Official speeches and statements - April 10, 2018
Prime Minister, cher Saad Hariri,
Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank, chère Kristalina,
Ladies and gentlemen,
With the Levant probably going through one of the worst times in its history, with the cruel tragedy the Syrian people are experiencing, the uncertainties still hanging over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the tensions surrounding the biggest powers in the region, it’s more crucial than ever to protect a precious asset for everyone, namely a peaceful, diverse and harmonious Lebanon, true to the pluralist commitment that lay behind its creation. And your mobilization signals the strong belief shared by the international community that a Lebanon which is responsible, strong, protected, encouraged and supported is absolutely essential for patiently building the conditions for a restored peace in the Middle East.
In the context I’ve just recalled, many people might be tempted to throw in the towel, to say that, in a way, regional conflicts could outweigh any national stability. The choice your country has made in recent years is to continue on its path. It’s currently a unique path in the region: having stability and institutions, strengthening the state, moving towards freely-organized elections and maintaining a democratic, pluralist framework.
I like to think - as does everyone here today, I believe - that this unique choice can be an example that will help us stabilize the whole region. I’m sure of one thing, namely that if we give in to the pressures in the region, if we decide, in a way, to import to Lebanon all the region’s conflicts and let destabilization surface or increase, then we will, in a way, have cut off a possible path and added misfortune to misfortune.
This is the commitment your country has made, which you’ve pledged to continue and which I made alongside you last September during your own visit to France, Prime Minister; it’s the commitment which I then reaffirmed with your president, General Aoun, when he came to France on a state visit, and which he himself strongly reaffirmed. (...)
The Lebanese people have shown exceptional generosity, but have added new difficulties to their own difficulties. The standard of living of refugees and of the poorest Lebanese people has deteriorated; more than three million people in Lebanon are in need. And so, for all these reasons, it’s our duty to show full solidarity. The continued fighting in Syria unfortunately makes the swift return of Syrian refugees impossible; the sole result of the offensives by Bashar al-Assad’s regime, as in Eastern Ghouta recently, has been more destruction and more people displaced. So the responsibility of all regional players is to help put an end to this vicious circle, and the responsibility of all international players is to help Lebanon in the short term face up to these challenges and work to build the stability which alone is capable of restoring a normal situation in the long term.
In this difficult context, I made several commitments in Paris on 8 December 2017, and the whole international community mobilized to ensure they were honored. The cycle of international conferences to support the Lebanese state and its institutions began in Rome on 15 March, with the conference to support the army and the Internal Security Forces; it’s continuing today with the CEDRE conference, and on 24 and 25 April the so-called Brussels II meeting, supported by the High Representative, Federica Mogherini - whom I want to thank for her commitment -, and by the United States will provide an opportunity to step up our humanitarian aid to Lebanon and the other countries taking in Syrian refugees.
This is the exceptional mobilization which we need collectively in order to guarantee stability, and which Lebanon needs in order to succeed on this path.
Today you’ve enabled significant progress, and I want to thank you again for this, firstly because this mobilization has allowed us to provide not only public but also private commitments and support Lebanon along this path. As I’ve confirmed to you, France will stand by you by giving Lebanon €400 million in concessional loans, and additionally by doubling the sum of donations that the French Development Agency currently gives Lebanon. France will grant an additional €150 million in donations over the same period, and this commitment by France, totaling €550 million in donations and loans with concessional conditions, will fund priority infrastructure projects which are part of the Lebanese authorities’ investment plan.
All in all, the current conference will allow us to raise a little over $11 billion of public commitments. I hope that several countries will continue signing up to these commitments in the coming hours and days. It will also allow us to mobilize private commitments and the full support of businesses. But all this makes sense only because, above all, there’s the commitment of the Lebanese government and because you’re thoroughly resolved to transform the country and bring about the necessary reforms. (...)
We’ll be at your side in this work, but I know it requires a great deal of courage and determination. And I’d like the international community’s commitment today to send a strong signal to the Lebanese people, both in terms of support and collective determination to continue pushing these reforms through even harder.
France, as you know, has always been there when it’s been necessary to hold strong during the toughest times; it has done so at the most critical moments - I’m thinking of the dark times of civil war during which France committed, among other things, to UNIFIL exactly 40 years ago. But subsequently our support also consisted in helping Lebanon get back on its feet, rebuild itself and cope with its financial difficulties. This is what we did during the previous economic conferences held in Paris and in 2007, President Chirac - to whom I want to pay tribute here for his steadfast commitment to standing by Lebanon - took, among other things, the initiative of a support conference which allowed Lebanon to pick itself up after the terrible conflict of summer 2006.
Eleven years later, Lebanon has endured a great deal, particularly since the start of Syria’s civil war, as I mentioned, and we’ve got to renew our effort, but not see it as a completion point, but a new start. A new start for your country, a new start backed by the whole international community, with an essential follow-up which will have to be put in place tomorrow. (...)
So as you’ll have understood, by helping Lebanon today we want to help the whole region, and by helping the whole region, I’m convinced of one thing: we’re helping ourselves in a big way. And for all these reasons, Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen, I want to thank you all for your commitment and for making this conference a success. I want to tell you, Prime Minister, how much we’re counting on you and your president to carry through these essential reforms and follow this road Lebanon is taking, and how much you can count on us to help make this path a triumph, because I think it has a deeply universal significance.
2. Defense - United Kingdom - The Délégué général pour l’armement meets his British counterpart in the framework of the Lancaster House treaty - Communiqué issued by the Ministry for the Armed Forces (Paris - March 30, 2018)
The Délégué général pour l’armement, Joël Barre, had a meeting on March 29, 2018, with his British counterpart, Minister for Defense Procurement Guto Bebb, for the 29th High Level Working Group.
The meeting, organized in the framework of the Lancaster House treaty, follows the Franco-British summit of 18 January 2018 between President Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May. The discussion came after the [French] Military Estimates Bill was submitted to Parliament and as the Defense Modernization Program is under way on the British side.
M. Barre and Mr Bebb reviewed the many programs on which France and the UK are cooperating at present, as well as potential subjects of interest. More specifically, in accordance with the guidelines set at the Sandhurst summit, M. Barre and Mr Bebb agreed on the broad lines of the new phase of technological work to be conducted as part of the Future Combat Air System program.
A detailed review of the One Complex Weapons initiative was carried out. The Délégué général pour l’armement and the Minister for Defense Procurement especially welcomed the fact that MBDA had successfully completed the first contractual stage of the FMAN-FMC concept phase.
Our joint mine warfare program was also discussed at the meeting; it develops an autonomous system to the highest global standard, while offering interesting prospects for export.
New areas of capability cooperation were also identified for more detailed analysis.
The results of the meeting will help prepare for the first Franco-British ministerial defense council, established at the recent summit.
Joël Barre, the Délégué général pour l’armement, declared that:
"In accordance with the orientations defined in the Strategic Review, the Military Estimates Bill proposes an unprecedented defense effort. Besides speeding up the modernization of our conventional equipment and launching the renewal of the two components of France’s nuclear deterrent, it also aims to consolidate European cooperation in equipment programs.
"With this in mind, and driven by a shared determination renewed by the Sandhurst agreement, that we are working with the UK to jointly develop the systems that will enable our armed forces to meet the challenges of tomorrow.3
The Defense Procurement Minister said:
"France remains our most important European defense partner. Our unique relationship in security and defense has lasted more than a century. We continue to work closely to deliver the best equipment to our forces in land, sea, air, space and cyber. In a world of growing global threats, we are working together to ensure the continued security of Europe and our common allies."
- The HLWG (High-Level Working Group) is the highest governing body for Franco-British armaments cooperation. It was created by the 2010 Lancaster House treaty, which establishes defense cooperation between France and the United Kingdom which has little, indeed no equal worldwide. The HLWG meets several times a year. It is co-chaired by Joël Barre, Délégué général pour l’armement, and Guto Bebb, the British Minister for Defense Procurement.
- The One Complex Weapons initiative covers a broad spectrum of joint missile projects, including the concept phase for the Future Cruise/Anti-Ship Weapon, the helicopter-launched Light Anti-Ship Missile project, initiated at the 2014 Franco-British summit in Brize Norton and currently undergoing tests, the upgrade of the ASTER anti-air missile and mid-life refurbishment of the SCALP/Storm Shadow cruise missile. One Complex Weapons also covers MBDA’s development of centers of excellence in France and the UK.