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Official speeches and statements - March 10, 2017

Published on March 10, 2017

1. European Union - Greece - Statements by M. Bernard Cazeneuve, Prime Minister, at his joint press conference with his Greek counterpart, Mr Alexis Tsipras (Athens - March 3, 2017)


First of all I wanted to come to Athens to underline the very clear message of confidence the French authorities have already sent our Greek friends several times. France has confidence in Greece’s future, confidence in its ability to continue the brave reforms that will enable it to return to growth, and confidence in its recovery and its ability to continue making a decisive, useful contribution to the European project.

At a time when Greece has had to face up to the most difficult situations, it has also been able—and therein lies its strength—to take important decisions courageously, to improve citizens’ lives. And today its efforts are bearing fruit. The economy is picking up again, growth prospects are good, investment is resuming—this morning I was with French investors, who are expressing their confidence in the future—and reforms are making headway too, and for all these reasons we’d like to reiterate our confidence in Greece, which has so much to offer the European Union thanks to the potential of its young people, its culture and its potential for innovation, modernization and growth.

In the summer of 2015, a difficult time for Europe and Greece when the integrity of the Euro Area was in danger, France categorically rejected the notion that we couldn’t show the solidarity we owed our Greek partner. And I’ve said this again to Alexis Tsipras: France will always stand by Greece, in the long term, through our bilateral cooperation but also through Europe’s assistance program.

That’s what we’re doing again at the moment, by encouraging the adoption of what is technically called the «second review», which should enable Greece to continue benefiting from Europe’s financial assistance program, and I’m very hopeful, because the political will is there on the part of Greece and also its partners, and I’m convinced that this political will, once again, will be translated into good results, into good compromises in the near future; and beyond that, I want to remind you that we’ll have to look at the issue of the Greek debt with the utmost seriousness. In May 2016 the Eurogroup made commitments on this, and of course those commitments are set to be honored.

Moreover, France will continue lending its technical assistance as part of the support service for the European Commission’s structural reforms, but support for Greece in its economic recovery will also require active efforts by our French economic players, and I was saying earlier to the economy and finance ministers and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that—on the priming of start-ups, on such issues as strategic as future methods of transport, the ecological transition, energy policies, technological innovation and the networking of our research centres—we have a huge number of initiatives to take that will enable Europe to return to the path of growth, and Greece to benefit from it especially. And from this point of view, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s ambition, through the euro300-billion plan which is being implemented, which is set to receive extra funding and which aims to support our cutting-edge industries, must be an ambition for more growth and employment that is upheld by our two countries.

We also discussed issues of migration, and I want to be extremely clear on this point. France also wanted to stand by Greece in the difficult time which Greece has been through, which migrants fleeing persecution have been through and which led us to advocate the utmost solidarity within the European Union. In August 2014, Prime Minister, I began a tour of European capitals and then, in a second phase, an initiative with my colleague Thomas de Maizière aimed at ensuring there would be solidarity mechanisms enabling a relocation and resettlement process to be implemented, putting into practice the European Union’s determination, amid the migration crisis, not to leave countries of first entry alone amid the challenges they faced. This led to the implementation of this process of relocation from the hot spots in Greece and Italy.

You kindly said that France is the leading contributor to this process, to this relocation and resettlement policy; that’s true; it’s thought that last year we relocated nearly 300 migrants from Greece—i.e. 30% of the migrants relocated from hot spots in Greece.

For 2017, we’re making 360 French civil servants available in Greece—from the internal security forces, intelligence services and French asylum authorities—who will support your authorities when it comes to the registration of migrants and access to asylum for those eligible for refugee status in Europe.

And we’d obviously like to ensure, on this issue, that the ambition for solidarity which has led to these proposals, and their implementation in Europe, is translated into increased cooperation between our two countries over the coming months, for reasons stemming from our humanist values—we share them, they go way back and have linked our two countries for a long time and through mankind’s long history; but we’d like to do so also, cher Alexis, because together we want to provide proof that Europe affords protection, that it affords protection including when it comes to tackling the migration issue, and that if we didn’t have Frontex to control the European Union’s external borders, if we didn’t have solidarity to ensure refugees are protected, if we didn’t have mechanisms to organize returns through holding centres in the Sahel strip, then immigration would be less controlled, mass disasters would be on a bigger scale, there would be fewer efforts to combat people trafficking and populism could then take even greater advantage of the situation.

And I’d like to say very clearly, here in Greece, that what we want to do through the European project is also a way to protect Europe against another risk, that of populism and the far right, which, through the solutions proposed by these movements, would destroy the opportunity for Europe to protect its citizens, on all issues, in the face of the major threat resulting from global unrest. (...)

2. Australia - Bilateral relations - Creative France Australia agenda 2017 - Speech by Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to the French community - excerpts (Sydney - March 1, 2017)


Australia and France are linked by principles and values. They come together around shared ideals. By celebrating our alliance’s centenary, we believed that the finest tribute to past generations is to work together to prepare for the future.

During his state visit, the President suggested working together with Australia in three priority areas.

Firstly, we are cooperating in the areas of security and defence. In France’s opinion, Australia is a factor for stability and development in the region, and in a world where uncertainties and threats are growing. A strong Australia is a major strength for the community of nations which are committed, as we are, to democracy, human rights and multilateralism.

Our second joint priority is an economic one. Australia has chosen to develop its model by diversifying what drives its growth and making the most of its highly educated population to develop its technologies and high-tech industries. This focus on the economy and knowledge is also at the heart of France’s strategies, and we have a great deal to share in this respect. In many cases, top-level expertise and our companies’ ability to innovate meet Australia’s needs. So more economic partnerships between Australia and France must be formed. This is the aim of the business delegation here at my side, under the leadership of Guillaume Pépy for MEDEF [French employers’ association], and Ross McInnes, who has agreed to be my special representative for Australia—two major business chiefs who are helping France succeed in Australia, and whom I thank for being here. I hope we’ll be able to welcome a delegation of Australian business leaders to discover our cities and regions.

Finally, we know that the relationship between France and Australia goes well beyond state-to-state relations, and even economic relations. Every one of you is proof of this: men and women across the country foster and increase the richness and vitality of our ties. Professionals, entrepreneurs, academics, researchers, artists and students—you all play an active part in this highly ambitious relationship.

This is the purpose of the Creative France Australia initiative, whose 2017 edition we’re launching, all together, today. Creative France is about showing France in its best light, with its researchers opening their laboratories, its universities forging links with their Australian partners and its artists sharing their emotions with the public.

Alongside Ambassador Christophe Lecourtier, the Consul General and their teams, I pay tribute to everything Team France has accomplished and will accomplish in future. I commend especially the influence of the Alliances françaises, the work of the researchers in the AFRAN [Australian French Association for research and innovation] network, the honorary consuls and consular advisers, and the work of French teachers, schools and volunteers in mutual assistance organizations. You all contribute to the Franco-Australian partnership.

This unity, this ambition and this desire to be a major partner of Australia have been crucial assets for supporting the French offer to supply Australia with a fleet of top-performance ocean submarines. Our ambition was convincing because it was that of a whole nation, of the highest state authorities, the diplomats, the military institution, manufacturers and all those whose knowledge and skills were required. It’s what I’ve called Team France. They can legitimately be proud of what they’ve accomplished and are going to accomplish. There’s a lesson to be learnt from managing to create this alliance.

This success commits our two countries to a partnership which is exceptional in its duration, intensity and diversity. It renews the alliance forged on the French battlefields, because it’s about facing up together to the risks and opportunities of a century which, in many respects, is no less dangerous than the previous one. (...)

Australia’s decision to purchase submarines does us credit, but above all it places an obligation on us. France will honor its commitments. In December, two intergovernmental treaties were signed to provide a framework for this project. During my visit, we’ll sign a new strategic partnership with Australia that will cover a series of key areas, in order to address future challenges. Our political dialogue, our economic cooperation, our partnerships in science and innovation, culture, energy and the environment will be given unprecedented resources.

France will be a top-level partner for Australia, and that’s what I’ll tell Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, my counterpart, Ms Julie Bishop, and the Australian leaders I’ll be meeting in Canberra and Melbourne tomorrow and on Friday. In this respect, the support and participation of each of you are decisive.

We’ll unreservedly support the ambition of the French territories in the South Pacific and the departments in the Indian Ocean to promote closer relations with Australia. It’s another major asset for our comprehensive partnership, which also enables us to contribute together to the development, stability and security of the island states in the region, including sometimes very small, vulnerable states. (...)