Next year’s Pau summit to focus on France’s commitment in Sahel
Sahel – Reply by Mme Florence Parly, Minister for the Armed Forces, to a question in the National Assembly
Paris, 17 December 2019
The French people have concerns, and they aren’t alone. In the Sahel countries, the general public is asking questions, which is understandable given that the security situation is deteriorating on the ground. I’m sure you’ll agree with me in saying that we all, collectively, need clarification about France’s commitment in the Sahel. This is the purpose of the Pau summit, which will be held on 13 January 2020. The objective is to get answers and commitments.
The President was very clear: all options are on the table. Admittedly we’ve set ourselves a challenge, that of Defence Europe. It has a unique opportunity, in the Sahel, to demonstrate its usefulness, particularly when it comes to fighting terrorism. We started with the British and are continuing with the Danes, Spanish and Estonians; European Union units are carrying out certain missions, in the field of training in particular. In 2020, we’ll go further by launching the operational force, or Task Force Takouba, which will incorporate European special forces to support Malian units in the fighting.
We’ve made a start, but there’s still a lot to do. France needs Europe, but Europe needs a safe Sahel, able to counter the terrorist threat. Let’s not forget that Gao is the same distance from Paris as Mosul. The fight against the subsidiaries of Daesh [so-called ISIL] and of al-Qaida is a crucial one./.