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Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson (Paris, March 6, 2015)

Published on May 28, 2008

2015 monthly review

Tribute to Eric Rouleau
Iraq – Further destruction of cultural heritage
Digital books – Ruling by the EU Court of Justice on the application of the reduced VAT rate – Joint statement by Michel Sapin, Fleur Pellerin, Harlem Désir, Christian Eckert and Axelle Lemaire (Paris, March 5, 2015)
Iran


Tribute to Eric Rouleau

I would first of all like to pay tribute to our colleague Eric Rouleau, former Ambassador in Tunis and Ambassador to Turkey, who died on February 25. He was a leading diplomat as well as journalist, whose knowledge of the Middle East impressed all those who knew him. Mr. Laurent Fabius expressed his grief and extended his condolences to Eric Rouleau’s family.

Iraq – Further destruction of cultural heritage

France utterly condemns the further destruction of Iraq’s cultural heritage.

The blowing up of the al-Qubba Husseiniya Shiite mosque and the mausoleums of the prophets Jonah, Jirjis and Seth, the destruction of Mosul Museum and the looting of the ruins of the Assyrian city of Nimrud reflect Daesh’s unconscionable rationale of destroying one of the most exceptional sites of importance to the heritage of humanity.

After UNESCO, which adopted a resolution on the protection of Iraqi heritage last fall, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 2199 on February 12 which notably condemns the destruction of Iraqi cultural heritage and calls on the states parties to fight against the illicit trade in cultural property.

The Iraqi authorities can count on France’s full support in their efforts to put an end to this and to ensure that the perpetrators of this cultural cleansing, which could constitute a war crime, will be brought to justice and convicted.

Digital books – Ruling by the EU Court of Justice on the application of the reduced VAT rate – Joint statement by Michel Sapin, Fleur Pellerin, Harlem Désir, Christian Eckert and Axelle Lemaire (Paris, March 5, 2015)

Michel Sapin, Minister of Finance and Public Accounts, Fleur Pellerin, Minister of Culture and Communication, Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, Christian Eckert, Minister of State for the Budget, and Axelle Lemaire, Minister of State for Digital Affairs, take note of today’s ruling by the EU Court of Justice on the application of the reduced VAT rate to digital books.

Adopted under the 2011 Finance Act, the reduced VAT rate aims to allow for equal taxation of books and for innovation with respect to the dissemination of knowledge and culture. The Court of Justice ruled that current EU law did not allow for the application of this reduced rate to books.

Following the conclusions of the European Council of October 25, 2013, which requested that “in the broader context of the review of VAT legislation currently being undertaken, the European Commission should also consider issues specifically relating to the digital economy such as the differentiation of the tax rates applicable to digital and physical goods,” France calls on the European Commission to make proposals within the framework of the Digital Single Market strategy as swiftly as possible in order to introduce into European law the principle of neutrality that would allow for the reduced rate to be applied to all books, whatever their medium. Several member states have already made this request and the European Parliament has adopted a position to this effect on several occasions.

Iran

What’s on the agenda for Mr. Fabius’s meeting tomorrow with Mr. Kerry, Mr. Steinmeier, Mr. Hammond and Ms. Mogherini?

The discussions will mainly focus on the negotiations with Iran on the nuclear program. The ministers conducting these negotiations are working very closely together. The ministers will certainly also discuss Ukraine and Syria.

Do the French think that the Americans are in too much of a hurry to reach an agreement with Iran?

There are no differences of opinion between France and the United States, or within the E3+3 group - either with respect to the pace of the negotiations or with respect to their content.

The positions are still far apart, but the negotiations are continuing. They are serious negotiations. Iran has a right to civilian nuclear energy and this right is recognized. However, the international community believes that by developing a nuclear program without a credible civilian purpose, Iran is violating its international obligations.

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