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France’s main foreign policy guidelines

Published on April 20, 2015
Meeting between M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and the Anglo-American Press Association (excerpts)

Paris, April 16, 2015

Thank you; it’s a pleasure to see you; you’re welcome here.

It’s true there are a lot of crises, and listening to you I had in mind Shakespeare’s phrase from The Merchant of Venice to the effect that, “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces.” It’s a lesson in humility for us all. (…)

There are indeed a lot of crises, difficulties and hot spots in the world, and the danger is ultimately of trying to help with those crises as far as possible but without any guidelines. Now, France is a special country – that doesn’t mean we have to be arrogant – because even though we’re not the largest country in the world – far from it – we have global diplomacy, i.e we have, I believe, the whole spectrum of influence.

We’re a permanent member of the Security Council, thanks to General de Gaulle; we have significant military power and economic power. We’re not the leading economic power, but there are nevertheless 190 behind us. We have a major diplomatic,
educational and cultural apparatus. We have our principles and our history. We have the French language. All this comprises quite a few elements of power, at any rate. We try to have global diplomacy.

When the French President or I myself have to make guidelines or decisions on this or that crisis, we refer to four pillars which are a guide, a fixed point.

Firstly, we always try to work for security and peace. That doesn’t mean pacifism, it doesn’t mean saying there are no interventions, but when there are difficulties we try to find out what’s useful for security and peace.

Secondly, there’s everything affecting the planet, and not only the general organization of the planet, with our conception of the UN and of international relations. This year, in particular, the protection of the planet is the focus of COP21.
The best summary was made by Ban Ki-moon: “There is no Plan B because there’s no Planet B.” That says it all. Initially, I wasn’t a specialist in these issues, but I’ve applied myself to them and I’m now absolutely certain it’s a huge problem that we must deal with head-on. So at the same time as security and peace, we’re trying to work for the planet.

Thirdly, we have a certain vision of Europe. We’re committed to revitalizing it, because we believe in it, but at the same time we’re committed to reordering its priorities. Some things have been done right, but there are still things to do.
Fourthly, there’s economic recovery and, more broadly, France’s global reach. That’s why I asked to be made responsible for tourism and foreign trade, because in a France open to the world, there’s a certain coherence in all this. (…)./.

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