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Published on November 20, 2013
Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, to the General Assembly of the International Association of Francophone Mayors (excerpts)

Paris, November 15, 2013

You’ve also taken up great causes. (…)


Firstly, the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Once again I thank that great organization UNAIDS for its active role and its results. Thank you, Executive Director, for recalling that France has maintained its contribution to the Global Fund for the coming three years: €1 billion.

Because France – like so many other countries – is facing up to the management of its public finances, we too could have made savings on what might have seemed to us secondary but is the main thing, because if there’s an epidemic in the world, it will come to France too. We must regard it not as an act of generosity but as an act of security for our people. So we’ve made the effort.

France is the world’s second-largest contributor because it wants to set an example. (…)

In the aid sum that we’ve made available, we’ve set aside a specific loan, nearly €20 million a year, for an operator, France Expertise Internationale, which will act in the French-speaking world.

You know our goals – they’re the same as yours: prevention, research and access to medicines. That’s the great challenge. (…)

We’ve ensured that, with UNAIDS, treatment can be developed all over the world. Every day we’re gaining ground on this and seeing a population, half of which didn’t have access to treatment, beginning to benefit from it today.

I want to say once again, because I’m addressing you, what a major goal fighting AIDS will remain for France, because until we put an end to that disease we won’t have finished the effort we have to make. We can defeat AIDS. We will defeat it all over the world.


The other priority you’re pursuing is the fight against climate change. In 2015, France will be hosting the climate conference.

Many people advised me not to take this initiative because there isn’t necessarily every chance of success and because hosting a conference that doesn’t deliver isn’t the best image that can be projected.

And yet I believe that if we don’t achieve a global agreement on fighting global warming in 2015 we’ll bear an historic responsibility, because everything suggests – I’m talking about the work of scientists – that if we do nothing, we won’t see the planet warming by 2º but by 3º, 4º or maybe 5º, with all the consequences.

Some people tell us: “But they [the consequences] aren’t there!” But anyone can see that the disaster in the Philippines illustrates this deterioration in our environment: sea levels rising, desert regions spreading and a number of disasters we couldn’t imagine, affecting all countries, both developed and emerging, and the poorest countries inevitably even more.

We must succeed with the climate conference. I’m asking Francophone mayors to engage fully with the association to achieve this. We will indeed have to ask for commitments. The developed countries will have to be the most ambitious, starting with Europe.

But the emerging countries can’t exempt themselves from this imperative. People are changing their minds, because after a while everyone becomes aware of the risks, including for their own countries. I see leaders in the emerging countries who agree there must be shared targets and fixed constraints.

The least developed countries may say to themselves: “Won’t this mean constraints for our own growth?” No, because the fight against global warming, the energy transition, will be factors in tomorrow’s growth. (…)


The third goal we’re jointly pursuing is the social and mutually-supportive economy, i.e. this combination – harmonious, by the way – of solidarity and competitiveness.

France has decided to create an international “pilot group” made up of states, international institutions, economic players, companies and voluntary organizations, to promote this innovative economy worldwide. I invite your association to play a full part in this.

There too – and it’s not entirely accidental –, the countries that adhere to Francophony are also the ones that adhere to this plan for a social and mutually-supportive economy. (…)


Francophony means values. Values of liberty, dignity and emancipation. (…) Francophony is a struggle and a fight for cultural diversity, for pluralism, for enabling not just one language to be spoken in the world – not always well, by the way –, even though I’m not asking everyone to speak good French but quite simply to learn, teach and disseminate it.

Knowing French also means knowing its creative works. That’s why we can’t distinguish Francophony from a cultural project.

Values are not simply principles which we want people to share and which should establish themselves almost naturally in the French-speaking world. Sometimes you have to struggle. Sometimes you even have to fight. (…)./.

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