Q: Why create a peacekeeping operation in Mali?
We are entering a new stage of the crisis. In the first one, the French forces had to intervene in emergency to prevent the armed groups from taking Bamako. With the support of the African forces and with the help of a lot of countries, we have repelled the armed groups.
Now we are entering a period of stabilization of the country. Unfortunately, the Malian army is not able to hold the ground, so we have to rebuild the Malian army, to help the Malians to rebuild their own institutions. To ensure the stabilization of the country, we need a peacekeeping operation.
It will be a robust force, nearly 12.000 soldiers, with a robust mandate. We do think that in most of the cases, this force will be able to fight the jihadists. In the most exceptional circumstances, if there is an imminent and serious threat, the French armed forces will be ready to help and to support the Blue Helmets.
Q: How long the French forces will stay in Mali?
President Hollande said that we have now around 4.000 soldiers, we will have 2.000 in July and 1000 in December.
Afterwards, if you ask me what will be the French presence, I will answer that we will stay as long as necessary and we will leave as quickly as possible. It means that considering the investments we have made for the security of Mali, the sacrifices of our soldiers, we are not going to rush out. Of course we want to leave but we will do it when it is possible without endangering the security of Mali.
Thank you very much.
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