We need a NATO where Europe has a greater role - President
Defence – NATO/European Union/cooperation/Sahel/Libya/migration – Excerpts from the speech by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic, at the Hôtel de Brienne
Paris, 13 July 2018
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Defence/fight against terrorism
A year ago to the day, right here, I paved the way with you for what we had to do, what we were going to do on the subject of defence. (…)
This year, then, I wanted to review our operations plan in order to strengthen its foundations and also better support our political and diplomatic action. At the same time, we’ve built into the trajectory of public finances the foundations of a new defence policy. (…)
Nevertheless, on the ground, the war against Islamist terrorists today accounts for the bulk of our operational commitments, both on our territory and abroad. (…)
The allies’, Europe’s and our own collective security has been rocked in recent years. In the space of a year, look at the change. Doubts about multilateralism, a Europe which has reawakened – I’ll come back to this in a few moments – and decided, in the space of a year, to chart a path it didn’t want to for 70 years. Major geopolitical shifts have also occurred and will gradually become clearer each day.
Wherever this ideology of hatred is played out, our security is at stake; our ability to react to this threat, to be active, is key to our credibility and sovereignty.
In the Levant, as part of the Global Coalition Against Daesh [so-called ISIL], Operation Chammal is mobilizing more than 1,000 of you – pilots, sailors and soldiers, to support and train the Iraqi armed and security forces. (…)
Daesh has lost its territory today and been driven back to the Valley of the Euphrates. With the coalition forces, we’re actively participating in the last of the fighting. Soon the organization will no longer have a territorial footprint.
Yet, as we know, the issue nonetheless won’t be definitively resolved. Syria – deeply scarred, divided and the scene of still-violent clashes – will remain a major source of regional destabilization. The forces of Daesh and others close to it are still taking action in Iraq and Afghanistan and fuelling this terrorism – which may have seemed remote until recently – throughout the region.
In April this year, by using chemical weapons on his own people, Bashar al-Assad crossed the red line I set. That’s why I decided to commit our forces alongside our American and British allies to destroy facilities linked to the chemical weapons programme, which were identified beforehand in Syria. The operation was perfectly legitimate, at the international level. It was conducted in an exemplary way. (…)
In the coming months, we’ll continue to pursue a political resolution of this conflict, which has already resulted in nearly 500,000 people killed or missing. The Global Coalition Against Daesh must remain mobilized and our military engagement will continue, even though it will change. It will be accompanied by a commitment to reconstruction and development, which I want to be significant. It will be accompanied by a political commitment which we’ve stepped up over the past year and which won’t stop growing.
In the Sahel, we’ll continue to act through diplomacy, defence and development, because these three elements are inextricably linked. (…)
Since the beginning of my mandate, I’ve sought to deepen the comprehensive strategy under which the operation is taking place. France has therefore promoted two major initiatives for the Sahel: the creation of a joint military force in Bamako on 2 July 2017, with the G5 countries, and the Alliance for the Sahel, which we launched with Chancellor Merkel on 13 July, exactly a year ago, to strengthen coordination between the main partners of the countries in the region. These two pillars are the essential complements to our action and to the Barkhane force’s intervention.
Supported by Barkhane, the Joint Force is now being deployed. The first results are there, and it’s become a real asset for regional security in the hands of the G5 countries. Our enemies have clearly realized this, and that’s why they cravenly attacked the force’s command post in Sévaré on 29 June, just as they attacked us in Gao on 1 July. In both cases, civilians paid a heavy price, because Africans are the first victims of these attacks. (…)
A few weeks ago we were able to take political, strategic and military decisions that will lead us, in the coming months, to carry out new action with the G5 Sahel Joint Force. We’ll also be conducting development projects and supporting people and governments – these are all inextricably linked – in order to stop the terrorists gaining ground in the region.
Tomorrow, thanks to our commitment, thanks to the international community’s support, the armed forces of the Sahel will gain the upper hand over the terrorists. (…)
The African continent is also facing major migratory phenomena linked to crises, but also demographic pressure and climate change, which are currently affecting Europe’s stability.
That’s why, here again, we’re taking comprehensive and resolute action all along the migration routes, from the departure countries to the transit countries.
That’s why, in Libya, we’re continuing resolute action to find a political solution to the crisis the country is experiencing, whose tragic consequences we’re seeing every day. The Mediterranean can’t indefinitely be a cemetery where, with impunity, people-smugglers and mafias exploit migrants’ abject poverty and drive to their deaths men, women and children dreaming of a better future on European soil.
These actions outside our borders are paramount, and are complementary to those we owe our fellow citizens for their everyday security. (…)
This national strategy will also have to be organized, in all its relevant aspects, at European level. (…)
Cooperation, particularly with our European partners, is precisely this third key objective I intend to promote. Cooperating, acting collectively, isn’t an option: it’s a necessity in many cases, but above all a bonus.
It doesn’t undermine our strategic autonomy. On the contrary, it will be strengthened by it, because we’ll have to define better the basis for what we’d like to do alone and what several of us can do together.
It’s vital for European countries to fully shoulder their responsibilities for our fellow citizens’ security. Yesterday I was at the NATO summit; we have to remind ourselves that the Atlantic Alliance is a necessity today. We need a strong Alliance, and we reiterated this commitment, this unity. We need an Alliance where Europe has more of a role, and that’s also what we endorsed, primarily in coordination with our American partner. (…)
But within the Alliance, a year ago Europe realized the need to protect itself. Since June 2017 exceptional advances have been implemented, in an unprecedented way. A Defence Europe has been built in the framework of Structured Cooperation, and a European Defence Fund has enabled us to finance several projects. What I set out at the Sorbonne last autumn, the idea of a European Intervention Initiative, has seen the light of day and enabled us to bring together nine EU member states in a new cooperation project that will allow us greater strategic convergence, closer ties between our armed forces and greater autonomy.
Already, 17 projects have been deployed as part of this initiative to increase our defence capability together, and France will be promoting others in the coming months.
Many of these projects enjoy joint funding, established as part of the new European Defence Fund. This will strengthen defence research, strategic industries and the acquisition of materiel developed cooperatively, and hence the desirable emergence of a European defence industry.
Here I want to thank our manufacturers, who have worked with our armed forces with unprecedented speed to suggest joint programmes, which people thought impossible a year ago. And there too, what was launched on 13 July 2017 at a Franco-German Council with Chancellor Merkel saw the light of day a few weeks ago in Meseberg, through the signature of two agreements involving our manufacturers, whom I want to thank. (…)
I’m also thinking about our strategic partnership with the United States, which is crucial and is reflected today in exceptional mutual trust in the military sphere, and about our special relationship with the UK: Brexit or no Brexit, this relationship is strategic, far-reaching and will continue to deepen.
I’d also like to pay tribute to the cooperation being stepped up every day, within Europe, with Greece: it’s necessary for the security of the Mediterranean and, well beyond that, for our common policy in the Middle East.
I also want to thank two friendly countries whose presence reflects the vitality and strength of this Indo-Pacific strategy I set out several months ago: Japan and Singapore. (…)./.