Afghanistan – France condemns the banning of Afghan women from universities (Dec. 20, 2022)
France utterly condemns yesterday’s deeply shocking decision by the Taliban to ban women from Afghan universities.
This decision follows in the wake of the Taliban’s countless violations and restrictions of women’s fundamental rights and freedoms: barring girls from secondary schools, forcing them to wear head-to-toe coverings in public spaces that entirely cover their faces, and numerous other restrictions on women’s ability to work and move about. These serious violations of fundamental rights and freedoms by the Taliban are absolutely unacceptable.
This decision proves yet again that the Taliban is pursuing a policy of repression and systematic exclusion against half the population of Afghanistan, one that seriously undermines the country’s long-term development and stability as well as its relations with the rest of the world. France reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the universal right to education and its particular concern for defending the rights of girls and women. Access to education for Afghan girls and women is vital to the equitable, sustainable development of Afghan society.
A quick follow-up question on your comment about Afghanistan and on banning women from universities. There’s a G7 meeting tomorrow. Will this matter be raised at the meeting, as the German minister seems to be implying? And in practical terms, what can the G7 do to pressure the Taliban government to change, or at least to reverse this decision?
We are obviously communicating with our international partners on this issue, and especially our G7 partners. We all share the condemnation I just expressed and we are all extremely concerned about the worsening situation of Afghan women and their rights as a result of decisions by Taliban authorities. I don’t know if this point will be on the agenda, but there will most probably be a joint statement on this topic.
Iraq – France condemns the recent terrorist attacks in several provinces (Dec. 21, 2022)
France condemns the recent terrorist attacks in the provinces of Salah al-Din, Kirkuk and Diyala, which took the lives of several security personnel members and civilians.
France offers its condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones. We wish those injured a speedy recovery.
Together with our partners in the Global Coalition against Daesh, France will continue to stand with Iraq in its fight against terrorism.
UN – Renewal of MONUSCO mandate and lifting of the notification requirement for the supply of equipment and military assistance (Dec. 20, 2022)
France welcomes the UN Security Council’s unanimous adoption of the resolution renewing MONUSCO’s mandate for one year.
This mission will continue to offer support for peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by focusing on the protection of civilians, advocating for the disarmament of armed groups, and providing support for security sector reform.
France also commends the lifting of the notification requirement for arms shipments and activities relating to military assistance in the DRC. That move came in response to a request by the Congolese authorities, which France, the author of this resolution, took into account. It has no bearing on the weapons embargo against the armed groups that are active in the country.
Russia – Condemnation of efforts to dissolve the Moscow Helsinki Group
France strongly deplores the Russian Justice Ministry’s efforts to shut down the Moscow Helsinki group, the country’s oldest human rights organization. We are closely monitoring the progress of their court order.
That order follows in the wake of numerous court proceedings against civil society organizations and activities, such as the Russian Supreme Court’s decision on December 28, 2021, to dissolve Memorial International, an NGO that promoted remembrance and human rights.
France denounces the Russian authorities’ crackdown against those who are still speaking out freely against the human rights situation in Russia and criticizing the government and its war of aggression against Ukraine. We condemn the attacks on fundamental freedoms that have multiplied in recent months and call on the Russian authorities to respect those freedoms and human rights.
The Minister was in Rabat last week. You spoke to us about this. Since then, further information has come to light regarding Morocco’s potential involvement in the payment of bribes to members or former members of the European Parliament. Do you have anything to say about this? In particular, does this issue come up in bilateral conversations with Morocco or not at all? I would like to ask a question, even though I already asked it a bit awkwardly last week, about whether or not the possibility that Morocco has spied on French figures also comes up in the diplomatic conversations between the two countries. I understand that this issue is in the hands of the judicial system now, however, does that mean there is nothing to say about the diplomatic implications of this issue?
As you know, there is an investigation under way regarding allegations of corruption at the European Parliament and it is our desire that full light be shed on these allegations, which would be very serious, if proven true. The judicial system must complete its work. The President of France and the Minister have spoken about this. We are waiting for the judicial system to complete its work so that it can deliver a verdict on this matter. At the same time, as you know, the European Parliament has already taken a number of measures so that the principles of transparency and exemplary conduct will apply to all of the work carried out by the European Parliament. These measures must be able to be implemented. This is a matter that we are following with the utmost vigilance. Regarding the issue of foreign interference, the Minister has written a letter about this to Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. We expect measures to be taken on this matter and we will be following this with the utmost vigilance.
The Minister was in Morocco to draw up an ambitious roadmap. As you know, her visit was part of the preparations for a state visit that will take place in the first quarter of the coming year. The date of the state visit is still to be determined but during Catherine Colonna’s trip to Morocco, we began working with the Moroccan authorities on an ambitious roadmap for the exceptional partnership between France and Morocco. This is a partnership that we hope to see continue over the next ten to twenty years. All of the topics of our bilateral relationship were addressed and as you know, this is an extremely rich relationship. We also expressed the desire – this is what the Minister shared in her remarks – to be able to address all of the global topics that we are able to partner on with Morocco. As you know, France and Morocco share the same vision of multilateralism and the international, law-based order. Given this, we hope to be able to work with the Moroccan authorities on all the key topics and major international challenges that we face, in particular in Africa.
Yesterday, Catherine Colonna met with her Iranian counterpart in Amman and asked him to immediately release the French nationals being held in Iran. The support committees for Benjamin Brière and Fariba Adelkhah have called on France to reconsider its negotiation strategy. What is your reaction to this? Are any prisoner negotiations with the Iranians taking place today? Thank you.
The Minister did have the opportunity to give remarks at the end of the summit that was held yesterday in Jordan. She shared with the press that in her exchanges with her Iranian counterpart on the sidelines of the conference, they did specifically discuss the French hostages – the seven French hostages who are currently being arbitrarily detained in Iran. She was able to reiterate our extremely strong messages, which, as you know, were also conveyed by President Macron, calling for the immediate release of French prisoners in Iran. She stressed that their detention is absolutely unjustifiable and completely arbitrary and that the Iranian authorities’ hostage-taking policy must therefore end.
(…) I have a follow-up question in response to my colleague’s question. Can you tell us what the Iranian Minister said in response to this firm request by France? Moreover, in the open letter to President Macron signed by the committees that my colleague mentioned, reference is made to the possibility that there may be other hostages, which is to say, other French nationals being held in addition the seven official hostages. Would you like to comment on this matter?
As the Minister reiterated, there are currently seven French hostages being held arbitrarily in Iran. I will not get into the response given by the Iranians as the Minister made very clear remarks on this matter yesterday.
I have a question regarding Peru. Can we get an update on the situation of the French citizens who are potentially still stuck there? Where do we stand?
Absolutely. As you know, in order to address the situation of a certain number of French citizens who were stuck there because of the ongoing protests and unrest in Peru, our embassy has established a crisis center, with support from the Crisis and Support Center. This allowed us to facilitate travel for French citizens, who, in the case of tourists who had always planned to return to France, were able to leave from the airport, or in the case of other citizens, to leave the capital. Today, I am happy to inform you there are no more French citizens stuck in Peru. However, of course we are keeping a close watch over our citizens’ safety and we continue to recommend that our travel advisory warnings be carefully followed. As you know, we have stressed that no leisure trips to Peru should be taken. Therefore, we are calling for any non-essential travel, particularly to southern Peru, to be rescheduled at a later date.