Paris, May 30, 2012
Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman (Paris, 30th May 2012)
Sudan/ South Sudan – Resumption of negotiations in Addis Ababa
France welcomes the resumption of negotiations between Sudan and South Sudan expected today in Addis Ababa under the auspices of the African Union High-level Panel led by President Mbeki.
It encourages the parties to engage constructively in these negotiations in order to find solutions to the outstanding issues, in the interests of the country and the region. It urges them to comply without further delay with the UN Security Council resolutions and to implement the road map adopted by the African Union on April 24.
France urges the authorities of both countries to exercise restraint in order to avoid any risk of war. It actively supports the efforts undertaken to put an end to the violence.
Election of the Director-General of the International Labor Office
Mr. Guy Ryder has just been elected Director-General of the International Labor Organization’s International Labor Office (ILO) following the 6th round of elections which took place today.
France offers its warmest congratulations to him and wishes him every success in carrying out his mission at a particularly significant time for the International Labor Organization. To that end, it assures him of its full support and backing.
It also pays tribute to the dynamic and remarkable campaign conducted by Mr. De Robien ; the high number of votes cast in support of the French candidate at all stages of this close election demonstrates that his ambitious vision of the ILO’s future is shared by many partners.
On this occasion, France reaffirms its attachment to the prominent role played by the ILO ; it will continue to work in close partnership with its new Director-General so that the ILO can effectively fulfill its mission by placing the demands for social justice at the heart of its activities.
In accordance with the provisions of Article 9 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of April 18, 1961, the French authorities have declared Ms. Lamia Chakkour, in her capacity as Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic, as well as two other embassy officials, personae non gratae.
The official notification was issued today.
This decision was prompted by the heinous massacre perpetrated in Houla by Syrian forces and the escalation of the bloody crackdown imposed by Bashar al-Assad’s regime for more than 14 months, in violation of the ceasefire decided by the UN Security Council and in flagrant contradiction with the plan proposed by the United Nations and Arab League Joint Special Envoy, Mr. Kofi Annan.
Have we issued a new statement regarding the merger between the MNLA and Ansar Eddine, regarding the reality of this merger and ECOWAS’s reaction ? I imagine that we fully support ECOWAS.
Of course. This will notably be one of the topics of discussion during Mr. Laurent Fabius’s meeting with his South African counterpart in the early afternoon ; later today he will also meet with the President of Benin who is also President of the African Union and who is visiting Paris today.
With respect to Mali, I think we need to adopt a comprehensive approach. There are 3 problems in Mali. There’s a political problem, a security problem and there’s another issue that requires greater emphasis, the food problem.
The first problem is the political situation in the south, in Bamako.
The second problem is in the north, where there are two subproblems, if I may say so. Firstly, there’s the problem related to the announcement of independence by northern Mali, by Azawad. Our position is constant in this respect ; we continue to see this declaration of independence by Azawad as null and void. In this respect, we urge the rebel groups in northern Mali to engage in dialogue with the Mali authorities in order to find lasting solutions to all of the problems affecting this region, i.e. the economic problems, social problems, security problems affecting the 3 regions of northern Mali. Lastly the second subproblem in northern Mali is what happened or what seems to have happened – it is still unclear – in recent days, with respect to a merger or takeover between the MNLA and Ansar Eddine. So, we had this announcement and then we noted that they weren’t completely in agreement regarding the terms of their mergers, etc. We’re concerned about the growing presence of terrorist groups in the north of the country. We urge everyone to demonstrate a spirit of responsibility so that Mali can overcome the numerous challenges it faces. And lastly, yes, we support, more than ever, the efforts of ECOWAS and all those, starting with Burkina Faso, who are trying to find solutions in order to help Mali overcome the difficulties it is facing.
Excerpts from the daily press briefing by Bernard Valero, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ spokesman (Paris, 30th May 2012) :
Istanbul Conference II on Somalia – May 31 to June 1, 2012
From May 31 to June 1, France will participate in the Istanbul Conference II on Somalia (“Preparing Somalia’s Future : Goals for 2015”), co-hosted by the United Nations and Turkey.
This Conference is part of the follow-up to the London Conference on Somalia in February which allowed the international community to strongly reaffirm its commitment to supporting the Somali people during this crucial time for the future of their country marked by an improvement in the security situation and the prospect of establishing new institutions by the end of the so-called “transition” period on August 20.
This Conference will bring together the United Nations, the regional organizations and States involved in the Somali issue, as well as the Transitional Federal Government, the regional entities and representatives of Somali civil society ; it aims to prepare the ground for the post-transition period in Somalia, at a political, security as well as economic level.
France sees this Conference as a real opportunity to encourage the international community to remain mobilized in support of the Somali people and to take coordinated action so that this mobilization remains as effective as possible. We also want this conference to provide an opportunity for the Somali actors to reaffirm their full participation in the process.
Sudan : situation in Abyei
France welcomes the withdrawal of Sudanese troops from Abyei, in accordance with UNSCR 2046.
However, it remains concerned about the mutual accusations by Sudan and South Sudan of bombings and attacks on the territory of the neighboring State. It encourages the parties meeting in Addis Ababa for the continuation of the negotiations, to demonstrate the utmost restraint and to participate constructively in the process in order to swiftly resolve their disputes. France fully supports the role played by the African Union in facilitating such a settlement.
Do you confirm that the Syrian ambassador did indeed leave France on Wednesday ? She was also ambassador to UNESCO ; does your decision to expel her mean that she cannot remain in France in her role within this international forum ?
Ms. Lamia Chakkour was declared persona non grata in her capacity as Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic. She is also Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of the Syrian Arab Republic to UNESCO. The ambassadors who are permanent delegates are accredited to UNESCO and not to the French government. France respects the headquarters agreement with this organization. We have notified the Secretariat of UNESCO of the French authorities’ decision.
France is working closely with its European partners in Brussels. So far, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Belgium and Luxembourg have declared the Syrian ambassadors and chargés d’affaires personae non gratae. In addition the Swiss authorities, to whom the Syrian ambassador to France is also accredited, have also declared her persona non grata in their territory.