Official speeches and statements - May 6, 2016
What’s happening in Aleppo is a tragedy that requires even greater efforts. I commend Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s initiative of organizing a European-level meeting here. A terrible tragedy is occurring over there, with victims, and the Damascus regime bears full responsibility for what’s happening with the undermining of the ceasefire, the destruction of hospitals, the slaughter of women, children, civilians and doctors. And we must utterly condemn what’s happening, which is endangering the peace process.
That’s why we’re going to talk about it to the UN negotiator, Staffan de Mistura, and also meet Mr Hijab, the leader of the moderate opposition. Everything must be done to get the ceasefire back on track; all initiatives are necessary—this one, but also others, such as the Franco-British initiative for a Security Council meeting today.
The Security Council is facing its responsibilities. It’s adopted a resolution, and this resolution must be respected. I myself took the initiative of inviting to Paris, next Monday, the 10 so-called like-minded countries, i.e. those which support the moderate opposition, including many Arab countries.
And we’re also calling for an urgent meeting of the group supporting the peace process in Syria. And on that point, we’re also addressing the Americans and the Russians, who co-chair that committee, so that it can meet really very swiftly to ensure that the ceasefire comes about and humanitarian aid can resume. For the time being, as the United Nations has just said, a million people who could benefit from humanitarian aid are being deprived of it. A tragedy is occurring over there, and for us it’s important for the international community to be mobilized. So all initiatives are good, and this is one of them. The peace process must be able to resume. For us, there’s no outcome other than the path of negotiation. And if we want this negotiation to resume, strong actions are necessary. Those who can influence Bashar al-Assad’s regime must do so, and do so quickly! At any rate, that’s what we want to show here strongly, with conviction, by meeting in Berlin. Thank you.
Q. - This is your third joint visit with your German counterpart. Does it mean that you have the same interests here in the Sahel, or that you have complementary interests?
THE MINISTER - I wouldn’t say it’s a matter of interests above all, but if we’re thinking in terms of interests, we must think from the point of view of all Europeans. My strong belief is that Europeans must be conscious of the challenges facing them and the Africans, which are shared challenges. Among others there’s the demographic challenge: in 2016 Africa has just over a billion inhabitants, this figure will double by 2050 and in certain countries the population will triple. So they’re countries which are already facing huge problems, and if nothing is done to help them the problems will increase.
Security problems are arising now. There’s no future for those countries without support for both development projects and security policies.
Q. - Can Europe do better when it comes to military equipment? The Malian Defence Minister said this yesterday. For the moment, Europe can’t equip an army such as the Malian army; can things get moving?
THE MINISTER - Europe is doing a lot in terms of development, but it may be able to allocate its funds better. Certain countries in particular have acquired an army, Europe has made a very strong contribution in terms of training, but where things are increasingly difficult is in equipment. I actually think it would be in our interests to step up our assistance to ensure that African countries have stronger and greater autonomy.
Q. - You were in Gao; Operation Barkhane is costly. Does France have the means to keep Barkhane going for as long as the fight against terrorism in the region demands it?
THE MINISTER - We must set ourselves priorities. France can’t be everywhere and finance everything. In this respect, we’re in line with the decision the French President took in January 2013. We must continue in the framework of what’s being done with the European Union to train the Malian army, and we must continue the United Nations’ international peace mission. As for Barkhane, it’s deployed in several countries and it’s supporting the considerable efforts being made, particularly by the countries. So it’s essential to continue, and if we want to set ourselves long-term goals where we’ll end up disengaging, we must also deal with the other problems, and there’s another one which is considerable, namely Libya.
Q. - You’ve said a solution in Mali must involve Mali, but isn’t Libya the key?
THE MINISTER - Libya’s been discussed by everyone we talk to, in Mali as much as in Niger, but everywhere we go we talk about it. The current situation in Libya reflects the consequences of the 2011 intervention. Today everything has to be rebuilt, and this must involve a political stage. There’s an initial phase that is providing hope, namely the establishment of a government with Mr Sarraj, who has taken office in Tripoli, but we must absolutely support that government so that it takes control of the country. But we must also—as we’ve started doing at European level with a mission codenamed Sophia to fight people-smugglers—extend this action by giving it the means to intervene to combat the arms trafficking that fuels Daesh [so-called ISIL] in the central Mediterranean.
We must give ourselves the means to ensure political stability in Libya: the more stability there is, the more economic development there will be and the more we’ll ultimately be able to restore the prospect of the French military engagement not being forever but finishing when the security conditions are met.
We can do this provided there’s very strong political will, and at any rate we, France and Germany, are determined to play our role in that.
I want to congratulate Airbus and its CEO, M. Fabrice Brégier, on today’s two great commercial successes.
Firstly with the Chinese airline China Eastern Airlines, which has ordered 20 A350 long-haul planes, and secondly with America’s Delta Airlines for 37 A321 aircraft. The latter order helps strengthen Airbus’s position in the North American market.
These two contracts, whose total value is estimated at $10.3 billion (€9.1 billion) at catalogue prices, testify to French and European excellence in the civil aerospace sector.
4. Situation in Nagorno-Karabakh - Reply by M. Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to a question in the Senate (Paris, 03/05/2016)
You’re right to emphasize the urgency and seriousness of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, following the events at the beginning of April.
As the renewal of military clashes shows, it would be a serious mistake to think that simply maintaining the status quo can bring a solution. As you’ve emphasized, this conflict continues to kill dozens of civilians and military personnel every year.
As we know, nothing is more urgent today than getting a ceasefire, an end to all military confrontation and the parties’ return to the negotiating table, in order to find a negotiated, political solution to the conflict.
It won’t be easy. Trust between the two parties is broken. They have a very low propensity today to get back to the negotiating table. However, France—which, as you pointed out, co-chairs the Minsk Group alongside Russia and the United States, its partners in the OSCE—is utterly determined. This is the thrust of the message I conveyed last week during my visit to Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Meeting the presidents of those two countries, Messrs Sarkisian and Aliyev, I told them what France’s message has always been. I urged them to reach a peace compromise between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. I upheld the same message in Yerevan and Baku.
The parameters of this compromise are known. It’s about the so-called Madrid Principles: non-use of violence, respect for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self-determination. Those are the lines along which the negotiation must resume.
Of course, we must also provide Armenia with security guarantees and respond to Azerbaijan’s concerns. France is totally mobilized at every level of the state. The French President hosted the two presidents concerned back in October 2014. So we’re ready to take every initiative which will allow us to get back to a solution of peace negotiations.