Statement by M. Jean-Yves Le Drian, minister for Europe and foreign affairs, on the occasion of the working meeting with the German minister of foreign affairs, the us secretary of state and the British deputy foreign secretary ( Berlin, 20 January 2022)


Berlin, 20 January 2022

This morning in Berlin I participated in a meeting with my German counterpart, Ms Annalena Baerbock, US Secretary of State Mr Antony Blinken, and Britain’s Deputy Foreign Secretary, Mr James Cleverly.

We discussed the issue of current tensions with Russia and the issue of dialogue with Russia. I reiterated France’s resolute support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity being respected and the unambiguous position expressed by the European Union’s Member States at last December’s European Council on the massive consequences and heavy cost which would result from a possible further attack on it. Following on from the discussions which took place during the Gymnich in Brest at the end of last week, I pointed out that the Foreign Affairs Council meeting on Monday 24 January would provide an opportunity to deepen the discussions between the 27 on this. This is a priority of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union.

I also discussed France’s contribution to the security of our allies, particularly in the framework of NATO’s Response Force and its Rapid Reaction Force, and the enhanced forward presence in the Baltic States. I stated that this contribution would be maintained and that we were prepared to deploy new missions in Romania, depending on the decisions taken collectively in the framework of the Alliance, as President Macron said yesterday in his New Year greetings to the armed forces.

As regards the dialogue with Russia, I stressed the importance of continuing demanding discussions with Moscow in all the formats set in train last week, particularly in the framework of the Normandy format, in the framework of the US-Russian Strategic Stability Dialogue, in the NATO-Russia Council and in the OSCE. In each of these formats, the Europeans are playing their full role in a united and mutually supportive way. In this respect, I recalled the fundamental priorities shared with our allies and partners reflecting our security interests, in order to foster this collective dialogue with the Russians, whether as regards respecting the major principles of Helsinki and the Paris Charter, strategic stability, nuclear and conventional arms control, transparency and predictability of manoeuvres and exercises, and the actual implementation of the Minsk agreements in Ukraine. On the basis of these agreements, revised during the Paris summit of December 2019, it should be possible to move forward.

In this respect, in terms of the security challenges affecting Europe, it’s normal for the Europeans to consult one another and for close coordination with our allies and partners to be maintained because nothing related to European security can be discussed or decided on without the Europeans’ full involvement. I fully agree with what US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says when he states that there will be “nothing about Europe and its security without Europe”. That’s still important to remember, then act on.

As the President said in Strasbourg yesterday, we need to make proposals aimed at building a new security and stability system in keeping with our collective security interests, “build it between Europeans, then share it with our allies in the NATO framework. And then, we need to propose it to the Russians for negotiation”. We need to encourage a collective, united transatlantic path of dialogue in which the Europeans shoulder all their responsibilities and take their full place along with their NATO allies on an issue that directly relates to their own security.

Finally, we discussed the Iran nuclear issue. The negotiations in Vienna resumed almost two months ago now. My colleagues and I share the same observation: there’s partial, tentative, slow progress – but the negotiations can’t go ahead at such a slow pace while, at the same time, the Iranian nuclear programme is moving ahead so fast. We’ll very quickly find ourselves in an untenable situation. I’d be tempted to say the JCPOA is in a life-threatening emergency situation. Together with Russia and China, we’re completely determined to ensure everyone returns to their commitments, but we won’t be able to do so if Iran continues on this path of slowness and patience in the negotiations, which also enables it to unpick its commitments under the JCPOA, otherwise it will be the end of this agreement.