Situation in Central African Republic (01/08/14)
Q. – A month after the start of Operation Sangaris in the Central African Republic, the impression is that France already risks getting bogged down…
THE MINISTER – The situation is difficult but we certainly shouldn’t talk about getting bogged down. What would have happened if we hadn’t intervened? Probably [there would have been] 10, 50 times more victims! When your name is France and you’re asked by the Africans and the UN, you can’t stand aside and close your eyes. Problems exist, the political situation hasn’t been stabilized, but the goal must be maintained: to disarm impartially, restore security, facilitate humanitarian aid and prepare the political transition. Nobody could think everything would be settled in a month.
Q. – Must France send military reinforcements there?
THE MINISTER – It’s not for us to usurp the Africans’ role. MISCA [AFISM-CAR] (the African buffer force) is gaining strength and will soon have 6,000 troops. It’s already playing its role on the ground. We’ll maintain our contingent of 1,600 troops. Stabilizing the situation politically will be crucial.
Q. – The polls show that this intervention isn’t very popular…
THE MINISTER – That’s understandable. Many people believe that the Central African Republic is a long way away, that the problems are complex and that it has a cost, which is true; but on the other hand, they entirely accept that we must come to the aid of friends who are getting entangled and shoulder our international responsibilities. In the CAR, we’ll honour our commitments, as we did in Mali. There will be no mission creep.