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Foreign policy/NATO summit

Published on September 8, 2014
Press conference given by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (excerpts)
Newport, September 5, 2014


Q. – Almost a year ago, the US ally let you down a bit regarding Syria. Today, it’s clearly more of a driving force on the Islamic State issue.
How would you describe the Franco-American relationship today? Do you think France is trusted? And in the framework of NATO, where the Americans are asking for burden-sharing, do we, when all’s said and done, have the resources to follow through (…)?

THE PRESIDENT – France makes up its mind in full sovereignty, completely independently, and in accordance with what it believes to be Europe’s security, because France is fully committed in Europe, to Europe, and also with what it thinks about its own security and the interests of the world. So every time I’ve considered it important for France to get involved in combating terrorism, with due regard for international law, I’ve taken action.

I took action on Mali, and we’re seeing the results of that today – they’re convincing; I took action on the Central African Republic. I didn’t act alone – the Europeans came, sometimes taking what we considered quite a long time to do so, but they were and still are there.
The Americans helped us, particularly in Mali. The Africans were more than partners, players in their own struggle for security and independence, and thus against terrorism.

A major event occurred there several months ago now, which – you’re quite right – we could have dealt with sooner. Only a year ago, France was willing. It was willing – as soon as chemical weapons were used in Syria by the regime – to carry out operations.

In the end, through diplomatic pressure and also by the threatened use of force, there were negotiations and the chemical weapons left Syria. But the regime didn’t. We’ve seen what’s happening. (…)

So, that being the case, I don’t have any doubts. I know there’s a need to help Iraq. I didn’t wait for others to deliver weapons – which we did – to the Iraqi authorities. The United States is willing to form an alliance to take action against that terrorist group, which is erroneously called “Islamic State”, and to help Iraq.

We’re there. Or, more precisely, we will be. But on certain conditions, still the same ones. I’ve confidence because I know what France will do.

So I’ve confidence firstly in us, I’ve confidence in France. But I’ve understood that the American President also has confidence in France, because he knows that when what’s essential is at stake, we’re allies. (…)./.

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