France speaks up when press freedom is threatened - Minister

Human rights – Syria – Reply by Mme Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 10 October 2018

Mr Khashoggi’s situation is indeed a concern for France, as is the situation of all those worldwide who defend press freedom.

Only yesterday, right here in this chamber, I was talking about journalists who have been killed in Europe in the past year for reasons which – at least for two of them – there are strong grounds for believing were linked to their profession.

Whenever press freedom is threatened somewhere in the world, France speaks up and acts.

But you linked your question to the situation of Syria and the Middle East. You said we’re facing a fragile situation in Idlib. An agreement has been reached between the Russians and the Turks which has prevented the worst – a humanitarian disaster, millions more refugees and, as you also said, the disorderly departure of thousands of some of the most determined jihadists, some of whom are French.

The agreement in Idlib has shown that diplomacy can win over military action, and France was extremely active in the diplomatic efforts: with the Russians, urging them to show responsibility, and with the Turks, whom we admittedly have disagreements with but who are on the front line in dealing with what’s happening in the region, because they’re directly affected. There’s no reason to rest on our laurels following this Idlib agreement, because it’s fragile: the situation is merely frozen until mid-October, i.e. until tomorrow. And as we know, Bashar al-Assad has never made a secret of his goal of recapturing the whole of Syria.

We’re deploying our diplomatic efforts: Jean-Yves Le Drian was in New York to bring together all those involved to discuss the issue.

We’ve also said we’ll shoulder our responsibilities again if chemical weapons are ever used. We’re taking action, we’re speaking out, we’re playing an active role./.

Image: Stefano Corso.

Published on 08/01/2020

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