Official speeches and statements - June 22, 2016
1. Fight against terrorism - Fight against terrorism and corruption - Opening of international meetings of anti-corruption authorities - Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic - excerpts (Paris, 14/06/2016)
The fight against corruption is also a democratic requirement, because corruption affects the confidence everyone must have in the functioning of institutions, and at the same time undermines the international organizations tasked with laying down and enforcing rules. Finally, corruption dries up states’ financial revenues and therefore deprives them of resources to carry through the policies people are waiting for.
Financial losses linked to corruption account for roughly $1,000 billion a year; that’s a sizeable amount!
We see the effects in both the public and the private sphere, in both public contracts and commercial transactions.
I also want to look at what’s been done for several years and note progress. Significant steps have been taken in the fight against corruption. The first step was no doubt the most decisive: it was the one which ensured that the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions could be signed, right here in Paris, on 17 December 1997.
Then, in turn, the G20 and the World Bank joined in the process and, as time went on, we were able to see countries signing the convention and implementing the essential procedures and actions.
The OECD also set up a working group that assessed the implementation of what was expected of the signatory countries. For France, this working group recommended that our country equip itself with more effective legal tools when suspected corruption offenses were committed abroad. I therefore acted accordingly, and in 2013 the government was able to present to Parliament a bill—which was adopted—enabling us to modernize the judicial authorities tasked with fighting corruption and adapt the legal and procedural rules in force in the area.
We created a judicial authority responsible for the fight against organized economic and financial crime: the financial prosecutor’s office. Its powers have these two characteristics: they cover the whole country and are limited to the most serious economic and financial offenses, so that we can concentrate our resources and coordinate our efforts.
Today the financial prosecutor’s office—I want to pay tribute to it—is backed up by a team of 14 judges and specialized investigators and has been able to establish and strengthen links between offenses that occur on national territory so as to conduct inquiries swiftly, identify individuals and bring them before the courts.
This same act of December 2013 enabled voluntary and non-governmental organizations whose purpose is to fight corruption to bring civil actions. We also increased the fines incurred by both individuals and legal entities.
We also wanted to protect those employees who whistleblow and report, in good faith, actions they may become aware of in the course of their duties which constitute an offense or a crime.
These reforms have been welcomed by the OECD. However, we wanted to go further, because there’s a link between corruption, tax evasion and money laundering. There again, we wanted it to be possible to increase the sanctions for tax evasion, particularly for bank accounts held abroad. We also wanted it to be possible to confiscate the assets of both legal entities and individuals.
We also established a public register of trusts so that we could prevent cases of concealment.
Here too, we’re expecting a great deal from the OECD, a great deal from this international cooperation, because in order for these procedures, these mechanisms to really work, we must regularly exchange information. This automatic exchange allows us to combat tax evasion effectively.
We also wanted to go further on transparency. Right now, while the international fight against corruption is being discussed here in Paris, legislation is being debated in Parliament to ensure greater transparency in economic life, with controls on lobbying, with a register of people lobbying the government going to be created and checked, because it will be kept by the High Authority for Transparency in Public Life.
As regards the prevention of corruption both in commercial transactions and in the awarding of procurement contracts, major operators will be under a greater obligation to have mechanisms for detecting and preventing corruption. There too, we’re going to create a new authority, the anti-corruption agency, which will be able to support businesses that initiate these mechanisms. Finally, we’ve removed obstacles to the powers of the French prosecuting authorities being deployed in relation to corruption and trafficking in influence when offenses are committed abroad.
2. Burma / Myanmar - Bilateral relations - Statements by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, during his press conference with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi, his Burmese counterpart (Nay Pyi Taw, 17/06/2016)
I’ve come here to Asia, devoting my visit mainly to Burma. It’s a great honor to be at your side today, because you rekindled in your country an immense hope. France and the French, who have always supported you, for a long time, are happy that democracy has returned to Burma. For years, you were a bright light seen from afar, a Nobel Peace Prizewinner and, in our country, an honorary citizen of the city of Paris. Many of those with you paid for this resistance with their freedom or their lives. Today, you are here at the head of this government and I’ve come to lend you the support of France and the French people.
Burma’s greatest strength is its people—the dignified, brave Burmese people. We have very great confidence in you and your government. I’ve come—going beyond words and symbols—to lend you France’s concrete support.
The French Development Agency is going to respond quickly to your government’s request by financing several projects to do with the urban development of the city of Yangon, energy and health. Our development assistance is very rapidly going to increase, reaching euro200 million by 2018. We will also respond to the humanitarian emergency by doubling in 2016 our contributions through French NGOs working on the ground, for example with farmers in the delta and in Chin State, or with the Buddhist and Muslim populations of Rakhine [State].
Beyond development assistance and humanitarian assistance, we want trade to increase between our citizens and our businesses. Cultural relations between France and Burma started 55 years ago; they must continue.
We would like Yangon’s French school to gradually change to a lycéeto help make Burma more attractive for investment and expatriates of every nationality. I think it’s important for all French companies. More and more of these French companies are setting up here to contribute to the country’s economic development in every sphere, paying particular attention—the French government is ensuring this—to their social and environmental responsibility.
At a historic moment, you are at the head of Burma; France is at your side. We have every confidence in you to succeed, and you can count on our support and friendship.
Q. - In which economic sectors would you like to cooperate with Burma?
THE MINISTER - We’d like to cooperate in every field: energy, infrastructure, transport. But we also want to support projects in the health field and of course in the urban planning field—housing, the environment, transport, water and sanitation networks—, with a special commitment for large cities and in particular the city of Yangon.
Q. - You’re having a meeting with the head of the armed forces this afternoon. What are you going to say to him? What is France’s point of view on the role of the army in Burma’s democratic transition?
THE MINISTER - France respects Burma’s institutions. So it’s holding dialogue with all the members of those institutions, which are provided for by the constitution. The Burmese army supported the electoral process and accepted the results. We’d like to encourage the reconciliation process. The Burmese army’s dialogue with a country like France, whose army is fully democratic, may be useful. But we’re very careful to respect the civilian authorities’ decisions because, as you know, in a democracy it’s the civilian authorities that lead all the institutions, including the army. That process is under way here and will of course be continuing.
Q. - Is France ready to engage, to take an active part in the peace process in Burma?
THE MINISTER - We respect the role and action of the Burmese authorities and of Ms Aung San Suu Kyi. We’re too respectful of the process initiated here to say what must or mustn’t be done. You’re aware of France’s commitment, the support we’re lending to the government and to the transition that is under way. It demands time—we talked about this together—and a lot of patience, but I believe patience and determination are central to our action, and we have full confidence. You’ve also embarked on a reconciliation process, which is difficult, which demands time.
Whatever help you ask us for, we’ll be at your side. We respect what you’ve embarked on with great courage and great dignity. We’re also aware of the effort you’re making to create the conditions for greater fairness, greater justice, and also respect for your people’s diversity and for minorities. It’s a lengthy task, we know—you’ve told me about it—but you’re determined to carry it out. You’ve also emphasized the importance you attach to the international community recognizing—France will play its role in this—respect for the human rights to which you’ve devoted your whole life.
3. Security measures at Euro 2016 - Joint press communiqué issued by the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport (Paris, 20/06/2016)
M. Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior, and M. Patrick Kanner, Minister of Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport, today chaired a meeting at Place Beauvau of the interministerial crisis center for the security of football’s Euro 2016, in the presence of M. Jacques Lambert, President of the company Euro 2016 SAS, to review security for the competition, with 26 of the 51 matches having already been played.
The ministers and Jacques Lambert, the Euro 2016 SAS President, were keen to thank all the public employees mobilized to guarantee the security of the competition: the security forces—police, gendarmes, firefighters and soldiers—as well as préfets (1) and prefecture staff, the emergency services and departments in all the ministries concerned, for the work already done and the work remaining. They also thanked all the host cities, with which the government is working in perfect coordination.
With the exception of the incidents in Marseille on Saturday 11 June, the matches have gone ahead without any notable incidents, and so far the security arrangements have enabled the competition to run smoothly.
Together with the event’s organizers, Euro 2016 SAS, the ministers reviewed incidents which have occurred inside certain stadiums and measures taken by the organizers, who are responsible for security inside the stadiums, to deal with them immediately.
The government stands totally firm against violence. Since the beginning of the competition, the security forces have arrested 557 individuals, particularly for violence, theft and damage to property. Of them, 344 have been remanded in custody, 21 have already been given prison sentences and six have been given suspended prison sentences.
Moreover, préfets have ordered 25 people to be returned to the border. To prevent any of these individuals returning to national territory, their visas have also been cancelled, and in addition they will be banned from the country. These measures come on top of the 3,200 people who were banned from the country before the competition began. These steps to ensure security will continue to be taken throughout the competition. In the context of the terrorist threat, but also given the violent behavior of hooligans, the state and the organizers are continuing to mobilize all the tools put in place for Euro 2016’s security: the interministerial crisis unit at the Interior Ministry, but also the risk analysis unit based at the National Police Headquarters, Lognes international police cooperation center and policing resources. All these tools have been activated 24/7, with a view to ensuring constant vigilance and complete effectiveness.
(1) high-ranking civil servants who represent the state at the level of the department or region.
4. United Kingdom - Commemoration of the Battle of the Somme centenary - Reply given by M. Jean-Marie Le Guen, Minister of State for Relations with Parliament, to a question in the National Assembly - excerpts (Paris, 21/06/2016)
You’re right to recall that, 100 years ago, men from every continent confronted each other for 141 days during a terrible battle, known as the Battle of the Somme. The conflict, which began on 1 July 1916, was carnage from day one: 60,000 men were killed or wounded in the first 24 hours. On this part of the front alone, the confrontation was to kill 400,000 and wound 800,000 between July and November 1916.
This battle took the heaviest toll on our British allies.
The Battle of the Somme is to Britain’s collective memory what the Battle of Verdun is to ours: a symbol of the horror of war, the absurdity of a self-destructing Europe and the bravery of the soldiers.
For all these reasons, the preparation for the Battle of the Somme centenary has prompted major Franco-British investment, under the coordination of the Mission du Centenaire on the French side. For 141 days, an exceptional commemorative season will be organized, with the high point being the ceremonies organized on 1 July. A total of 20,000 people are expected for the occasion, including 10,000 in Thiepval for the Franco-British ceremony. The state services are mobilized to a very large extent to ensure the security of these events. Many countries, from the Commonwealth in particular, will participate, and it has been announced that the British Royal Family, Prime Minister David Cameron and the Irish President will attend. (...)