Statements made by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson [Jan. 3, 2024]

Statements made by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson [Jan. 3, 2024]

Statements made by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson [Jan. 3, 2024]

Palestinian Territories
Departure of second ship carrying more than 700 tons of nutritional supplements from the World Food Programme (Jan. 3, 2024)

As Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna announced at the Follow-up meeting to the Conference for the Civilian Population in Gaza on November 9, 705 tons of highly nutritious food provided to the World Food Programme (WFP) by the French company Nutriset will be transported by sea, facilitated by France.

The first ship, which set sail from Le Havre on December 20, carrying more than 350 tons of cargo, will arrive in Port Said, Egypt, on January 8. A second ship, carrying the second half of the cargo, will set sail from Le Havre today, bound for Port Said.

The WFP will be responsible for receiving and distributing the nutrition kits, stepping up its efforts to provide emergency food aid to Gaza’s civilian population.

This shipment brings the humanitarian relief that France has delivered to civilians in Gaza since October 28 to more than 1,000 tons. It includes emergency medical kits and medical supplies, highly nutritious food, shelters and family kits.

France remains deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza, where the lack of food, drinking water and medicine has exposed civilians to a very serious health and food crisis for several weeks now. Together with its partners, France remains fully committed to assisting civilians in Gaza.

Palestinian Territories (Jan. 3, 2024)

France condemns remarks by Israel’s finance and national security ministers, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, who have called for the “emigration” of Gaza’s population as well as the reestablishment of settlements in Gaza and the occupation of its land.

We call on Israel to refrain from such provocative statements, which are irresponsible and fuel tensions. France emphasizes that the forced transfer of populations is a serious violation of international law under the Geneva Conventions and the Rome Statute.

It is not up to the Israeli government to decide where Palestinians should live on their land. The future of the Gaza Strip and its inhabitants lies in a unified Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel.

Death of Riad al-Turk (Jan. 1, 2024)

Syrian opposition figure and activist Riad al-Turk passed away in France on January 1. It is with great sorrow that we salute the memory of this freedom worker, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to his family, loved ones, and fellow fighters for freedom and human rights.

Syria’s oldest political dissident, Riad al-Turk began his political activities in the 1950s and was renowned for his courage and free speech. He fought tirelessly for a free and democratic Syria in the face of the Syrian regime’s barbarity. His unwavering resolve never flagged, despite being tortured and spending 20 years in prison.

A signer of the 2005 Damascus Declaration calling for peaceful democratic reforms in Syria and an early supporter of the revolutionaries of 2011 who took up his battle for justice and dignity, he received asylum in France in 2018 for his activities to promote freedom.

Today France honors the memory of Riad al-Turk and reaffirms its commitment to a just, lasting, inclusive political solution to the Syrian conflict, the only way to bring about the free and democratic Syria that he fought for throughout his entire lifetime.

France continues to stand with the Syrian people. We strongly support efforts to move toward a lasting political solution based on the fight against impunity, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2254. It is the only way to achieve a lasting peace, which the Syrian people deserve and need so badly.

United Nations
French Security Council presidency (Jan. 3, 2024)

France took up the month-long presidency of the UN Security Council on January 1.

It follows Ecuador and commends the work carried out by the Ecuadorian presidency, which ended on December 31.

The UN Charter gives the Security Council primary responsibility for preserving international peace and security. As a permanent member, France exercises particular responsibility in this area and will continue to do so.

Under the French presidency, the Security Council will continue to monitor the situation in the Middle East, Ukraine, West Africa, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh, Haiti, Colombia and Central Asia. Major humanitarian crises will also be on its agenda.

France will organize several important meetings in this regard:

  • On January 23, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Catherine Colonna will chair an open ministerial debate on the situation in the Middle East to which international and regional partners will be invited. This event will help us move toward a political, security and humanitarian resolution of the crisis.
  • Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, which France condemns, will also be on the agenda. Nearly two years after the start of the Russian aggression, we must mobilize the international community in support of Ukraine and its civilian population.

France welcomes the prospect of working closely with each of its partners and relies on their commitment to ensure that the UN Security Council fully assumes its responsibilities for preserving international peace and security.

On this occasion, France commends the work carried out by Albania, Brazil, Gabon, Ghana and the United Arab Emirates as Security Council members during the 2022-2023 term. As we begin the new year, it congratulates Algeria, Guyana, Sierra Leone, Slovenia and South Korea, who are beginning their two-year terms.

Mali / UN
France commends MINUSMA’s role in Mali over the past 10 years (Jan. 3, 2024)

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) completed its withdrawal from that country on December 31. That withdrawal occurred at the request of Mali’s transition government, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 2690, adopted on June 30, 2023. Mali’s cooperation remains essential to ensuring the security of UN personnel still on the ground to oversee the transportation of equipment.

Over the past 10 years, MINUSMA has made a significant contribution to the country’s security and the protection of civilians. France pays tribute to the peacekeepers who risked their lives to protect civilian populations, and to their families. More than 300 of them have lost their lives since 2013, and many others have been injured.

France applauds the countries that committed troops, and particularly Mali’s regional partners and neighbors.

Together with its international and regional partners, France remains committed to supporting countries that seek help with resolving crises and combating terrorism.


France has been working to try and prevent a conflagration in Lebanon, but after a strike against Hamas in southern Lebanon yesterday, the situation is getting worse. What is Paris proposing in practical terms to try and prevent an escalation in the coming days?

As President Macron emphasized yesterday during his meeting with Israeli Minister Benny Gantz, it’s essential to avoid any escalatory stance, particularly in Lebanon. France will continue sending these messages to all those directly or indirectly involved in the area.

The [Foreign] Minister will be having meetings with her counterparts in the region in the next few days.

Since the beginning of the crisis in the Middle East, France has constantly called on all the parties to show restraint. We’re continuing our efforts at every level to prevent a regional flare-up, which would be tragic for both Lebanon and Israel.

France has said repeatedly that it’s preparing to take national measures against some extremist Israeli settlers. What’s delaying this initiative?

France is going to take administrative measures to ban extremist Israeli settlers who have been or are guilty of violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank from entering the country. Taking these measures at national level requires a prior effort to identify the individuals potentially concerned and gather information to give reasons for the measures in law.

France is also in favor of adopting sanctions at European level against these violent settlers. The matter was raised by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs at the latest Foreign Affairs Council, in Brussels in December. In this respect, we’re working with our European partners to identify individuals to whom these sanctions could apply. If necessary, such sanctions should be the subject of a unanimous agreement by the 27 Member States.

France reaffirms its firm condemnation of the violence perpetrated by groups of settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. This violence must stop. It is the Israeli authorities’ responsibility to ensure this and prosecute the perpetrators.

This condemnation is part of our firm condemnation of settlement activity in general. Our position is very clear: settlement activity is illegal under international law. In this respect, we are asking the Israeli authorities to reverse the recent shameful decisions speeding up settlement activity in the Palestinian Territories, such as the one aimed at authorizing the construction of 1,800 new housing units in settlements in East Jerusalem, announced on 6 December 2023. They are diminishing the prospect of creating a viable Palestinian State, which is the only solution possible for Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security on their lands. The war in Gaza must in no way serve as an excuse for imposing unilateral measures on the ground that undermine the prospects of a two-State solution, the only one that can guarantee a just and lasting peace.

In a statement dated January 2, France announced it would be closing its embassy in Niger but that it would maintain ties with French citizens and NGOs working in the humanitarian sector there. There was no mention of the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum. Has Paris decided to end its support given the reality on the ground?

Our position remains unchanged. France fully supports President Bazoum and continues to call for his immediate release, as well as the release of his family, and for a swift return to constitutional order. We likewise reaffirm our unwavering support of ECOWAS with a view to finding a solution to the Nigerien crisis.

On December 30, 2023, Kyiv conducted massive strikes on the Russian city of Belgorod using cluster munitions. This attack left 25 people dead and over 100 injured. What is France’s position on Ukraine’s use of this type of weapon?

There is an aggressor state, Russia, that is employing a strategy of terror by deliberately attacking essential civilian infrastructure, in violation of international humanitarian law, and there is a state that is the object of this aggression, Ukraine, that is acting in legitimate defense, in accordance with article 51 of the UN Charter.

Russia could put an end to this conflict and to the attendant human tragedies, for which it is solely responsible. To do so, Russia would have to withdraw all its troops from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine. This is an essential precondition for reinstating lasting peace and preserving an international order based on the rule of law.

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