Official speeches and statements - April 19, 2016
1. Israel - Palestinian Territories - Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, following his meeting with Mr Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris, 15/04/2016)
Ladies and gentlemen,
I had a meeting this evening with President Mahmoud Abbas, in the presence of Manuel Valls and Jean-Marc Ayrault, because we have trustful relations and both because France is concerned about the situation in the Middle East today - and particularly what’s happening in Israel and Palestine - and because France is taking the initiative.
Together with President Mahmoud Abbas we wanted, first of all, to exchange the information we have about what’s happening - that is, the security situation. President Mahmoud Abbas has also made sure he can guarantee security cooperation with Israel. But at the same time there’s violence, there are tragedies. We can see what effects and consequences the deadlock in the situation can have.
So we must take initiatives. France’s initiative consists in bringing the international community together around the process that must lead to peace. However, this process presupposes a certain order and timeframe.
First of all, bringing all the partners together: the Quartet of course, but also other countries which are aware of the situation too and want to help resolve it. We’ll make sure to bring together, first of all, the foreign ministers of those countries, then see together how we can work with those involved.
This peace initiative is aimed at preventing no démarches; but at the same time we believe it’s the best path and the one that can lead to the resumption of negotiations in the known framework.
We also discussed the cooperation that exists. Prime Minister Manuel Valls will go to the Palestinian Authority, and therefore the territories, at the end of May to ensure that what we’ve already built together can materialize further in many fields.
There’s also the situation in [the rest of] the Middle East, which so greatly concerns us. President Abbas and I discussed Syria, with a wish for the solution to be political, and ensuring that discussions can be geared towards a political solution.
We’re worried about any violations of the ceasefire, the truce, which would have tragic consequences and which are already having tragic consequences, because we have information that civilians are fleeing the fighting. And we’re also conscious of the population movements caused by the Syria crisis and by what’s happened and is still happening in Iraq. It’s the whole issue of refugees, who are in Lebanon - I’ll be there in a few hours’ time -, who are in Jordan - I’ll also be there at the beginning of next week - and who are in Turkey. And we must work on that too. President Abbas will go to Moscow in a few days’ time, and the messages will be sent there too: we must seek a political solution.
We also want to emphasize what must equally be done at multilateral level, and I’ll be meeting President Mahmoud Abbas in New York during the signature of the [climate] agreement reached in Paris. It’s very important for the whole international community to be together and therefore for you to be in in New York too, and we’ll have the opportunity to work with all the heads of state and government and ministers who will be there to discuss the climate but also to discuss the initiative France has decided to take.
2. Egypt - Bilateral relations - Fight against terrorism - Libya/Syria - Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with Mr Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, President of Egypt (excerpts) (Cairo, 17/04/2016)
Ladies and gentlemen,
This is the second visit I’ve paid to Egypt since I was here in your country in August last year at the opening of the Suez Canal, which had been doubled in size. President Sisi, you invited me for a state visit. So I’m in Cairo today.
In the discussions we had, which are going to continue tomorrow, we wanted to give our relationship, the relationship between France and Egypt, all the necessary depth, in every area: in the areas of politics, the economy, culture and even, as you’ve mentioned, tourism.
In the discussions we had, which are going to continue tomorrow, we wanted to give our relationship, the relationship between France and Egypt, all the necessary intensity, in every sphere: the political economic, cultural and even, as you’ve mentioned, the cultural sphere.
First of all we discussed the situation in the region and the initiatives we must take to contribute to stability and peace, firstly with regard to Libya. For us, the government of Mr Sarraj is the legitimate government which can prepare for Libya’s future and for bringing everyone together. Tomorrow there will be a meeting of the House of Representatives, and we’d like that government to have all the necessary authority to ensure security, in order to prepare a new stage for Libya.
The Libyan army must be strengthened, and - along with the government and under the government’s authority - it will also contribute to this solution. We’ve waited a long time for there to be a government, for there to be an authority. We’ve reached that point, but we haven’t finished. We’ll work together, Egypt and France, to ensure that, together with the international community, we can put an end to what’s been happening for too long in Libya, namely chaos.
We also wanted to discuss the future of Syria. We can offer a step-by-step solution, provided the negotiations do have a place, the truce is honoured and the necessary pressure exists on the part of all those involved - I’m talking about the neighbouring countries and countries further afield - to ensure that Syria regains stability, security and above all peace. And that it puts an end to the massacres, oppression and terrorism.
We also wanted to talk about other issues, [including] Yemen and, there too, the solution that is taking shape. I’m aware of the conversations that have taken place right here, in Cairo, between the Egyptian President and the King of Saudi Arabia. There too, we can find the answers together.
I also wanted France to launch an initiative to tackle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Egypt supports the French initiative, which is an initiative for peace and for a prospect of ending the conflict. It’s in everyone’s interest.
That’s why it’s very important that, in the framework of this visit, which I’m going to continue later - I began with Lebanon -, we can all focus on finding solutions. However, how can we hide the fact that the situation in the Middle East is serious, that terrorism has deep roots there and that we must fight resolutely against that scourge? That’s why Egypt and France have set out agreements for the region’s security and Egypt’s security. For us, Egypt’s security means the region’s security, and the region’s security also means Europe’s security. As you know, a number of agreements have been reached, a number of resources have been made available to Egypt, and this cooperation will always exist. It’s necessary, and it’s based on trust.
The fight against terrorism: sadly, Egypt knows what the fundamentalists are capable of. There again, we must coordinate our efforts. Terrorism isn’t simply groups, it’s also parts of the territory here in the Middle East which are controlled by them. We must also realize that terrorism also has roots in Europe and that we must combat the causes and consequences of that terrorism. That requires firmness, but it also requires there to be - and I’ve recalled this here in Cairo - a state and the rule of law. That’s the gist of what France is referring to when it talks about human rights. Human rights aren’t a constraint. Human rights are also a way of combating terrorism, because security is guaranteed and determined action is endorsed.
Human rights mean both freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and they also mean having a judicial system that can address all the questions that are asked.
We want to intensify our economic relations with Egypt. From this point of view too, many businesses have come here, but they’ll only be able to work if there’s security - it’s the condition for economic development all over the world. And there again, French businesses have chosen Egypt and will continue to invest here. They also have the trust of Egyptian businesses and Egyptian partners. There will be progress in many fields - in the transport field (the Cairo metro), in the energy field in all its forms, in the industrial field, for example, sanitation, treatment plants, which can also meet the demands being made for French technology to provide answers. French businesses are ready.
And we also have a fully-fledged cultural relationship, because Egypt is a great country - the great country of the region. But Egypt is also a country which is heir to a great culture and a very great civilization. We want, as far as possible, to contribute to this rich heritage and this rich creativity. The French language is also spreading in Egypt, and the teaching of French is very important for us. So there too, a number of agreements will be reached in the cultural and linguistic field. In terms of tourism, we also want to be able to show that, now security has returned, it’s possible for all people who love Egypt - and there are very many of them - to come as tourists and spend the necessary time here.
We can see clearly that what we want to establish between France and Egypt isn’t merely an ad-hoc relationship because the region is stricken or because there are responses we must provide. It’s not merely because of economic issues, because Egypt’s development is very rapid and because French businesses have technologies to showcase. No. What we want to establish between France and Egypt is a sustainable relationship, but one which fulfils certain conditions and will have to be enriched in the coming years. What we’ve embarked on with President Sisi, I think, is having or will have important knock-on effects for our two countries. (...)
France utterly condemns this evening’s attack in Jerusalem, which injured several people, some of whom are in a serious condition.
I want to assure the victims, their families and the Israeli people of France’s wholehearted solidarity at this painful time.
In view of the increasing violence, France calls for calm in order to prevent a deadly escalation and strongly emphasizes the urgent need to work for peace.
4. Libya - Joint communiqué issued by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Minister of Foreign Affairs (Paris, 16/04/2016)
M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Minister of Foreign Affairs, went to Tripoli on 16 April 2016. They spoke to Mr Fayez Sarraj, Prime Minister of Libya, and members of the Presidential Council.
The German and French ministers paid tribute to the courage and determination of the Libyan Prime Minister and the members of the Presidential Council. Their arrival in Tripoli was a major step forward in the establishment of a government representing all segments of the Libyan population. The Libyan Prime Minister and the members of the Presidential Council have been entrusted with the hopes of the Libyan people, who want peace, unity, prosperity and the democratic promises of the 17 February Revolution fulfilled.
The ministers encouraged the Libyan Prime Minister and the members of the Presidential Council to swiftly play their rightful role heading all Libya’s public institutions and civilian and military security forces, to respond to the Libyan people’s many expectations. The ministers expressed Germany and France’s total support for Libya. They stated that their governments are determined to lend their complete support to the national unity government to help it re-establish security, fight terrorism and provide public services benefiting all Libyans.
The ministers called on all the Libyan parties and the political, economic and security leaders to act responsibly at this decisive moment for their country’s future by facilitating an immediate, peaceful transfer of power and fully supporting the national unity government. They welcomed the House of Representatives’ commitment to organize without delay a vote of confidence in the national unity government as a whole, as laid down in the inter-Libyan political agreement. They urged the House of Representatives, the Council of State and all Libya’s institutions to implement in full the inter-Libyan political agreement, which is the only way out of the political and security crisis in Libya.
Germany and France stand alongside the national unity government in Tripoli and would very much like to re-open their embassies there, as soon as the security conditions allow.