Skip to main content
Institute of Higher National Defense Studies

Institute of Higher National Defense Studies

Published on February 26, 2008
Speech by M. François Fillon, Prime Minister, (excerpts)

Paris, February 21, 2008


The aim of the White Paper [on Defence and National Security] and [Military] Estimates Act under preparation is to address three challenges:

the challenge of a now more comprehensive security;

the challenge of the interdependence of a strategic system characterized by distant theatres of operation and long-lasting crises and conflicts;

finally, the challenge posed by today’s realities, especially budgetary ones.

Our defence and security are based on four pillars: deterrence, force projection, anticipation and protection.

Nuclear deterrence: this will remain the ultimate guarantee of our security and must be safeguarded at all costs.

Force projection: our armed forces must be capable of operating in any theatre. This capacity will directly determine what influence we can bring to bear on the resolution of crises.

Anticipation: to act fast and do what’s right requires knowledge and planning. For this, we need to have an even more effective and more diversified intelligence capability.

As for protecting civilians, I want to stress the need to increase our "resilience”, i.e. our country’s ability to survive any attacks it suffers.

For this, we must already factor in the threats at the infrastructure design stage. It must not only be more resistant, but also provide for back-ups to avoid breakdowns paralysing the whole network.

We also need to plan our protection measures and exercises with regard to these threats. I’m thinking, for example, about the plan to combat a flu pandemic, which requires the establishment of strategic stocks of medicine and fuel. It goes without saying that this is a European-scale issue, given the degree of interlinking of our supply and transport networks.

Everyone clearly senses that the links between defence and security are growing and are increasingly complementing each other. So, while retaining their own identities, armed forces and security forces must improve their ability to work together.

Deterrence, force projection, anticipation and protection: defending ourselves is a duty, but preventing conflicts is of a fundamentally different nature: it is political.

France will always be on the side of international law and actively campaign to strengthen its instruments. More than ever before, our world needs balance, and balance demands legitimacy in decision-making and adherence to the principle of collective responsibility, if possible, in any action.

France is focusing in priority on four ways of achieving this balance:

1) strengthening the international organizations and especially the UN. The enlargement of the Security Council called for by President Sarkozy and improvement of the UN’s crisis-management ability will always receive our country’s support;

2) mobilizing the European Union around shared goals;

3) constructive participation in NATO linked to advances in European defence;

4) development of ad hoc bilateral and multilateral cooperation projects. This is what we are in the process of doing in Chad to provide security for Darfur’s refugee camps with the deployment of the operation EUFOR Chad/CAR.

In the current debate on our national defence great importance is being given to the human dimension of defence. This is more than justified. (…)

The bond uniting the nation to its armed forces is vital. I am convinced of this. We need a collective defence and security culture since protecting the nation is everyone’s business. Every Frenchman and woman must feel themselves involved. (…)./.

      top of the page