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Fight against terrorism/Boko Haram/Cameroon

Published on March 2, 2015
Press conference given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (excerpts)
Yaoundé, February 21, 2015

(…)

I’m finishing the first day of my visit to Cameroon. I decided to devote two days to Chad, Cameroon and Niger, where I’ll be tomorrow. Why? Because they’re friendly countries and they’re under extremely serious threat from Boko Haram. I tend to say that Boko Haram are religious fakes and genuine criminals. It’s an extremely dangerous cult which must be combated.

France is Cameroon’s friend and so it’s entirely legitimate for us to be here to express our support and solidarity with Cameroon in its struggle, and to say what I said earlier to President Biya: that we want to pay tribute to the Cameroonians’ bravery. You’ve suffered losses both militarily and among the civilian population, and on behalf of the French President I extended my condolences to the President of Cameroon. Our solidarity extends to every level, because the choice you’ve made of combating Boko Haram is a legitimate choice. Our solidarity is international, because we’re providing intelligence for the troops involved.

Our solidarity also operates at diplomatic level. The Africans decided to form an 8,700-strong force, it was approved by the African Union and now the United Nations, in turn, must approve that force.

As a permanent member of the Security Council, we’re going to work with our Chadian, Cameroonian, Nigerien and Nigerian friends to get that force approved. The effect of this will be to give it great international legitimacy and also, we hope, to ease the financial burden, because another aspect which is very important and which I discussed with the President of Cameroon, of course, is the cost all this represents. We’re in an economic situation which is already very difficult, but there are also the costs this represents for the countries concerned. That’s why, in addition to the help France is providing, we’re going to increase our humanitarian assistance, and we want there to be a donors’ conference enabling us to reduce the cost for the countries concerned, and particularly for Cameroon.

Since I’m talking about the economy, I wanted to confirm – it’s not always known by the Cameroonian people, so we must be able to say it through you, ladies and gentlemen of the press – that the decision has been taken to convert a number of Cameroon’s debts into investments. It’s much more advantageous for these funds to be dedicated to investment. And we’ve made a list of a number of specific projects that can give employment to Cameroonians. That’s the main message I’d like you to take away from this visit: namely, France’s solidarity and support for a Cameroon which is showing itself to be especially courageous. (…)./.

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