Ambassadors’ Week: François Hollande’s speech [fr]
Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at the opening of Ambassadors’ Week - 25 August 2015
France is preparing to host the Climate Conference, and this has been the focus of your work since Monday. It will be a major event; we are mobilized at the highest levels of government. All government agencies, all public actors and all actors who bear responsibility in this area – and there are many of them – are also mobilizing their efforts.
We have a duty to succeed, because this is a global issue and because France is the country that is hosting this major event. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development, under the leadership of Laurent Fabius, is again taking the initiative. Because of its position, its role, its influence, our country has been tasked once again with participating in negotiations that will be critical for the future of the planet.
But the planet isn’t just threatened by global warming: it’s also facing terrorism that hasn’t reached this level of barbarity, this level of severity, for decades.
Our country was itself attacked in January. It reacted calmly and in a united manner. It benefited from exceptional international solidarity following this tragedy, because France represents freedom for the whole world.
We are still exposed, and the attack that took place on Friday on the Thalys Amsterdam-Paris train – which could have deteriorated into terrible carnage without the courage of several passengers, notably the American servicemen whom I honoured yesterday – is further evidence that we must prepare ourselves for other attacks and therefore protect ourselves.
Our security within our borders is at stake first of all. That’s what prompted us to implement Operation Sentinelle, which is mobilizing, in addition to police officers and gendarmes, 7,000 soldiers. That’s why we have increased the number of intelligence agents and modernized our legislation in order to take more effective action while ensuring that freedoms are respected.
This is also necessary in order to tackle foreign fighters and to locate, identify and follow individuals associated with the fundamentalist movement.
Our security outside our borders is also at stake. Daesh [ISIL] poses the greatest danger. The organization controls vast areas in Syria and Iraq and has considerable resources linked to all forms of trafficking, with ramifications across the globe. The organization recruits, indoctrinates and controls individuals, with the aim of killing on a greater scale.
Muslims are the main victims in Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and Libya, but minorities are systematically persecuted and tortured. That’s why I will open the conference on Eastern Christians and religious and ethnic victims, organized by Laurent Fabius in Paris in a few days.
Daesh is also destroying the heritage of humanity; in Palmyra, the former head of the archeological site was savagely beheaded and on Sunday the Temple of Baalshamin was reduced to a pile of rubble.
The intention is the same: to remove all traces of humanity, to use images, acts of terror and horror to terrorize people, to show that there’s no limit to the barbarity. Again, we need to take action: 10 years after the signing of the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity, I decided to entrust the President of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, with a mission to protect cultural property in armed conflict.
France will take all necessary action to improve the protection of artefacts and sites as well as to combat the trafficking that sustains the financing of terrorism, because behind the destruction of cultural sites, there is also trade, which means there are buyers, if there are sellers.
In Africa, terrorism takes the name of Boko Haram. Its brutality, its suicide attacks have resulted in numerous deaths: 10,000 since the beginning of the year. Last year 14,000 people were killed, mostly women and children. All countries in the region are affected, especially Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, and we must show them unwavering solidarity because these are friendly countries and because the stability of the whole of West Africa is also at stake.
In a few days, I will host a meeting with Nigeria’s new president, Muhammadu Buhari, and I will confirm to him that France is ready to bring together all actors involved in the fight against Boko Haram, as we did a year ago. This will involve coordinating our services, exchanging information, as well as taking joint action in the region. The Minister of Defence has been sufficiently alerted to this issue and knows what we need to do.
The intervention in Mali demonstrated this. Yes, it is possible, with the help of the African Union, the European countries and the UN, to curb terrorism. In a different format, we will work through Operation Barkhane towards the same objective: to drive back terrorism.
But we are calling, more than ever, on Africans to establish an intervention force as swiftly as possible. We stand ready to support, train, and – along with the European countries – contribute to funding this force.
Similarly, we are aware of what’s at stake in Tunisia. The Arab Spring started there. An exemplary democratic transition is taking place there and this friendly country suffered terrorist attacks in Bardo and Sousse, depriving it of the tourist income essential to its economy.
I therefore called on the European countries to go even further than the Deauville Partnership and to give it a security dimension, because we cannot leave that country alone to face an enemy that is also ours.
The use of force is necessary in the face of terrorism. That’s why I called on our armed forces to address the situation in Mali and to take part in the coalition in Iraq.
The increased threat level, which is not likely to go down any time soon, also prompted us to update our military estimates act, to commit even more resources, including during this period of budgetary constraints. And to ensure that we can provide our armed forces with equipment and human resources over the long term.
Because two conditions must be fulfilled in order to ensure that France always leads the way: we must shoulder our responsibilities when necessary and have the capabilities to do so. We may want to but if we no longer can, what’s the point of political action or public discourse? We must therefore have the means to shoulder our responsibilities.
But at the same, time military involvement will never be enough in itself, because terrorism is fuelled by political chaos. It’s therefore up to our diplomats to find ways to resolve the crises we’re experiencing.
In Syria, the world took a long time to respond. Too long. France had sounded the alarm in the summer of 2012, and in fact, had from the outset declared its support for the opposition. Indeed, I was the first to consider it the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
A year later, we were ready to punish a regime that had beyond the shadow of a doubt used chemical weapons against its own people. The international community’s inaction, after a red line had been deliberately crossed, had a heavy cost. A very heavy cost. Daesh, which did not yet exist in its present form, established itself in Syria, and Bashar al-Assad continued to massacre his people. Sadly, he is still providing a few examples of this.
What should we do? We must lessen the grip of the terrorists without saving Assad, because the two are linked. At the same time, we must seek a political transition in Syria; that is essential. The Security Council recognized this by adopting a statement last week, the first in two years. This is a step in the right direction, and it’s an important step. Russia signed up to it, so dialogue can be instituted. The conditions must be established.
The first is the neutralization of Bashar al-Assad, the second is to offer solid guarantees to all moderate opposition forces, particularly Sunni and Kurdish, and to preserve state structures and Syrian unity. The last condition, which will no doubt be decisive, is to engage all the stakeholders in finding a solution. I’m thinking of the Gulf States. I’m also thinking of Iran. I’m thinking of Turkey, which must be involved in the fight against Daesh, and institute – or rather resume – dialogue with the Kurds.
On this major issue, which has been so important in recent months, I am calling for an increase in general awareness. Terrorism is threatening all the region’s actors, not just a few powers but all of them, and resolving the Syrian crisis requires everyone’s participation. France is ready to play its part.
We will continue, in the meantime, to help the Syrian opposition – the opposition we consider moderate – and to participate in the coalition in Iraq, but work to improve its effectiveness, because there is no question of committing forces, of having a presence there, if we are not sure of the objectives and the means to achieve them.
We will also support the reforms carried out by Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi to strengthen institutions, maintain a state structure and Iraq’s unity, and bring all communities together. In short, to do what was not done a few years ago in Libya, where we are paying a high price for the failure to shore up a state after a necessary armed intervention. Libya is a vast, resource-rich area. Its resources haven’t disappeared; they are being removed for purposes that do not foster the country’s development, to say the least. It is a country that has fallen prey to the utmost disorder, and which is notable for having two governments. That’s at least one too many!
I support efforts by the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative to bring about the formation of a national unity government that, with the international community’s support, will be capable of isolating extremist groups, securing the territory, controlling population movements, and combating every sort of trafficking.
As far as population movements are concerned, migratory crises have reached a level unmatched since the end of World War II. These migratory movements, these waves of refugees that concern Europe but not only Europe, are the tragic consequences of mounting conflicts. Specifically, these are Syrians and Iraqis who have fled and who initially sought refuge in the countries of the region. Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey are dealing with the arrival of at least five million refugees. Then you have the devastating situations in Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia that are adding to the volume of migration, itself facilitated by the chaos in Libya. Thus, more than 350,000 illegal entries into the Schengen Area have been reported in recent months. Indeed, it’s very difficult to get accurate figures.
Germany, for its part, has reported 800,000 refugees in one year. This is said to be an exceptional situation, and it is: exceptional in its magnitude, exceptional in its gravity, exceptional in its consequences and exceptional in the tensions that exist. Here in Europe we are once again seeing walls go up, armoured vehicles being mobilized, barbed wire being installed, refugee reception centres being attacked – that’s the situation today, and in all likelihood it will unfortunately continue, given the conflicts that are involved.
Now, some would have us believe that restoring national borders would be a miracle solution. That’s just smoke and mirrors, although it might fool people for a short time. France must act humanely, at the European and international levels, towards those who are fleeing crises and wars, but also firmly, as not all types of migration are alike. We must respond to humanitarian emergencies, which do exist, organizing the intake of refugees and shouldering our asylum obligations, but we must also repatriate migrants who have been rejected and combat all criminal people-smuggling networks.
Europe took decisions in June, not without difficulty, to make sure that migrants crossing the Mediterranean were rescued. There was a certain degree of success, which led more and more migrants to cross the Mediterranean, and unfortunately gave rise to more and more smugglers, including some who abandoned their boats with refugee families on board, putting their lives in extreme danger.
Today, the disparities in how different countries take in refugees are creating instability in the countries confronted with masses of new arrivals. Those countries, as we know, are Italy and Greece. They are also creating instability in the countries that accept many of these refugees, or which, like France, are dealing with situations at the Schengen borders, as in Calais.
France and Germany are making proposals to ensure Europe provides responses commensurate with the problem we face. The French and German interior ministers have worked together to develop a number of recommendations. Yesterday, I discussed this with Chancellor Merkel in Berlin, and we presented our partners with a number of proposals.
First, we want accelerate the establishment of reception centres in Italy and Greece, whose task – it’s their obligation, incidentally – will be to distinguish between asylum seekers, who must be registered, and migrants who come for other reasons, but who cannot be accepted as such.
Our second proposal is that we must ensure the fair distribution of refugees. There are European countries that currently refuse to take them in.
We must also repatriate with dignity those individuals who entered illegally. This is a precondition in order to have effective rules that also protect refugees and asylum seekers.
Finally, we must have a unified asylum system with a quicker turnaround, harmonized rules and care, and, among Europeans, we must also establish a common list of safe countries, as conditions in some counties do not justify the right to asylum. We must pool our resources to fight people-smuggling networks, and with the Frontex agency we must put European border guards in place.
These proposals, which are both in keeping with our obligations and firm in relation to the risk generated by this situation, must be the subject of a European Council meeting, after which they can be promptly implemented.
The solution also requires an active development policy. That will be on the agenda of a Europe-Africa summit we called for, scheduled for this November in Malta. France wants to create funds, as proposed by the European Commission: for the Sahel, we are talking about €1 million to bolster the economies of regions affected by migration and enable the young people in those areas to stay in their countries.
Beyond the tensions that migration may generate in each of our countries here in Europe, this issue can pit North against South in a way that could be seriously destabilizing. We must eliminate this risk. We must work on common development, on the training of personnel, on bringing Africa up to standard in terms of energy, on growth and security.
France, which has solid, friendly ties with Africa, must take the initiative in cooperation with its European partners. That is what we are going to propose.
Likewise, France is sparing no efforts for peace. Only a few weeks ago, the big question all diplomats could be asked was whether it would be possible to reach an agreement with Iran to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
That agreement has been reached. And we believe it’s a step forward. France made sure to set the conditions guaranteeing the solidity of the compromise, particularly on two points which, for us, were major: monitoring and verification on the one hand, and the lifting of sanctions on the other, necessarily conditional on Iran fulfilling its obligations.
Is the crisis definitively behind us? We’ll see. We must make sure of this, but it’s clear that, compared with what was regarded as a major threat a few months ago, it’s been averted for the time being. I reaffirm here my full support for the agreement, and my desire for it to be swiftly implemented by all the parties.
A new relationship with Iran is possible; it raises hopes, which mustn’t be transformed into illusions or innocence. The word “innocence” can also be misunderstood. Some people are in a hurry; we ourselves must ensure our bilateral relationship can be resumed, and we must also ask Iran to get involved in resolving the crises devastating the region.
I said this to President Rouhani when I met him for the first time, following his election: in order for an agreement to be possible, Iran must not only renounce nuclear weapons but also be a constructive player in the region, as justified by its place, its history and its culture. That’s the gist of the dialogue I suggested having with President Rouhani.
We’ve established a relationship of great trust with Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf Cooperation Council countries, as shown by my participation as a guest of honour in the meeting they organized in May. France has also chosen to regard Egypt as a major player in the Middle East.
Its stability is essential; Egypt expects a lot from France. I had fresh confirmation of this during the inauguration of the New Suez Canal.
All these signs of appreciation for our country – coming from very different countries, sometimes opposed to each other – are the result of the policy we’ve been conducting for the past three years. This recognition places on us a responsibility in the Middle East: to work to ensure the Middle East peace process can be our goal again. There’s no alternative to the two-state solution.
The Oslo deadlock produced only a string of crises and violence, as in Gaza last year and, a few weeks ago, unspeakable acts that led to the tragic death of a child in the West Bank. The status quo is not only intolerable, it’s dangerous; it plays into the extremists’ hands. So France strives to keep a window open for peace. That’s the purpose of our proposal to broaden the field of international responsibility by means of a support group that would include the Quartet, the United States, Russia, the European Union and the UN, as well as those Arab and European countries that would like to give the process a strong push.
It’s also the purpose of our action at the United Nations. The goal is to get the two sides to make the necessary compromises to ensure negotiation can resume and succeed. War – yes, war, which we thought was far from Europe – has also returned to our borders. It’s what has happened in Ukraine over recent months. We must bear in mind the lessons of history. When the very foundations of collective security are called into question, a swift and firm response must be provided.
That’s what we did with Chancellor Merkel, to prevent the Ukraine crisis from degenerating. It all started on 6 June, on the beaches of the [Normandy] Landings. That was where we conceived the Normandy format. It was this Normandy format which enabled us to reach – it took a night – the Minsk agreements in February.
It enabled us to save lives – not all of them: there have been more victims in recent months – and mark out a path. However, we must be clear-sighted: the ceasefire isn’t being fully observed, the withdrawal of heavy weapons hasn’t been completed and the Ukrainian people’s living conditions are tragic, in both the east and the west. The implementation of the Minsk agreements absolutely must be speeded up.
That was the aim of the meeting I had in Berlin yesterday with the Chancellor and the Ukrainian President, Mr Poroshenko. The goal is to be able to organize elections in eastern Ukraine, as provided for in the Minsk agreements. I’ll have to talk to the Chancellor again and to President Putin to consider a new meeting, which could be held in Paris, in the Normandy format.
The Ukraine crisis is having detrimental effects politically. Economic relations between Russia and Europe are frozen, with sanctions that are having consequences for Russians, but also for Europeans. We can see it clearly in terms of agriculture and at humanitarian level, with a situation that is continually deteriorating.
France wants to maintain sincere dialogue with Russia, in keeping with history and with the nature of our relationship and the common interests we have in the world. France wants to act as it always has, both in solidarity with its partners and fully independently.
In September 2014, I suspended the delivery of the first Mistral ship to Russia, because the situation was one of conflict. One year on, in the present context, France clearly couldn’t deliver a force projection instrument to Russia. The matter has been handled with a great sense of responsibility on both sides, with mutual respect. I’ve discussed it several times with President Putin.
We were able to negotiate favourable conditions as far as we’re concerned, avoiding penalties and leaving us a free choice of new buyers, a number of whom have also come forward. I also invite those – there still are some – who were announcing an end to France’s credibility as an exporter of military hardware to consult the figures. Never have French products – and not only Rafales – been so sought-after for their technology.
Nor are we talking – because we’re a country that manufactures and exports arms – about abandoning our convictions and our principles. Human rights, democracy and the fight against corruption are recalled on every occasion in my visits, by myself, the Prime Minister and the members of the government. They’re what makes our country respected, in a central position, capable of talking to everyone.
ENERGY TRANSITION/CLIMATE FINANCE
It was no doubt this status that earned us the honour of organizing the Climate Conference. So making this meeting a success is a major challenge. The positive signs are there: we’re making progress. The United States has presented a brave plan; President Obama has personally committed himself to the energy transition, the low-carbon economy. The Chinese Premier announced in Paris, in this very hall, a serious contribution by his country to reducing CO2 emissions.
Europe made commitments which reflected our goals. The Energy Transition Act was regarded as a model piece of legislation. At the time of speaking, 56 countries, accounting for over 60% of greenhouse gas emissions, have submitted their contributions. I call on all the others – there are still a lot – to do so.
There’s also awareness-raising, and the Pope’s voice was particularly heeded through his encyclical. The fact that he’s able to come to the United Nations General Assembly to reiterate his appeal lends significant support. There’s also the mobilization of many players, non-governmental organizations; we had no doubts on that score. Major voluntary organizations, civil society and also local authorities – many of them – have taken the initiative. Businesses are now aware that it will be a key to their competitiveness and their future.
This mobilization has produced results, but it isn’t enough. We mustn’t relax our efforts on anything. I’m aware of Laurent Fabius’s efforts in going wherever necessary. Ségolène Royal also went to Africa; the ministers are fully committed and I know that, here, our network of ambassadors is determined to convince and inform people. I myself shall be going to Beijing at the beginning of November to work with the Chinese President on taking a new step forward.
I’ll also be going to Seoul, where the Green Climate Fund is based, because we know that the issue of finance is going to be essential. As far as the negotiation itself is concerned the working group’s co-chairs, responsible for presenting the draft agreement, submitted a better structured, condensed text on 24 July which will enable a discussion to be held at the session opening in Bonn in a few days’ time. There you have it; we’re making headway.
As I’ve said, the toughest part is yet to come, i.e. the agreement itself. So we’ve got to move more quickly. During the United Nations General Assembly, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon – who will be with us today – and I want to organize a meeting of heads of state and government which, precisely, mobilizes people and provides the necessary impetus. The goal isn’t for us to replace the negotiation itself but to set the level of global ambition and means to achieve it.
At the Paris conference, I thought it best to invite the heads of state and government right at the start of the conference, not the end. At the end it’s sometimes too late and even their rhetoric isn’t enough to convince people and wrap things up any more. So it will be at the start of the conference; that’s the lesson we learnt from Copenhagen. Nevertheless, I know the obstacles which still lie ahead of us. Firstly, many developing or emerging countries are worried about the effects of fighting climate change vis-à-vis their own growth. So we’ve got to reassure them and provide them straightaway with technological solutions, for energy in particular.
We must demonstrate that solutions exist for reconciling all the goals. With India, for example, we’ve put in place a solar energy plan, because we know that that great country wants to make solar energy its priority. We’ve also got a major renewable energy plan with Africa. We’ve got to listen to the vulnerable countries too. A few months ago, I was in the Philippines with Nicolas Hulot, whose tireless commitment I salute. We quite rightly wanted to issue an appeal, the Manila appeal, to show that these disasters may hit the most vulnerable countries first, but every continent is affected.
I also went to the Pacific and to the Caribbean, to convey the message of island states, for which the Paris Conference isn’t any old negotiation, since it concerns their own future in 10 or 20 years’ time. If we want to make Paris a success, there will undoubtedly have to be political commitments, an agreement and financing. This is where we have to actively seek all solutions and mobilize people to act. $100 billion for 2020.
This is already one promise which hasn’t been kept; it must now be an obligation. It’s absolutely essential for there to be an agreement. Without $100 billion there won’t be an agreement in Paris, because that sum is absolutely essential for adaptation efforts and technology transfers.
We also had the Addis Ababa summit, which, again, was important for development financing. Here too, there will be an impact on the Paris conference.
I want to take this opportunity to say that our development policy must evolve, must be reformed, and that the tools employed to serve this policy today must be strengthened further. So I’ve decided, in liaison with the Foreign Minister and the Finance Minister, on an important reform, by bringing the French Development Agency closer to the Caisse des Dépôts [French savings and banking institution] group.
The Agency will draw on the combined financial might of the Caisse des Dépôts and the state. In this way, we’ll have – moreover, other countries have done this before us: Germany, Italy – a genuine financing agency, which will be better funded, better equipped and also linked to local authorities and businesses, following the example of what the BPI [Public Investment Bank] already does for domestic finance.
The French Development Agency will gain an anchorage and also resources from this, and be given a new project with new means to benefit the development of the energy transition and France’s global reach.
CHINA/STOCK MARKET CRISIS/GLOBAL GOVERNANCE
The world we know is experiencing crises and – sadly – wars, it has challenges to take up and remains profoundly unstable. We’ve had further illustration of this with the stock market movement over the past few days affecting Asian countries, particularly China.
The subprime crisis left deep scars; it was overcome only with time and with corrections which were costly for people in terms of growth and living standards. Decisions were taken, firewalls were installed in Europe with banking union, but today it’s the Asian markets which are most exposed, following a wave of speculation which was – like any speculation, as it happens – disconnected from the real economy, but powerful, in China and the Asian countries. We have to look closely at this problem, not deny it, and at the same time be able to know what it can represent both in its duration and geographically. I have confidence in the Chinese authorities to overcome this stock market crisis. They have the means to act, and Chinese growth, although it’s slowing down, remains at a particularly enviable level. I don’t want to give the growth rate, in order not to influence ours too much!
We would like to get China to commit to shouldering all its responsibilities when it comes to global governance and putting mechanisms in place. China is the world’s second-largest economy; obviously it has to adapt itself as well, adapt its capital markets, adapt its organization and also tailor its growth to targets which may be those of the whole world, particularly for currency regulation and the regulation of financial flows.
China must be involved in global governance. It’s also going to hold the G20 presidency next year, and France has decided to join the Asian Infrastructure [Investment] Bank, a new multilateral bank, precisely because we want to be involved in present and future development and the investment in China.
I want to end by talking about Europe. I’ve said what the main challenge is today: to be capable of controlling migration, in the context of an international crisis that we must resolve. To be capable of facing up to tensions which exist and which may be exploited – as we well know – by extremist movements. To be capable at the same time of reassuring and protecting. It’s our duty to protect. To protect our territories, to protect our people and at the same time to be in keeping with our principles: humanity and firmness. To do so as a country that has to shoulder its own responsibility, to do so in Europe, for Europe, with Europe, and that’s the purpose of the European Council meeting, which must take the decisions required, on the basis of the proposals which we’ve drawn up and which others can still build on.
There’s also growth in Europe. The signs of improvement, again, are perceptible. There’s been a reordering of priorities, more towards growth than was hitherto considered. The Juncker Plan has been launched.
And at the same time Europe experienced a new crisis – at any rate new agonies – with Greece. The choices that were made, after lengthy discussions – again for whole nights – reflected the principles I set out at the beginning of the negotiation. Greece has remained in the Euro Area, a financial programme has been established by the institutions to encourage its return to growth and ultimately limit its indebtedness. Alexis Tsipras took some brave decisions; he could have made other choices; some suggested that he leave the Euro Area, devalue a currency that would have been reintroduced, a national currency, be obliged to conduct a programme, make even more severe adjustments, remove his country from the common path and seek improbable alliances with countries that would not – beyond their solidarity – have been able to provide him with the necessary funds. He didn’t want to give up his principles of justice, reforms and progress, and France didn’t ask him to, because Europe can’t seek to impose a political line: merely the need to take reality into account. So Alexis Tsipras took brave decisions both economically and politically; he referred the matter to his people and he’ll get an answer.
We must learn lessons for ourselves. I’m not talking about lessons on whether or not to adapt to the reality, whether or not it’s necessary to govern; at some point politics exists to govern and lead – otherwise it’s another concept: resistance and protest.
But we must also learn lessons about what Economic and Monetary Union must be. We can’t simply make do with an economic area, with minimal rules and with solidarity that can be expressed only in crises. We must provide a new way forward for Europe – otherwise, we can clearly see that nationalist withdrawal will prevail, and the rise of self-centred interests, so it will be the abandonment of the European project.
So it’s up to France – always in its place, with its partners, and particularly Germany – to make proposals and move forward. I mentioned the formation of an economic government, so that it can have the power not only to ensure that the commitments, the rules accepted by everyone are honoured but also to act in the Euro Area’s interests.
Initially we must remain in the framework of the current treaties, especially at a time when some are demanding to renegotiate them.
I propose setting ourselves the goal of ensuring in the Euro Area the best conditions for investment and finance that Europe can present to the world. It’s excellently placed to do this if it harmonizes its provisions. Banking union is a first pillar.
We must also give the Euro Area more ability to act, which means mechanisms that must be simplified, made coherent, and governance – particularly the Eurogroup – that must be more effective, more transparent and, in a way, more democratic, with the goal of majority [voting] rules.
In this framework, there can be fiscal and social convergence between the economies and we can also demand extra rights, particularly in the area of labour law, so there can be common rules in Europe and dumping can be prevented.
In a second phase, Europe, through the Euro Area, can have an additional budget, its own budget, to make the necessary investments for the energy transition, digital technology and youth employment. So we must think about new resources, safeguards, to fuel this Euro Area budget, with parliamentary control being obviously necessary, given that resources and investments are envisaged.
Of course several countries may not embark on that path: first of all those which aren’t in the Euro Area and don’t intend to join it, and also others which are in the Euro Area, which don’t necessarily want to go as fast as us. It’s what I’ve called “differentiated integration”.
At the same time, we must provide a way forward for Europe as a whole. This way forward is about the possibility of being an area of rights, of principles, but one which protects: protects people, protects jobs, and also gives more opportunity for growth, which means investment, competitiveness and innovation.
There’s also the issue of the United Kingdom. It’s not a new issue, but it’s been rekindled through the [EU] referendum proposal. France’s position is simple. It would like the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. I believe it’s in its interests and also in the EU’s interests, but all this must be done on the common basis of the treaties.
FRENCH NATIONALS ABROAD/FRENCH INFLUENCE/TOURISM
Ladies and gentlemen ambassadors, France’s external action serves the goals we’ve set for our country’s success. There’s no dissociation between foreign policy and domestic policy. What we want, beyond our own sensitivities, is to ensure our country’s global reach, its influence. We’re still one of the few nations in the world capable of setting a direction, taking initiatives, triggering processes, sometimes preventing the worst and finding solutions. Our country’s role is to ensure its influence, but also its economic interests and its security. Two and a half million French people live abroad, and I pay tribute here to the people representing them. Those expatriate citizens rely on us, the diplomatic and consular network, to defend their interests, not only when they’re in distress but also when they’re on the move, for their projects. It’s important to address their demands, because those French people, who are far from France but deeply rooted in France, ensure our country’s economic development, its cultural influence, and are a strength for France. They must feel fully supported.
Thanks to our businesses – and this was the challenge of economic diplomacy – we’re conquering markets that strengthen our economy, and I ask you to fully exercise your authority over all the services and operators available to you, to support entrepreneurs’ efforts on a daily basis.
I also welcome the role of the cultural, scientific, educational and academic network abroad. With the Prime Minister and ministers who pay visits, we have the opportunity to pay tribute to these institutions and the staff dedicated to them. It’s significant; few countries have this ability. Ours has more ambition, because it wants to spread the influence of Francophony, but it’s more than that: to get people speaking French, writing in French, to welcome every culture, including in our institutions. It’s about ensuring France can be fully welcome, esteemed, eagerly-awaited, and from this viewpoint what you do, what this network is capable of promoting, is essential for the idea of France.
We also want to welcome artists, students, researchers and entrepreneurs. We’ve simplified the visa system; I thank the ministers who took this initiative. Even though it’s confronting terrorism, even though it must control migration, even though it must do its duty for refugees, France has a universal role. It mustn’t curl up into a ball, it mustn’t be afraid to ensure the best minds come to us to provide us with what they’ve devised in their countries and want to offer the world via France. What’s at stake is the battle of ideas, and once again France must be at the forefront.
The promotion of our country is a component of diplomatic work; I know that’s the work you’ve been entrusted with. The country’s attractiveness must particularly encourage investment that brings innovation and jobs.
There’s also tourism, which is quite simply about making the most of our landscapes and our heritage, but also the professionals who are dedicated to them, and I’m not forgetting gastronomy.
More than 85 million visitors this year. A record year is being heralded, and France is the world’s leading destination. We must make this situation – which is ultimately also the product of all the professionals committed to it – a strength and an asset.
Laurent Fabius has begun a reform of our external action, and I want to mention it here. It’s an important project, because France conducts a foreign policy that goes beyond the defence of its own interests. Because of history, the place we occupy, our own volition and our status as a role model – I mentioned the energy transition –, we have an ability to act, provided we put in the resources. To act for us, for our interests, for French people’s security, and also to act for the ideals we uphold and the protection of the planet. That’s what we are doing through the Climate Conference. I come back to it because this success is inseparable from our action for development, security and peace.
It’s because we uphold these values that the terrorists want to strike us, but it’s because we’re guardians of this great idea of progress, or I could say this great idea of France for the world, that many countries signal their solidarity with us and many peoples express their gratitude to us.
It’s because we’re aware of our responsibility that we must still work to ensure France’s influence abroad.