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Middle East

Published on January 21, 2014
New Year greeeings by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, to the diplomatic corps

Paris, January 17, 2014

(…)

France also intends to play its part in resolving crises. First of all in the Middle East. We’re encouraging the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. This was the purpose of my visit last November to both Israel and the Palestinian territories. Peace is always demanding, particularly in that region. Everyone knows that it requires and will require concessions, that it can’t comprise the position taken by one side or the other. But there’s an opportunity there, there’s a chance to seize.

I have confidence in the people currently engaged in this negotiation. We know its parameters, too, namely two states: the State of Israel, the State of Palestine, both having Jerusalem as their capital and able to coexist in full security.

What can France do? Encourage, support, talk to the different players. We have this opportunity. But France is also ready to organize, at the most appropriate time, a donors’ conference for Palestine. (…)

The Syria conflict is having many consequences on the region: Jordan, which is seeing tens of thousands of refugees arriving, further complicating its task; and Lebanon, where at least a third of the population is now of Syrian origin. We must help those countries.

Lebanon is even more in my thoughts; as we remember, it went through a terrible civil war not so long ago. We must therefore do everything to protect the unity and integrity of Lebanon, where communities of different religious faiths coexist in a democratic system that must be absolutely guaranteed.

I also know that the Gulf countries are making the necessary effort to facilitate these solutions. But there aren’t only continuing conflicts. There are others with a prospect of being resolved. I’m thinking about what is happening in Tunisia, because three years ago the Arab Spring was born there. Today a new constitution is about to be adopted, and new democratic elections will be held this year. This proves that the process can succeed, that it may be knocked off course, that sometimes it may even be interrupted – that’s happened – but that it can also be completed.

This example can inspire other countries – I’m thinking of Egypt, where violent events have taken place but where the goal must be the same: to seek a democratic path where everyone’s rights can be respected. There are interim authorities. They must demonstrate this, and the public consultations to be held soon will, I hope, be an opportunity for it. (…)./.

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