La semaine dernière le Président de la République française et le ministre des Affaires étrangères avaient dit, devant un grand nombre de chef d’Etats et de gouvernement, qui avaient manifesté leur accord, que la solution de la crise malienne était une nécessité pour la sécurité du Mali, pour la sécurité de l’Afrique et plus généralement pour la paix dans le monde.
Nous voyons apparaitre au Mali un refuge pour les groupes terroristes qui peuvent ensuite menacer de déstabiliser l’ensemble de l’Afrique. Donc nous devons agir, nous ne pouvons plus attendre. Mais naturellement c’est aux Maliens d’agir, c’est aux Africains d’agir et le Conseil de sécurité doit les soutenir.
Le Président de la République avait appelé à une réunion d’urgence du Conseil de sécurité ; c’est celle qui a lieu aujourd’hui. J’ai annoncé que la France allait présenter une résolution au Conseil de sécurité pour dynamiser la réaction des Africains.
Il y a deux événements nouveaux : la lettre des autorités maliennes du 21 septembre demandant la création d’une force internationale pour aider l’armée malienne à rétablir l’intégrité territoriale et, deuxièmement, l’évènement de haut niveau sur le Sahel du 26 septembre qui a vu un grand nombre de chefs d’Etats et de gouvernement appeler à une intervention militaire.
C’est sur cette base que la France a proposé une première résolution pour préparer cette intervention militaire. Nous sommes d’accord qu’il faut faire du politique, mais il faut aussi faire du militaire.
As the President of the French Republic and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of France made it clear last week in front of the General Assembly but also at the High level meeting organized by the Secretary-General, we have to act in Mali because the northern part of Mali is becoming a hub for terrorist groups. It is threatening not only Mali but also the region, and beyond the region the world. We have to act as quickly as possible. We know that we have to act in political and military terms, both of them have to go hand by hand. We need a military intervention. This military intervention will be an African one. It would be Malian supported by the Africans.
The Security Council voted resolution 2056 in July. I think it is time to have a new resolution in a two stage approach. First, a new resolution which energize the African response on the basis of two new facts : an official request by the Malian authority to create an international force on one side, and on the other side the High Level event on September 26, where we have heard several heads of State and Governments calling for a military intervention. So we are preparing a text calling for a military and political response.
And we do hope that on this basis, after the meeting on October 19 in Bamako of the African Union, ECOWAS, the UN and other actors, it will be possible for the second stage on the basis of the concept operation provided by the ECOWAS to authorize the deployment of a force in Bamako.
Q : Why don’t you include a mandate from now to the Security Council for the Africans to intervene in the northern part of Mali ?
I think the members of the Security Council don’t want to give a sort of “carte blanche”. They want to see what the concept operation is, what the force will be. We haven’t received all these elements yet and that we have been waiting for them for a few months. So it should be an expression by the Security Council of the urgency of the situation. We do hope that we will be able to authorize the deployment of the force as soon as possible. But it doesn’t only depend on the Security Council because the force should be an African force. So we are not going to give a carte blanche, we need to have concrete elements.
Q : Can you detail a little bit more the two steps ?
The first resolution that we are thinking of and that we will circulate in a few days would be calling first the political side, i.e. the armed groups to dissociate themselves from terrorism and to enter into negotiations with the government in Bamako and to call the government to enter into negotiation with these groups in the North. We know that the first problem was a political problem, which was beyond the collapse of the authority of the state. There was a political problem and we won’t have a sustainable solution without a political process.
Secondly we want to authorize people to send trainers to Bamako. Restoring the territorial integrity of Mali will be made by the Malian army. It is not a sort of expeditionary corp which is going to go to Timbuktu, but the Malian army will. So we have to rebuild the Malian army in a sense, we have to send trainers and also remind the ECOWAS and the African Union that we are available to authorize a force and that we need as soon as possible a concept of operation accepted by Mali and the ECOWAS members.
Everybody knows that there are divisions and disagreements, so, as the Security Council, we are trying to build a momentum which has so far been lacking.
Q : What is the role of Mali’s neighbours that are not members of the ECOWAS, like Mauritania, Algeria. Do you think they should be involved in this process ? What role are they playing ?
All the Africans countries and beyond that, all the countries which want to help, should come if they want. The European Union is ready. There will be a Council of ministers on October 15. The EU is available to send mission trainers to Bamako. It is not limited to ECOWAS. There is the African Union and there are countries which are also concerned, like Mauritania, Chad, Algeria. It has to be a coalition of countries working together but the core of it should be ECOWAS and the African Union.
Q : What is the importance in your process for the Secretary-general to name a Special Representative ?
We have been waiting for a few months, we know that there are divisions within Mali. We do consider that the AU and the UN should be in a position to try to bridge these differences and that it would be very important to have a Special Envoy who will be able to do it. We are waiting for this nomination. We don’t interfere because France is a special country in this part of the world and we don’t want to appear as a special country. It is not a French problem ; it is a problem which is of everybody’s interest.
I have been struck by the responses of the Security Council which has been very unified considering it is an urgent and a general problem. I have been very relieved to see that the Security Council is able to overcome the well-known polarization of the Council of these last months. Frankly, I don’t see any major differences between the members. There are differences of analysis but I think we are on the same page.
Q : A few months ago, the Council passed a resolution with many of the same elements that you outlined, telling ECOWAS that you are ready to authorize a force, provided that they provide you with more operational details. Why do you feel that you need another resolution before actually authorizing the force ?
We have been waiting since resolution 2056 in July, ECOWAS has been working since March or April. But there are two new elements. The first is the letter by the Malian authorities requesting the deployment of an international force, so we have a basis. The second element is the high-level meeting on the Sahel of September 26. There were the Presidents of Nigeria, Senegal, Niger, the Prime Minister of Mali, the President of Togo calling for a military intervention and drawing the attention of the international community on the urgency of solving the crisis. We are trying to build a sort of momentum which unfortunately doesn’t exist. Our intention will be to ask the ECOWAS to come back to us in a very limited time – I don’t know if it will be within 30 days or as soon as possible. There is a sense of urgency as my President and Minister had expressed. Of course there will be nuances down the road but there was a sense of unity of purposes of the members.
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