French President’s New Year greetings to the government

President’s New Year greetings – Foreign policy/fight against terrorism – Excerpts from the New Year greetings to the government by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic

Paris, 4 January 2017

Prime Minister,


I very much appreciate the New Year greetings you’ve sent me. I present mine to you in turn. I expect the government to serve the French fully until the end of the mandate I was given by the people on 6 May 2012.

You have a twofold responsibility. You must take every possible action to improve our fellow citizens’ lives, and you must also promote the policy we’ve been conducting since 2012 with the governments of Jean-Marc Ayrault and Manuel Valls.

Today it’s you, Bernard Cazeneuve, who bear this responsibility. (…)

I wasn’t elected to increase the defence budget, cher Jean-Yves [Le Drian]: that wasn’t the mandate given to me by the French people. I wasn’t elected, either, to increase the security forces’ numbers to this point. I merely said 1,000 per year. During this five-year term, we will have created nearly 10,000. I wasn’t elected to get no fewer than three anti-terrorist bills adopted. I wasn’t elected to declare a state of emergency. But it was my responsibility as Head of State to respond to the threat and protect our country.

I’ve had to face up to major international crises – West Africa, Iraq, Syria, Libya – and focus on the climate issue. It was here, in Paris, that a historic agreement was reached. And the Energy Transition Act, and the Biodiversity Act, are major texts. (…)

We must also guarantee French people’s protection, their personal safety, and be vigilant at all times. That’s what we’ve done, by deploying police and gendarmerie but also – because everything fits together – by making a defence effort that is now welcomed, recognized and visible on the ground. I had a further demonstration of this with our armed forces in Iraq. (…)

Finally, we must be the voice of France in Europe and worldwide: there will be a very important Africa-France summit in mid-January, there’s the Middle East initiative and there’s the 60th anniversary of the Rome Treaty in March. With the rise in self-centred national interests, the risk of isolationism – we’re seeing it in the United States, it exists in France too, and we can see how much Brexit is exercising British society today – we have a responsibility, and there again it’s up to us to shoulder it, even before the time comes. (…)

The best way to uphold one’s ideas for a government is to take action and carry out as effectively as possible the missions I’ve given you in the service of the French people. To be useful to your country, to your ideas, in other words to be aware that we’re going to leave a mark, not for the sake of ourselves, our own image and what will remain of our own action, but for the future. Your horizon isn’t May, it’s much further, because whatever your personal destiny, you must continue sending the message of hope./.

Published on 13/01/2017

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