Foreign Minister outlines G7 talks in Hiroshima

G7/nuclear disarmament – Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to AFP

Hiroshima, 11 April 2016


Finally, in a few moments we’re going to the Hiroshima memorial. It’s a strong, moving and symbolic moment. We discussed the challenge of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It’s clearly a subject that takes on wider significance here in Hiroshima. But it provided me with an opportunity to recall that France is a country that shoulders its responsibilities, and I mentioned two cases in particular: the ratification by all countries of the [Comprehensive] Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty – France has signed it, but that was 20 years ago, and it’s time for it to come into force – and we’re also calling for negotiations to begin for a new treaty moving towards a reduction in nuclear weapons, in relation to stopping the production of fissile material. (…) Let me remind you that since the Cold War, France, a nuclear power, has decided unilaterally not to abandon its nuclear arsenal but to limit its size. We’ve given concrete signs of the direction it seems to us necessary to take at global level. (…)./.

G7/fight against terrorism/Syria/North Korea/China/fight against corruption and tax evasion – Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to AFP

Hiroshima, 11 April 2016

G7/tax evasion/terrorism financing

Q. – You’ve reached the third session of talks at the G7 foreign ministers’ meeting, is that right?

THE MINISTER – Yes, exactly, and I’m finding the format is interesting because the discussions are basically quite free. We had a discussion on Ukraine, and we also had a lengthy discussion on North Korea.

We tackled essential issues like the fight against terrorism, with a comprehensive agreement to step up our efforts, and particularly the battle against terrorism financing. In that battle we mentioned the battle against grey areas, tax havens and offshore accounts. That’s not the only reason why we’re combating tax havens and tax avoidance. Proposals have also been made by France and Germany, particularly over the weekend. And this seems to me to be a step in the right direction. France and Germany should initiate a huge effort to strengthen the arsenal we already have.

Cooperation in the fight against terrorism clearly also requires the exchange of intelligence and information. That’s already the case, but there again it’s an essential factor that must be extended. And we also expressed satisfaction because, as I’ve mentioned several times, the European Passenger Name Record, the PNR, is going to be adopted by the European Parliament this week.


On Syria, our goal is to encourage a political transition. There’s no solution to the crisis without that. It means giving every opportunity to the negotiations under way in Geneva, where the moderate opposition is fully involved and is making very concrete and constructive proposals – this isn’t yet true of the regime, which for the time being is totally closed to all change, and we must keep up the pressure on it. Russia is also in the front line in this regard, and we’re stepping up discussions with it. John Kerry was in Moscow, so was Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and I’m going there very soon. I think everyone is contributing to this essential dialogue to get things moving. And the idea is that we are indeed adopting a transition process as quickly as possible – a transition stage which is essential, which may relate to control of the army, the intelligence services and the nature of financial institutions but which the discussions must focus on. But until now nothing has changed, and so that’s our priority goal.

Obviously the other major goal is the fight against Daesh [so-called ISIL]. I’d even say all this must be tackled head-on. Things are making progress there too: Daesh is retreating in Iraq and Syria, it’s true, but the battle’s far from over. Some people mentioned the recapture of Palmyra. But even though that’s a good thing, it mustn’t mislead us either, or make us forget, in particular, that the Damascus regime abandoned Palmyra – we remember it – without a fight. So the issue of the fight against Daesh is raised in Syria, Iraq and Libya. (…)

North Korea/China

On North Korea, we had a very interesting discussion which highlighted the increasing threat and risks the regime poses for the whole region and also for the world. So it’s very important for everything to be done to halt that spiralling threat, and we must carry on putting pressure on the regime. We’ve done so by adopting new sanctions at the United Nations Security Council, transposed at European level. Europe is taking the initiative. But we must also step up efforts and consultation with the countries in the region, and of course Japan is affected and is playing a very important, positive role, as is China.

Yesterday we spoke a lot about China, which, although it’s not a G7 member, was nevertheless present indirectly, as a major country, as a major partner. We also discussed the issue of the South China Sea. France’s position is clear: namely, a commitment to freedom of navigation and overflight, the settlement of disputes by peaceful means and the absence of unilateral gestures aimed at altering the status quo./.

G7/Ukraine/Russia – Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to AFP

Hiroshima, 11 April 2016


On Ukraine, we had a long, very interesting discussion earlier which allowed the two countries responsible for the Normandy format [France and Germany] to provide our partners with all the answers possible. Compliance with the Minsk agreements, all the Minsk agreements, is essential for us. And what’s currently happening is a step in the right direction, because it would appear that following the resignation of the Ukrainian Prime Minister, a new government will be appointed in Kiev, and we’re hoping for the confidence of the Parliament, because the fact is that everything is currently at an impasse.

Sticking points must be noted in two areas: the sticking points in the Donbass, with repeated ceasefire violations and even an increase in the number of hostile demonstrations; I think we have to be aware of the risks. At the same time, in Kiev reforms are at a standstill – in particular what we’ve been asking for: the adoption of a special status for the Donbass and the adoption of electoral reform and an election procedure.

For the moment, things are somewhat at a standstill, even though we’re aware of a bill, a draft bill on electoral reform. It’s vital that things materialize extremely quickly. And we talked, quite obviously, about the question of European sanctions vis-à-vis Russia. This must be tackled essentially in the framework of progress on the Minsk agreements which I’ve just mentioned, and for the time being there’s no reason to say that the sanctions must be lifted if nothing is changing. (…)./.

G7/Libya – Interview given by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to AFP

Hiroshima, 11 April 2016


The Libya crisis, which we haven’t talked about, was also on the agenda; this, too, was a very positive moment. The Libya crisis is very important, because it involves the migration risk and the terrorism risk, and also because the country needs stability: it is worn out by divisions and violence. The arrival of Mr Sarraj’s government in Tripoli is a very good thing. It sends a message of hope, it’s what each of us was hoping for, all those around the table, and the announcement too that Parliament could soon hold a meeting to express its confidence in the government is also an extremely positive sign. In Tunis a conference will be taking place of donor countries, which are due to make commitments, and France will of course be represented there by its ambassador. I think we’re moving in the right direction today. (…)./.

Published on 21/04/2016

top of the page