Brexit among issues discussed by French and UN leaders
United Nations – British referendum/climate/Syria/Africa – Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (excerpts)
Paris, 25 June 2016
Ladies and gentlemen, I had a meeting with the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon. It’s the third visit he’s paid to Paris in under six months; he was also present on 3 June at the ministerial conference on the Middle East peace process that we organized here.
I’m taking this opportunity to tell him how much we’re still standing by him until the end of his mandate, and how much we’ve appreciated all the initiatives he’s taken – I’m thinking in particular of the one on Sustainable Development Goals, which have been a great success because they were approved by the General Assembly in September 2015. And there’s also been the Paris Agreement: without Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, it wouldn’t have been possible to get this international mobilization and this conclusion.
We mentioned the British vote, of course, even though it has no consequences on the United Kingdom’s place in the UN system. The UK is a permanent member of the Security Council, the UK has a diplomatic service and it will continue to work, as it’s always done, for peace and to resolve the world’s major issues. But it’s true there’s a question for the whole planet: what’s going to happen?
I deeply regretted the British vote. I respect it, because it’s democracy, and at the same time we must draw every conclusion and every consequence from it, in the European Union framework, as regards the UK’s participation. We must now organize this separation, but we must do it in an orderly fashion and with rules, those provided for by the treaties, which must be implemented. But we also have to maintain relations with the UK, and this is what France will do, particularly economically, and also at the level of its relations in terms of the issue of migrants and refugees, and this will also be the case in terms of defence.
Climate/Paris Agreement ratification
We discussed the major issues. First of all, to ensure the Paris Agreement can be fully implemented, which means it being ratified by at least 55 countries accounting for more than 55% of emissions. We’re hopeful that at the end of the year, before Marrakesh, this meeting can be held, enabling ratification and therefore implementation.
We also want to resolve the refugee issue decently, humanely and responsibly. I welcome the initiative taken by President Obama and the United Nations Secretary-General, and at the next General Assembly in New York in September we’ll have to ensure that those refugees can have a future and that we can think up policies enabling them in particular to harness their knowledge and strengths as far as possible to serve the countries taking them in.
We also discussed the latest issues on the international agenda, first of all welcoming the agreement that has been reached – it’s historic – in Colombia, putting an end to a conflict that will have lasted 50 years. I expressed to President Santos my heartfelt gratitude and congratulations for what he’s done. The negotiations in Havana were lengthy, but they achieved an outcome.
Sadly, there are still dramas, tragedies, first and foremost in Syria. In Syria the ceasefire is no longer being respected. In Syria there are constant attacks. In Syria there are civilians being hit, and we must put humanitarian aid in place. France will support all the United Nations’ efforts to lend the necessary support to the people who are suffering. Moreover, a political transition must be sought. Work has been started. Unfortunately there’s some resistance and a number of obstacles; we must overcome them, because at stake is the stability of the whole region, and security, as we’re well aware, including for combating terrorism. So there too, France fully supports all the United Nations’s initiatives. And France will shoulder its responsibilities to help the people who are suffering in the region.
The Secretary-General will also go to Kuwait to discuss the situation in Yemen. I myself will be hosting Prince Salman on Monday. And there too, we must ensure an agreement can be reached to end a conflict which has been very bloody, which is still very bloody, with children being used in the fighting.
Finally, on Africa, I pay tribute to the United Nations forces in Mali and the Central African Republic. I’d like the capabilities to be further strengthened so that, in Mali in particular, there can be the capacity to react to the armed groups that are continuing to destabilize the north of the country. The Malian government, too, must play its role. France is present with [Operation] Barkhane, but we absolutely need a MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali] that can have the necessary capabilities.
Central African Republic
For the Central African Republic, France has been taking the initiative. Now that there’s been a political transition, elections and a president of the Central African Republic who is fully active, we’ve reduced our presence. But we’re still there, and we’re supporting MINUSCA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic]. Nothing can yet be completely taken for granted. As we’ve seen, there have been a number of deaths, and acts of violence have once again been seen. So we must continue our efforts.
There you are, ladies and gentlemen: once again, the presence here of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon shows the closeness of relations between France and the United Nations, and the full convergence of our initiatives. (…)./.