Official speeches and statements - June 1, 2018
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Ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for being here, and after the reading of the declaration that we’ve just attended and its approval by everyone, we’d like to have a press conference. I wanted to begin this press conference by expressing the French people’s solidarity with the Belgian people. During our meeting we heard what had happened in Belgium this morning, and the terrible attack which, it seems, is now being described as terrorist by the prosecutor’s office. It’s too early to comment, but I wanted to extend to our Belgian neighbors the French people’s heartfelt condolences and solidarity.
So today an important conference has been held which is the fruit of long-term work done over months and months by Prime Minister Sarraj, all the Libyan stakeholders, the international community and in particular the United Nations Representative, Ghassan Salamé. In July 2017, we held an initial meeting in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, where Prime Minister Sarraj was present with Marshal Haftar, in the presence of Representative Salamé, who was beginning his mission, and it enabled us to identify some initial key elements. Very significant work was then done on the ground, throughout those months; in September, after a summer spent working with all the stakeholders, Representative Ghassan Salamé set out his proposals and his road map, validated at the United Nations on the sidelines of the General Assembly, and a very large amount of work has been done in recent months.
The meeting held today is a historic meeting because it’s part of this process and it was prepared at length by all the stakeholders, and because it was supported by all those in the international community dealing with this situation. We all shared the same feeling of responsibility, urgency and commitment on the need to achieve a political solution swiftly in Libya. It’s the first time such a meeting has been held in this form with all the Libyan leaders, a key stage in Libya’s reconciliation: Mr. Fayez al-Sarraj, Chairman of the Presidential Council, Mr. Aguila Saleh, President of the House of Representatives, Mr. Khalid al-Mishri, President of the High Council of State, and Mr. Khaifa Haftar, Commander of the Libyan National Army, in the presence of several Libyan delegations representing sectors of Libyan society.
It’s the first time that all its leaders - some of whom don’t mutually recognize each other - have met in this format, agreed to work together and, as you’ve seen, together approved a joint declaration. It’s an essential, important step which makes possible what will come next. It’s also the first time that we’ve brought together, in their presence, under the United Nations umbrella, all the members of the international community dealing with the Libya situation: neighboring countries, African countries, Middle Eastern countries, European countries, regional organizations and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
All the countries which in recent years, it has to be said, have sometimes tried to pull the strings of the Libya situation behind the curtains, pitting people against one another, taking advantage of divisions and sometimes destabilization, have also agreed to work together, signal their agreement and support this work being done by the Libyans to commit to this joint road map and this declaration; this too is a first, and it’s an essential step forward. (...)
This work is essential for Libya first and foremost; the Libyan people aspire to security, stability, better lives and the ability to express their sovereignty. (...)
Secondly, this subject is important for the whole region, as the mobilization of the African Union, the Arab League in particular and all the neighboring states and many African states has shown; the situation in Libya today is problematic in terms of security, stability - which goes beyond it [Libya] and affects most of those countries, with serious consequences for the neighboring countries, the whole of the Sahel, and potential destabilization in Africa and the Middle East too. And so the commitment by everyone to a sovereign, inclusive solution in Libya testifies to this importance for the region’s collective security and its stability. And this also affects us too because many European states have borne consequences of the crisis in Libya. I’m thinking of Italy, which has experienced a significant migration crisis over the past few months and years and which we’ve worked with in an exemplary way, and here I want to pay tribute to Italy’s commitment to the work done. (...) And all the European countries - and the European Union’s High Representative was also present with us - signaled their commitment to finding a joint solution.
So the discussions which took place this morning showed a determination to commit to specific points. First, a consensus on the need to unify the governmental, economic and security institutions in the long run to contribute to the full and complete affirmation of the Libyan state by ending, among other things, every kind of parallel institution by a gradual process which will be carried out and fully concluded following the electoral process, but above all by the decision - and we concluded it this very morning - to set ourselves a timetable and establish a procedure. (...)
The second element is the organization for 10 December 2018 of presidential and general elections and thus the commitment on the basis of this process to fully restore the Libyan people’s sovereignty and allow them to express it on that date. It’s a totally new element but I think it also meets the expectations of the Libyan people themselves. Special Representative Salamé has conducted several polls which showed the Libyans’ determination to commit to the process, to be able to vote and decide as quickly as possible. (...)
Before handing over to Mr. Salamé and Prime Minister Sarraj, I really want to say here that the presence of 20 or so countries, regional organizations alongside the United Nations and Libyans today testifies to the international community’s unity and to the fact that we’ve got a unique commitment which we’re going to work on. We’ve all collectively pledged to support the efforts, to abide by the collective commitments - it’s an essential step in this respect. (...)
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SIEGE OF LENINGRAD
Thank you, Mr. President, for welcoming us to this forum, in a city that reminds us so very much that when trust is lost, it can lead to the worst things. (...)
This morning I was at the Piskarevskoye Memorial Cemetery to pay tribute to those who, just a few decades ago, endured one of the world’s longest sieges in this city, where millions of lives were lost - soldiers, inhabitants, children - and which, after having more than 3.5 million inhabitants at the beginning of the Second World War, emerged from it with barely 500,000.
I know, Mr. President, that your own family experienced this history intensely.
I want to begin my remarks by referring to it, both to pay tribute to the history of this city and the people who underwent that siege and to say that when trust begins to be lost and we don’t pay attention to it, when we don’t understand that warning signs suggest something more serious is looming, we may be led to shoulder historic responsibilities without seeing the ill winds arising.
TRUST IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Indeed, the time we’re currently experiencing is a time in which trust at international level is being shaken by many geopolitical, sometimes military, and sometimes also economic phenomena that can lead to the worst things.
So the theme you’ve chosen for this year seems to me to be the right one. Trust isn’t simply formal respect for the rules, it isn’t the minimum degree of trust - no. It’s the ability to have trust in oneself in order to inspire trust in others. It’s the ability to build something long-term in a common spirit; ultimately it’s what is best expressed between Bezukhov and Karataev in War and Peace. (...)
So it takes time, respect for others, knowledge of our shared history, a dialectic in relations with others and with oneself, and that’s what we must build today.
FRANCO-RUSSIAN RELATIONS AND TRADE
I believe very strongly that the relations between France and Russia today are enabling us to build trust, despite the very difficult situation we’re in, and I’d like to come back to this first point.
Trust - real trust - is built step by step, and that’s what we’re doing with Russia at the economic level. Together we’ve worked to master the civilian use of the atom, we’ve forged ties to ensure Europe’s energy supply, we’ve pushed further with the dream of space exploration and we’ve built and maintained - despite the ill winds - major projects in the energy field.
French businesses - as we were mentioning earlier - were there when Russia entered into recession in 2009, and then in 2014. They haven’t left, and they’ve kept their place in all the business sectors where they’ve invested. France is therefore currently one of the leading foreign employers, with nearly 170,000 jobs. We’re among the very top investors in terms of inflow. The European Union is Russia’s leading trading partner, accounting for 45% of its exports, far ahead of China. (...)
To continue in this direction, I’m also calling for us to go on working together - and I welcome the speech President Putin, cher Vladimir, has just delivered - to ensure that rules favorable to business are respected, to always react proportionately to sanctions, to refrain from any self-absorption, and to respect the multilateral commitments made at the World Trade Organization on tariff and non-tariff barriers.
We must lend clear support to the Franco-Russian strategic plan and renew our cooperation, in support of the diversification of the Russian economy, by developing it in new sectors that will be the drivers of tomorrow’s growth, new forms of mobility, cities, health, urban transport and digital technology. We must do so in a context all of whose difficulties we’re aware of, but precisely in order to overcome them.
RUSSIA AND EUROPE
I very strongly believe that Russia’s history and destiny lie in Europe, but in a partner Europe which - cher Shinzo, Minister - is destined to work with everyone and talk to both the Middle East and Asia. But our history, our roots are the same.
It’s just that these past 25 years have sometimes been built on misunderstandings and probably mistakes, which have sometimes fueled tensions and may have made us diverge at the very time, over these past 25 years, when we should have, in a way, reconciled our histories, finished building a common history - the same one that our literary imaginations, histories, geographies and profound identities should have led us to create.
So I’d like us, in the coming decade, to succeed in working together to recreate this same European trust that is essential. This means sharing geostrategic decisions, it means being able to settle existing disputes and ongoing crises. I talked to President Putin about this yesterday; we’re aware of the framework, the format; we must now work and move forward. It means promoting new projects and a new philosophy for our Europe.
I’ve just heard you talk about your four priorities, Mr. President. Bringing mankind - a new humanism and the determination to recognize and allow the expression of all mankind’s freedoms - into a society that has confidence in itself: that is Europe’s founding project.
So with this in mind, I’m convinced that it’s through these roots and this strong partnership with Europe that you can live better, build a stronger economic model and a social model in which - I heard you - your people will live better. This is what has fed, fueled the history of Europe, the continent where democracy, the progression of the middle classes, the market economy and social equilibrium were invented. (...)
Together we must also manage to improve the workings of peace and security mechanisms on the European continent; it’s our responsibility. Reviewing this architecture is in our shared interest. So let’s get round the table and work. I’m ready to.
The window of opportunity exists: it’s now, and if it’s not grasped it could close again. That’s why I’m committed to Russia being anchored in Europe and with Europe. I’m committed to Russia’s presence in the Council of Europe, and I’d like our strategic dialogue on economic, strategic and defense issues for the coming decade to be given fresh momentum.
GLOBALIZATION AND MISTRUST
Because in fact - and this is the second point I’d like to stress - the issue of trust posed at global level puts us in an unprecedented situation. There are all the fears we’re aware of in the face of climate change, energy transformations and a digital world where everything is accelerating. There are current inequalities in the world, with our global organization experiencing a crisis which has made inequalities increase within countries and between countries and which has weakened, in a way, this consensus of the middle classes.
Yes, we’re experiencing - and have been for several years - a crisis of contemporary globalization that is sowing doubt among our peoples. It’s what has led to choices in recent years in places we thought they were impossible, from Brexit to the rise of so-called "illiberal" regimes; a crisis has taken hold today in much of the world.
But in the face of this crisis - whose causes, I believe very strongly, are our peoples’ mistrust and the lack of effectiveness and fairness of this development -, we see a response taking shape internationally, and you’ve complained of it: namely, the fragmentation of the world. It consists in playing on people’s fears, seeking to divide people and, in a way, to fuel this crisis of trust through even greater mistrust.
Whether it be trade, defense and collective security issues, or digital matters, division will only be the instrument of fear.
And Japan, Russia, France and, with them, China and all our partners have a common interest: namely to respond in this context by inventing a new approach and relying on a few simple principles, and this is the third point on which I’d like to conclude my remarks.
In order to combat mistrust, we need to establish the terms of what I’ve called this strong multilateralism. For me, it requires three levers: properly-understood sovereignty, resolute cooperation and adherence to multilateralism, to which we must restore meaning and content.
The first thing is sovereignty; you can’t trust one another - as I was saying when I mentioned War and Peace - if you don’t have trust in yourself, don’t respect yourself and can’t command respect.
In this international context, I’m committed to sovereignty in all its forms. I’m committed to our respecting each other and to there being no interference of any kind whatever. When one of us takes a sovereign decision to adhere to an agreement, I’m committed to their being able to remain in it, even if another decides to leave it. It’s a sovereign choice. I’m committed to genuine sovereignty being upheld in every area. Why? Because that’s the precondition for respect, but it’s also the precondition for smooth interaction with the business world.
What are you asking of us? To be able to resolve problems, to enforce rules, sometimes to set limits; that’s the very principle of sovereignty. What are our fellow citizens asking of us? To be able to explain this. Who explains it, other than the leaders of states or structures in which they’ve decided to cooperate?
It’s for this reason that I’m committed to my country’s sovereignty and the choice we made to sign the Iran nuclear agreement, a sovereign choice to sign a treaty and thus comply with international law. Pacta sunt servanda: signed treaties are there to be honored. (...)
I’m committed to my country’s sovereignty and want here to build a sovereign framework regarding cyberspace and the protection of all information given in it and of discussions carried out in it. (...)
I’m also committed to European sovereignty, which, if these new global rules are to succeed, is necessary. This European sovereignty is what we’ve strengthened over the past few months by endorsing Defense Europe, which had been at a standstill since the mid-1950s and which is key to this sovereignty. (...)
I believe in this European sovereignty on the digital front; an unprecedented European regulation comes into force today which is going to protect our fellow citizens’ data and apply to all the major international players operating in Europe - that’s a sign of sovereignty. (...)
It’s also because I believe in European sovereignty that I want to reinforce our sovereignty when it comes to trade and finance. We must be able to be even stronger, not only to protect our strategic interests - we’ve begun doing this by taking unprecedented decisions - but also have financial sovereignty which leads Europe to make its own choices and depend on no one. So the cooperation and dialogue we and our financial players engage in is key to this strategy.
COOPERATION / IRAN / NEW SILK ROAD / INDO-PACIFIC AREA/SAHEL
The second pillar which accompanies the building of these new international relations and this new world is cooperation. Sovereignty makes sense and is sustainable only if we cooperate, talk, have respect, express our views and strategy, and seek to work. I think that’s what we’ve been doing together from day one.
We have disagreements. But these disagreements happen, in a way, to be shared. They’re known, they’re visible and transparent. But we also agree on many points. We can make progress on these and I think we’ve each shared - again, in an unprecedented way - an extremely clear road map which, I’m sure, will allow us to go further.
This cooperation is what prompts us together, with our partners, with Japan and Russia, not only to uphold the Iran nuclear agreement we signed in 2015 but also to want to go further and, in order to prepare and stabilize the whole region, succeed precisely in having a dialogue with Iran about ballistic activities, activities in the region and, in the long term, nuclear activities beyond 2025. It’s because I believe in this spirit of cooperation that I wanted us to work with our Chinese partner on the New Silk Road initiative, which has the potential to be absolutely fundamental and which - as we know - aims to redefine multilateralism and do so in keeping with our climate commitments, respect for fair trade and respect for the sovereignty and stability of the countries it crosses.
It’s because I believe in cooperation that I wanted to work with Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India on an Indo-Pacific strategy to create the ways and means of achieving this freedom of our sovereignty in the Indo-Pacific area together.
It’s because I believe in this spirit of cooperation that France has pledged, with the Sahel countries and more broadly all the African Union’s member states, to work for a new stability, peacekeeping and counter-terrorism policy throughout Africa.
MULTILATERALISM / INTERNATIONAL BODIES
Finally, after sovereignty comes permanent cooperation; we’ve got to reconstruct, rebuild this strong multilateralism. Everything we were talking about earlier makes sense only if we’re able to safeguard the international framework which enables us to be here. Strong multilateralism allows us to get results, in order to protect our middle classes against jobs being destroyed and price rises which would trigger a trade war, to provide a genuine solution to global imbalances by stepping up our coordination at the G20 and WTO so that technology, finance and skills play a full part in the low-carbon economy, to halt the fiscal and social race to the bottom, develop and regulate the technological transformation and build instruments for peacekeeping and reducing conflict. That’s the aim of multilateralism.
We’ve got the instruments for it: the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund. We’ve got the consultation structures: the G7 and G20. We must work within these frameworks.
It happens that Russia and France are both permanent members of the Security Council. Let’s go further and strengthen the United Nations Security Council precisely to build together this strong multilateralism that will get results - it’s also one of the only means of leverage. It happens that China, at our side, also wants this. Let all three of us, with our two partners, Britain and America, work towards this and make the United Nations even stronger; let’s not allow it to be weakened.
In a few weeks, Prime Minister Abe and I will be at the G7; let’s make the G7 a useful body for bringing peace to trade and ensuring that our international rules and this essential cooperation are respected.
In a few months we’ll be together at the G20, making that forum also one which is useful for the multilateralism we believe in.
In this respect, Japan and France will have an important responsibility next year when they hold the G7 and G20 presidencies [respectively] in the same year. With this in mind I want us to make headway in the next few months and years on trying to rebuild this essential trust based on the triptych of sovereignty, cooperation and strong multilateralism.
As you’ll have understood, France and the European Union are ready for this. With our German partner, with whom we work hand in hand on these issues, constantly and with all the European countries, we promote this ambition and this strong agenda for Europe. (...)
The period we’re living in requires courage - not a courage that divides, not a swaggering courage which consists in setting out forms of sovereignty which amount to separatist self-absorption, non-cooperation and fragmentation. No. A courage buoyed by trust in oneself, ambition, wherever we are, for our country, our businesses and the organizations we lead. We’ve got a great deal of work, and rest assured that France is working to bring about this complete trust and complete optimism.
But this also means the courage to do things together, work together, act together.
Courage has returned to France. It has returned to Europe. It has returned to every country here, and we need it.
Mr. President, cher Vladimir, we all know your love of judo. I know you appreciate the values of the Gentle Way, as those who practice that sport - which is also an art - call it. It relies on control of one’s own strength, tactics rather than brute force, and the qualities of determination and respect for one’s opponent. In those values lie many sources of inspiration for the links between peoples and nations.
I love football; it’s a collective sport, but it requires very much the same qualities.
So I’d like us to find in ourselves the strength to get involved together in a collective, cooperative game based on the values of respect and trust that we must more effectively protect. (...)