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Official speeches and statements - July 18, 2016

Published on July 18, 2016

1. Attack in Nice - Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (Nice, 15/07/2016)

I wanted to come to Nice this morning, after a Defence Council meeting with the Prime Minister and the main ministers involved in our necessary response to this unspeakable act, in which an individual got hold of a lorry and used it to murderous ends. Why Nice? Because it’s a city known all over the world, one of the most beautiful cities on the planet. Why 14 July? Because it’s the festival of freedom, and so it was indeed in order to strike at France that this individual committed this terrorist attack.

With the Prime Minister, the Interior Minister, the Social Affairs Minister and the elected representatives who accompanied us, I wanted first of all to take into account the organization, today, of what we must do for the whole department and the whole city, to guarantee their full security and prevent there being the slightest threat to the population in case there are accomplices. But we also wanted to express our sympathy with the victims and their families. As I speak, 80 people are dead - 84 to be precise - and about 50 are in a critical condition, fighting for their lives. Those victims include French people and also many foreigners, from every continent, and there are many children, young children, who had come to attend a firework display with their families, to have fun, to share a happy moment, a dazzling experience, and who were struck down in this way, struck down and killed, simply to satisfy the cruelty of an individual and perhaps a group.

We also saw the injured, many injured people who, above all, still have terrible images in their minds and who, while they’re suffering physically, are suffering even more from the psychological wounds. And there are even people who received no physical injuries but who will bear for a long time - for their whole lives - the trauma of those images of horror which, sadly, they had to share. Many told me they remembered nothing about what might have caused their injuries, but on the other hand they did remember the mutilated bodies before their eyes. That’s why we, the whole of France, must share that pain, that solidarity with the victims, with their loved ones, with their families.

And there’s also the commitment, the bravery we were able to see once again, among the security forces, which were all mobilized, which took every measure to ensure the firework display could be protected, as far as was possible - as had also been the case during Euro 2016 here in Nice. Those security forces got involved to neutralize the killer.

My thoughts are still with those young police officers who acted to ensure the killer could be killed and thus put an end to the carnage. Yes, the security forces - fully mobilized, fully committed, overstretched with all the demands of recent months, particularly since the attacks of January and November 2015 in Paris and Saint-Denis.

I want to pay tribute here to all those forces, who are the pride of France: the police, the gendarmerie, the intelligence services - all those who help investigate and identify.

And there are also the firefighters, who did an extraordinary job with the emergency services to evacuate and drive [injured people] to hospitals in the city and even outside the city, because with the White Plan [hospital emergency mechanism] having been triggered, many hospitals took in the injured.

I went to that hospital which coped with the situation, and there too the emergency services were wonderful, doctors came in - even though they weren’t on duty - throughout the night to perform surgery, operate, provide treatment and save lives. Others weren’t able to be there, but up to the very last moment everything was done. And I want to pay tribute to all these hospital staff, who were utterly dedicated.

Then there are all the volunteers, all the voluntary organizations which immediately got involved as well. Commitment is also something we must learn from this tragedy, this dramatic event, this terrorist attack - one more, following several others now over the past five years.

We face what will be a long battle because our enemy is going to continue striking a blow against all peoples, all countries which have freedoms as an essential value.

So in this battle, we must count on the commitment of our forces, our public services, the whole state. The Prime Minister and I have been taking decisions for several months which are necessary to increase the number of staff, which was unfortunately sometimes eroded in the past. But we haven’t finished, and we’ll go on keeping watch over and protecting the French people.

Commitment also means being strong. The whole world is watching us once again, expressing to us its solidarity, telling us - with words of great friendship and affection for France - what it thinks of us. The world thinks we are a strong country, a country capable of overcoming all trials. And there have been trials in the past few months. We’ve set the world a great example, because we’ve shown unity and cohesion. And it’s my job, my responsibility not to let myself be swayed from the commitment I made on behalf of the French people to protect them, not to stoop to any extremes, excesses, when it’s a matter of responding, and responding (...) to the challenges we have been set, using every means necessary to do so.

And it’s this unity, this cohesion, this strength that I appeal for today, in Nice, so that France can be stronger than those who mean us harm, who think about harming France, who inflict suffering on it. But they are the harm that we’re capable of defeating, because we’re a unified France. Thank you./.

2. Attack in Nice - Fight against terrorism - Select Defense and Security Council - Speech by M. Manuel Valls, Prime Minister (Paris, 15/07/2016)

We have just held a meeting of the Select Defence and Security Council, under the chairmanship and the authority of the Head of State.

France has again been struck by a cowardly and inhuman act of terrorism. And our thoughts, at this very difficult time, are with the victims and all of the families affected by this unbearable tragedy; they are also with the city of Nice, to which I will travel shortly together with President Hollande.

Terrorism - and we have been saying this for a long time - poses a major threat to France, and will continue to do so for a long time. I have already stated that, unfortunately, we may experience such events and that there will be further innocent victims.

We are facing a war being waged on us by terrorism. The terrorists’ goal is to plant fear and panic. But France, as President Hollande reaffirmed yesterday, is a great country and a great democracy which will not allow itself to be destabilized.

As we stated a short time ago, providing support to the families and returning their loved ones’ remains, after identification, is a matter of urgency. All the state services are mobilized to help the families and provide them with medical and psychological support, at this especially difficult time.

In conjunction with the operational management of the incident, under the authority of the préfet [high-ranking civil servant representing the state] for Alpes-Maritimes and in immediate response to this attack, the following measures have, as you know, been decided on:

The interministerial crisis cell has been activated.

The Vigipirate Plan has been raised to «attack alert» level in Alpes-Maritimes department.

The investigation has been referred to the counter-terrorism section of the Paris Public Prosecutor’s office, and so I want to remind you that all information relating to the investigation will be provided by the public prosecutor.

The Interministerial Victim Support Unit has been activated.

In addition, President Hollande - as he indicated to our compatriots last night - has decided to maintain Operation Sentinelle at its highest level, and to call in the first level of operational reserves of the National Gendarmerie. The additional personnel mobilized as a result of this will allow us to maintain a heightened level of vigilance and protection over the long term. The numbers, timescale and arrangements are currently being finalized by the Directorate-General of the National Gendarmerie.

Lastly, a bill to extend the state of emergency for three more months will be presented to the Council of Ministers, after consultations with the Conseil d’Etat [supreme administrative court which also advises the government on legislation], on Tuesday, so that Parliament can examine this text on Wednesday and Thursday. Here again, we must remain mobilized.

President Hollande has declared a period of national mourning for 16, 17 and 18 July in honour of the victims. Flags will be flown at half-mast on our public buildings from today.

Following the meeting of the Select Defence and Security Council, we want to emphasize to the French people: we shall not give in. France will not succumb to the terrorist threat. We have entered a new era; France will have to live with terrorism. And we must form a united front. This is President Hollande’s message. We must stand together and be calm, collectively.

France has again been wounded, on 14 July, our National Day. We wanted to bring the French nation together. So the only dignified and responsible response on the part of France is one that will remain true to the spirit of 14 July, i.e. that of a united France that rallies around its values. And we will stand shoulder to shoulder. That’s the only thing that matters now.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We will obviously have the opportunity throughout the day to provide a number of further details. As you know the Interior and Health Ministers have already arrived in Nice.

See you later; thank you./.

3. European Union - United Kingdom - Security and defense - Economy - Recruitment of Mr Manuel Barroso by Goldman Sachs - Excerpts from the interview given by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, to TF1 and France 2 - excerpts (Paris, 14/07/2016)



THE PRESIDENT - The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union is beyond our control - the British decided it -, but it does have consequences.

Q. - Do you fear its effects?

THE PRESIDENT - I’m being very careful. I wouldn’t want an unfortunate decision, because that’s what it is, unfortunate...

Q. - But sovereign.

THE PRESIDENT - But sovereign, it’s their choice, but they must accept the consequences of it. We’re seeing that the pound has lost a lot of its value, their economic activity is retracting; OK, it’s their choice, but it mustn’t impact on our own economy. So the sooner the Prime Minister - because she’s just been chosen, Mrs May - begins the procedure for the UK to leave the European Union, the better the future relationship between Europe and the UK will be, and the better our own situation will be. (...)

Q. - So, Europe. A new situation, Brexit. Everyone is saying, and you’re saying it too, that we must revitalize Europe and show that we’ve listened to the Europeans’ message - not just Brexit, but the scepticism, the widespread mistrust which is on the rise in Europe - and we’re hearing a lot of intent, but what’s actually going to happen when it’s clear to see that Europe is split, if only between Western and Central Europe?

THE PRESIDENT - First, the British have taken a decision, which is to leave. (...) So the Prime Minister, Theresa May, must give the notification essential for the negotiation [and] reduce uncertainty. I repeated [this] to her on the telephone. It was our first contact, and with all necessary courtesy, congratulating her on her appointment, I said to her: «well, you’ve made a choice, you’re confirming it, you’re even appointing the man who advocated the UK leaving Europe, Mr Johnson, as Foreign Secretary.

Q. - Do you regret this?

THE PRESIDENT - It’s her choice. We’re not going to decide the British government’s composition. (...)


Q. - But what’s the initiative in concrete terms, because the word «European initiative» has been talked about a great deal...

THE PRESIDENT - Well, this is very important because it’s Europe’s future that’s being decided. If Europe is paralysed because we’ve got a United Kingdom which isn’t lodging its request, which is carrying out negotiations... We’ve got to be clear: the UK can’t have outside what it had inside. That’s finished. When you’re no longer in, you no longer have the advantages of [being in] that situation.

For Europe, I’ve suggested fresh impetus is given. For me, the essential thing is the protection of Europeans. Why is Europe arousing this mistrust? Because it doesn’t offer protection. It doesn’t protect its borders; it doesn’t offer enough protection as regards the terrorist threat; it doesn’t protect as regards the movement of certain people; and because it doesn’t protect employees either; it doesn’t necessarily protect businesses vis-à-vis certain trade negotiations. The first initiative I took is one for defence, protection and security. (...)

It isn’t France which will make the most efforts; France is doing more than it has to in terms of defence and security. And Germany has just decided - this is a very important point - to make a greater commitment to defence.

Q. - For its defence.

THE PRESIDENT - For ours, because we’re allies and because we’ll act together, including for projection abroad. What matters is that we’re not going to create a European army, we’re going to create national armies that will have common goals. Including for foreign interventions.

The second initiative is investment and employment, and young people. (...) It was young Britons who wanted to remain in the European Union. So what we must do is double, in the next five years, what the Juncker Plan has done, the investments that have been made, so that there’s more support for business, for employment, and particularly for young people.

The third initiative is the Euro Area - which is really our heritage, the currency we have - and our ability to have a Euro Area budget, a Euro Area government, a Euro Area finance minister, and also the ability to make investments. And what Europe has lacked most - and we must be aware of this - is democratic control. And there too, I’ll be making proposals to ensure that national parliaments are more involved, and citizens too. There must be big debates on Europe.


Q. - Do you say it’s no longer acceptable for a former president of the European Commission - José Manuel Barroso, for example - to get recruited by Goldman Sachs 18 months or two years later?

THE PRESIDENT - It’s not about Europe! It’s about morality!

Q. - What he’s doing is totally legal...

THE PRESIDENT - Of course! But I’m not talking to you about legality. I’m talking to you about morality.

Q. - Why not change it? Why is Europe focusing on shower heads and goat cheese and not this? This is about ethics, it’s about morality, it’s about the conduct of elected representatives!

THE PRESIDENT - Ethics and morality aren’t linked to an institution! They’re linked to individuals. Mr Barroso was President for 10 years. It wasn’t me who chose him - some people will see that choice as their own. Mr Barroso was leader of the European Commission for 10 years, at the time of the crisis sparked by so-called subprimes, of which Goldman Sachs was one of the flagship establishments, as it were - Goldman Sachs, which crops up in the Greek case, because it was Goldman Sachs that advised the Greeks and massaged the figures Greece gave the European Union a few years ago. And a few years later we learn that Mr Barroso is going to join Goldman Sachs. Legally it’s possible, but morally - this concerns the individual - it’s morally unacceptable./.

4. United Kingdom - Conversation between M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and his British counterpart, Mr Boris Johnson - Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesperson (Paris, 16/07/2016)

Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, spoke on the telephone to his new British counterpart, Boris Johnson, on 16 July 2016.

Boris Johnson said he was deeply distressed by the attack in Nice and expressed his country’s solidarity with France in this terrible ordeal. The two ministers spoke of stepping up cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Following the British referendum, Jean-Marc Ayrault and Boris Johnson emphasized their commitment to the close partnership between France and the United Kingdom. Jean-Marc Ayrault stressed that the forthcoming negotiations on the UK’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union should take place as smoothly as possible and transparently.

The two ministers will meet on 18 July in Brussels, where they will take part in a meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council./.

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