South Africa is a key player in climate conference, says Foreign Minister

Paris Climate Conference – Press conference given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, President of the Paris Climate Conference¹

Pretoria, 21 November 2015

THE MINISTER – I’m here during a three-day tour around the world. Yesterday, I was in India to meet Prime Minister Modi, today I’m here and President Zuma has welcomed me, and tomorrow I will be in Brazil to meet President Youssef.

COP21/South Africa’s role

The common aim of these different visits is to prepare COP21. As you know, it will start in a few days. France will host it and I will chair it. The French President and myself thought that it was a good thing to be able to pay a visit to these three major countries and major personalities in order to hold discussions, hear their views and discuss a number of items in order to make sure – and it is the case – that everything will be prepared in order to achieve a success in Paris. As far as South Africa is concerned, it is a key player, a key actor for COP21 for several reasons: first, because of the very importance of South Africa; second, I expect you remember that there was a very important conference in Durban in 2011 and, in fact, the success in Paris will ensure the success of the Durban process. Third, the role of South Africa within the EU; and fourth, the fact that South Africa is now chairing the very important G77+China group and that South African negotiators and the foreign ministers have shown that they are key actors in the entire process. This is why it was so important for me to pay a visit to President Zuma.

Clearly, South Africa wants a success in Paris and the words President Zuma said to me are very positive. You know that it is no easy matter to discuss finance, adaptation, transparency, ambition and the ways and means to keep the rise in global temperature below 2°C, which is the main aim, because of gas emissions, but I’m sure that South Africa will help tremendously to ensure a big success.

President Zuma will travel to Paris on Monday after next, to join the 140 heads of state and government who have so far committed to going to Paris for the Conference, which is an unprecedented record. They want to show by their presence, first that they are deeply committed to have a success in Paris, and also that they are not afraid of terrorist attacks. As far as security is concerned in Paris, we have of course taken all necessary practical steps to ensure maximum security for our guests. And for the French people as well. These are the few elements I wanted to share with you.

Franco-South African relations/President Zuma’s visit to France

I also discussed a bit more briefly with President Zuma the relationship between South Africa and France, which is excellent. We have invited President Zuma to visit France next July. We have a very good relationship in all areas such as education, culture, technology and the economy, and also in terms of the important French investments in South Africa and of the prospect for the nuclear bid and other projects we have in common. We also discussed, though more rapidly, the situation in a number of other countries throughout Africa, with a special emphasis, obviously, on the situation in Burundi and the Central African Republic. This is just a brief summary of our discussion and, this evening, a dinner will be hosted at this Residence by Madam Ambassador to discuss COP21 with South African friends who will be in Paris. I’m now ready to answer your questions.

(…)

COP21/security measures

Q. – With regard to COP21, do you have any idea about what security measures have been put in place?

THE MINISTER – On this issue, we have taken general steps, first declaring a state of emergency, which makes it possible from a legal viewpoint to do a series of things in order to prevent any attack, deploy very large security forces, both civilian and military, and prevent any demonstrations. Moreover, as far as COP21 is concerned in particular, special steps have been taken in order to ensure really maximum security for the personalities concerned and all the people who will attend the Paris Climate Conference: it will therefore be a very safe place and this is an absolute necessity, because we are hosting foreign friends and it’s not only normal but essential that we ensure full security.

(…)

Q. – You mentioned that a state of emergency has been declared, and that no demonstrations will be allowed, does it mean that even all Greenpeace activists as well won’t be allowed to demonstrate outside the COP21 site?

THE MINISTER – Two big demonstrations were planned on 29 November and 12 December 2015. The government considered this matter, we had discussions with different groups, and we heard what they had to say, but after these discussions, we decided that it was safer to withdraw the authorizations for these demonstrations, so that some activists were naturally disappointed, but they understood the reasons for this decision. And I understand it, I believe that they intend to try and demonstrate in other ways. I don’t know if this will be the case, because demonstrations take place in other countries; but you can have a picture of someone who wanted to demonstrate in France, or hold a symbolic protest, you know you can be effective by showing your solidarity without marching through the streets. And I know that they are working in that direction. But as far as events are concerned, in closed places, there is no problem at all because we can control security./.

¹ M. Fabius spoke in English.

Published on 05/04/2016

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