Tuesday, February 28, on whether to grant the status of candidate country to Serbia, which France supports ;
3. Conclusions will also be drawn on the democratic transition in Egypt, on the one hand, and the situation in the South Caucasus, on the other hand ;
4. The ministers will review the situation in Somalia, in the light of the London conference on February 23.
5. The peace process in the Middle East and, more specifically, the issue of inter-Palestinian reconciliation as well as possible conditions for the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue will be discussed ;
6. Lastly, the strengthening of European sanctions against the Belarus regime will be considered, in view of the continuing deterioration of the human rights situation in this country.
The Ministre d’Etat’s participation in the Human Rights Council meeting – Geneva (February 27)
Alain Juppé will go to Geneva on Monday, February 27, for the opening of the 19th session of the Human Rights Council which will take place from February 27 to March 23.
Following the Tunis conference and while the tragedy in Homs is continuing, the situation in Syria will be the central focus of the Council’s discussions.
The Ministre d’Etat will reaffirm France’s commitment to the universality and the protection of human rights, at a time when people’s demands for the recognition of their inalienable rights continue to be expressed in many countries.
This session of the Human Rights Council will allow us to examine several troubling situations. In addition to Syria, the Council will need to adopt a position on the human rights violations in Iran, North Korea, as well as with respect to changes in the situation in Burma. Major issues will also be addressed during this session, such as the fight against religious intolerance, the freedom of expression, human rights violations on the basis of sexual orientation and respect for minorities.
The Ministre d’Etat will also have several meetings during his visit, notably with Ms. Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the WTO.
Together with the representatives of the International Labor Office, he will support the candidacy of Mr. Gilles de Robien for the position of Director-General of this major universal organization responsible for ensuring compliance with labor law.