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Twenty-second Ambassadors’ Conference/defence/European Union/NATO

Published on August 29, 2014
Opening speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic
Paris, August 28, 2014


To respond to all these requests, all our duties, all the risks, France has an effective military tool. That’s why I’ve decided to maintain the funding in the military estimates act. Everyone sees this as an obvious choice. When we’re having to reduce deficits, when we’re experiencing weak growth, it’s taken us not only the Defence Minister’s insistence but all the conviction we and you must have to fully establish that having a defence tool isn’t simply about power, it’s a condition of our own security itself.

But we can’t just make do with funding levels, which I see experts holding forth about down to the last euro cent. What matters is the use of that funding: is it best adapted to the threats? Hence the challenge of cyber defence, for example, but also intelligence. That’s why I’ve ensured that the capabilities of the DGSE [Directorate-General for External Security] can also be strengthened.

I was saying we sometimes run the risk – exceptionally, we’re not criticized for it abroad, but in France – of acting alone. I reply that we’re not alone, we’re first. It’s quite different. We’re sometimes even pioneers in international solidarity. My intention is always to act with our European partners, because I’m more convinced than ever that Europe must be present as such in a world where neutrality is no longer permitted.

The ambition for a real Defence Europe – above all, on the part of those who do nothing – must now become a reality. The European Union can’t expect one or two member states – I’d say essentially one, namely France – to do everything to cover the bulk of the budgetary and human commitment to the security of all. This realization and this sharing of the effort are conditions for the strengthening of Europe on the international stage.

In a few days’ time I’ll be going to the NATO summit, which must define its mission and find out what it’s for. There’s one idea we’re going to promote, namely that of giving the Alliance a rapid reaction capability to confront crises, and each member country must play its part in this. (…)./.

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