Central African Republic
THE PRESIDENT – Ladies and gentlemen, this afternoon I received the Central African President, who received me herself barely a month ago.
The situation in the Central African Republic has both improved in some respects and deteriorated in others. Progress has been made on re-establishing the transitional authorities and the most essential public services – schools, hospitals, prisons – so that the Central African Republic can get its economy running again and people can regain confidence.
On the other hand, the security situation has deteriorated in a number of places. Even in Bangui, groups hostile to the process of restoring peace and reconciliation are still showing determination. They’re pitting one part of the population against another. Clearly Muslims are being directly targeted.
The French forces, through Operation Sangaris, are doing everything in their power both to bring security to the Central African Republic and, at the same time, to fight those groups which are using weapons – modern weapons, moreover – to undermine the Central African state.
The European operation will be deployed soon. Tomorrow the President will be in Brussels – I shall be there too – at the summit between the European Union and the African Union. There will be a special meeting on the Central African Republic. I shall lend it my full support.
During this, the contingents making up the European operation – which France had very much been calling for, and which is going to end up by yielding results – will be defined. There will also be humanitarian assistance provided either by Europe directly or by the states which can’t necessarily supply, on the security front, what is expected of them.
We must also pay tribute to the transitional authorities. I do so here during your visit. It’s brave to take responsibility for a country which is experiencing chaos and has seen bloody clashes. It’s brave to want to restore the authority of a state which collapsed. It’s brave to ensure that people – who until then had lived in peace – don’t fall victim to bloody clashes. It’s brave because there’s always unpopularity when one takes responsibility for a country in that situation. I can assure you that France will be by your side.
For those French people – and there are always some – who wonder, who ask themselves what we’re doing in the Central African Republic, you can bear witness to it: we’re preventing the massacres from continuing, we’re enabling a country to emerge from this situation of tragedies and chaos. We’re also preventing religious clashes from degenerating into terrorism, because that’s a risk.
Muslims should be well aware that the French forces, through Sangaris, are in the Central African Republic to protect them. Central Africans should be well aware that we’re impartial, that we simply stand by them. The French have ensured there’s a European operation in addition to the African operation. I want to pay tribute to what the African Union countries have done, including militarily but also financially. That’s how civil servants can be paid in the Central African Republic.
In addition to the European forces, in addition to the African forces, we’re carrying out a peacekeeping operation. The situation has improved; there have also been some setbacks. We must stick to the goals we set outselves in relation to humanitarian aid, the restoration of security and the organization of the European peacekeeping operation under the United Nations’ aegis.
Madam President, we stand alongside you.
Q. – Does the situation in the Central African Republic represent a danger for the neighbouring countries?
THE PRESIDENT – First of all, the European operation must be deployed. It’s now been formed. Tomorrow it will be official. The contingents will be specified, and so will the missions. Let me remind you that this European operation is focusing essentially on transport, health and logistics./.