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Official speeches and statements - January 26, 2017

Published on January 26, 2017

1. Hackathon - Quai d’Orsay launches its start-up incubator - Statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development Spokesman (Paris - January 26, 2017)

Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, is meeting today with the 26 teams (92 participants) in the first hackathon organized by the Quai d’Orsay, which ends this evening; the best projects will be recognized by a jury.

This hackathon will provide an opportunity for Jean-Marc Ayrault to announce two new measures aimed at continuing the foreign ministry’s digital transformation:

  • The creation of an incubator designed to promote, within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, a genuine culture of innovation in order to accelerate the digital transition underway.

    The Quai d’Orsay will be the second ministry to develop this kind of «government incubator». This streamlined structure will bring selected start-ups to the premises of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development in Paris, La Courneuve and Nantes and eventually certain embassies and will provide them with personalized support from computer scientists and developers from the Quai d’Orsay’s Directorate of Information Systems. The goal of this incubator is to generate solutions to satisfy the ministry’s operational needs. The start-ups in the incubator program will retain the intellectual property of these solutions and therefore the ability to market them on a larger scale. Several participants in the hackathon will initially be able to join the incubator in March. A call for applications will then be launched on a wider scale following the hackathon.

  • The appointment of a chief data officer. In keeping with the hackathon, the chief data officer’s role will be to coordinate public access to the ministry’s data and promote the use of this data for the benefit of all. Laurent Garnier, Deputy Secretary-General of the Quai d’Orsay, will fulfill this role.

Further information on the hackathon can be found here:

2. Saudi Arabia - Bilateral relations/fight against terrorism/Iraq/Syria/United States - Statements by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, at his joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart, Mr Adel al-Jubeir (excerpts) (Riyadh - January 24, 2017)

Thank you very much, Adel. I want to thank my colleague and friend Adel al-Jubeir for his welcome. Since I took office as Foreign Minister nearly a year ago, we’ve often had opportunities to talk, to meet, either at bilateral meetings like the one today—it’s my first visit here—or, very often, very regularly in Paris and also at many international bodies. This is a sign of excellent dialogue, trust and also great openness on the part of my partner Adel al-Jubeir.


Once again we discussed many subjects that concern us today, following the meeting with the King. Indeed, we share many things with Saudi Arabia. We have a strategic relationship that we want to strengthen. But we’re both also determined to defeat jihadist terrorism and continue bringing peace to the crisis-hit region, to every country affected by crises. In the fight against terrorism, we know our two countries are under threat and are victims of terrorism. And for us, the fight against terrorism is first and foremost a fight against Daesh [so-called ISIL] and al-Qaeda. I also recalled the need for cooperation in the battle against radicalization which is being fought here, which we’re also fighting in our society, in France, but which we must coordinate still more effectively at international level. We must also eradicate networks—they exist, they haven’t disappeared—and also work to dry up their sources of funding. In the framework of the international coalition, one working group is co-chaired by Saudi Arabia, which is doing very useful work on this subject.

I also saw we share the same views on many subjects. I’m thinking, for example, of the need to liberate Mosul, which is one of the sanctuaries of Daesh, but also subsequently to continue that battle to Raqqa in Syria. I told him about our operational commitments. I also told him about our confidence in the Arab forces’ ability to work to liberate those cities. But in addition to the military aspect—which is important—, if we want the lasting defeat of Daesh, it’s also important for the solutions provided to be political solutions, which include all the societies concerned, in all their diversity. This applies in particular to Iraq, where, if a segment of the national community isn’t integrated and brought into governance, then the risks of confrontation and radicalization remain.

The issue of national reconciliation is central for us; it’s an urgent necessity in Iraq. As for Syria, we’re aware of the terrible, tragic situation, with those hundreds of thousands dead, millions of refugees, displaced people and a country destroyed. We want at all costs to secure a lasting ceasefire, enable suffering people to receive humanitarian aid and then do everything to arrive at a political solution. We share the same vision. The Geneva Declaration of 2012, the framework of Security Council Resolution 2254 must be the basis of the political transition. So today there’s a meeting in Astana. We wanted it to be a success on at least one priority point, namely the actual cessation of hostilities. I don’t know if there will be an agreement. In any case, we’d like one. But at the same time, what we’re demanding is for the negotiations in Geneva to resume as quickly as possible, in the United Nations framework and under the aegis of the United Nations.


We also discussed the situation in Yemen. We support the efforts of the United Nations, of its special representative, to bring about a political solution. For us, it’s the only possible path: the path to a truce and political dialogue as soon as possible, without forgetting the humanitarian situation. We’ve discussed this issue several times, and [we discussed it again this morning.


I thanked Adel al-Jubeir and Saudi Arabia for taking part in the conference on the Middle East that I hosted in Paris on 15 January. The final communiqué was an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative launched by Saudi Arabia in 2002, which still applies and also reiterates the international community’s traditional stance. It’s the reaffirmation that there’s no peaceful solution without the creation of a Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside Israel. This can be done only through negotiations between the parties. But by organizing that conference in Paris, we wanted to recall the urgent need to resume those negotiations, on the basis of the 1967 lines and with Jerusalem as the capital, whereas the current situation is leading to despair and violence.


The relationship with Saudi Arabia also has an economic dimension, of course. It’s already substantive. France’s main economic partnership in the region is with Saudi Arabia. Over the first 10 months of 2016—we don’t yet have the final 2016 figures—our exports were up 20% compared to 2015. That’s a trend we must confirm; we’re working on it together. A recent Airbus order for 2017, announced last week, augurs well and is a strong sign. This morning I was very pleased to visit the huge construction project for the Riyadh metro, which is being built by one of the flagships of French industry, the Alstom group. They’re not building every line—there are six—but they’re building half with businesses, particularly civil engineering businesses and businesses here. I’ve been told it’s the largest metro project in the world. That gives you an idea of Saudi Arabia’s ambition in terms of equipping the country and, at the same time, the ability of businesses, particularly French ones, to meet the country’s demand.

So it’s a symbolic visit, and I’m delighted about that. There are other projects Saudi Arabia has launched; we’re ready to bid on them, in any case. And above all, we fully subscribe to the strategy the Crown Prince has called Vision 2030. We’ll have the opportunity to discuss it in greater detail this afternoon; we’ve started talking about all this. I went to KACST (King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology) this morning. We talked a lot about cooperation on research and innovation, support for start-ups, and the diversified economy Saudi Arabia wants to develop. I saw a very concrete sign of what Vision 2030 means, even though there are also a lot of other aspects concerning Saudi Arabia’s necessary diversification and modernization, which is under way.

At any rate, France is ready to cooperate even more at political and strategic level. Together we’re helping to resolve conflicts and emerge from crises, consolidate peace but also build a stable world, a world offering prospects, in particular to young people. That’s true in economic, educational and cultural terms. In any case, our Franco-Saudi strategic partnership is solid. In an uncertain world, in a changing world, with new administrations, with political decisions like Brexit and a rebalancing of global forces, it’s important for there to be centres of stability. And Saudi Arabia is one of the factors in that stability. But Franco-Saudi strategic cooperation is also one. (...)

3. France-Africa summit - Bamako Summit for Partnership, Peace and Emergence - Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, during his joint press conference with Mr Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, President of Mali (Bamako - January 14, 2017)

I want to begin by thanking Mali’s President for the success of this summit. As I’ve said several times, it was a challenge for Mali when it was entrusted—three years ago now—with the responsibility for organizing this event. It was a test for it, coming on top of others, and it was also a way of showing that Mali had weathered the crisis it had undergone and was fully able to cope with hosting a major event, because over 50 countries were represented and many heads of state and government. As regards security, logistics and political preparation, Mali has once again lived up to the hope we placed in it.

The summit was devoted to two main issues: firstly, the security of the African continent, and secondly, the development and emergence of that continent of the future, Africa. Regarding security, there’s now global awareness: no one region is threatened more than others by trafficking, insecurity and terrorism; when one is threatened in particular, the others can fear they will be in turn. So a comprehensive plan has been adopted both to make every African country face up to its responsibility in providing the appropriate response and to give the African Union the necessary capabilities to form regional forces which can meet the challenges. Finally, France has confirmed its support in terms of training, in terms of equipment and in terms of working alongside Africa so it can ensure its own security.

We also discussed situations which are of concern to us and call our attention, particularly Libya. We’d like there to be a political solution with the Sarraj government and with the Libyan National Army so that both Libya’s integrity can be preserved and the state’s authority restored. This is the sine qua non for limiting trafficking and preventing it from making people risk their lives by migrating.

Then we discussed the second issue: development and emergence. Africa is a continent experiencing strong growth, but at the same time it must be supported in its investment efforts. Several decisions have been taken: the first is to use what came out of COP21, among other things the funds planned for the energy transition and for the renewable energy plan. It was absolutely crucial for the European Union representative to be at this summit as well—the commissioner in charge of development—and the President of the African Development Bank. Several projects have been put forward for funding.

France wanted to set an example by further increasing the contribution announced at the Paris conference. More generally, the French Development Agency will make euro23 billion available to help promote Africa’s emergence. President Keita and I have just sponsored—if I can put it like that—the French-African Fund, which is going to raise private capital for investment in Africa.

We also attached great importance to the digital sector, because technology can be a significant lever for growth in Africa. Finally, we discussed specific situations, particularly what’s happening in Gambia. There was an election which was deemed credible and transparent, so its outcome must be respected. You saw that the President-elect was welcomed at this summit and everything must be done so that he can actually take office on 19 January. ECOWAS wanted to hold a meeting at the same time as this summit in order to achieve this.

There you are, ladies and gentlemen; I want to end on a more personal note because, as far as I’m concerned, this was my last summit. I’ve actually had experience of only two—in 2013 and 2017. So there was a need for me here to confirm the commitment I made to Africa in 2013, not just on the security front but also as regards development and growth, and France’s place in Africa. What was said throughout the summit, first by President Keita, but then by the heads of state and government, was addressed to France, to show what its place, responsibility and role are, and Africa’s commitment to it as long as France adheres to principles, champions ideals and can keep its promises.

I must say that I’ve got feelings for Africa that are intense because I remember history and look to the future. Africa is both the continent with which we—France—are linked, including through our tumultuous presence here in the past, but we’re conscious that Africa is also our future—I talked about this in my speech—, our future is theirs and Africa’s ours. If Africa goes through instability and insecurity, we’ll have a number of consequences from it. If, on the contrary—and we’re trying hard for this—, Africa develops, emerges and experiences growth, stability and democracy, then France, Europe will be able to experience what will be lasting development and growth with that continent. This is why I was delighted and very proud to participate in this summit here in Mali, in Bamako—which I visited in 2013 to say what a very important day it was. Well, there’s just been another very important day thanks to you, Ibrahim, here in Bamako. (...)

4. Italy - Bilateral relations - Visit by Mr Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy - Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic - excerpts (Paris - January 10, 2017)

Ladies and gentlemen,

It was a great pleasure for me to welcome Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni. It’s his first official visit to France, as part of a series of European visits he’s going to be making over the coming days, and I thank him very much indeed for coming to Paris first. It’s a sign of the excellent friendship and relationship between France and Italy. I don’t need to go back over it; it’s based on culture, politics but also the economy.

I remind you that France is the leading investor in Italy, its second-largest trading partner, and we’ve had joint projects for a long time—the most outstanding, most symbolic but also most significant in terms of work being the Lyon-Turin [high-speed railway line]. Indeed, at the end of the month France is going to ratify the international agreement enabling us to carry out this major project, which our diplomatic services, our governments and our businesses have been actively working on for years. We’re now at the point where we can take clear steps in turning this infrastructure into reality.

We also share a number of industrial projects, and we discussed them. We’re determined to ensure that French businesses and Italian businesses can be, together—sometimes separately—champions at European and global level. Whenever we can find partnerships, we absolutely must grasp them, in every field.

It’s true that there are—in the electronics field, in the field of new technology—further opportunities to take action together. In France there’s the issue of the future of STX [shipbuilding company], with a possible stake for Fincantieri. For us, it is indeed a very serious possibility. We’re working towards this, but with a determination for the government to remain not only a minority shareholder but a shareholder that can have blocking rights, and we’d like there to be a solution with multiple shareholders.

We also want us to make progress on Europe. In March, Italy is going to host all the European countries to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome. We can make it a mere mention, a page in history, or we can write a new chapter in the European enterprise. The choice that we, Italy and France, have made—although I’m sure it will be shared, and particularly with Germany—is to ensure that this Rome meeting can, from the European perspective, clearly show the direction we want to take.

First of all, security: border security, so that we can, particularly on the migration issue, not only be human and decent—particularly in making sure the right of asylum is respected—but also ensure we can deport those migrants who aren’t eligible to enter and remain on European soil. This means having—and we’ve already completed this—coastguards, border guards and checking systems, and this is part of Europe’s long-term commitments, and it goes together, incidentally, with a development policy, particularly to support Africa, and innovative policies in terms of cooperation. That’s the first dimension.

I’ll add a second dimension, namely defense. We’re facing an uncertain, dangerous world. There’s a terrorist threat which has struck several European countries, [including] France and recently Germany, and so we must ensure European defense and coordinate our intelligence services even more than we have, and in a general way ensure we increase and improve our defense capabilities. This is a key challenge, and I think that on the 60th anniversary we’ll be able to further this second goal of the European enterprise.

Finally, the third dimension is growth and employment, developing new technologies, the ability to develop our industries and ensure that young people have a future through training, through excellent universities and research. That’s what we want to promote on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome: a new page in Europe’s future. (...)

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