President focuses on regional conflicts during South Africa visit

State visit to South Africa/bilateral relations/security of the African continent – Speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, to the French community (excerpts)

Pretoria, 14 October 2013


We’re also mindful of a subject which you too are worried about, namely security. Security first of all in South Africa. We must be vigilant about it and ensure you can continue your activities without risk to your own possessions and your own families.

Security must also extend throughout the African continent. For a long time, South Africa thought France had a privileged relationship with the African countries that spoke French. That’s not wrong, but it wasn’t [completely] true because France’s ambition is to speak to the whole of Africa, whatever the language of the countries it comprises, whatever their history, whatever their origin.

What we’ve been trying to do for several months now is show that, with France, Africa is capable of beginning a new relationship while being concerned about security. I’ve said this several times: Africans’ security depends on the Africans first of all. It’s up to them to organize themselves. They won’t manage to do this, at least initially, alone.

We thought we could meet in Paris at the end of the year, along with all the African countries, to support them on a security policy to enable them to create a regional force or regional forces able to intervene where there are dangers, risks or threats. We did this in Mali, under extraordinary conditions. I want to pay tribute once again to the action of our armed forces and the courage our soldiers showed. We did it because there were no alternatives. If it hadn’t been France it would have been nobody. If it had been nobody, the terrorists would have won.

Today, other issues concern us, particularly what’s been happening in the Democratic Republic of Congo for a very long time already: acts of brutality and violence, particularly against women and children. There’s also what is happening in the Central African Republic: it may seem a long way away, even for you. We’re seeing not only chaos return to the Central African Republic – which isn’t such a new situation for that small country – but also religious tensions – and that is relatively new –, along with risks, particularly of clashes to which Christians could fall victim.

Whenever a vacuum is created we also see bandits, groups, gangs seizing those opportunities. We’re ensuring that the UN, through the Security Council, but also the African Union can give us the international framework and that the Africans can join this force, or these forces, to intervene.

Other issues concern us: what’s happening in Libya (…) has consequences both for Africa, with the proliferation of terrorism, and for Europe, with the tragic spectacle you’ve seen of those refugees leaving with traffickers on rusty old boats and dying off Malta or Italy.

We must resolve these conflicts. What’s very important is that we, South Africa and France, agree to achieve this. (…)./.

State visit to South Africa/bilateral relations/Central African Republic – Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at his joint press conference with his South African counterpart (excerpts)

Pretoria, 14 October 2013


France/South Africa/bilateral relations/African security/climate/G20

THE PRESIDENT – Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, it’s emotional for me to be paying this first state visit to South Africa, because this great country evokes the struggle for freedom and human dignity. France stood alongside it through all the years of oppression, and still stands by its side for the years of development ahead of it.

It’s emotional, too, because South Africa is a country that is succeeding in being a model of reconciliation. President Zuma and I share the same vision of international relations and the world’s destiny: a vision of progress.

Our two countries, France and South Africa, built a strategic partnership in 1994, some 20 years ago. It was between President Mandela and President Mitterrand. Today it’s our responsibility to begin a new phase. That’s what we have done today. I’m aware that South Africa is a country which is emerging economically and which is rightly demanding a role in the concert of nations. France is ready to be one of its main partners.

We’re demonstrating this through the agreements we’ve just signed. Firstly, on transport, Alstom is going to conclude with PRASA – the equivalent of the SNCF – a contract for over €4 billion. It’s the biggest contract signed between France and South Africa in recent years. Alstom will supply PRASA with 3,600 carriages. Much of it will be carried out right here in South Africa, with several thousand direct and indirect jobs being created.

There will also be major knock-on effects for Alstom’s sites in France. We’re going to establish training for South African technicians, both here in their country and in France if necessary. It’s a fine example of partnership, with a common determination to share technology, jobs and the same ambition in terms of transport.

Another example of this new partnership is the agreement signed between GDF Suez and South Africa for thermal power stations to the tune of €1.6 billion. And yet another is a solar power station to be built jointly thanks to financing from the AFD [French Development Agency].

There’s also an exceptional agricultural partnership, because – you took part in it earlier – there was the ceremony where the two agriculture ministers signed [an agreement to create] a France-South Africa agricultural institute. There too, we’re inspired by the same vision of food security, food quality and the fight against agricultural price volatility. (…)

Finally, France and South Africa share the same vision of security for the African continent. As I said in Dakar, Africans’ security is the Africans’ responsibility. It’s they who must implement it through their organization, the African Union, and the regional organizations which have the power to do so. But what France wants to do is support and train, and that’s what we’re proposing to do by means of the summit to be held in Paris at the end of the year; President Zuma was kind enough to accept the invitation he received. I very much appreciate this because, on the main issues relating to the African continent, South Africa and France have the same approach.

Likewise, I welcome what South Africa is doing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly through its presence in the UN force’s new Intervention Brigade. I also thank South Africa for its efforts with the SADC to finally bring about elections in Madagascar. On the situation in the Central African Republic, we agreed there is a need to mobilize the African Union and the United Nations Security Council to create a force able to restore stability and security to that country. Finally, I haven’t forgotten the support President Zuma lent me when I took the decision to intervene in Mali. Today we’re still just as vigilant about the resurgence of terrorist acts in the Sahel.

I want to finish on international issues. We discussed them, and we’re very much in agreement there too. I’m not just talking about issues relating to Syria, Iran, the destruction of chemical weapons and the fight against nuclear proliferation. I’m also talking about our determination to make the climate conference produce results – it will be a landmark meeting of 2015. Likewise, we have the same determination about the G20. We’re also consulting one another before each of these meetings in order to better regulate the economy, combat tax evasion and ensure we can have another approach to development.

France and South Africa are two powers which are destined to speak for the world and in the world, to contribute values, principles and a concern to find responses to the great conflicts which, sadly, continue to cast a tragic shadow over the planet. We remember our past struggles, side by side. (…)

Central African Republic/Paris meeting/regional African forces

Q. – Much has been said about African policy on the continent. There’s a serious crisis in the Central African Republic. You said you’ve got the same approach. Does this provide an opportunity to work together? If so, under what terms and how? (…)

THE PRESIDENT – There’s an emergency in the Central African Republic. A humanitarian emergency, because every day there are acts of brutality. A political emergency, because there’s no longer any state. An emergency, too, because as far as the region is concerned, there’s a risk of things spilling over, quite apart from what Laurent Fabius, the French Foreign Minister, said about the possibility of us witnessing religious conflicts.

France will support the regional force to be formed under the United Nations’ aegis and with the African Union’s support. France isn’t there to take the place [of the Africans]. It is there to provide support, backing, training. It is there.

As President Zuma said, what we see when conflicts arise is that there’s no African force already formed to provide an immediate response. This is sadly what we saw in Mali and it’s what we’re noticing again as regards the Central African Republic.

So at the Paris meeting in December, the idea is to encourage the formation of regional African forces which can intervene at the right time with decisions having to be taken at African Union and United Nations level to enable tragedies to be avoided.

It’s a new idea of the relationship between France and Africa. It isn’t for France to be where it hasn’t been called to be. France must, with Europe, support, train and occasionally even equip these regional forces so that the Africans can themselves take decisions about their continent’s security.

Kenyan leaders/ICC/AU decision

Q. – I’d like to ask you a question about the African Union’s decision at the weekend on the International Criminal Court. Would France agree with the African Union to support its request for the Security Council to defer proceedings against President Kenyatta and Kenya’s Vice-President? Does France agree with the African Union’s decision that serving presidents shouldn’t have to appear before the International Criminal Court or any other international criminal tribunal?

THE PRESIDENT – France is committed to the International Criminal Court and can’t accept impunity of any kind. Now that the African Union wants procedures to be simplified and not to prevent states from functioning – OK. We can and will discuss this. The two principles mustn’t be set against each other.

The principle is about international justice so that criminals can answer for their actions. Then there’s a second principle: states must be respected. This mustn’t prevent those who have to be heard from being heard by the International Criminal Court. We’ll discuss this with our partners and I’ve no doubt that we’ll find the right balance, along with South Africa. (…)./.

Published on 18/10/2013

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