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Statements by the French authorities on the situation on Libya

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Statement issued by Michèle Alliot-Marie, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs (25 February 2011)

The Human Rights Council has just adopted by consensus a resolution on the situation in Libya. It calls for an end to the violence, decides to appoint an independent commission of inquiry, evokes the crimes against humanity taking place in that country, and demands Libya’s suspension.

I want to thank all our partners whose engagement made it possible to achieve this result. The Council and its members honored themselves by taking this decision.

Now we must go further, and the UN General Assembly must vote to effectively suspend Libya.

I urge the President of the General Assembly to swiftly convene a session of the General Assembly to confirm this suspension, and I call on all our partners to pass it.

This evening, I urge the Libyan authorities to finally heed the international community’s unambiguous message. As President Sarkozy has said, "repeated and systematic acts of violence against the Libyan people are unacceptable and will be the subject of investigations and sanctions."

Statement by the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (25 February 2011)

Since the situation in Libya took a dramatic turn on 19 February, I asked the Crisis Center to repatriate French nationals from Libya. The operation was completed within 48 hours thanks to the air assets made available by the Ministry of Defense. Two flights which left for Tripoli on 22 February returned to Paris during the night of 22 February. The third flight bound for Sebha in the south of Libya where French tourists were stranded, completed a round trip during the course of the day. In all, 532 people were repatriated, including 470 French nationals and 62 foreigners (30 EU nationals). By Friday less than around 100 French nationals - mostly in Tripoli - remained in Libya; these included embassy officials.

In all, 15 Department officers (Crisis Center personnel and volunteers) were involved in these three flights, as well as 30 military personnel: aircrew, medical staff, escorts. The reception operation at Roissy involved around 100 people, including 20 Department officers (Crisis Center, DCP [Directorate for Communication and the Spokesperson’s Office]), the Red Cross, the Comité d’entraide aux Français rapatriés [Mutual Aid Committee for Repatriated French Nationals], a SAMU [mobile emergency medical service] care unit, the cellule d’urgence médico-psychologique française (CUMPF) [medical psychological emergency team] the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales (CAF) [Family Allowances Fund] the Caisse Régionale d’Assurance Maladie de l’Ile-de-France (CRAMIF) [Ile-de-France Regional Sickness Insurance Fund] and of course the services of the Ministry of the Interior and Aéroports de Paris.

I would like to thank all those who, both in Tripoli under the guidance of the ambassador, or here in Paris, ensured that this repatriation operation was successfully completed under extremely difficult conditions.

Q. Regarding the possibility of adopting the resolution at the UN today, do you still think that this will happen today? The diplomats there seem to think that it won’t happen today.

A. We expect it to happen quickly since it’s important to have a swift, firm, effective response by the international community - in this case a resolution.

The seriousness of the situation in Libya requires a strong reaction. In order to respond to the urgency, we demanded an emergency meeting of the Security Council, which will take place this afternoon.

As the Ministre d’Etat, Michèle Alliot-Marie, said this morning, we have prepared a draft resolution together with our British, German and American partners. This will be submitted to the Security Council this afternoon.

We want a strong text, in accordance with Chapter VII, which will send a clear message to the Libyan authorities and which will impose firm and concrete measures including referral of the ongoing crimes against humanity to the ICC, individual sanctions against those responsible for the crackdown and an arms embargo.

The important thing to note is that we are facing a rapidly evolving situation that is deteriorating. We must take swift, collective, firm and effective action.

Q. Has France initiated a process to freeze any potential assets held by Gaddafi in France?

A. We are working in two directions with regard to this.

Two days ago, President Sarkozy issued a communiqué in which he notably requested Michèle Alliot-Marie to mobilize the European position with a view towards the adoption of sanctions. That’s what we’ve been doing since yesterday. Discussions have been initiated in Brussels, on our initiative, with other partners, with respect to travel bans, visa issues, the freezing of assets, notably the financial assets of certain key figures, a list of which we will need to establish, and also with respect to trade prohibition issues. This work is being jointly conducted by the 27 member countries and we are currently making proposals and coordinating efforts. This is the first level at which we are working.

The second level involved the Security Council today, as I have just said.

Q. Is the emergency NATO meeting today devoted to plans for creating an air exclusion zone based on this potential resolution?

A. It’s down to the NATO Secretary General to decide to convene a meeting of the North Atlantic Council and to decide on its agenda. France, which, together with the British, has already asked the UN Security Council to intercede, doesn’t see the need for a NATO meeting on Libya.

Q. So you’re not taking part in the NATO meeting?

A. We don’t see the need for this meeting.

Q. Yesterday, the French Defense Minister’s response on France Inter wasn’t clear. He said that he wasn’t in favor of a military operation but he didn’t unequivocally reject the possibility of creating an air exclusion zone. Can you clarify this point?

A. Michèle Alliot-Marie was also asked about the same issue on France Info this morning. As the Minister of Defense indicated yesterday and as Michèle Alliot-Marie reiterated today, it depends on how the situation evolves. Obviously it can’t be decided just like that. I think that what is important is the point that Michèle Alliot-Marie stressed this morning. There are still a lot of foreign nationals in Libya, so we need to be careful.

Q. Around 20 Libyan students took over the Libyan Embassy in Paris. What is the latest regarding that? The ambassador apparently couldn’t be found. Where is he?

A. This has been substantiated. The Paris Police Commissioner is responsible for taking measures to resolve the current situation.

Q. Going back to NATO [inaudible] France’s opposition. Does that mean that France will not attend…

A. For now, it’s not a question of opposition; you ask what we think - we’re saying that it’s not necessary.

Q. What exactly is going on at the Libyan Embassy in Paris?

A. The Police Commission is in charge of the situation.

Communique issued by the Presidency (24 February 2011)

The President of the United States called President Sarkozy this evening to discuss the situation in Libya.

Faced with the continuation of the brutal and bloody crackdown and the threatening statements of the Libyan leadership, the two Presidents reiterated their demand for an immediate halt to the use of force against the civilian population.

President Sarkozy presented the measures currently being examined by the European Union at his behest, and which he hopes will be swiftly adopted. President Obama presented the measures that the United States plans on taking.

The President of the Republic announced France’s intention to request another urgent Security Council meeting on the situation in Libya. In line with the statement that was unanimously adopted by the Council on February 22, concrete measures are now necessary, notably to permit immediate access to humanitarian assistance and to sanction those responsible for the violence against Libya’s civilian population.

The two heads of state agreed to maintain close contact on the Libyan crisis.

Communiqué of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs - Human Rights Council (24 February 2011)

On the initiative of France and numerous partners from all continents, the United Nations Human Rights Council will meet tomorrow to discuss Libya.

A resolution under negotiation strongly condemns the massive and unacceptable violence currently being perpetrated in this country. It holds the Libyan authorities accountable. This violence could constitute crimes against humanity.

At the request of Michèle Alliot-Marie, and in agreement with several of France’s partners, this draft resolution demands that Libya be suspended from the United Nations Human Rights Council.

We urge all of our Human Rights Council partners to vote in favor of this resolution.

All courses of action must be examined, including referral to the international courts.

The Ministre d’Etat spoke at length about the situation in Libya with Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota during her visit to Brazil, the country which holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council this month.

This afternoon, Michèle Alliot-Marie will have a telephone conversation about Libya with the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Statement by the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs - European sanctions against Libya - 24 February 2011

In accordance with President Sarkozy’s request, Mrs. Alliot-Marie instructed the French Representation in Brussels to mobilize the European Union with a view towards the swift adoption of concrete sanctions against all those involved in the ongoing violence in Libya.

An initial exchange of views took place yesterday at the PSC (Political and Security Committee) meeting yesterday in Brussels. All member States signaled their agreement that restrictive measures be implemented. Council working groups are now working on the scope and nature of these measures, notably with regard to those responsible for the ongoing violence and crackdown.

Yesterday, the High Representative issued a statement underlining her strong condemnation of the violence and the use of force against civilians and indicating that these massive and brutal human rights violations were unacceptable. Mrs. Ashton also underlined that those responsible for the violence perpetrated against civilians would be held accountable and indicated that the European Union was prepared to take additional measures.

Q. Is France prepared to participate in an operation to block Libyan air space? If yes, under what conditions?

A. The Ministre d’Etat, Minister for Defense and Veterans, voiced his opinion this morning regarding this issue.

Q. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini mentioned that the crackdown in Libya may have resulted in 1,000 deaths. Does France have information regarding the toll from the violence, and could it be of this order of magnitude?

Given the extreme confusion prevailing in Libya, it’s difficult to obtain reliable figures that have been cross-checked regarding the number of casualties.

Nevertheless, many sources report that the death toll is very high.

In any event, the indiscriminate crackdown against the demonstrators is resulting in too many casualties. As President Sarkozy and Michèle Alliot-Marie stated, we utterly condemn the unacceptable violence being inflicted on the Libyan people. […]

Q. Do you have any accurate information regarding port operations in Libya and oil exports, following the contradictory statements by the French shipowner CMA-CGM?

A. In view of the circumstances, port operations do indeed seem to be disrupted in Libya.

Statement issued by President Sarkozy at the Council of Ministers meeting (23 February 2011)

The continuing brutal and bloody crackdown against the Libyan civilian population is horrifying. France and the French people are following these events with shock and compassion. Such a use of force against one’s own people is contemptible.

The UN Security Council and Secretary-General, the League of Arab States, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and almost all States in the world have denounced these unacceptable actions.

France again calls for an immediate end to the violence in Libya and urges the leaders of this country to immediately engage in a political dialogue in order to put an end to the ongoing tragedy.

The international community cannot stand idly by in the face of these massive human rights violations.

I am asking the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs to propose to our EU partners that we swiftly adopt concrete sanctions in order to ensure that all those involved in the ongoing violence are aware that they must accept the consequences of their actions. These measures notably relate to the possibility of bringing them to justice, to prohibiting access to EU territory and to monitoring financial transactions.

In addition, I would like us to consider suspending economic, commercial and financial relations with Libya until further notice

Statement by the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (23 February 2011)

As President Sarkozy stated this morning, France is appalled by the massacres that are currently taking place in Libya. We utterly condemn the unacceptable violence inflicted on the Libyan people and deplore the significant number of casualties. We extend our condolences to their families and assure the injured of our sympathy.

France is assuming its full role in the international community’s determined efforts to condemn the violence and calls for the immediate restoration of civil liberties. It commends in particular the communiqué issued on 22 February by the Arab League and the adoption yesterday in New York of a statement by the Security Council calling for an immediate end to the violations and demanding that Libya assume its full responsibility to protect its citizens, respect human rights and international humanitarian law and allow unrestricted humanitarian access to the civilian population.

At the request of President Sarkozy, Michèle Alliot-Marie will meet with her European partners in order to propose to them that concrete sanctions should be swiftly adopted in order to ensure that all those involved in the ongoing violence are aware that they must accept the consequences of their actions. These measures notably relate to the possibility of bringing them to justice, to prohibiting access to EU territory and to monitoring financial transactions.

Q: Are France and its partners preparing sanctions against Libya? What types of sanctions are under consideration?

A: As President Sarkozy requested this morning, France will propose to its EU partners that concrete sanctions should be swiftly adopted in order to ensure that all those involved in the ongoing violence are aware that they must accept the consequences of their actions.

The EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, announced the suspension of the negotiations initiated in July 2008 on the EU-Libya Framework Agreement. We support this suspension. The continuation of the negotiations in the context of the ongoing events is unacceptable. She also announced that she has convened a PSC meeting in order to examine what the EU could do to support the UN and what measures it could take. The issue of sanctions and the issue relating to the freezing of assets of those responsible for the crackdown are more relevant than ever; the Libyan leaders should be held accountable.

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