Official speeches and statements - November 21, 2019
[Check against delivery]
I really wanted to thank you for being here, for your active efforts, but also say how firmly I believe that this Paris Peace Forum and what we’re doing collectively is extremely useful.(...)
Madam President, you were saying that peace was being celebrated 101 years ago yesterday - not just in France, throughout Europe - following the end of the First World War. For many here, their country rose from the ashes of that war. The whole world was affected and Europe at the time thought "never again". There’s a lesson to be learned, among many positive lessons from that time, namely that we failed to build lasting peace, because we failed, at the end of that first global conflict, to find the right multilateral channels of cooperation. The first attempt was the League of Nations, and we didn’t succeed, since no one had any reason to think that less than 20 years later there were going to be new kinds of brutality, and that in under 20 years an even more terrible war, a new world war, was going to tear Europe and the world apart again. And 30 years ago, almost to the day, as you said, the Berlin Wall came down. And with it ended divisions in Europe, sometimes betrayals, resentment. And back then we all thought that these tremendous freedom fighters - not just in Germany, but throughout Eastern Europe - some of whom had prepared for this moment, had created some kind of unstoppable force. We would experience our international system in a new teleological way.
Democracy would spread everywhere; everywhere, happiness would envelop us and basically peace - some spoke about the end of history - would break out everywhere. And here too, we failed in these predictions. This time as well unfortunately, because although a period of happiness followed for our European continent, the last few years have shown us how new modern rifts and fault lines can bring to an end what was previously seen as an unstoppable future. I’m citing these two examples - these two anniversaries, because we’re almost part of these legacies - to say that nothing is pre-determined in the matter we’re talking about. And even though modern times may seem difficult, it’s sometimes in difficult times that we build useful solutions. I cited two happy moments to say that the predictions of the time were subsequently confounded by our own weaknesses, our paralysis and our own mistakes. So there’s much to be hoped from the time when we’re meeting, because it’s clouded by deep divisions and a great deal of pessimism.
INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM / PROBLEMS
And so this is why I very deeply believe in the Paris Peace Forum, because we’re going through - and the three speeches which opened our forum showed this, I think - an unprecedented crisis of our international system. Unprecedented, because for the first time it hasn’t come at the end of a world war, but is linked, I’d say, to profoundly new challenges and an endogenous crisis in our system. Together they create a sort of unique chemical reaction. Let me explain. Our global political and economic system is in crisis. This system, which is basically the social market economy, openness, free trade, cooperation systems devised after the Second World War, has been tremendously successful for 70 years. It has pulled hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, as you pointed out, particularly in your country, Mr Vice-President [of China]. It brought peace to a huge number of regions where it was thought that war and conflict were unstoppable. It enabled a completely new system to maintain balance. Yet as recent years have shown, it has given rise to new inequalities, sometimes in our societies. It has split modern societies and is also sparking a crisis in our democracies and doubt in all Western democracies, which were its pillar. It has given rise again to unilateralism, sometimes even among those who were ultimately the guarantors of this international system. And so we’ve got, if I can put it like this, an endogenous crisis in the system, namely that on the economic and political fronts, the system is today in crisis and has been turned upside down. And at the same time, profoundly new problems have emerged over the past decade, at any rate this force, the demographic issue, and just one of its consequences: the large-scale migration we’re experiencing and which we sometimes deal with only in terms of its consequences, yet it’s a much larger, much more deep-seated issue. How do we feed a continuously growing planet? How do we manage demographic imbalances, whose main migration forces, I’d add, are being played out within Africa itself, sometimes within the Asian continent too, with major disruption. The technological and digital challenge, and everything it brings in terms of how work but also our imagination and the relations between our countries are transformed. And the climate challenge - chiefly the fight against global warming and for biodiversity.
So these three major challenges - I’m probably not being exhaustive -, in addition to the challenge - which isn’t new but continues to be a battle - of the fight for freedoms and democracy, come at a time when the international system and our own societies are divided, whereas in order to meet this challenge we need more cooperation. So the risk we collectively share is that there’s a temptation again in our countries - all those which have spoken and all those here - either towards laziness, the first risk: telling ourselves we’ve got organizations, we love them, don’t question them, they’ve sometimes lost their purpose, no one understands where they’re going any more, but let’s cover this breast we cannot bear to see, as Molière puts it, and things will make better progress. I don’t believe this at all. I’ve shown this sometimes by perhaps clashing with some people in this room a few days or weeks ago. I think we need truth. Prudishness and hypocrisy don’t work these days. Why? Because our citizens see it. We’re in an open world. The experts here, the citizens, the activists, they see the consequences of that world. When it no longer works, they tell us. So hypocrisy and silence aren’t a solution. And nor is laziness in thought or action.
The second option, at least as risky, is non-cooperation, i.e. a return to unilateralism or a form of hyper-regionalism. I believe this option is also very risky. It tempts some people, because it can be said that it’s much more effective to withdraw, respond to your own challenges yourself, provide a solution of closure on the grounds that the harm, in a way, is linked to a world that has become too open. I don’t believe that either. We tested that option in the past. It produces war. Nationalism means war. (...) Non-cooperation would, in a way, deconstruct what we’ve at least managed to build over recent decades. And it may lead to a third risk which would be a possible path: hegemony. Basically, in the face of these crises we could tell ourselves new powers must emerge and we’ll get behind them. It would be a solution to say: there are a few great powers, they’ll resolve the issue for others and we agree, in a way, to get behind them. I believe that hegemony - and I say this of a country that has sometimes tried this path for others; it was in the French Republic’s colonial times, we engaged in that discourse here, including in the name of freedom, saying: we’re going to solve the world’s problems, we’re enlightened, we’re going to enlighten others, it’ll work better -[hegemony] lasts a while; it doesn’t last very long. It’s no longer possible in today’s world. And so the path of hegemony or of distribution between a few hegemonic powers isn’t desirable either, because it will breed resentment again, frustration again, humiliation again. To respond to these challenges, I see only one path, the most difficult one, the most complex one, namely that of balanced cooperation, the one we call multilateralism, i.e. which accepts discussion, disagreement and mediation in order to find common solutions. And for me, the dialogue which is taking place between the first three speeches we’ve had and which will take place for two days between the different continents, the various players, is absolutely crucial in this regard.
Europe, first of all, is a continent where the solution must be built. Madam President, thank you for being here amid a busy schedule and for strongly promoting this vision of a geopolitical Europe, as you put it. Indeed, I believe very profoundly that Europe is part of the solution, for a simple reason: our Europe - several of us here play an active role in it, and whether we’re members of the European Union or geographical powers in this Europe, we all play this role - is a laboratory for multilateralism. Perhaps also the most complex laboratory, because for thousands of years it exhausted itself in civil wars. So Europe is probably the place in the world where we’re most familiar with the price of cooperation, or rather the price of non-cooperation, and therefore with how valuable it is to build stability, including when everything militates towards difference. This geopolitical Europe must be sovereign, democratic but actually build solutions for new balances and, I think, be a sort of trusted third party between the United States of America and China, if you’ll allow me, Vice-President. Which means having its path of independence, its own path, and helping build useful solutions, as you repeated, as you pledged earlier, Madam President, and I think it’s tremendously useful for us to continue to be partners in international forums and be involved in building these new solutions in a Europe newly conceived in this way, with all our regional partners. And I think it’s Europe’s role to gather willing powers around it, and in this regard the Alliance for Multilateralism initiative promoted by the foreign ministers present here - for which I thank them - began on the sidelines of the United Nations summit and will be continued by Ministers Maas and Le Drian with their colleagues, and it is, I think, a very important initiative which symbolizes precisely what this Europe can contribute to the concert of nations alongside the European Commission.
Next there’s Asia. As you said, Vice-President, a lot of heads of state and government from Central Asia, India and other countries are also here. Asia today faces tremendous challenges in terms of stability, peace and construction, and also has new solutions, sometimes about clarifying border conflicts, demographic and religious challenges. It’s a laboratory; very often in recent years it’s been a laboratory for conflicts which have always subsequently affected Europe. And Asia reflects our own challenges. And I repeat this here very emphatically, to express our full commitment vis-à-vis some of the conflicts still dividing it. But Asia, as you said, is currently being stabilized. The initiative you’ve taken is part of this; the European Union’s connectivity initiative is a useful addition and also a route for this dialogue with China. And China’s role, as you repeated, is an important element in this stabilization. And I thank you, Vice-President, for having spoken very powerfully in this regard. I think that the role you’ll have to play and have already started playing - in particular on the climate challenge - is very important. And as regards both the fight against global warming and the fight for biodiversity, the path, the role Asia can create is an absolutely crucial factor. In this regard, 2020 involves several meetings: a China-Europe dialogue where the fight against global warming and the issue of the economy will be decisive, and also COP15 on biodiversity, which will be held in China - an essential engagement for the international system.
Then there’s Africa, cher President Tshisekedi, which you talked about admirably, referring not only to your country but to conflicts. Many presidents are here and have also taken time out, even though they’re courageously leading countries that are being rocked by terrorism and by groups that challenge national sovereignty and threaten not only the stability of their country and a whole continent but also ours. And there too our destinies are linked, and I believe that Africa, as I reiterated yesterday evening to a few of you, is currently experiencing a collective challenge with us. For a long time it’s been an object of multilateralism; it’s currently becoming one of the subjects of multilateralism - in other words, it’s playing an active role. And I want to pay tribute to the commitment of the African countries present here, and more broadly the African countries that are taking control of their destiny and building concrete solutions. Tunisia managed to do this very courageously when it came to restoring democracy several years ago. And here I welcome the Prime Minister, who, alongside the late President Essebsi, had to very powerfully steer a course for the country following that democratic miracle. But the whole African continent - and I’m thinking in particular of the Sahel - is now facing this challenge, and it’s essential for African countries to be determined to tackle the political, military and security challenge.
NEW FORMS OF MULTILATERAL COOPERATION
And in this new international order we also have to build new solutions in the United Nations framework that allow us to support the African security capability better than we do today, but also to help build it in terms of education, health, the environment and the economy, which are the four solutions that enable lasting peace to be built and prevent destabilizing factors from re-emerging. (...) In this dialogue you’ve started to forge, there are the beginnings of a solution, of a common agenda, new partnerships we can forge. And I believe our ability to build contemporary solutions clearly involves dialogue with the United States of America and the American countries. In the third forum I’d like us to succeed in mobilizing them more, to contribute even more to this dialogue. But there’s the ability to build pathways and new cooperation methods. We have forums; they’re sometimes deadlocked; the United Nations is one of them. It’s our responsibility to continue making progress to more effectively share a common agenda. And so for me - and I’ll conclude on this point - the strength, the added value of this forum, of our work, of the discussions under way, is to be able to rebuild new forums, new paths of cooperation, new alliances between our international organizations, as we managed to do in the fight against inequalities a few weeks ago in Biarritz, between international organizations, NGOs, foundations, academic stakeholders and businesses. And basically, through these two days of discussions and the work throughout the year, to confirm that we have a shared agenda: the fight against discrimination, access to rights, building those new balances and new rights in the digital sector, the fight against global warming and for biodiversity, lasting structures to tackle migration issues, the fight against geographical imbalances, and conflict resolution. (...) And then building new forms of cooperation, alliances - B4IG for example, promoted by our businesses to combat inequalities; the Partnership for Information and Democracy spearheaded by Reporters Without Borders and supported by several governments, elected representatives and businesses to combat disinformation and support better cooperation; the Christchurch Call between governments and businesses to combat [online] terrorist content and enable us to take more effective action. Those are a few examples of concrete innovations where people who haven’t previously talked to one another decide to take action together.
This forum will be full of new initiatives; we must continue to launch them in order, in a way, not to compete with current forums of multilateralism but to help reinvent them, build on them and above all take useful action. Why is unilateralism on the rise again in some countries? Why is doubt re-emerging? Because what our citizens criticize us for is sometimes our ineffectiveness, our willful inability to see or to take action fast enough. And I think building these useful solutions, these new alliances, these innovations, is an extremely important element of the collective response to the current challenges in our countries, and a way of mustering the cooperation I was talking about a moment ago. (...) It’s up to us to continue taking useful action, and that’s why I believe very strongly in the usefulness of this Paris Peace Forum. (...).
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As soon as they can, jihadist groups will take advantage of our weaknesses, our lack of coordination and our shortcomings in terms of resources, commitments and training. We mustn’t give them any chance, any foothold.
This means constantly assessing the effectiveness of our mechanisms, by testing them against the world as it is and then drawing the right conclusions. I see at least three.
The first is that the dangerous world we’re living in creates a shared destiny for us:
This shared destiny is long-standing. We had the opportunity to commemorate it last week, during the celebrations of the First World War Armistice, by paying tribute, as every year, to the soldiers who came to distant Europe to fight and die alongside the poilus [French infantrymen]. This shared destiny is fueled by many economic and cultural exchanges. It’s fueled by our respective communities and our dual nationals.
But this shared destiny is also what currently drives thousands of young people to flee war, poverty and a lack of prospects and risk their lives to reach Europe. We all know that this illusion of a better life often turns into a trap, and that the migration suffered by both the countries of origin and the reception countries represents a common failure. A failure that fuels fear, resentment and sometimes hatred. We also know we won’t resolve the issue in the long term by hiding behind seas or erecting walls.
The second conclusion is that only together will we be able to move forward. "No one can boast of getting by without others," says a Malian proverb. Indeed, we need everyone’s commitment in order to move towards total stabilization.
From MINUSMA, which is contributing throughout Mali to political dialogue.
We need the EUTM, which supports and strengthens the operational effectiveness of the Malian forces.
We need the African Union’s commitment to UN operations, and I welcome its willingness to shoulder its responsibilities in African peacekeeping operations.
You see, in a world where unilateral "fait accompli" strategies seem to be on the rise, Africa has a lot to tell us about multilateralism, of which it provides many examples. Multilateralism isn’t always easy. But to paraphrase a famous quotation, it’s the Â“worst" - I put the term in inverted commas - system of conflict resolution, except for all the others. In other words, we don’t know of any better one in the long term.
The last lesson is that conventional armies, however courageous and numerous they may be, can never completely defeat the enemy we’re fighting. They can drive it back, neutralize it, but not make it disappear. Armies can do a lot. But they can’t heal the divisions that fuel inter-community clashes, or guarantee a society’s cohesion. Our strategy must therefore combine several aspects: a military aspect, of course, but also a diplomatic aspect, a development aid aspect and an aspect relating to economic and social prospects.
On the basis of this diagnosis, France, under the direction of the President, has committed itself:
First of all it’s committed its forces. Almost all the forces France has deployed in Africa are deployed alongside their African and European allies.
France is also supporting the strengthening of local security and defense forces, in particular national schools with a regional remit. I’m thinking of the recent [National] School of Cybersecurity in Dakar, and the Air Force School in Thies, where Senegalese officers teach students from across the region. I’m also thinking of the International Counter-Terrorism Academy in Côte d’Ivoire, which hosted its first students this summer; and finally, the G5 Sahel Defense College, founded in Nouakchott in 2018.
These defense efforts are significant. They’re necessary. We’re giving ourselves the financial resources for them. But as I’ve said, they’re not enough. That’s why the President has pledged to bring our development aid to 0.55% of GNI by 2022. This will represent an outlay of euro7 billion a year, of which Africa will be the first beneficiary. In 2020 we’ll submit an estimates bill to the French Parliament to set this commitment in stone. This development aspect naturally complements our military effort; the two are linked: countries need stability to develop. And economic, human and social development is a powerful stabilizing factor.
Part of the solution also lies in the commitment of our European partners. That’s the purpose of the initiative the President launched with the Biarritz Partnership. I’d like to return to three aspects of it that highlight how unprecedented it is.
The first is its Franco-German origin. The Partnership arose from what is, in a way, the glue or the engine of Europe. The idea for it was French, but it’s European in nature.
The second aspect is that all the partners are set to get involved in it. The Sahel countries of course, but also the coastal countries, from Côte d’Ivoire to Benin. Even if those countries are not directly confronted by the spread of the terrorist threat, they are part of the solution when it comes to combating it. So we must invite them to do this, in a spirit of reciprocal commitment between the countries of the region and the international partners.
Third aspect: the Partnership is embarking on an overhaul of the way we perceive security. It’s considering it in the broad sense, in a way, devoting special attention to domestic security forces and to strengthening the criminal justice system.
Let me add that the Partnership was conceived to work in a very fluid way, complementing the Sahel Alliance, which must remain focused on its goal: to support development in fragile or remote areas.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe this sixth Dakar forum is a very good way of "answering the call of the world’s rebirth", to paraphrase Léopold Sédar Senghor. A rebirth which, in my opinion, must involve a strengthening of multilateralism and the defense of peace and security here in Africa. It must also involve us being able collectively to offer everyone a future, and stop emigration being the sole and inevitable pathway. future "rebirth of the world" requires Africa especially, its wisdom, its expertise, its youth, its entrepreneurs, its artists and of course its leaders. And this same Africa full of promise is gathered here in Dakar, to answer the call, and I’m absolutely delighted about it.
3. Fight against terrorism - Terrorism/Global Coalition/Syria/Iraq/foreign fighters - Ministerial meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS - Statements to the press by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (excerpts) (Washington - November 14, 2019)
We actually had five priorities and five decision requests to put to our Coalition colleagues, which I’ll briefly mention.
The first priority, the first decision we were expecting was for all the Coalition players to avoid taking unilateral initiatives without consulting the other members, initiatives which, moreover, could undermine our efforts. This commitment is made in the ministers’ declaration, which we agreed, and which you should now have since we published it a short while ago.
The second decision, the second proposal for action, was to reaffirm that we’ll continue our commitment in the Coalition framework and devote the necessary resources to it in north-east Syria and Iraq. You saw that the United States decided to maintain a military presence in north-east Syria to continue the fight against Daesh [so-called ISIL] and continue supporting our local partners; this is good news and France will go on shouldering all its responsibilities and participating as before in the [Global] Coalition to Defeat ISIS. I think this is an important point of the morning, and was reaffirmed very resolutely by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The third priority concerns Daesh’s foreign fighters, an important issue. These fighters - those who aren’t operating underground - are being held today either in Iraq or in north-east Syria, and when I talk about Daesh fighters I mean Daesh fighters as a whole, because it’s too often forgotten that most of those being held come from Iraq and Syria. The foreign fighters issue is part of this problem, but foreign fighters, especially French fighters, are very much in the minority compared to the mass of Iraqi and Syrian fighters. What we’ve decided is that we must at all costs guarantee the safe, long-term detention of fighters to make sure they can’t disperse and go off to fight again, and also guarantee [the fight against] impunity for the crimes they’ve committed and for us to go on saying that they must be tried as near as possible to where they committed their crimes, because let’s never forget that these women and men who joined Daesh made a conscious decision to fight for a terrorist organization.
The fourth priority we proposed was to continue financing and supporting the humanitarian effort and the stabilization effort, both in Syria - as much as possible - and Iraq. The regime’s return to a part of north-east Syria limits what we can do beyond providing humanitarian assistance to people, even though humanitarian assistance can be distributed everywhere and this is what we’re doing, because we don’t want the areas held by the regime to become stabilized and rebuilt; we believe those initiatives must be taken solely once the political process, which has finally opened in Geneva following the first meeting of the Constitutional Committee, has come to a satisfactory close.
This is also what we think regarding support for any forced resettlements which may occur, which won’t benefit from our support for stabilization.
Finally, our fifth priority is to reaffirm our commitment to continue supporting the Iraqi authorities in the battle they’re waging against Daesh. The Iraqi government has taken up huge challenges in recent years. The Coalition must remain at its side in the very tough situation we’re familiar with in that country.
I note in the final, approved communiqué that all these points were retained and I’m delighted about this. (...)
So this is an important meeting for clarification and remobilizing against terrorism, and I think a new stage in the Coalition’s action has begun this morning following the meeting, which we called for, and which, I believe, has enabled the necessary clarification we were asking for. That’s what I wanted to say to you by way of an introduction.
4. Yazidi Families - Twenty-seven Yazidi families, previously victims of Daesh, welcomed in France - Press release issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior (Paris - November 20, 2019)
On November 20, France welcomed 27 Yazidi women who were victims of Daesh [so-called ISIL], accompanied by their children. A flight from Erbil coordinated and funded by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and operated by the International Organization for Migration landed early this afternoon at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.
Following previous operations coordinated by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs in partnership with agencies from the Ministry of the Interior that enabled us to take in 16 families on December 19, 2018, 28 families on May 22 this year, and 31 families on 8 August, the arrival of these 27 families marks the fulfillment of President Macron’s pledge to 2018 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nadia Murad to welcome 100 Yazidi families - the victims of crimes committed by Daesh - to France.
These families, who were particularly impacted by the abuses of the terrorist organization, will be resettled in different French départements. With the help of several government agencies, France will guarantee them protection, security, education, and medical and social support.
This move reflects France’s renewed determination to establish facilities, in partnership with the Iraqi authorities, that welcome victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East. At the same time, France is taking steps with these populations in Iraq to restore suitable living conditions on the ground and help rebuild areas liberated from Daesh control.
5. European Union - EU enlargement - Statement by Ms. Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, following the General Affairs Council (Brussels - November 19, 2019)
THE MINISTER - We’ve just finished this General Affairs Council day. A lot of discussions on the rule of law, on the European budget, on the European Council in December and, just now, on enlargement. What’s very interesting is that we’ve just achieved unanimity, in a very peaceful, very unified discussion about the need to reiterate a number of principles.
First of all, the fact that the Western Balkans’ future in Europe isn’t being called into question: it’s desired, it’s upheld and it’s a starting point we all agree on.
The second principle on which there’s unity is the formal request by the member states, the Council, to see the Commission working by January 2020 on proposals to improve the negotiation process, to make it more effective, more transparent, more concrete, and the proposals we made regarding principles were therefore picked up as work for the Commission. It now has the responsibility of carrying out the technical analyses and creating a proposal that is balanced, but this is a common message from all the member states today to ensure the Commission can work to that end.
Another common message is that we’re asking the countries in the region to continue reforms - all this must take place in parallel: reforms in the region, reforms of the process itself - and then [we must] prepare ourselves collectively to have - as was said at the European Council - discussions next spring, in 2020, which can be held also on the basis - this is what was requested, for us to have a formal update from the Commission on the reforms carried out in North Macedonia and Albania, for us to have a new formal update in 2020.
I note that a month ago people were talking about a divided Europe and a debate where we had a veto. What I hear today is that there are indeed, as I said on leaving the Council a month ago, several positions, but unanimity and collective work and a unified message on the points I’ve just returned to.
Q. - On the proposals France has made, is this something that should also be applied to the countries which are already negotiating, like Serbia and Montenegro?
THE MINISTER - That’s what we must work on. I think the countries could be interested if this new methodology is proposed by the Commission. I think the current countries, Serbia and Montenegro in particular, could want to enter into this process. The decision is up to them, the decision must be taken with the Commission. It’s a little early to ask them, because we have no formal mandate on the table. But once the Commission has been able to make its proposals, I think there will be room for discussing this with them. It’s their choice and it must be based on a real proposal, not just what we’ve put on the table today, which is a political proposal regarding principles but which has now been formally submitted to the Commission so that it can work between now and January 2020. Thank you.