Official speeches and statements - December 21, 2016
1. Fight against terrorism - Germany - Terrorist attack in Berlin - Telephone conversation between M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, and Mrs Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany - Communiqué issued by the Presidency of the Republic (Paris - December 20, 2016)
The President called Chancellor Merkel following the despicable attack which claimed the lives of 12 people and injured dozens at a Christmas market in Berlin yesterday.
The President expressed to Mrs Merkel his deepest sympathy, his friendship and the solidarity of the whole of France. The French people know the importance of these expressions of support during the dark hours of grief.
The President and the Chancellor confirmed that the French and German security services are fully mobilized in fighting the scourge of terrorism and implementing the measures decided on at European level.
They agreed that this ruthless fight against terrorism must not weaken either the values or the way of life that democracies have chosen.
You’ve just recalled the fraternal ties uniting us to Germany and the duty of solidarity incumbent on us, at a time when that great country, our friend, has in turn been struck by terrorism. I was in the front line, along with the President and the then prime minister, Manuel Valls, when our country was struck in 2015 and then in 2016 in the Nice tragedy, which you mentioned, and I remember the words and gestures of Chancellor Angela Merkel and the words and gestures of my then counterpart, Thomas de Maizière, who in turn is in the front line. We took note back then of Franco-German friendship, fraternity and solidarity.
Like all the members of parliament here in this chamber, my thoughts of solidarity and deep sympathy go to Berliners and to Germans in general, who have been struck a harsh blow and have, in turn, seen terrorism attempt to spread fear on their soil. This solidarity and this strong relationship between our two countries are also significant. They’re a message we send to the terrorists, expressing our two countries’ determination, the whole of Europe’s determination to remain standing, strong in itself and in its values, in the face of those who want to spread terror everywhere through despicable violence.
I entirely share your sentiment, expressed just now by the President of the National Assembly: as soon as the terrorists attack Europe’s values of humanity and humanism, we must respond with the utmost firmness, the utmost determination and the utmost solidarity. This has a very specific meaning. As far as our country is concerned, for several months we’ve been considerably increasing counter-terrorism resources. Several anti-terrorist laws have been passed, and I also pay tribute to all the groups of the nation’s elected representatives who, in order to protect our fellow citizens, have agreed to rise above conventional party politics so that we can come together to protect the French people.
Together we voted for a ban on leaving the country; together we voted to block websites that call for and incite terrorism; together we voted for the new criminal offense of individual terrorist enterprise; together we voted for the bills on the state of emergency and, a few days ago, secured another consensus vote from both assemblies to ensure that the protection of French people is maintained and strengthened. Together we assessed these measures, and I pay tribute to the President for the work done; thanks to this assessment, under Parliament’s oversight, policing measures such as searches and house arrests are enabling us to protect our country against terrorism.
In the framework of a Franco-German security initiative, Thomas de Maizière and I began work on some absolutely essential areas for the European Union’s security such as stepping up controls at the external borders, reforming the Schengen Information System, modifying Article 7-2 of the Schengen Borders Code in order to monitor entries to EU territory more effectively, implementing border controls in France since 13 November 2015, interlinking anti-terrorist databases and implementing a new directive on the fight against arms trafficking. Thanks to this assessment, which isn’t exhaustive, you can see that in recent months we’ve been constantly taking measures together in the EU to ensure French people are protected.
You ask me if we’re doing more today than yesterday, but for months we’ve been doing the maximum. I thank the Interior Minister, in the threat situation we’re experiencing, for sending the préfets (1) circulars recalling the measures we’re rolling out. They’re substantial: many of the domestic security forces and intelligence services are mobilized, as are most public security staff and nearly 70 riot police units, about 10 of them for border control and the rest for the fight against terrorism.
So I want the nation’s elected representatives, and through them the French people, to be well aware that this government and its European Union partners will act resolutely, with the utmost firmness and the utmost strength, without any let-up or pause, to combat terrorism. We’ll win this war on terrorism, because we uphold universal values in a climate of national cohesion and European unity.
(1) High-ranking civil servants representing the state at departmental or regional level.
Thank you for recalling France’s action. France is determined, patient and never gives up. The United Nations Security Council has at last made a break with its inability to take a decision because of permanent use of the veto.
Here, the opposite has happened. In view of the humanitarian tragedy, France negotiated and agreed to the amendments. But what’s important is contained in this resolution, which was adopted and must be implemented. Indeed, it provides for people to be evacuated in complete safety and monitors to be put in place by using—to move things quickly—all United Nations personnel already in the region. This is possible with immediate effect. The humanitarian organizations—particularly the Red Cross—absolutely must be able to intervene, because people are in an utterly wretched situation. And this resolution also reaffirms the need to protect health professionals throughout Syria.
Those are the resolution’s three key points; we must ensure they are implemented.
Yet at the same time, as you said, this isn’t the end of the war, let’s not be naïve. Indeed, it’s imperative for a ceasefire to be reached for the whole of Syria. Who says the war won’t continue elsewhere, in Idlib, in western Aleppo? This matter hasn’t been resolved. The three statements Moscow issued today hardly provide us with complete reassurance. We’re happy when Russia, Iran and Turkey talk, but things have to go further, and Resolution 2254—which lays down the conditions under which a peaceful solution must be negotiated in Geneva—has to be implemented.
It’s an honest response; France will continue working on it because there’s no future in Syria without a negotiated position, because it’s time to end the war. The war is in Aleppo, but the same situation prevails everywhere, and that’s not what we want.
Yesterday evening, as soon as I arrived, I met President Privert. We had a very warm meeting. And first of all I congratulated him on creating the conditions for a free, inclusive, transparent electoral process conducted from start to finish by the Haitian authorities alone. The international community helped, of course, it played its role, but this success belongs to Haitians.
Clearly, the process isn’t yet entirely over: we’re still waiting for the definitive results from the Electoral Council. So out of respect for its work, for Haiti’s sovereignty, for the Haitian citizens who cast their votes, I won’t comment on the preliminary results. France has taken note of them. It’s up to the Haitian authorities, fully independently, to name the winners; it’s also up to all the players on Haiti’s political stage to comply with electoral law. In a democracy, no challenge must be made through violence.
I also came to tell President Privert, his government and everyone here that whatever the results, France will remain at the Haitian people’s side. As pledged by the French President, who came here in the spring of 2015, France would like to continue its balanced partnership with Haiti. Your country’s development can be sustainable only if we carry out future projects together in priority sectors such as education, health and agriculture.
This is why the French government has taken an important decision in the past few days: to include Haiti on the list of priority countries for our official development assistance. The list isn’t long: it has only 17 countries out of nearly 200 worldwide. Haiti is now one of these 17, which shows how close it is to our hearts. The decision will allow us to implement projects for supporting Haiti’s long-term development, strengthening its independence and sovereignty and addressing the priorities decided by the Haitian authorities.
This very important decision was also taken with a desire to increase French development assistance. The French Development Agency, whose director accompanied me during that visit, has just celebrated its 75th birthday and is going to have much greater resources at its disposal than in the past. Direct, bilateral assistance is also going to be significantly stepped up and European assistance—to which France makes a huge contribution, since it is one of the leading financers—is also going to help implement all these projects. (...)