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Côte d’Ivoire – Libya – French hostages in Sahel – French aid budget/Africa

Published on May 19, 2011
Excerpts from the interview given by Henri de Raincourt, Minister responsible for Cooperation, to “TV5”, “RFI” and “Le Monde”

Paris, May 15, 2011

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COTE D’IVOIRE

Q. – Do you think former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo must be taken to the International Criminal Court to make future reconciliation among Ivorians possible?

THE MINISTER – What I think is that the International Criminal Court must be allowed to conduct its own investigations. That’s what it’s currently doing, to see whether or not a prosecution of M. Gbagbo should be launched. My feeling – but it’s a personal feeling – is that the International Criminal Court will probably find a number of facts and factors that will lead it to quite thorough investigations and perhaps to some important decisions regarding M. Gbagbo. Let’s allow international justice to run its course. The International Criminal Court is an extremely serious and reliable jurisdiction.

Q. – Regarding M. Gbagbo, but also the Ouattara camp – which is accused of massacres, particularly in the west of the country, near the Liberian border – do you think that, one day or another, the International Criminal Court could or should also investigate these matters and perhaps also take action against President Ouattara?

THE MINISTER – The ICC must do its work comprehensively, with no obstacles, no favouritism towards anyone. Its credibility is at stake, and we have no reason whatsoever to think there might be double standards in this case or any kind of favouritism towards this or that person. The people there are very profoundly aware of their responsibility and their actions in the eyes of global public opinion. (…)

LIBYA

Q. – Was France right – along with two other countries, I think – to recognize the Transitional National Council in Libya as now being the legitimate Libyan interlocutor? The United States, for example, who also met the Council, hasn’t taken this step, hasn’t gone this far. Wasn’t France too hasty in recognizing the TNC as the sole legitimate authority in Libya?

THE MINISTER – I think it was a wise political decision which shows clearly that France believes Mr Gaddafi can no longer have the necessary legitimacy to continue what he’s doing in his country, that he must go, that his regime must be changed and that he must prepare the transition. So I think recognizing the Transitional National Council was an entirely useful and positive decision. Moreover, we’ve made progress since then, if I may say so, because decisions are going to be taken. The TNC’s representative was in Paris again with President Sarkozy only recently – at the weekend – and all Libya’s friends are going to meet to see what we can do in practical terms to help Libya. (…)

FRENCH HOSTAGES IN SAHEL

Q. – Four French people were kidnapped in northern Niger by AQIM [al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb] in September 2010: Pierre Legrand, Daniel Larribe, Thierry Dol and Marc Furrer. Do you have any information about the health of these four hostages? Can you tell us anything about them?

THE MINISTER – It’s often the case with hostage-taking: it’s very difficult to make contacts that are very specific or with the kidnappers. However, what we know is that they’re alive, and we’re trying – day after day, hour by hour – to establish contacts that might enable us to talk to the kidnappers. It’s very difficult because quite often – as you know, this is an area of desert, of sand – we have interlocutors and then things change and we don’t any more; inevitably, we never know how trustworthy they are at the outset. We have to be extremely cautious, and in all these matters, the less we say about it the more chance we may have of securing our hostages’ release as quickly as possible; in any case, we’re committed to it on an ongoing basis. (…)

FRENCH AID BUDGET/AFRICA

Q. – Let’s talk about French cooperation and Official Development Assistance. We’ve talked about the target of 0.7% of GDP, a figure set a long time ago, which is supposed to be achieved by 2015. Will France achieve this goal?

THE MINISTER – As its name suggests, it’s a target. Today we’re at 0.5% – that is, exactly where we said we’d be in the framework of the 2005 Gleneagles agreement. Will we reach 0.7% by 2015? It’s quite difficult to say; the target is quite difficult to attain, given the economic and budgetary situation we’re experiencing today.

Nevertheless, let me remind you that the current average in the countries concerned is 0.3%. I don’t mean we’re better than the others, but we needn’t be ashamed of what we’re doing in terms of Official Development Assistance. This budget is one of the three in the French budget – along with justice and higher education and research – that have increased, whereas all the others have decreased. (…)

Q. – Can you make a commitment that we’ll still be at this level next year?

THE MINISTER – I think President Sarkozy is very well aware of what’s at stake. The challenge is simple: it’s not an immediate political and budgetary challenge. The challenge is that Africa currently has a billion inhabitants and will have two billion by 2050; so either we – all of us, not just France but the international community – are capable of helping, of supporting major endogenous development in Africa, or we can expect major difficulties. It’s a planetary challenge.

Q. – You were in Istanbul this week for a UN conference on LDCs, which include 33 African countries (out of 48 in total). Two figures on LDCs and Africa: Africa represents 14% of the world’s population and 2% of global trade. How can you be more effective in helping Africa get off the ground economically?

THE MINISTER – We have to invest. Secondly, we have to develop infrastructures, because it’s difficult even to create regional markets: how do you expect to create regional markets if you have no road infrastructure, for example, to transport goods? (…)

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