Official speeches and statements - November 21, 2018
After the mistakes of the post-1918 period, in 1945 we managed, together, to find the strength, greatness and clear-sightedness to be reconciled. It’s because our nations have been able to regain their spirit and reach out their hands to each other in a newfound companionship that 70 years of peace have reigned over Europe. We’ve done that without forgetting our dead, without denying mistakes and responsibilities, and without avoiding the truth of history; we’ve done it with clarity and stringency, trust and frankness. (...)
But, my dear friends, we’ve done even more. (...) We’ve decided to conclude a lasting peace and powerfully cement its foundations by pooling what we had used to wage war, then cooperating in so very many areas. We’ve made the Franco-German partnership the heart of a united Europe gradually joined by partners who, in our history, had been sometimes our allies and sometimes our adversaries. Together we’ve established on our continent that feeling only ever glimpsed in the ideals of our greatest thinkers but felt just vaguely by our peoples and persistently rejected by our leaders: the European feeling. Together, over recent decades, we’ve turned into a reality the dream of Erasmus, of Goethe, of Hugo and of Zweig.
That feeling, more than any war, is possible between Europeans only because we’re much more similar than we are different and because history has gradually uncovered a European distinctiveness, identity, culture and vocation. That European feeling exists among us political leaders; it’s the daily staple of our institutions and businesses; it marks out the horizons of our youth and peoples; we haven’t denied our differences, we haven’t set them against one another, we’ve united them and, in so doing, discovered how much extra influence and sovereignty this gives us. (...)
This shared enterprise has enabled the reconciliation, then reunification, of your country and our continent. Today, together, we must have the courage to open a new chapter. We owe it to Europe itself, because deep down we haven’t fully understood the time we’re living in. We owe it to all those who, for the past seven decades, have built this exceptional thing that is our Europe.
The security threat, the climate emergency, the digital upheaval, the artificial intelligence revolution, the agricultural transformation, the migration challenge - the European Union wasn’t designed to grasp or tackle any of these. Germany and France, with their partners, have managed to stitch Europe together again, build a single market within it, develop trade and stimulate competition; but it really must be said that our laws have so far barely touched on our management of borders, our common defense, the fair regulation of the digital space, our ability to become the continent of innovation, our monetary independence and our food sovereignty, and our union still approaches them with a beginner’s caution.
And yet the new Franco-German responsibility exists in the construction of this modern, effective, democratic sovereignty, and initially it will originate only with us. (...)
This new Franco-German responsibility consists in providing Europe with the tools for this new invention, the tools of its sovereignty.
This new chapter ultimately frightens us, because everyone will have to share, pool their decision-making abilities, their foreign, migration or development policies, a growing share of their budgets and even tax resources; build a common defense, make the euro an international currency equipped with a budget, create a European asylum office to harmonize our rules, and consolidate a health agency guaranteeing all our fellow citizens high quality in their daily diet. All this awaits us.
But I ask these two questions: is it preferable to remain shut away in our own inertia? Above all I ask: was it easier for those who went before us? For Briand and Stresemann, Adenauer and de Gaulle, Mitterrand and Kohl? Didn’t they have to overcome greater taboos, more painful histories, fiercer resistance than us? This new responsibility for action we have, we owe it to Europe and we owe it to the world as it is today, because our world is at a crossroads: either it chooses to hurl itself, as it’s already done, at the precipice of technology without conscience, nationalism without memory, fanaticism without bearings, or it decides that the tremendous achievements of modernity open up a new era from which the whole of humanity can benefit.
It’s on this continent, in our union that the new digital model is today being born, blending disruptive innovation, data protection and stakeholder regulation. It’s from here that the battle for the ecological transition and against climate change originates and continues. It’s in Europe that ideas are forged about overhauling multilateralism in terms of trade, security, migration and the environment. Europe and, within it, the Franco-German tandem are duty-bound not to let the world slide into chaos and to support it on the road to peace.
That’s why Europe must be stronger. That’s why it must have more sovereignty, because it won’t be able to play its part if it becomes itself the plaything of powers, if it doesn’t take more responsibility for its defense and security and makes do with playing secondary roles on the global stage.
Too many powers today want to exclude us from the game by attacking our public debate, our open democracies, and stirring up our divisions. In this world, which we must face head-on, our strength, our real strength is our unity; that’s not a synonym for unanimity or uniformity. For Europe to move forward, we must accept different rhythms, different circles, accept that some will launch a project, a cooperation program - that was true for Schengen and the euro - but always while remaining open to everyone by keeping in our minds and our hearts the interest of a united Europe. Our strength must also become our sovereignty.
If we want to guarantee to our fellow citizens that we’re putting ourselves in a position to protect them against the new risks and to choose our future, we must be more sovereign as Europeans. (...)
Long live France, long live Germany, love live Franco-German friendship and long live Europe!
2. Foreign policy - Brexit - Khashoggi affair - Saudi Arabia - Yemen - Excerpts from the interview given by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to Europe 1 (Paris - November 19, 2018)
RENAULT / NISSAN
Q. - (...) Do you think the suspicions - and I mean suspicions - surrounding Carlos Ghosn, the boss of the Renault-Nissan alliance, about concealment [of income] from Japan’s tax authorities might cause long-term damage to a big group such as Renault, which is plunging on the stock market today?
THE MINISTER - There are people in charge of that group, they’ve got to take the decisions they deem necessary in the circumstances, and Mr. Ghosn should also speak on the subject. I’ve no other comment to make on this situation, which is indeed somewhat unexpected.
Q. - And worrying, you might add, as Foreign Minister... and being in charge of foreign trade.
THE MINISTER - Worrying... worrying... it’s important that the situation is swiftly clarified.
Q. - Now, Europe. A time of uncertainty, with political chaos in Britain. The Europe ministers, including you, have endorsed the draft agreement, but things are seriously unstable on the political scene. You aren’t ruling out a no-deal Brexit today?
THE MINISTER - Britain made its choice. It dates back to June 2016: the British decided to leave the European Union. We regret it but it’s a reality which must be brought to its conclusion and, as you know, for close on two years now there have been negotiations on the basis of a mandate which the 27 gave Michel Barnier to establish the conditions for the divorce.
To understand clearly, there are two aspects: first, there’s how we divorce, what the divorce agreement is; that’s where we are. And secondly, how we’re going to live together afterwards...
Q. - It takes two to divorce; do they really want to divorce today?
THE MINISTER - It takes two to divorce and today the European Commission’s proposal, which was validated earlier in Brussels by the ministers concerned - I was there -, is the last proposal we can make for there to be a clear divorce agreement. It’s the last agreement.
Responsibility now falls to Britain to decide, and then, if it comes out in favour of the agreement - the so-called withdrawal agreement - another procedure will begin, that of identifying during a transition period how we’ll live together afterwards, from 2020.
And then there’ll be yet another negotiation, and if by chance that doesn’t succeed we’ll go back to the divorce agreement. So the process isn’t over but a very important stage is unfolding, but it’s now the responsibility of the British to decide.
Q. - The ball’s in their court.
THE MINISTER - Absolutely.
SAUDI ARABIA / KHASHOGGI
Q. - Now, the Khashoggi affair: the CIA is thought to have concluded that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, was personally behind the journalist’s murder in Istanbul. Trump is playing for time; he’s speaking tomorrow. Despite the huge interests at stake - financial and geopolitical interests -, will we really find out the truth?
THE MINISTER - We’ve got to hope for this as much as possible. It’s an extremely serious matter. It concerns a murder first of all. It concerns the murder of a journalist. It concerns the murder of a journalist in a consulate. That’s a lot. And, as the President has said several times, we’d like the whole truth to be told.
Q. - ...which you know already... the CIA knows the truth, our intelligence services know it...
THE MINISTER - There are loose ends today; when we say the whole truth has to be told, the circumstances and those responsible must be revealed. And once we come to an opinion on the subject ourselves, we’ll adopt the necessary sanctions - that’s been announced.
Q. - But what more do you need? There are the recordings, there’s the CIA report, our French intelligence services know as well - moreover, Germany has decided to impose sanctions.
THE MINISTER - Yes, but we’re working with Germany at the moment - I saw my colleague Heiko Maas earlier in Brussels -, we see eye to eye with them and we’re very swiftly going to decide on a number of sanctions ourselves as regards what we know. But we think it’s necessary to go further, because the whole truth must be known.
Q. - And then there’s the political, eminently geopolitical question; can the Crown Prince quite simply remain? Do you recognize that the West went too fast by portraying him recently as a tremendous modernizer?
THE MINISTER - He took some very strong initiatives that nobody expected: opening cinemas again, giving women the basic right to drive, allowing women to attend shows. It was a powerful new move. And he also initiated a far-reaching reform of Saudi Arabia to prevent the country from living solely off oil revenues over the long term.
So there were some very significant initiatives, a modernization project which was welcomed, including the modernization of accepted standards of behavior. Yet today we’re seeing that it’s a little more complicated than that, but we’ve no intention of getting involved in the way the Saudi authorities as a whole resolve the matter. We simply observe today that there’s the Khashoggi crime, which is completely intolerable.
Q. - You’ll remember, a few years ago we talked about Erdoğan in the same way, about the tremendous modernizer; he’s the one today who’s providing the recordings, he’s providing the evidence. What’s your view on that?
THE MINISTER - In this situation - since it happened in Turkey - President Erdogan is shouldering his responsibilities and intervening, giving information; it’s necessary for the truth and for establishing this essential truth.
Q. - But we mustn’t forget how he himself treats journalists and opponents in his country.
THE MINISTER - On several occasions I’ve had to emphasize to him the need to release a few journalists who were imprisoned. Fortunately it produced results. President Erdogan is free to act as he chooses and he shoulders his responsibilities, but it’s useful that all the players who have information can help establish the truth.
Q. - To conclude, this terrible Khashoggi affair will perhaps - perhaps - have one concrete consequence, namely the pressure finally starting to be exerted on Saudi Arabia with regard to the war in Yemen against the Houthis, against the backdrop, remember, of a conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia. A meeting - it’s important - is planned in Sweden: who will be there? Which protagonists? And can you, today, demand a ceasefire and access to humanitarian aid?
THE MINISTER - I talked a lot about this today to my colleagues, the European Union foreign ministers, and it’s true this is a dirty war. It’s true this is an intolerable war in terms of its impact; the humanitarian consequences are tragic, half the population is hungry; help isn’t arriving, it’s being diverted, including medical help. The food expedited by the international organizations isn’t reaching the people who deserve to have it. And in the meantime, the war is continuing, the conflicts are continuing, the number of deaths is rising, perhaps 10,000 deaths since the start of this conflict, which, it’s true, originated in a defensive attitude on Saudi Arabia’s part.
Q. - Hence the urgency of access to humanitarian aid...
THE MINISTER - What’s new about this moment now is that a slightly weakened Saudi Arabia, and Houthis who are under pressure from Iran, which has no interest in getting any more involved in the conflict, mean that for the first time - at any rate since I’ve been Foreign Minister and even Defense Minister - we can see a ray of hope. And soon, at the beginning of December, there will be a meeting in Sweden with all the players. And the European Union has today insisted on the players attending this meeting initiated by the United Nations. We must take confidence-building measures; we must begin to de-escalate this forgotten war, this intolerable war, this war which can’t end with a military victory and can be resolved only through political compromise.
The Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, is currently taking part in the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council of 19 and 20 November 2018. It has provided an opportunity, among other things, to officially launch 17 new projects for Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). This tool, created a year ago, strengthens Defense Europe through the development of concrete projects.
France has strongly committed itself to ensuring that this new series of projects is as ambitious as possible. We are thus involved in 11 projects and have ourselves initiated five of them, which will contribute directly to increased military capability in Europe.
This is notably the case of the project to modernize the Tiger, the attack helicopter used every day by Operation Barkhane in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel. Developed in cooperation with Germany and Spain, the project will allow the aircraft’s equipment to be modernized and improve its integration into future combat systems by enabling it, among other things, to synchronize its action with drones.
The development of a project for medium-range, ground-to-ground and air-to-ground, missile-type anti-tank weaponry is also part of this process. This weaponry is set to equip foot soldiers, combat vehicles and drones.
All these projects should ultimately enable us to act together more easily and effectively in joint operations. This is particularly the case with the "co-basing" project, which will facilitate the deployment of contingents from different European countries on the same operational base.
Thanks to these projects, we are taking another step towards a stronger Defense Europe capable of protecting European citizens. Florence Parly welcomes the progress made by all the member states in Brussels today, which shows that the European Union is also a practical Europe.