Official speeches and statements - September 1, 2016
1. Ambassadors’ week - Foreign policy - Fight against terrorism - Syria - Ukraine - Transatlantic Treaty - Climate - European Union - Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic (Paris - August 30, 2016)
President of the National Assembly,
President of the Constitutional Council,
Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, initiator of this conference of ambassadors, which has become a summer—or rather end-of-summer—tradition, as we return to work,
Members of the government,
Members of Parliament,
Ladies and gentlemen,
France is a country whose role, diplomacy, defense and culture, and values we promote, give us a special responsibility in settling major global issues. This has been particularly true this summer 2016, during which the world has faced major threats.
The first is that of terrorism, which has struck France in recent months, as well as our European neighbors and so many world countries, on every continent.
France is waging this war at home and abroad, on our own territory and in theaters of overseas operations. That—combating terrorism—was what underpinned France’s intervention in Mali in 2013, and remains the basis of our presence in the Sahel through Operation Barkhane.
Combating terrorism is also what justified the mission I entrusted to our forces in November 2014, as part of the global coalition against Daesh [so-called ISIL] in Iraq and Syria. In July, I further stepped up our support for Iraqi forces with a view to taking back Mosul.
This continuous action since 2012 is bearing fruit. Daesh has been weakened in the Levant, and is losing ground, despite still holding territory and continuing to commit terrible massacres. But what is most serious is that Daesh is proliferating elsewhere, in Libya, Yemen, Egypt, Somalia and in Nigeria, with Boko Haram, and recently even in Asia, in Bangladesh. And I could go on.
The whole world is therefore concerned and will remain so. Our duty is not only to act, but also to prepare for this war, which is set to be long, and to work with all our partners to banish this scourge.
France enjoyed solidarity from Europe after the November 2015 attacks, and I have not forgotten that our European partners have provided us with reinforcements that allowed us to redeploy our soldiers where they were most needed.
Since then, we have continued to work with our European partners to coordinate our services and databases, and to monitor the travel of jihadists. At the same time, we have intensified our cooperation with the United States and the Atlantic Alliance countries, and are in regular contact with Russia and other players.
But we have to be realistic: there can be no victory over terrorism unless the crises that provide it with such fertile ground are resolved. This is not the case today.
Syria has been suffering a terrifying tragedy for the last five years. Three hundred thousand people are dead, five million are refugees, and nine million have been displaced. Aleppo, Syria’s second city, which was long a symbol of culture and freedom, is besieged as we speak. It is bombarded and starving: a large-scale humanitarian disaster is under way. Bringing an end to this carnage is therefore long overdue, and France is now calling for an immediate truce. Similarly, it has been demonstrated by a UN report that the Damascus regime has used chemical weapons against its own people, after 2013, having already committed violations in 2013 and used chemical weapons.
So it has been proven—although this in no way excuses Daesh, which may also use chemical weapons—that the regime uses forbidden weapons to bomb its own population. These crimes cannot go unpunished, and France is working on the adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution. Jean-Marc Ayrault has taken this initiative to condemn these abominable crimes and prepare sanctions for the perpetrators.
Here too, nobody—and I mean nobody, no member of the Security Council, no permanent member of the Security Council—has anything to gain from the use of chemical weapons becoming banal. I therefore call upon everyone to shoulder their responsibilities.
As early as 2012, France understood that the Syrian conflict would have serious consequences for the region, for Europe and for our own security. Today, the increasingly massive presence of foreign forces in Syria demonstrates the internationalization of the conflict. For almost a year, Russia has been assisting the Bashar al-Assad regime, which uses this support to bomb not only rebels, but also the civilian population. This plays into the hands of all sorts of extremists.
Now Turkey has decided to deploy part of its army in Syria to defend itself against Daesh—which is perfectly understandable, after the attacks the country has suffered—and to control its border, but also to carry out operations against the Kurds, who are themselves combating Daesh with the support of the coalition.
These multiple, contradictory interventions run the risk of fanning the flames. The absolute priority must, therefore, be an end to fighting and a return to negotiations. This path towards peace exists, and has been promoted by France since the Geneva meeting in June 2012. It was, moreover, confirmed by Security Council Resolution 2254 in December last year. It involves the establishment of a transitional authority and negotiation between the regime and the opposition. This approach has, however, never been genuinely and seriously implemented. The regime and its supporters continue to believe in a military solution, yet the answer is political. And this is, once again, what I would like to say to President Putin at the G20 and, if nothing happens in the meantime, when I receive him in Paris in October.
I said the same thing to President Rouhani in Paris in January when he came on a visit—the first visit by an Iranian President in 17 years—a few months after the nuclear agreement with Iran, which was a diplomatic success, even if we have to be extremely vigilant as regards its implementation.
France would like Iran, which is a great country, to be fully reintegrated into the international community. But if Iran is to achieve that, it has to help pacify the situation in the region. France is prepared to facilitate this process with the Gulf countries, and you all know what trusted relations we have managed to forge with these countries.
This is a situation where our mediation and political intervention can be useful. We have ties with everyone: it is Yemen that is in genuine chaos, and we need to convince the various parties to resume talks as soon as possible.
EGYPT / LIBYA
The same sense of realities led me to establish cooperation with President Sisi in the area of defense and economic development. Egypt is an essential player for regional stability and faces a terrorist threat, including in the Sinai but also, indirectly, because of its long shared border with Libya. In Libya, institutions have collapsed and divisions have deepened. Militias have prospered and Daesh has ended up gaining a foothold, particularly in Sirte.
It is being driven out, but the solution is Libyan unity around a government of national accord. It is in this spirit that I have invited Prime Minister Sarraj to visit Paris in the coming days. Above and beyond Libya, we are, of course, supporting Tunisia, a friend that has again been hit by terrorism, and we need to ensure that all the assistance promised to that country, which recently formed a new government, is provided.
Beyond Libya and, more widely, the Maghreb, Africa is gravely affected by insecurity, which undermines its economic development. We are seeing it particularly in Nigeria, an important country and the 20th-largest world economy, which is suffering from terrorism. And that is why, with the neighboring countries of Lake Chad, we are working to reduce the influence of this sect and ensure that what was decided in Paris, firstly, and then in Nigeria—the multinational force—is truly implemented to fight this terrorist system.
DEVELOPMENT / EMERGENCY TRUST FUND
Security is also a matter of development. France provides its assistance and mobilizes its European partners, as it did in Valletta last year, with the creation of an emergency trust fund. As far as France is concerned, which has to lead by example in this area, euro20 billion will have been invested in Africa over five years by 2018, benefiting the poorest countries.
This is what we have to do. Our primary mission is to combat terrorism and the causes of terrorism, and also the consequences of terrorism by addressing the refugee situation in particular, while acting to resolve the sources of these conflicts and thus always play our role in contributing to peace.
MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT
In the Middle East, I regret to note that the conditions are still not in place for direct negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. But nothing could be worse than the status quo. France therefore took the initiative to organize a conference in Paris, which took place in early June under the chairmanship of Jean-Marc Ayrault. A method was decided. The priority is for the work to lead to concrete measures that can be proposed at the end of the year to the various stakeholders, so that they—and they alone—do the work that is expected of them: namely, negotiation and the solution of which we know the parameters, where two states can live in peace and security.
But peace is also in play at Europe’s borders. We had forgotten that the worst could happen, even so close to what we feel to be our shared life in the European Union. Two years ago, borders were violated by force, setting an extremely serious precedent. Once again, we took the initiative, along with Chancellor Angela Merkel, and worked hard to try to bring about a settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.
Let me remind you that it has caused the death of more than 5,000 people and, still today, incidents affect both the civilian population and soldiers. The Minsk agreements were born of this process we called the Normandy format and were a major step forward. But these Minsk agreements are taking a long time to be implemented, and the situation suddenly worsened this summer. The risks of an escalation are high.
So again, with Chancellor Angela Merkel, I have taken care to make contact throughout August with Ukraine’s President Poroshenko and President Putin in order to encourage the dialogue to be resumed. We have two goals for the end of the year: firstly, security, through gradual demilitarization and the establishment of a genuine ceasefire, controlled and verified by the OSCE. The second is the holding of elections in the east, in accordance with Ukrainian law and international standards. The two go hand in hand.
The effects of the Ukrainian crisis show through in the relations between Russia and the EU member states. This situation is, in my view, highly damaging, as it comes, first and foremost, at a heavy cost for both sides, for all the players, and hinders many economic projects because of sanctions. It is therefore in all our interests to get out of this situation as quickly and effectively as possible.
This also applies to France’s relationship with Russia, which is a historic, strong relationship but one which sets high standards, and always has done. Regardless of the history between us, and of geography that might seem to separate us, there is a great deal that justifies us having a high level of cooperation with Russia. So France is doing what it has to in order to encourage the settlement of a number of conflicts, but Russia also has to do its bit. I do, of course, have in mind the Ukrainian crisis which I just described, but I am also thinking of what is happening in Syria, where it is essential that Russia should be a player in negotiations and not a protagonist in the action.
Through its diplomacy, France means to be at the center of the world—the emerging and developing worlds, as well as the world which seeks to attain wealth, or at least a share in it. With China, we have strengthened our comprehensive strategic partnership, particularly in the fields of civil nuclear energy as well as infrastructure, urban development and green growth. Let me remind you that China and France have worked together to achieve decisive progress for the climate. The bilateral declaration that President Xi Jinping and I drew up on the eve of COP21 helped sketch out what would become the Paris Agreement. The bond between China and France is therefore strong, particularly in this area, and I will have the opportunity to confirm this once again during the G20 summit in China.
India also welcomed France as guest of honor for its national day. That was a privilege that showed the scale of our cooperation in all areas, including defense—we are all thinking of a number of orders—and also new technologies. In January, Prime Minister Modi and I launched the International Solar Alliance in Delhi. Ségolène Royal is working to ensure this alliance will be as strong as possible, with technologies that our Indian friends are in the process of developing.
With Japan, we share common values and the same priority given to—and I say this before the G20 summit—growth and innovation, and also a similar determination to be able to foster development projects vis-à-vis Africa. That is what Japan has just done, and it is a major step that the country has just taken. We also have very high-quality cultural exchanges. In 2018, to celebrate the 150ᵗʰ anniversary of the Meiji era, we will share a number of initiatives.
SOUTHEAST ASIA / ECONOMIC COOPERATION
In a few days I will be going to Vietnam; it will be the first visit by a French president since 2004. The aim is to promote economic cooperation with Southeast Asia, where growth is exceptional, as well as culture and Francophony. Vietnam is a Francophone country. There too, we are bound together by a history that is turbulent but means that we are also aware of what can be common ground, including with our citizens of Vietnamese origin, who are very interested in what can happen today in Southeast Asia.
AUSTRALIA / DCNS SUBMARINE CONTRACT
Looking a little further, towards Oceania and the Pacific, towards Australia (I am not forgetting New Zealand), our relationship has also been taken to a new level this year by the Australian government’s decision to entrust the construction of 12 future submarines to DCNS. This contract will unite our two countries for decades, something which, here too, helps understand what is going on in that part of the world, where France is highly regarded, including for its presence in the Pacific Ocean, and also its influence and contribution to security.
COLOMBIA / BRAZIL / VENEZUELA
France is also highly regarded on another continent, in Latin America, as I observed during my round of visits this year to Peru, Argentina and Uruguay. Major change is under way in Latin America. Firstly, in Cuba, where the end of the American embargo, which has for too long hung over the island, is in sight. I recall that I was the first Western head of state to visit Cuba and to receive Raúl Castro in Paris. He was particularly helpful in fostering the historic agreement concluded between the Colombian government and the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] to bring an end to a 50-year-old conflict that caused more than 250,000 casualties.
We must remember what happened in terms of hostages, and I have Ingrid Betancourt in mind.
I congratulated President Santos on this success. Colombia has made a courageous choice, which I hope to see ratified by its people. France stands beside Colombia for the agreement’s implementation.
Latin America is, however, seeing some situations of concern. In Brazil, despite the success of the Olympics, the political crisis has added to economic difficulties. France trusts the Brazilian institutions and people to overcome these difficulties, which can be settled in the long term only by compliance with the law.
I am also concerned about what is happening in Venezuela, where there are major tensions which, there too, could degenerate. We call for the resumption of dialogue between the government and the opposition to avoid clashes that would be tragic for the country and the region.
France’s role—above and beyond what it can do on all the world’s continents and the relations it can establish with countries with which it has decided, long ago or more recently, to cooperate or intensify its relationship—is to contribute to global regulation. The G20 will be held in China in a few days’ time. Our aim is to define the rules of play on the international stage: rules of transparency, cooperation, development and growth. It is also to call into question a number of practices, particularly in the taxation and social areas, which affect the conditions of trade.
I want to be clear on this: France rejects unregulated globalization where social models are forced to compete in a race to the bottom, and where inequality grows. But I wish to be just as clear that France is for open trade, on the basis of reciprocity, transparency and respect for public goods, the environment and culture. That is why, on this basis, France was able to approve the agreement between Europe and Canada.
However, the discussions right now on the treaty between Europe and the United States—some call it TAFTA, others TTIP or the Transatlantic Treaty—will not be able to produce an agreement by the end of the year. The negotiations are bogged down, positions have not been respected, and the imbalance is obvious. So the best we can do is accept this with a clear head, and rather than prolonging a discussion which can’t succeed on that basis, it would be better to ensure that we warn all parties that France won’t be able to approve an agreement prepared in this manner, without the essential basis for a positive conclusion. France prefers to face facts and not cultivate an illusion—that of concluding an agreement before the US President’s term of office ends.
PARIS CLIMATE AGREEMENT / RATIFICATION
There are, however, opportunities for the international community to agree on essential issues. We have been capable—such as in Paris in December, when Laurent Fabius was President of the COP—of getting a climate agreement. It is very important to move beyond promises and take action. The COP President, Ségolène Royal, is working on this. We have a meeting in Marrakesh in November, and I will be there to take stock of how all the initiatives announced in Paris are progressing.
But the first priority has to be the entry into force of the agreement by the end of this year, which is far from certain. That is why I ask you, Ambassadors, to redouble your efforts to encourage your countries of residence to ratify the agreement before the meeting in Marrakesh. France has done its job. Parliament adopted the text on 9 March 2016, in line with the commitment of the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Environment. I would like to thank both the National Assembly and the Senate for this. The ratification instruments are ready to be deposited. The European Parliament will take up this issue in October. So all European countries—yes, all of them—need to ratify the agreement before the end of the year.
I would also like the United States and China to confirm their determination to ratify it at the G20. But to ensure we mobilize all those who are willing, a meeting will be organized on 21 September at the United Nations General Assembly in order to speed up the process.
The second priority is to step up the various economies’ level of ambition to decarbonize. Here too, France has shown the way with its Energy Transition Act. But we’ll also need to be ahead on carbon pricing, and that is what we will do in the next Finance Act. We are also going to propose a price band to our European partners to help ensure the decarbonization of their economies.
The third priority is African access to renewables and access for all Africans to electricity. This is a key aspect of climate justice.
$10 million were put on the table, of which $2 million were provided by France and which we must implement. Ségolène Royal has visited some 20 African countries and the African Development Bank to collect the list of expected projects relating to wind energy, solar energy, hydroelectricity, geothermal energy, etc. The report will be presented as planned to the United Nations Secretary-General on 20 September, and I will attend a meeting of African countries on that occasion. We have a moral duty to Africa. Promises have been made, financing has been gathered, this is an emergency situation, and France will make sure that we live up to the commitments that have been made.
As I said, with the Paris Agreement we were capable of bringing a landmark diplomatic event to a successful conclusion, yet it has never been viewed as a conclusion, as an outcome, but as the start of a process. For those who doubted this emergency, this year has been the hottest since climate statistics began, with attendant disasters.
The fight for the planet is also that for development and—as I have said—we must honor the pledge of $100 billion per year from 2020 to combat global warming. There again, France must set the example. We have therefore increased our financial contribution, the Official Development Assistance budget increased in 2016 to euro106 million, and in 2017—the arbitration was done by the Prime Minister and me—Official Development Assistance will further increase to be in line with our commitments.
Today, half of the financial transaction tax has been earmarked for the fight against global warming and it will be further increased next year so that a yet bigger share of the tax can be allocated to these goals. Other decisions are to be announced soon. To start with, the end of the process of creating closer ties between the Caisse des dépôts et consignations and the French Development Agency, whose 70th anniversary we are about to celebrate.
FRENCH DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
I recall that General de Gaulle had this intuition, including during the darkest hours, to tell the countries which fought alongside us and were not all independent at the time, that we would be present through that Agency.
The Agency’s capital base will be increased by the end of this year and its intervention capacity will increase from euro8 billion to euro12 billion. In November, Prime Minister Manuel Valls will convene an interministerial committee on international cooperation and development. On that occasion, France will create new means of action for the most vulnerable countries.
In addition, I have decided to maintain, despite all our constraints, the contribution of euro360 million per year to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria for the period 2017-2019. It is very important that France lives up to the statements it has made. President Jacques Chirac had already wanted us to show such a will with UNITAID—and here I commend Philippe Douste-Blazy—because it was what France wanted to show, that it was capable of this. We were then able to maintain this contribution to the Global Fund at a high level.
FRANCE / INFLUENCE / CULTURE / FRANCOPHONY
France’s outreach also involves its capacity to promote culture. In these times when obscurantism is a threat, when we must defend diversity and dialogue among civilizations, this is ultimately our prime duty. Victory over barbarism will not only be a military or political one, it will also be a moral, spiritual and cultural one.
Initiated by France and the United Arab Emirates, a major ministerial conference on the protection of the heritage of humanity—that which is under threat—will take place in Abu Dhabi next December. Jack Lang is in charge of organizing it. Our goal is that the international community, the great museums of the world and sponsors worldwide make concrete commitments: to combat trafficking in cultural goods and create the conditions to shelter artworks under threat and rehabilitate destroyed sites.
In another area, that of democracy and transparency—which also helps promote our values—France will host the fourth Open Government Partnership Global Summit. Seventy countries will be represented and civil society involved to a great extent, and the aim will be to promote citizen participation and democracy.
What all these initiatives involve, as I was saying, is France’s outreach, our will to support the key idea of Francophony. Francophony goes far beyond defending a language, which is not only ours but is spoken by an increasing number of people worldwide. Francophony also involves a vision, a conception of the world, its organization and its values. It is a message which we send in the name of freedom and rights. That is why the OIF [Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, international Francophone organization] summit to be held next November in Madagascar will be an opportunity to take new initiatives. But there can be no Francophony if the French themselves do not contribute to it. The French do not necessarily do this the most readily, but they must become aware of the fact that linguistic diversity is an asset, not simply for our country but for the development of many continents. In this respect, I wish to commend all the work of our teaching staff in lycées and other French schools abroad. I also wish to stress the extent to which our representatives of French nationals abroad and all the French abroad also further France’s outreach, Francophony, culture and the economy.
Time and again, in the countries I visit, I have met French nationals abroad, who form a very diverse community that includes dual nationals who have lived there a very long time, and who love France without fear of losing their ties to their country of origin. There are also economic players who dedicate themselves to promoting our exports, and young people, many young people who undertake voluntary work in business, culture or humanitarian action. I wish to commend this mobilization of France, of France as a whole, in support of our values.
BREXIT / FUTURE OF EUROPE
The key issue that will again mobilize us in the coming months and possibly the coming years is the future of the European continent. This is what has happened with the Brexit vote, it is not just another crisis, it is the very crisis of the European Union. The British referendum campaign showed where the separatist temptation can lead and illustrated the arguments used by populists all over the world—not only in the United Kingdom, Europe or even the United States—to advocate parochialism and exploit people’s fears. This process undermines European integration and will inexorably lead to a break-up and the return to national borders if we fail to stop it.
We must become aware of what is at stake. We still tend to think that what we have known will always remain, namely democracy, Europe, values and secularism. We have always imagined that what has been in the past will continue in the future, but no, it’s a fight, it’s a battle, and we must be fully aware of it to be able to act accordingly.
We saw another example of what Europe was, unfortunately, unable to do, or could only do in a disorganized fashion, with the influx of refugees in 2015, which revealed deep divides within our continent. This led certain countries to withdraw and others to open up, only to realize (as was France’s position, which deserved to be listened to from the outset) that we simply had to (although it was a brave decision) protect our external borders, ensure compliance with the Schengen Area to welcome those who were entitled to enter and send back those who had no right to live in Europe, and to do so with dignity, solidarity and efficiency.
So nothing will be possible in Europe unless trust is restored. Trust from the people of Europe, many of whom no longer understand the meaning of the European project, trust between the states, which see the EU either as having too much discipline or too much solidarity. Trust in European institutions, whose procedures—and this does not only apply to European institutions—are no longer suited to the urgent challenges currently facing us. So we need new impetus.
The Bratislava summit on 16 September is imminent. This will be an opportunity to set out the political foundations for this new impetus, with a road map for the months ahead. As I see it, the two essential issues for the future of Europe are to protect its citizens and to prepare for the future. This can help to restore trust and a sense of direction. These are not institutional negotiations which we can do without, they are real and substantial changes.
So I’m putting forward five proposals for the Bratislava summit.
EU / SECURITY
The first is a plan to protect Europe’s external borders. This is essential for security, as it will allow us to control immigration and welcome with dignity those who have a right to asylum. This can be achieved by systematically checking all persons entering and exiting the European Union and deploying new European border guards, and in this area too, France has shouldered its share of responsibility.
The second proposal involves European defense. This issue is as old as Europe, but it turns out that, historically, we did not begin by addressing defense but rather the economy and then our currency. Now it is probably time to reverse this process, not in order to undermine our past achievements, but to acknowledge that what constitutes solidarity is first and foremost preserving what is essential to us and being able to take action, as France does, to control our own destiny and that of the world. So Europe must build up the necessary military capabilities and industrial resources to create its strategic independence, and I propose that a European security and defense fund be created. And then, eventually, states which want to set more ambitious targets can set up permanent structured cooperation, as is provided for in the treaties.
EU / ECONOMY
The third proposal is investment in the future. There was the Juncker Plan, and I would like to commend that initiative by the President of the European Commission. Today, I would like to propose doubling the Juncker Plan and extending it, for research, training, and digital and energy infrastructures.
In the Euro Area, we need tax and social harmonization. It is not possible to have the same currency and the same disciplines if there are distortions which remain, hampering the construction of a genuine common area.
I have made a proposal—it’s not new—to create further financial capacity for the Euro Area. The Euro Area has its own projects which it absolutely must finance through its own means.
The fourth proposal is to take action so that together we can combat social and tax dumping and go further to ensure that major IT multinationals who come here to feed off and sometimes capture our value, while never giving back any of the profits which these major companies make in the countries where this wealth was created, pay tax.
EU / YOUNG PEOPLE
Finally, my last proposal is for Europe to give hope to its young people. If the new generation loses faith in Europe, there will no longer be a Europe. There are initiatives which enable these young people to believe that mobility and free movement is an advantage, but for who and at what price?
There is the Erasmus Program, which has already been extended to apprentices. This is a good start, but we must go much further. All young people should have access to a European program, to travel for training, for jobs, for civic engagement, to discover Europe’s heritage, for climate commitments.
Europe’s youth need hope, especially at a time when historical progress is being undermined.
The British people’s decision to exit the European Union isn’t a temporary decision, it isn’t a decision of the moment and we mustn’t force the British people in the decision they have taken, we must simply respect it. This decision is irreversible and we must take on board all its consequences.
Once it has left, the United Kingdom will no longer have a say in European decisions. Who could understand that? Nor will the United Kingdom be able to have access to the internal market, unless it agrees to its four freedoms—i.e. among other things, freedom of movement—and if it agrees to all the regulation, and even the budget contribution.
I’m well aware these are difficult decisions for Theresa May’s government to take. She’s asking for time—a period to prepare the negotiation, no doubt—but it won’t be possible to prolong the timeframe for invoking Article 50 without causing uncertainty and instability, which would be neither good for the UK nor acceptable for Europe.
France’s position is that everything must be concluded by 2019. That’s the time we must leave for preparation and above all for negotiation.
FRANCE / ROLE AND VALUES
Ambassadors, it is by remaining faithful to the message that France is sending—a message of respect, openness, solidarity, democracy and freedom—that France will continue to be listened to, respected and valued.
At a time when extremism is feeding off people’s fears, including among our major partners, at a time when others are seeking to make us doubt our shared destiny, I would like to highlight an obvious fact which I have observed since I have been French President. The world knows—perhaps even more so than the French people themselves—what France represents. Not only because it is the nation of human rights, not only because it has always stood alongside countries fighting for their freedom, but because it is able to talk to all parties, and to take initiatives. Because it does not see its role as a permanent member of the Security Council as being to prevent or to block, even though this is sometimes necessary, but rather to take action, to find political solutions to crises.
So compromising our values would not only be a step backwards for our rule of law, but would also endanger our national cohesion, even though we are aware of the extent of the threat. It would also undermine our international influence.
France is strong when it is itself, not when it tries to be something else. So when faced with intolerance, hatred and obscurantism, France must never abandon what it truly is. It has the resources to act, internally through the force of law, externally through our diplomacy and the strength our armed forces, as well as taking economic action.
I would like to commend all the companies which are working for our exports, as well as all the researchers and innovators who allow us to showcase French technology around the world. I also want to highlight the role of the artists and creators who help France to be always valued and admired. And I want to highlight our ability to welcome people to our country.
If France were to shut itself off and to tell foreign students that they must no longer come to France to work, if it were to doubt how it could contribute to globalization and were to constantly look at how it could shut itself off or withdraw, such a France would not be true to its history and would have no future.
Aside from defending its interests, France has always seen its role as to be of service to the world, to strive for peace, development and the protection of our planet. And we have shown this. With this climate agreement, what will go down in history is not simply that it took place at the very time when France was hit by terrorism and when all countries wanted to show their solidarity, and it was a very important gesture. This agreement will go down in history because it will now be implemented everywhere and will change the world. France must always have within it this hope that it can change the world.
That is the cornerstone of the foreign policy which I have been implementing for over four years, first with Laurent Fabius and now with Jean-Marc Ayrault and the government of Manuel Valls—a foreign policy which you will help to implement in each country in which you have the honor to represent France.
Long live France and long live the Republic!