Paris, March 19, 2011
Ladies and gentlemen,
Today the leaders of the League of Arab States and the European Union and representatives of the United States and Canada gathered in Paris at a meeting jointly chaired by France and the United Nations Secretary-General. Together, we decided to ensure the implementation of the United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire and a complete end to violence against civilians in Libya.
The participants met to implement all the necessary means, particularly military ones, to enforce the United Nations Security Council decisions.
That is why, in agreement with our partners, our air forces will counter any aggression by Colonel Gaddafi’s aircraft against the people of Benghazi. Our aircraft are already preventing air attacks on the city. Other French aircraft stand ready to intervene against any armoured vehicles that threaten unarmed civilians.
Yesterday, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and Arab countries issued the following warning to Colonel Gaddafi and the forces he is using: if there is no immediate ceasefire and a withdrawal of the forces that have attacked civilian populations in recent weeks, our countries will use military means. This warning was reaffirmed by all participants at the summit that has just ended.
Colonel Gaddafi has completely disregarded this warning. Over the past few hours, his forces have intensified their deadly offensives.
Arab peoples have chosen to free themselves from the servitude to which they have felt bound for far too long. These revolutions have given rise to immense hope in the hearts of all those who share the values of democracy and human rights. But they are not without danger. The future of these Arab peoples belongs to them. In the midst of the difficulties and trials of all kinds that they must face, these Arab peoples need our help and support. It is our duty.
In Libya, peaceful civilians who are demanding nothing more than the right to decide their future for themselves are in mortal danger. We have a duty to answer their anguished plea. The future of Libya belongs to the Libyans. We do not want to make decisions for them.
Their fight for freedom is theirs. If we intervene alongside Arab countries, it is not to impose a final outcome on the Libyan people but in the name of universal conscience, which cannot tolerate such crimes.
Today, we are intervening in Libya, under a mandate of the United Nations Security Council, with our partners and in particular our Arab partners. We are doing so to protect civilians from the murderous madness of a regime which, in killing its own people, has lost all legitimacy.
We are intervening to enable the Libyan people to choose their own destiny.
They cannot be deprived of their rights through violence and terror.
There is still time for Colonel Gaddafi to avoid the worst by meeting all the international community’s demands, immediately and without reservations. The door of diplomacy will be re-opened once the attacks cease.
Our determination is total.
I say this solemnly. Everyone must now shoulder their responsibilities. It is a grave decision that we have had to take. Alongside her Arab, European and North American partners, France is determined to assume her role in history./.