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Official speeches and statements - November 15, 2016

Published on November 15, 2016

1. United Nations - Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, following his meeting with Mr António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General-designate - excerpts (Paris - November 14, 2016)


I was very pleased to welcome António Guterres, who - in addition to being a personal friend, a friend of France - is the United Nations Secretary-General-designate and will assume his responsibilities in January.

I’ll also have the opportunity to welcome Mr Ban Ki-moon, because he too will be coming to Paris in a few days’ time, and I’m going to see him again in Marrakesh tomorrow for COP22.

The Secretary-General-designate, António Guterres, and I started discussing the issues he will necessarily have to deal with in the coming weeks and months, and you’re aware of them: namely, the situations we’re currently focusing our efforts on, be they in the Middle East, Syria, Iraq or Africa - wherever the United Nations can play a role. I’m not forgetting Libya.

There are also the major issues of the climate, development, and ensuring that this organization, which is so useful for peace and progress, can continue playing its role. That’s why France was very pleased that António Guterres could take on that eminent responsibility. (...)

2. European Union - Foreign Affairs Council - Statements to the press by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, on his arrival at the Council of the European Union (Brussels - November 14, 2016)


THE MINISTER - This is an important day for Europe. The meeting of the 56 foreign and defense ministers is taking place this afternoon. Europe is achieving a fine result today: asserting its ambition as regards security and defense.

The process was officially launched in June following the High Representative’s report. There was a summit in Bratislava and there will be another at the end of the year, but the joint meeting of foreign and defense ministers is allowing us, in an increasingly uncertain environment and in the face of new threats, to demonstrate that Europe is capable of taking important decisions for the security of Europeans.

There’s of course the issue of border protection, but as regards defense strategy, today is a milestone. In our final statement, we’re going to reassert our desire for strategic autonomy, but also our desire to deploy resources and tools allowing us to act, coordinate military action and also determine all the capabilities we need to ensure the security of Europeans. Finally, this is about a genuine industrial and research policy, financed not only by a defense support fund but also the Juncker Plan’s investment program. So a milestone has been passed today, especially given an increasingly uncertain context, with new threats.

Q. - Has Mr Trump’s election helped create this fresh impetus for Defense Europe?

THE MINISTER - I don’t believe that’s the reason we’ve moved forward. We’ve done a lot of work, and in this preparatory work there was a huge amount of consultation. There were the Franco-German initiatives, among others, at foreign-minister and defense-minister level. My colleague Frank-Walter Steinmeier and I produced a paper several months ago now. Jean-Yves Le Drian and Ursula von der Leyen did the same, so we’ve put a whole series of proposals on the table. They haven’t all been taken up, but the bulk of them have. Europe moves forward when it gives itself the political means to do so. The world is uncertain; that didn’t begin with Mr Trump’s election. Europe mustn’t wait for others to take decisions. It must defend its interests, i.e. the interests of Europeans, and at the same time assert its strategic role worldwide.


Q. - Does Mr Trump’s election provide an opportunity, as Boris Johnson is saying?

THE MINISTER - I’ll leave Mr Johnson to comment. I don’t know exactly what he means. What’s definite is that the Americans have elected a president and he’s their president. He’s going to take office on 20 January; he’s preparing himself, he’s going to name his teams, he’s going to appoint 4,000 people. That’s going to take a bit of time.

For all that, the transatlantic relationship is essential. In the American election campaign, a number of things were discussed and commitments were made by the new American president. On this, things must be clarified. To take one example, the agreement on the climate, which is essential for the future of mankind: any step backwards would be a step backwards for mankind. So Europe has its interests to defend. It’s made commitments and it wants them to be honored. But it’s also true in terms of security, the fight against terrorism and the fight for development: I’m thinking of Africa. There’s a need not only for a strong, clear, mutually-supportive transatlantic relationship, but at the same time a shared vision of the world. A multilateral vision to overcome all the risks we face. Among the risks is a return to isolationism: it’s an age-old American political vision. Is this a return to isolationism? It wouldn’t be a good thing either for the United States or for the world. Isolationism can also bring out nationalism. One of the real dangers for the world today—it’s also the case in Europe—is the rise of nationalism. We must be extremely wary of this. You’ll remember that historic phrase of François Mitterrand’s, who said «nationalism means war». I believe war already exists: it exists in Syria, it exists in other parts of the world. There are conflicts, particularly in some regions of Africa.

It’s one of the issues I discussed this morning with the new United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres. We must work for a world of peace, a world of security and a world of progress, while also taking people’s expectations into account. People’s expectations means more work, more education, more health. Those are among the many issues we’ll have to discuss now with the American President-elect.


Q. - The next American administration could halt assistance to the Syrian opposition. Could France and the European allies make up for this lack of American help?

THE MINISTER - The Syria conflict is central to our concerns; we’re discussing it, incidentally, at the Foreign Affairs Council at lunchtime today. This morning I spoke to the new United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Guterres; this will of course be one of his priorities when he takes office at the beginning of January. The same question is still on the agenda: how to stop the war? How to end the hostilities? How to stop the bombing, particularly of Aleppo, and enable access for humanitarian aid? And there it’s clear the European Union can play its role, to help even further with access to humanitarian aid and, above all, resume the peace process and political negotiation. Political negotiation for a political transition, as the United Nations decided through a Security Council resolution. There will be no military victory in Syria: it can be arrived at only through negotiation. That’s what we’re calling for, so it’s still the highest priority. The Europeans must reaffirm it; that’s what they’re going to do today.

3. Colombia - New agreement with the FARC to give peace a second chance - Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (Paris - November 13, 2016)

France welcomes the fact that the Colombian government and the FARC [Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia] have been able to reach a new peace agreement, following the consultative referendum in which voters rejected a previous version.

It commends the efforts of all parties to achieve this result, which restores hope for achieving lasting peace for the benefit of all Colombians.

France will stand alongside President Santos, the government and the Colombian people in order to help make this prospect a reality.

4. Senegal - Press conference by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development - excerpts (Dakar - November 10, 2016)


As you know, France and Senegal are working together to maintain peace and security in Africa, and particularly in Mali, which we discussed at length.

Regarding economic and social development, our cooperation is being extended. French businesses have a greater presence, and they’re also attracted by the economic dynamism of Senegal, which is experiencing a high growth rate. Our development aid has a great variety of aspects. I wanted in particular to emphasize the decentralized cooperation that very many French and Senegalese communes have forged.

Development and security: for me and for France it’s very clear the two go together. Let’s not pit one against the other. That’s why I’m committed to France getting even more involved in the development of African countries and spurring the whole European Union into action. As we know very well, our destinies are linked. It’s important to ensure that imbalances don’t take root which lead to despair, discouragement and uncontrolled migration, trafficking and conflicts. We’re perfectly aware of this reality, and we want to step up our cooperation and, as far as France is concerned, our support for development.

Moreover, as Foreign Minister, I’m currently presenting the 2017 budget, because I have that responsibility in my Ministry; I’ve ensured that France’s assistance, official development assistance, increases very sharply, not only in terms of soft loans but also in terms of direct aid to countries which may need it more than others.

And I’m also being very active at the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council to make development aid a European priority, and make Africa a priority for Europe.

Furthermore, Africa is a continent that mustn’t solely be looked at in terms of problems. Yes, there are problems, we talked about them together, there are conflicts, we want to resolve them by peaceful means, and Senegal and France have a lot of other partners. But at the same time Africa is also a world of opportunities, a continent with the dynamism of its young people to which we must of course make proposals and offer prospects. But Africa is also the continent as President Macky Sall said during our discussion earlier and Senegal is at the forefront, it can succeed best because it understands best the challenge of COP21 and COP22, which has just started in Marrakesh. President Macky Sall will go there in a few days’ time, and he’ll meet a lot of heads of state and government, including President François Hollande. So a challenge exists, but I think we can make a perfect success of it together.