Ambassadors’ conference – Speech by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic [fr]
Ambassadors’ conference – Speech by M. Emmanuel Macron, President of the Republic
Paris, 27 August 2019
Members of Parliament,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I was very hesitant to come and address you today. Nevertheless, I wanted to honour a tradition and I questioned whether it would be better to stay at the G7, which has just finished; I told myself that the only risk I was running was falling short of the results achieved, of what we had collectively achieved, but I think that this shared moment ahead of the work you are going to carry out has a purpose.
First, because this is the third time that we are meeting in this format and because it is very useful to follow up, and doing so after the G7 which France has just hosted makes even more sense. First to let you know that the success of the G7 is your success, that of the diplomats who organized it, the elected officials who supported it, the teams within the government in numerous departments that were involved in it and demonstrated a great deal of professionalism. We, the heads of state and government, share collective responsibility for any shortfall, any relative failures because we have not made enough progress.
Lastly, an element of genuine success was achieved by this French team, and this is your success. And I would like to express my deep gratitude to you today. For the months of preparation by the Secretarat General of the Presidency. The work carried out by all of the ministries. The work to ensure the event’s security, its smooth organization, the involvement of all stakeholders and elected officials made it possible to present this image of France and to hold a G7 – a useful G7 I believe – in an atmosphere of calm for the first time in a long time. Only time will tell if this G7 was a complete success, because we will see if we are able to build on the results or not. But already, I think I can say that what was achieved was your work and that it was a success.
I also think that this G7 is part of a far-reaching approach that is consistent with our strategy, i.e. putting France at the heart of the diplomatic game. I will come back to that shortly; it is in line with what I have been saying to you for the last two years. Before addressing you, I re-read, over the last few days, my last two speeches to our ambassadors; both speeches focused on the triptych of security, sovereignty and influence. This remains perfectly valid and obviously all the work that has been done over the last two years with respect to the fight against terrorism, and actions in each of these areas, has been reinforced and this strategy that we have been implementing over the last two years is consistent and was set out during this summit. Reading these speeches was also humbling since many of the things we thought would advance very quickly two years ago are still in progress, and many things from two years ago are unfortunately still valid when we look at the Sahel, the Libya crisis and many other things. Nevertheless, I have to say that what strikes me – I wanted to share this with you before going into detail – is that everything is connected.
When he addresses you, the Prime Minister will review the transformations carried out in France by the government, their significance, and I believe the continuum they form with our diplomatic action. But I am struck every day by how much your work is increasingly important to our fellow citizens. I believe it is the very soul of our country and that global transformations are also leading to this. We are however a country where – and we have strongly condemned this – elected officials’ offices have been destroyed and elected officials attacked because of a free-trade agreement with Canada. We are a country that expresses real pride when we host the entire world and we achieve results like yesterday. I strongly believe that our relationship with the world enriches our nation. And I therefore do not want to see our exchanges as a discussion that is somehow separate from the rest of our lives but rather fully consistent with what we are in the process of doing, whether with respect to the social, climate or economic agenda. All this is closely linked. This is why I wanted to briefly share with you an overview of the world and its turmoil and in this context, our priorities. Because I strongly believe this is what should guide our action in France, in Europe and abroad.
We experience this world all together and you know that better than I, but the international order is being disrupted in an unprecedented way, with massive upheaval, probably for the first time in our history, in almost all areas and on a historic scale. Above all, a transformation, a geopolitical and strategic reconfiguration. We are probably in the process of experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world. We were used to an international order that had been based on Western hegemony since the 18th century – probably French hegemony in the 18th century, inspired by the Enlightenment; probably British hegemony in the 19th century thanks to the Industrial Revolution, and American hegemony in the 20th century thanks to two major conflicts and the economic and political domination of that power. Things change. And they have been deeply affected by the mistakes made by Westerners in certain crises, by American decisions over the last several years which did not start with this administration, but have led us to re-examine certain involvements in conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, and to rethink fundamental diplomatic and military strategy and on occasion elements of solidarity which we thought were forever inalienable even though we had developed them together during periods of geopolitical significance, which have however now changed. And it is also the emergence of new powers whose impact we have probably underestimated for far too long.
China first and foremost as well as Russia’s strategy that has, let’s face it, been pursued with greater success over the last few years. I will come back to that. The India that is emerging, these new economies that are also becoming not just economic but political powers and which consider themselves, as some have noted, genuine civilization states and which have not just disrupted our international order, assumed a key role in the economic order, but have also very forcefully reshaped the political order and the political thinking that goes with it, with a great deal more inspiration than we have. Take India, Russia and China for example. They have a lot more political inspiration than Europeans today. They take a logical approach to the world, they have a genuine philosophy, a resourcefulness that we have to a certain extent lost. And so all of that has a major impact on us and reshuffles the cards. I am obviously not talking about Africa’s emergence, which is being confirmed every day and is also resulting in far-reaching changes; I will also come back to that. The risk involved in this major upheaval is increased twofold thanks to geopolitical and military turmoil, and we are in a world in which the number of conflicts is increasing and in which I see two main risks.
The first is that these conflicts are resulting in an increasing number of civilian casualties and are changing in nature. Look at the theatres of operations all over the world. And the second thing is that the world has started to become more savage, and here again the order on which our convictions and our systems were sometimes based is disappearing. We are abandoning, in innocence and silence, the arms control treaties that emerged at the end of the Cold War. All that should raise far-reaching questions. First, it should make us see that our habits and information are no longer valid. And then that should prompt us to examine our own strategy, because the two nations that now hold the real cards in this affair are the Americans and the Chinese. We then have a choice to make with respect to this major change, this major upheaval: do we decide to become junior allies of one party or the other, or a bit of one and a bit of the other, or do we decide to be part of the game and exert our influence? At the same time, we are experiencing an unprecedented crisis in the market economy. And I think that this crisis is at least as important, and in a way it aggravates what I’ve just described. This market economy, which was conceived in Europe by Europe, has been gradually drifting off course over the last few decades.
First, it has become deeply financialized, and what was a market economy, which some people sometimes regarded as a social market economy, and which was at the heart of the equilibrium that we had conceived, has become an economy of accumulated wealth in which it must be said, financialization and technological changes have led to an increased concentration of wealth among the champions, i.e. the most talented individuals in our countries, the major cities that succeed in globalization and the countries that embody the success of this order. And so the market economy – which through the theory of competitive advantages and everything that we have obediently learned until now that would make it possible to distribute wealth and which worked extremely well for decades by helping hundreds of millions of people around the world to escape poverty like never before in the history of mankind – has slipped backwards and led to the kind of inequalities that are no longer sustainable. Among our economies, France has experienced this very acutely over the last few months, but we have been experiencing it for years, all over the world. This market economy results in unprecedented inequality which comprehensively disrupts our political order.
First of all this inequality disrupts the very legitimacy of this economic system. How can we explain to our fellow citizens that this is the right system when they do not get their fair share? But that also leads us to question the balance of our democracies. Because essentially here too we had been living, since the 19th century, in an equilibrium in which individual freedoms, the democratic system and the continued progress of the middle classes thanks to the market economy formed a kind of tripod on which we were moving forward. When the middle classes, which form the basis of our democracies, no longer have a fair share in it, they start to express doubts and are legitimately tempted by authoritarian regimes or illiberal democracies, or are tempted to question this economic system. In any case, very significant paradigm shifts are taking place which we have not, thus far, completely embraced. And so this crisis may lead to withdrawal, as some are choosing, which France did not choose in spring 2017. But this temptation is still there. It should really lead us to see how we can rethink this balance within this system, which is not a French system but really a European and a global system, and how we can make openness, which I believe is essential, good for our country, in accordance with our values and our DNA by recapturing our share of control. And basically what the Brexiteers proposed to the British people – which was a very good slogan: take back control of our lives, of our nation. That’s how we should think and act in a country that is open. Take back control. The days when we could talk to our fellow citizens about outsourcing are over, that’s the natural order of things; it is a good thing for you. Jobs are going to Poland, China, Vietnam and you will rediscover the …we can’t explain this whole thing any more. And so we have to find ways to shape globalization as well as reshape this international order.
I am aware of how ambitious this is and that it will not happen overnight. But I am aware of the need for this way of thinking and this approach both in France and at the European level. Otherwise we will fall.
Thirdly, the major upheaval we’re experiencing is obviously the technological revolution. It is unprecedented. A revolution in terms of the Internet, social networks and now artificial intelligence – an incredible globalization of intelligence, technological progress taking place at an unprecedented speed. But it is also a globalization of the imagination, emotions, violence and hatred, contributing to a more savage world, as we are witnessing every day. It is a major anthropological change affecting our democracies as well as a new environment forming before our very eyes, requiring us to rethink rules, an international order that does not exist today. And I truly believe that this technological revolution is resulting in economic as well as anthropological imbalances that we need to consider and regarding which we need to take action, otherwise we will develop an unintentional diplomacy and therefore run the risk of being quickly outdated. Others have also seized upon this before us. They have used it as a means to destabilize democracies and exert their influence.
Lastly, we are experiencing a major environmental upheaval. I truly believe that it is accelerating rapidly. We understood this several years ago, and France adopted an effective environmental diplomacy with results such as those achieved at the COP21, which everyone credits us for, and the Paris climate agreement. We see that this issue is now gathering momentum, whether with respect to global warming or the protection of biodiversity. It is picking up because the effects of our collective inaction in the past are being felt today in our societies, our economies and all over the world. It is gathering momentum because our fellow citizens are far more aware of it and are pressing us to take action. And it is also gathering momentum because the consequences of this major upheaval are there every day. And these consequences are real geopolitical crises. And climate disruption, this major environmental upheaval, will lead to significant regional imbalances, to significant migratory phenomena, and will also accelerate the demographic upheaval that is destabilizing our world. And so you see, all these major disruptions are happening at the same time. You know all this. But I believe that we have to put it into perspective, not just in order to recognize it but to try and see how we can take effective action at this time.
Saying it is one thing, but what role should we assume? We can choose to be spectators, commentators. And I could leave it at that. And essentially say: We will continue with the same action in France and the same diplomatic action in this context. This strategy of playing it safe or continuing with the same habits because we can go down this path without believing it to be prudent. In other words, if we continue as we have before, whether we are talking about a company, a diplomat, a minister, the French president, a soldier, or everyone here in this room, if we continue as before, then we will definitely lose control. And that would mean obliteration.
I can tell you this with certainty. We know that civilizations are disappearing; countries as well. Europe will disappear. Europe will disappear with the obliteration of this Western period, and the world will be centred around two main focal points: the United States and China. And we will have to choose between the two powers. We can pretend that we have forgotten this. We can do that very easily. We have already done so with regard to many issues. We will say that we are sovereign. We will fight to keep jobs in our country by making dubious compromises with groups for which there is nothing more we can do. We will try to adopt environmental policies in our country or on our continent but it will already be too late, because we will no longer have control and things… It is a steep hill to climb. There is another strategy – adaptation. This means that we essentially need to run faster in the face of a world that is changing. So we will try to vaguely do something about the environment but we must adapt to this order which is changing more quickly, carry out reforms in order to catch up with others, trying to not really change, not really exert any influence. This is an intermediate scenario that will in my opinion quickly lead to the same outcome. I even think that it will lead to the same outcome with, as a consequence, a profound response: a rejection by our population because we are not a country that likes to adapt. So sometimes even failing to want to change the world so that we do not have to adapt ourselves; but we do not like to adapt. I believe France’s vocation corresponds to the needs of the present time – it means using the cards we’ve been dealt to try and influence this world order and not give in to any sense of inevitability; instead, to try and build a new order in which not only would we have a role to play, but so would our values and interests.
That is why I believe in just one thing: a strategy of boldness, of risk-taking. Which means that not everything we are doing now or will do in the future may succeed. And many commentators will be on hand to point out periodically that it is not working. That is all right. Because in light of what I have just said, it would be fatal not to try. It is a strategy of boldness and vision, and it is about trying to rediscover something that profoundly characterizes the French spirit and, as I see it, to restore what is essentially European civilization. I believe that is what our goal should be at home, in our European strategy, and internationally. The French spirit is a spirit of resistance with a universal calling. Having a spirit of resistance means one does not give in to fate or adapt to things and habits. It means believing that when things are unjust, we can prevail by giving ourselves the resources to succeed and the reforms to make us stronger, we can rebuild our economic muscle and productivity. We can make things happen. We do not accept the prevailing order for good reasons, and we succeed in rediscovering our deep-seated values. I believe that the thing that has always characterized Europe, the unifying thread in our mission, is true humanism. I say this because it is no longer obvious. And if we take the easy road and continue to see the world in the way it is shaping up to be and as I described, this European humanism will disappear.
The United States is in the Western camp, but it is not promoting the same brand of humanism. It is not as sensitized to climate issues, to equality, to social equilibrium as we are. It puts freedom ahead of everything else. This is a strong characteristic of American civilization and explains our differences, even as we remain strong allies. Nor does Chinese civilization have the same collective preferences, to put it mildly, or the same values. We are the only geographical region that made man with a capital M central to its project during the Renaissance, at the time of the Enlightenment, and whenever we have needed to reinvent ourselves. I believe that, given the turmoil we have experienced, this is in fact our true project, and it must become our project once again. This approach, and the demands we place upon ourselves and others, must consequently be taken into account as we tackle major economic, industrial, and climate issues. And it means rethinking our educational, production-related, social and environmental projects in our own country. That is what we are in the process of doing, but we cannot do it alone, because while it is true that socialism in a single country does not work, historically, humanism in a single country does not last much longer. And we must nurture it in Europe and internationally. Our agenda must be consistent in this regard. It is this humanist project that is central to the government’s agenda, reinvesting in human beings through educational, social and healthcare projects and making the reforms that will enable us to have a real production plan by way of a crucial ecological transformation. That, I deeply believe, is what must motivate us. And along with that, the ability to collectively join forces, an effort in which I am taking part. I realize how much more there is to say about this. But we must rebuild, on this basis, a collective narrative and a collective imagination. That is why I believe very deeply that this is our project and must be undertaken as a project of European civilization.
The project of European civilization cannot be spearheaded by Catholic Hungary or by Orthodox Russia, and yet we have left it to these two leaders. I say it with all due respect: listen to the discourse in Hungary or Russia. There are differences between these projects, but they have a cultural, civilizational vitality that is inspiring, although for my part I consider it misplaced. It is our European project – which I deeply believe is also a French project – that must have the power to inspire our people. It is the spirit of the Renaissance, the spirit of the Enlightenment. It is the profound spirit of French humanism, which we invented and upheld, and which we must reinvent today. What does this mean?
It means that the many issues we so often discuss are more than just technical issues. They must fuel imaginative thinking, which we must encourage; they must nurture a true project of civilization from this new frontier, strongly focused on men and women. Obviously, I am aware of the scope of such a project. But I believe it is important for me to share this conviction with you today, because it is what must nurture our efforts and the continuum of our daily life. Basically, this project and the alliances we create presume an obligation in terms of human dignity. Those in the world who risk their lives to defend the right to freedom are turning their eyes to us. So when I speak of a European project of civilization and this French project, that is also what I mean. We have rediscovered the essence of this obligation and knowledge around the world, without challenging the sovereignty of any particular nation.
On defending the strength and vitality of human rights, which have been so weakened in recent years: we have returned to what David Miliband called, at a recent conference, the age of impunity. Twenty years ago, we all thought that human rights were on an unstoppable trajectory, that everybody would automatically embrace democracy and the same values that we do. But look at the situation we are in. In some countries – some of them in Europe – you will find a decline in rights and judicial independence, and a rise in threats to human rights activists. Look at the situation around the world in combat areas. It is therefore our responsibility, in these circumstances – and I believe in our ability to revive the spirit of the Enlightenment – to be key actors promoting new obligations in terms of human rights, new obligations in terms of our democracies, and to ensure that our values are defended everywhere – fighting impunity and defending civilians and humanitarian workers in combat areas; championing human rights workers everywhere; and striving, as we have in recent weeks, to ensure that the Internet respects our democracies, freedom and balance. But championing this European civilization, working to promote it at home and abroad, also means we must be making very strong diplomatic efforts on behalf of education, the climate and democracy; to be able to profoundly rethink the balances of the market economy, as we have begun to do; and to have a cultural agenda that underpins this ambition and this spirit.
In order to achieve this, I would like us to collectively take action on five priority issues in the coming months, following up on what has been done over the past two years. I will not cover all the geographical areas and subjects, but please bear with me and do not assume that silence equals indifference. We should be concerned about our collective balance, and I am afraid I have already gone on for too long. So keeping in mind that length does not equal exhaustiveness, there are five important things I want to say to you after quickly explaining how I see this world order and our goal in this context.
First, in order to achieve this goal amid the disorder, I deeply believe that we must act as a balancing power. To be a balancing power, we must show that we are a great economic power, an industrial power (even though we have lost ground in many areas in recent decades, and must rebuild in order to remain this sort of power). This is central to both our national and European agenda. We are an enduring military and diplomatic power. We are about to indisputably become the leading European army thanks to investments that we have made, the military estimates act, the calibre of our troops, and the appeal of our army. In today’s Europe, nobody else has this vitality and nobody else has decided to make this strategic and human investment. This is a crucial point. And we remain a great diplomatic power, a permanent member of the Security Council, playing a central role in Europe and in many coalitions. But when I say that we must be a balancing power, it means that we must have the freedom to act, as it were; we must have mobility and flexibility. We are not an aligned power. I want to emphasize this. We have allies, we are Europeans and we must work with our European partners and respect them. We have allies in every part of the world, and we have an important ally in the United States of America, on the strategic and military fronts. But to put it simply, we are not a power that believes that the enemies of our friends are necessarily our enemies or that we are prevented from speaking to them. And that, I believe, is France’s strength. We must therefore have our own strategy, because that strategy serves our interests and our usefulness to the concert of nations, as we have seen in recent months and days. A balancing power is what we must be in major crises and conflict situations. I am not going to list them all for you.
But I will speak about one of them: Iran. We saw an example of this in Biarritz in recent days, when we created the required conditions for a de-escalation. For two days, the Foreign Minister and the Economy and Finance Minister did some delicate work, following several weeks – several months – of initiatives aimed not solely at influencing the situation but creating the conditions for a de-escalation and a solution. France, as we well know, did not instigate the famous JCPOA. In 2015, it even made its terms tougher. But here we are in this situation after signing a treaty. The party that initiated it decided to withdraw from it. And the differences that took shape between us could have led to an escalation in the region, with terrible results. I think that our role in this type of conflict is, on one hand, to ensure consistency among the great powers. That is what we did at the G7 by issuing two clear messages that for the first time were embraced by everyone. Nobody who was at the table at the G7 wants Iran to ever have a nuclear weapon, and everyone wants stability and peace in the region. Which means that everyone will also refrain from behaviours that could threaten that peace and stability. And on the other hand, we tried to take action to bring Iran to the negotiating table, to ensure that a de-escalation was not linked to a lack of discussions between the two main parties. We achieved some initial results; they are fragile and great modesty is in order here, but in the bilateral discussion with Iran, it became possible to see a potential road forward with economic and financial compensation as well as additional demands. This made it possible at least in the short term to de-escalate tensions and establish potential conditions for useful meetings. We did this with the support of our European partners, fully playing the role of a balancing power. And in order to play this role in major conflicts in a helpful way, as we did at the G7, we must fully embrace that form of independence that is essential to our diplomacy and strategic autonomy, and which presupposes rethinking in depth our relationship with certain powers. Now I know that certain foreign theoreticians would say that we too have a Deep State. And that sometimes the President says things, travels somewhere and says something, and there’s a collective tendency to say, “He said that but we know the truth, things will still be done the way they’ve always been done.” I cannot recommend that you follow that path. First because it is ineffective on the collective level because it undermines the President’s credibility and consequently the credibility of the people’s representatives. But most important, it makes it harder for us to take action.
With regard to the capacity for reassessing major relationships, let’s take a look at Russia. I know that many of you made your careers working on dossiers whose every aspect fostered a mistrust of Russia, sometimes rightly so. And since the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have structured our relationship on the basis of that mistrust, through a series of misunderstandings. In wishing to revisit that relationship I am in no way naive. But there are some obvious reasons for doing so. We are part of Europe; so is Russia. And if we are unable to accomplish anything useful with Russia at any given time, we will remain in a state of deeply unproductive tension. We will continue to be stuck in conflicts throughout Europe. Europe will continue to be the theatre of a strategic battle between the United States and Russia, with the consequences of the Cold War still visible on our soil. And we will not lay the groundwork for the profound recreation of European civilization that I mentioned earlier. Because we cannot do that without reassessing in depth, in great depth, our relationship with Russia. I also think that pushing Russia away from Europe is a major strategic error, because we are pushing it either toward isolation, which heightens tensions, or toward alliances with other great powers such as China, which would not at all be in our interest. At the same time, it must be said that while our relations have been based on mistrust, there are documented reasons for it. We’ve witnessed cyber-attacks, the destabilization of democracies, and a Russian project that is deeply conservative and opposed to the EU project. And all that basically developed in the 1990s and 2000s when a series of misunderstandings took place, and when Europe no doubt did not enact its own strategy and gave the impression of being a Trojan Horse for the West, whose final aim was to destroy Russia, and when Russia built a fantasy around the destruction of the West and the weakening of the EU. That is the situation. We can deplore it, we can continue to jockey for position, but it is not in our best interest to do so. Nor is it in our interest to show a guilty weakness toward Russia and to believe that we should forget all the disagreements and past conflicts, and fall into each other’s arms. No. But I believe we must very carefully rethink the fundamentals. I believe we must build a new architecture based on trust and security in Europe, because the European continent will never be stable, will never be secure, if we do not ease and clarify our relations with Russia. That is not in the interest of some of our allies, let’s be clear about that. Some of them will urge us to impose more sanctions on Russia because it is in their interest. Even though they are our friends. But it is most certainly not in ours. And I believe that to achieve the goal that I just mentioned, that is, to rebuild a real European project in a world that is at risk of bipolarization, to succeed at forming a common front between the EU and Russia, it is vital to think of those concentric circles that are structuring Europe and creating a new relationship with Russia. To achieve this, as I said to President Putin last week in Brégançon, we must move forward one step at a time. Each day you will see evidence that we are not moving in that direction. That will be the case each day, because actors on both sides, including the Russian side, will try to undermine this project; because there are many actors in the services, in the economic sector, who will try to disrupt this effort through attacks and provocations.
We must be intractable when our sovereignty or that of our partners is under threat. But we must strategically explore paths to such a rapprochement and set our strong conditions along them. It is about solving deadlocked conflicts on the European continent, and together rethinking conventional, nuclear, biological and chemical arms control, because look at the situation we have been plunged into. We are in a Europe where we left the arms issue under the control of treaties that predated the end of the Cold War between the United States and Russia. Is that a Europe that thinks about its destiny and builds? I personally do not think so, and we must therefore have this dialogue with Russia. The end of the INF Treaty requires us to have this dialogue, because the missiles would return to our territory. Third issue: together we must consider a space strategy. Incidentally, in the past we have done this, and on the issue of space, as far as I know, our main allies are not American. Together we must think up a cyber strategy; we are very far from doing so.
Attacks occur every day, but we must be able to explain them in public without naivety, talk about this and tirelessly seek to rebuild an agenda of trust. And we must also have a real strategic discussion in order to create the conditions for technological sovereignty – I believe this verydeeply – at industrial level in the broad sense. None of this is obvious, none of it is easy, and every day you will have evidence for not going in that direction. I ask you not to give in to provocations, always to defend our interests, our sovereignty, to remain strong, but I very strongly believe that we must also fundamentally reshuffle the cards through frank and stringent dialogue with Russia. And I want us to pursue this axis, because it is essential to succeed in obtaining results and a true European strategy.
This is what the Ministers for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Minister for the Armed Forces will do when they visit Moscow in a few days’ time to resume the 2+2 dialogue. This is what we are pursuing through constant dialogue with President Putin, and we will set up this working group to move forward on this common architecture. And obviously one of the decisive issues for making progress in this direction is our ability to make headway on the Russia-Ukraine conflict and therefore on implementing the Minsk agreements. In this regard, recent discussions have shown concrete steps forward that will prompt us, together with the Chancellor, to propose a new Normandy-format summit over the next days.
I imagine the doubt that may exist when some of you listen to me, but I ask you to move along this path, again without naivety, because I profoundly believe it is the right one. And to complete my point, I would ask you to think collectively about Russia’s possible strategy for itself.
Look at that great country: it has gained room for manoeuvre thanks to our weaknesses. In the past five years Russia has played an unprecedented role in every major conflict; it has played an unprecedented role because the United States of America, Britain and France have been weak. We set red lines, they were crossed and we did not take action. They understood this very well, they advanced, and so we cannot shun people when we are weak: we must choose an approach. And it is not in our interest to take a heavy-handed approach to our neighbour. In the current situation, Russia has maximized all its interests: it has returned to Syria, it has returned to Libya, it has returned to Africa, it is present in every crisis because of our weaknesses or mistakes. But will this situation continue? I do not think so, and if I were in the Russians’ shoes – which is always the question we must ask ourselves – I would pause for thought, because that great power, which invests a great deal in arming itself and frightens us so much, has the gross domestic product of Spain, a declining demographic, an ageing population and growing political tension. Do you think anyone can last like that? I do not think Russia’s destiny is to be the minority ally of China, and so at a given moment we must also, through this stringent dialogue and the conditions we set, offer a strategic option to that country, which will inevitably face the issue, inevitably, and it is up to us to prepare it and make progress on this point.
Our role as a balancing power must also be played in Asia. China has changed, the world with it, and we must build the Euro-Chinese partnership of the 21st century. And our country, together with Germany and the UK, has a historic role to play within Europe in this regard. So on this point too we have set down important milestones in recent months, in particular during the Chinese President’s visit to Paris, where, for the first time, we took responsibility to engage in frank, sincere, constructive dialogue but also to adopt a European strategy. China has a real diplomatic genius for playing on our divisions and weakening us. That is why I chose to invite Chancellor Merkel and President Juncker on that visit for the first time, and for the first time we had a genuine – not just Franco-Chinese but also Sino-European – strategic agenda.
And I think it is essential to systematically bear this European approach in mind by working on the basis of three key priorities: an economic and trade agenda which is part of the multilateral framework but enables us to endorse full results, particularly in terms of reciprocity – that word is often forbidden in this context, but ultimately it is a reality, as our businesses know all too well, and we have interests to champion in several areas, from civil nuclear energy to agrifoods to aeronautics; a multilateral agenda focused on climate and biodiversity, and China has very much become our ally on this multilateral agenda, changing the game in an unprecedented way. There was an unprecedented moment for the pact, the Carbon Neutrality Coalition for 2050, when, on the sidelines of the Osaka summit, the foreign ministers signed a strategic document in which China committed itself with us to this agenda when, a few weeks earlier, many Europeans had still been hesitating; and lastly, a Eurasian agenda enabling better convergence between the Chinese Belt and Road initiative and Europe’s connectivity strategy. This edifice must be built respectfully, stringently. We respect China’s interests and sovereignty, but China must also fully respect our sovereignty and unity, and in this regard, European momentum is essential. We made some major mistakes on this issue 10 years ago.
In the way it dealt with the economic and financial crisis, Europe pushed several countries into forced privatizations without a European option and itself decided methodically to reduce its sovereignty by handing over a number of essential infrastructures in southern Europe to the Chinese. We will not criticize the Chinese for being intelligent; we can criticize ourselves for being stupid. Let’s not continue that approach. I also ask you to mobilize fully to build a French strategy in the Indo-Pacific axis, and it is complementary to this China strategy.
If we want to be respected by China, we must first take a European approach, as I have just said, but we must also carry weight with the powers of the region. This is essential. It means that we must first act as an Indo-Pacific power: France has more than a million inhabitants in the region because of its overseas territories, we have more than 8,000 soldiers, we are the one of the region’s main maritime powers, among the only ones conducting real military operations in the China Sea and on those oceans. And until now we have under-exploited this in every respect. And so we must revisit that region, firstly by confirming that we are a power there, but also by developing an alliance which is, as it were, complementary – non-confrontational but complementary – to this relationship with China through that Indo-Pacific axis.
I was able to announce last year, in India then in Australia – our partners on the issue are India, Australia, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore, each on different axes according to complementary approaches, but we must translate this Indo-Pacific agenda strategically – we have rolled it out in military terms, and we must further strengthen it, but the Minister set it out at the Shangri-La [Dialogue] meeting a few months ago. We must now roll it out fully at diplomatic level too, by re-allocating our forces, which have not been adapted for that agenda: our official development aid, our investments in the world, in which that region has not always been the most privileged, and we have not joined up all the agendas, as it were. But I would also like us to roll it out in terms of the economy, climate and technology. We have key climate partners in the region, because there are many vulnerable countries. We also have partners on one of the important challenges – and I will come back to this in a moment – namely the technological challenge.
If we want to make a success of sovereignty in terms of technology and connectivity, we must take action on the Indo-Pacific axis. The sovereignty not only of submarine cables but of 5G and other technologies will also be built through these geographical alliances, because a number of countries there fear just one thing: having submarine cables controlled by the Chinese, and solely Chinese technologies. We are allies in this strategy, and in this regard they have genuine complementarity with, and an agenda aligned with, Europe. And so there are many areas of fruitful cooperation between the Indo-Pacific axis and what we want to do at national and European level.
Those are some of the broad geographical priorities which, in my view, enable us to create this balancing power, beyond the crisis management I was talking about.
The second priority is to work on building European sovereignty. I have emphasized this point several times. It is central to the European project I share with many people in this room. This European sovereignty is not an empty word. I believe we have long made the mistake of leaving the word “sovereignty” to nationalists. Sovereignism is a good word. It conveys what is at the heart of our democracy and our Republic, namely the fact that ultimately, the people are sovereign. They decide. But if we lose control of everything, this sovereignty leads nowhere. And the democratic paradox is that people can, in full sovereignty, choose leaders who no longer have control over anything. And so the responsibility of today’s leaders is also to create the conditions to take control of their destiny and their peoples’ future, in order to be responsible and take action.
Europe in recent decades has built itself as a tremendous area of openness, friendship, peace and breaking down sovereignty. We are the most open and the most naïve market. We are benevolent but – contrary to what some of the friends I was with yesterday may say – we are not the most closed area commercially or on any other level: far from it. And we have lost the thread of our sovereignty at European level. We have not lost it nationally, militarily, economically or otherwise, but we must rethink it at European level, very thoroughly, because only at European level can we build it on many issues, whether it be digital technology, the climate or many others.
This European sovereignty must involve an ambitious agenda that is also central to what the European Commission President said of our project in her speech to the European Parliament, and to what we must build over the next five years. And this European sovereignty agenda must also, in my view, very much include Britain. Whatever the outcome of Brexit, it is essential that we continue to think about our sovereignty with Britain. At military and strategic level, on all issues. There is obviously the defense of our short-term interests, the rules that must be complied with, the sovereignty and unity of Europe. But there too, history and geography have their realities. A form of determinism. And so we must include it in this consideration. But it is essential to think about European sovereignty.
Firstly on the issue of defence. Look how far we’ve come in the last two years. We had made no progress on European defence since the 1950s. It was even forbidden, not even considered. We can have more defence sovereignty, moreover, without renouncing our national sovereignty and our strategic and operational autonomy. We have established enhanced defence cooperation, a European Defence Fund and a European Intervention Initiative. I heard all kinds of phrases nearly two years ago at the Sorbonne when I proposed this European Intervention Initiative. Nonsense, French folly, he’ll never achieve it. I am telling you as an example of what I mean by being bold. Well, the European Intervention Initiative was signed on 14 July. On our national holiday, we had the signatory countries around the table, in the stand in front of our fellow citizens and armed forces, and around the table here. Britain was there, Germany, all the signatories. I ask you to think about that. Not only Finland but also Estonia. Greece now wants to join. What does this mean?
It means those European countries previously most nervous about defence issues – some of which had sometimes thought they would be protected only through a special relationship with Russia and others only through a relationship with NATO – believe Europe is going to regain sovereignty in defence terms. This is not an initiative aimed at challenging NATO, but it is very much complementary to it because it also gives us back room for manoeuvre and strategic autonomy. I believe this military sovereignty is essential, including in the context of the tension over arms control I mentioned earlier.
Sovereignty also means the sovereignty we must rethink on our borders. I have just said a few words because earlier I mentioned demographic and migration issues. We must be more capable of protecting our borders. And I am also asking you to play an extremely active role on this. Indeed, since 2015 Europe has been experiencing an unprecedented migration crisis, whose origins in 2015 and today are radically different. A geopolitical crisis in the Levant first of all, deep imbalances in Africa and the Libya crisis. Today we must get over this constant management of migration emergencies. We must establish a sustainable disembarkation mechanism on the basis of what we endorsed in Paris in July with the UNHCR and IOM, again through the work of the Foreign and Interior Ministers. It is essential. We must also quickly resume the screening we began in Paris in August 2017, which has brought results.
Structured dialogue between European countries and the countries on the Mediterranean’s southern shore, mainly to achieve four goals: to prevent departures and speed up the repatriation of those not eligible to come to Europe and then enjoy asylum protection; to step up the fight against human trafficking, which is central to a battle we must have and which we often forget in our debates; to open up direct access channels from third countries for those entitled to our protection, so that those entitled to asylum do not risk their lives but enjoy this protection as close to their countries as possible; and to enable those trapped in Libya to return to their countries of origin with the support of the International Organization for Migration, the African Union and the European Union.
We did this a little during the crisis at the end of 2017. But we do not know how to do it in the long term. And I have to say, it is our fault collectively. Here too, we have a methodology, we have deep-seated administrative convictions, both at the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, which mean we tend not to want to budge on these issues. There are all kinds of theories: the pull effect, the... we must reconsider all this dogma. I have been saying this since the summer of 2017. And we ourselves are not doing it. I myself will get more involved in this issue, because I do not believe inertia on this point is in our interest. I say this in a context in which France is becoming the leading European country in terms of asylum applications. Let’s not be naive. Our problem is not the people who take to boats in Libya. It is not the unacceptable scenes that we are experiencing in humanitarian terms. It is all the people who come in via all our European neighbours, who have already started to seek asylum elsewhere and who come because we are quite a badly organized country in this respect, and we are not effective or humane enough on this. We must very much intensify our work on it. Very quickly, in addition to these two issues of borders and defence, we need to think about and organize this European sovereignty, to rebuild real sovereignty with regard to industry and the climate. And I am deliberately linking these two words.
Europe has been great at crafting a competitive strategy. It is very effective for creating more innovation, and more competition, and protecting consumers. It is important not to lose this quality. However, we have neglected our industrial strategy. And we have created conditions for our industrial and technological dependence regarding many issues. Therefore, in a future strategy, we must rethink this industrial strategy, which is linked to the climate agenda as a matter of fact. Because tomorrow’s industry will only be compatible with this agenda. This means Europe should invest in research and investment much more massively and particularly in new industrial sectors, re-establish rules for competition that are compatible with this industrial sovereignty, and consider it important to assess champions in the light of the relevant market, which is now a global market across all its sectors. This means Europe should decide to adopt a genuine climate or industrial strategy and establish a real carbon price that is high enough to encourage the transition that our stakeholders are making and a real tariff at borders to avoid unfair competition of stakeholders that are not making the same transition.
For too long, we have been divided in our action on this issue. It is essential that we re-establish this sovereignty if we are to continue to have genuine sovereignty in the future regarding these issues and continue to produce our power plants, our environmental climate services, our aircraft and defence technologies and all of our industry. That is essential. And in this strategy, I obviously include the technological sovereignty that we must pursue.
And what is our choice when it comes to 5G? Choosing between American and Chinese technology? I am deeply convinced that we must defend genuine European sovereignty regarding this point, without condemning anyone. That is what we decided to do in France with the choices the Prime Minister made with the ministers, so as to determine that in the most sensitive sectors, we needed to control the components and to prevent our telecommunications companies from being too dependent on certain technologies.
In doing so we triggered a genuine European movement. Our partners reconsidered a number of their requirements. We now need to craft a proper strategy along with European stakeholders. We also need to rethink our economic and financial sovereignty. I spoke of Iran earlier. We can continue to defend our Iran agenda with pride. Why do we find ourselves in this situation? Because there is a de facto extraterritoriality of the dollar. Because our companies, even when we decide to protect them and take them forward, are dependent on the dollar. I am not saying that we need to fight the dollar, but we need to build real economic and financial sovereignty of the euro. And we have moved too slowly in this area as well. And what we need to build on is a strengthening, a greater integration of the Euro Area, a greater integration of financial markets of the Euro Area and stakeholders, and a capacity to build everything that truly establishes financial and monetary sovereignty. We are not there yet. And it is essential.
We also need to create digital sovereignty. We have made a great deal of progress on this point, with an unprecedented regulation at European level, protecting individual data, and several of our friends have followed suit. But we need to go even further. And pursue reflection in terms of taxation and data protection. And the European level is the right one for doing this. And cultural sovereignty is also crucial to conducting the project I spoke of earlier. We have successfully defended copyrights but are working on a much more extensive project with regard to European heritage, culture and European knowledge. What we have launched to develop universities and the circulation of artworks and major European cultural projects is crucial, because it is through this means that we can find the strength and inspiration of the project we spoke about earlier. And it is also a sovereignty factor. Because sovereignty sparks Europe’s imagination. And this means considering that the novels and dreams that our fellow citizens have the right to have, read and share, films and performances, must be able to be part of a creative world that is ours, of artists that are ours, and they must not simply have a choice of imported products and creative worlds that do not have our deep roots. I believe that this strategy is absolutely essential, and it should also result in working together and reinvesting in linguistic sovereignty in Europe.
I will not speak about Francophonie, of which I extensively spoke in March 2018 at the Académie Française. It is important to see this strategy all over the world, but it is essential to reinvest in this strategy on a European level. Things may not always make sense. But if after Brexit we were to decide that English will be Europe’s only working language, it would be strange. I think that we truly have a card to play, which is reinventing education in discussion forums. It will require hard work for this European strategy to be successful. You have seen that this sovereignty strategy clearly goes hand in hand with this balancing power strategy.
I am also asking you to reinvest in bilateral work. Sometimes I am surprised to see that Europe has been left to specialists. We need them and they have tremendous attributes. But we clearly need to establish this articulation between the essential interministerial work being done on European issues permeating our daily lives. It must be coordinated. The Prime Minister’s staff is doing this. But I think that we need to reinvest in bilateral dialogue. It rounds out European dialogue. This is because it gives us back room for manoeuvre. I say this to you because this is what I have been doing for the past two years. I have made 20 bilateral visits to European Union countries in two years. Sometimes I returned to countries that presidents haven’t visited in the past 15 to 20 years, which is crazy. And when we reinvest in bilateral action, we sometimes find that we have disengaged in this relationship on a political, cultural and often educational level because French is becoming less popular in many of these countries, etc. However, above all this gives us back room for manoeuvre in the European arena. We manage to find alliances in the Council when we reinvest in bilateral relationships. And I have to say that Germany has been much more effective than us over the past 15 years in this respect. That is why it is important to speak with all groups. We must reinvest in dialogue with Baltic countries, Eastern countries, the Visegrád Group, countries in the Southern Mediterranean region. I think that this is crucial and I am asking you to re-engage extensively.
I also think that we need to successfully reinvest in all the technical issues with a diplomatic angle, and I’ll come back to this point at the end of my speech. It is one of the biggest challenges in our contemporary diplomatic work. Issues are becoming increasingly technical. Therefore, at a time when issues are becoming increasingly technical, there is a risk that we could lose sight of the big picture. And that they are dealt with solely by technicians of particular ministries or people less experienced in technical areas and who therefore know less about them. There could thus be discrepancies. Excuse me for going into such detail on how things are done, but this is how we produce effective results. With regard to digital technology issues, if a diplomat with a general background deals with them, he or she is less effective than a digital technology specialist. And we have tried both scenarios, and I can tell you, there is no comparison. However, if a digital technology specialist works alone in the digital technology field, he or she loses sight of the diplomatic big picture and our interests. We need to find a way to combine their skills effectively. And I think that this is crucial when it comes to Europe. And this is how we can reinvest in areas in which we have lost a lot of ground; they are the subjects of European standards and what enables us to define these sovereignty factors.
Lastly, with regard to Europe, I would like to ask you to reinvest geographically in the Western Balkans. In July, I visited Serbia and some of you accompanied me. I think the last presidential visited dated back to 2001, which is crazy. And when I look at what we are investing on a cultural level, for example, we invest much fewer government funds than in less strategic countries located further from us, at a time when a great deal is expected of us. And to have a European strategy also means to think about Europe’s borders, our margins, our neighbouring countries which really love us and where we should reinvest so as to not allow non-European powers to take action instead of us. If not, the fate of the Western Balkans will be decided by the United States, Russia and Turkey. There again, Germany has a more efficient and strategic approach than us, I must say. I would like us to reallocate resources to this area and become more effective.
The third priority I would like to discuss with you is that of establishing a renewed partnership with the Mediterranean region and Africa. I will not discuss all the geographical areas, I assure you, but I would like to cover a number of points that I was not able to discuss at length with you in my last two speeches and would now like to expound upon. Basically, this partnership is our strategic neighbourhood policy. But it is extremely important to pursue and relaunch it. I am not going to discuss Syria or Libya. I spoke about them at length at yesterday’s press conference. We are working closely on these crisis issues, which we deal with on a daily basis. We are deeply engaged. It was a key issue at the G7 summit, and a priority I discussed. Nor will I speak about the Middle East peace process. The work on this issue must simply be continued and completely relaunched. Why haven’t I decided to take initiatives? Because I think that the necessary conditions have not been met in the region. I think that initiatives that come from the other side of the world are, generally speaking, not very successful. But I am also convinced of one thing: the status quo is not working and cannot persist. As I have said many times, we have our opinions on this issue; France’s position has never been refuted. I believe that together with a few of our allies, we will need to work innovatively to find an effective solution, and we are not there yet.
I would simply like to speak briefly about the Southern Mediterranean region and Africa regarding this partnership. We have very deep and long-standing cultural and civilization-related ties with the Southern Mediterranean region. And Europe, starting with France, cannot succeed if we do not rethink and re-establish these ties. In today’s world, we only speak of the Southern Mediterranean region in terms of migration – this humanitarian tragedy that I have already mentioned – or protection measures we need to organize. There again, we could see a weakening of the geopolitical and domestic situation. Because when we speak of the Southern Mediterranean region and Africa, we are also speaking of France. I reiterated this point during the commemorations in August. France holds within it a piece of Africa, as it was African combatants who saved our country and our liberty. And we have shared destinies, despite the fact that we are also bound by dark chapters and suffering. So in the Maghreb today, we are naturally paying close attention to the situation, to the messages from the Algerian people, to the hugely sensitive current situation in Tunisia. At President Essebsi’s funeral, I saw at first-hand the close ties between France and the people and the nation of Tunisia at this critical time. Always while respecting their sovereignty and the friendship which unites us. We must put these ties to use once again, in a new, balanced way. Without the frills of colonialism or anti-colonialism. I sincerely believe that this can be achieved through increased dialogue between our civil societies.
That is why I wanted to announce in Tunis this Summit of the Two Shores, and thus dialogue between civil, academic and entrepreneurial societies and of course governments, to try to revitalize our two shores, given the links between us, but also no doubt between the countries of the Southern shore. Because what we should now focus on is that the Maghreb is no longer a geopolitical reality, that there are deep divisions between the countries, which weakens them and hinders their development. In June, we held an initial summit in Marseille and I hope that together, we can continue this work and that all of you can be fully committed and seek to encourage new dialogue among these civil societies, intellectuals, and artists.
I must say that in Marseille in June, I was struck by the vitality of this dialogue among the countries which contributed. In particular, there were extraordinarily inspiring young people from Libya, Tunisia and Mauritania, proposing cooperation and ties which nobody had thought of and which are not seen in intergovernmental dialogue. And I believe that this is fertile ground and I want us to embark on it together. Our destiny also goes hand in hand with Africa’s. We are already hugely active but we must continue to do more, in an effort to continue what I called a mutual shift in outlook.
In Africa, we are taking military action – I have already talked to you about this several times in the past so I will be brief, but our action continues. We are taking action in crisis-hit areas, the Libyan crisis which I mentioned, which saw strong progress at this G7 with agreement on an international conference and the inter-Libyan conference, by bringing together African states which up to now had been sceptical about this process, but with which we are working closely. And of course, there is the Sahel. This is an essential theatre of operations for our armies, it is an issue on which, a little over five years ago, France played a key role in avoiding the rise of jihadism and preventing it from taking root. And were it not for France’s quick decision to take action, were it not for the excellence of our armed forces, the situation would probably not be as it currently is in the Sahel. However, it is clear to see that today the situation in the Sahel is becoming unstable and terrorism is on the increase. This is now beginning in the Gulf of Guinea and the Lake Chad region. But we must be careful when discussing terrorism in this region because it does not have the same characteristics as the territorial caliphate which we saw in the Levant. And it is also terrorist groups taking advantage of ethnic divisions and the economic situation and it is, if I may say, a very specific situation to Africa.
However, we must now support the sovereign states of this region. And so against this backdrop, we will naturally continue to take strong action through Operation Barkhane, as always we will be operationally mobile, but it is essential that this be coupled with fresh commitment from our African partners, which we have sought through both the G5 Sahel and the Sahel Alliance, the military pillar and the development pillar, and through the increased commitment from the international community and neighbouring states, as we saw the day before yesterday with Chancellor Merkel and President Kaboré in this new Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel, which helps Gulf of Guinea states re-engage. These states were spectators but are now starting to feel the effects of this conflict, which allows partnerships between African states on this subject and also allows involvement from the international community on this security issue to help each of them.
But Africa represents much more for us, it is our essential ally so that Europe can continue to play its full role in global affairs, and in an address in Ouagadougou in November 2017, we laid the foundations of the new partnership which we will need to meet our major future challenges, and it is on this basis that we must continue. And here too, I am asking you to perform a difficult job, but one which I believe absolutely essential, to transform our own action, the relationship with our African partners and our methods.
First by assisting Africa with its ongoing regional projects and integration – I believe we must play a part in this change. This is why we support ECOWAS as it moves towards a single currency, because up to now there have been obstacles from our perspective and tensions from theirs. It will be a long path and nothing is certain, but I think that France would be making a historical contribution to help West Africa truly achieve economic and monetary integration. This is also why we support the African Union’s project to move towards an African Continental Free Trade Area. This is also why we have once again asked the African Union to work with us on every conflict, to lead operations and support this strategy of UN operations working in close partnership with the African Union. This is also why, with regard to the most sensitive political issues, and sometimes the most complex situations of democratic and political transition, I admit that we have adopted a strategy of peer pressure and not of direct expression or lecturing on what should be done.
I have sometimes been criticized for my silence, but this silence has never been synonymous with inaction. It is built through meticulous strategies of alliances with other African leaders so that action can be taken. And I believe that in the DRC, this strategy has reaped rewards – I don’t know if it helped achieve everything sought from a democratic point of view, but it enabled what was desirable as regards a transfer of power. And on many other contentious issues, such as Togo for a while, and others which will come in the future, I believe that this strategy is the common thread which must inspire us. But more broadly, I believe that what we want is to no longer have a relationship with Africa based on a sentiment of, or sometimes realities of, asymmetry. And this means creating our strategies with our African partners, moving them forward with our African partners and reinvesting these strategies with them and for them.
It is for this reason that we added a major sporting component to the Ouagadougou Agenda, with a partnership with basketball and football federations, as well as Olympic federations and countries. We addressed cultural issues, broaching the vast issue of returning works of art, which is essential to help many of these states rebuild and rethink their stories, and to do so in collaboration with France. This is also why we wanted to reopen the issue of education – here too on new foundations. And I take full responsibility for the university reform which was undertaken because it was coupled with a responsible educational strategy.
Up to now, we have accepted everyone in France free of charge, which was great, and we had a system which was in fact post-colonial, to use the fine words employed by some. Because we used to say to all students in many countries, “Do you want to go into higher education? Then come to France, you’ll have great opportunities.” And we thus recognized that it was impossible for them to even do a degree in their own countries. We have adopted a strategy that says that higher education comes with a cost, and I think that is fair. But our price is 10 to 20 times less than that of the Canadians, many other Europeans or the Americans. We have made efforts as regards scholarships, meaning that university registrations have not reduced this year. But alongside that, we have reinvested in a strategy of educational partnerships, particularly in Africa, for the first time by opening up university degrees in countries which have been our allies for many decades and by allowing students to do courses in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, as strange as it may seem, and offering them in Tunisia and Algeria. And I think that this is the true path of development for this partnership, for our teachers to disseminate our educational strength, to allow educational development in these countries and to have a true strategic alliance and no hegemony.
This is also what we want in economic terms, a thought for this new African partnership. The initiative known as AFAWA, which was announced a few days ago for female entrepreneurship, was devised by Africans with the African Development Bank. We are financing it. And therefore what I call a shift in outlook, i.e. that we ourselves must take action and work in a different way with Africans for themselves, to think out their action with them and consider that the most advanced actions must be carried out with Africans in Africa. And I have two examples of this: for me, climate transition is one of the strategic focuses of the action which we must take with Africa, because Africans are the main victims of climate change and because they can be the main players in implementing transition. The Desert to Power Initiative by the African Development Bank and World Bank must be at the heart of the relationship which the French Development Agency has with these structures, and which naturally plays an essential role therein, and this is what we were able to launch and develop, e.g. a few months ago in Burkina Faso. And it is this same strategy in Africa which we must have as regards innovation.
It is also for that reason that innovation will be the main theme of the Africa-France summit which we will host in Bordeaux in 2020. It is a means of acknowledging that ultimately, the continent’s future must be prepared in Africa, with the people of Africa. I believe that on this issue, this line, which is sometimes delicate for us, is an essential strategy and the most effective. We must not fall into the trap of making Africa a theatre of influence. Today, there are Chinese, Japanese and Turkish strategies in Africa, each with their own approaches, and of course an American strategy in Africa. I sincerely believe that ours must not be a strategy of market share and influence, of predatory hegemony, which is sometimes at the core of some of the projects which I have just mentioned. No, our strategy must be to reinvent a partnership, because we have sometimes made mistakes in the past. So we can draw inspiration and learn from our past mistakes. I believe that this is the only line to take. Naturally, I will not talk about this point for all issues, and I think it is important to maintain the strategies which we have on our other continental plates.
The fourth priority that I wanted to come back to here and which is an essential issue for me is to, through concrete results, establish diplomacy based on global commons and to try through the multilateral framework to do our best to provide an answer to the world’s imbalances and the inequality I mentioned earlier. To achieve this, we first need to focus our efforts back on the multilateral framework. This is often said when talking about strong multilateralism. Some would like to build things outside the multilateral framework, working on the idea that they can do better by deciding for themselves. I do not think that this is in our best interest. And the big risk is that an alternative multilateral framework may be built by others, particularly China, as this is at the heart of the Chinese strategy. I therefore believe that if we want to achieve proper results through this diplomacy of global commons, we must adopt this strong multilateralism, be present and strong within multilateral forums like we are at the UN, revitalize and innovate in forums that are in crisis such as the WTO. This is the commitment that we have decided to take on.
If we do not innovate at the WTO, the WTO will cease to exist. We must also find new allies. This is what we are trying to achieve with the initiative on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, with an alliance for a new type of multilateralism, as well as through our work with Germany. Not only will we bring together European powers but also democratic powers with goodwill and who share this vision of the world and are sensitive to such balances. I believe that this strategy is absolutely essential if we want to maintain these multilateral structures, fully revitalize them and promote their ideas, or at least permeate them. But beyond that, on many global commons issues, we need to see results in the coming months.
The most urgent is, of course, the climate and biodiversity. I believe that the next year is absolutely crucial for this. Many things are changing. As regards global warming, as I said, we know the American position, but has this weakened our international diplomatic game? I believe it has not. We have managed to convince Russia to ratify the Paris Agreement, a process which has been on hold since Russia signed the Agreement. As I mentioned, we have convinced India to join the 2050 Carbon Neutrality Coalition. So things are starting to change quite radically. The forthcoming events will be important. The UN Secretary-General’s climate summit in September, the COP in Chile in December, the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille in June 2020 and then the biodiversity COP in Beijing in October. We must continue to make practical progress and work within coalitions on these issues.
Firstly as regards financing: at the G7, I announced that we would be doubling France’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund. In total, and through the commitments by Germany and the United Kingdom, €4.8 billion was committed. I ask you to do all you can to obtain individual contributions to the replenishment of the Green Climate Fund. We aim, in September, to reach a new level on involvement of all the actors of the financial system to ensure that they include climate risks in their investment decisions. Without this, we won’t be able to scale up the ecological transition. As you are aware, France received this mandate together with Jamaica on this issue of financing. We must therefore use our entire diplomatic toolbox to achieve this result. This will also be the objective of the One Planet Summit created by France and held annually since December 2017 and which will be organized on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly. In addition to financing issues, we must make progress on the Carbon Neutrality Coalition which I mentioned earlier and which we also promoted at the G7.
The priority for this is to make progress at European level according to the directions set out by the new Commission President. I recall that in March there were two of us, and in China in May there were eight European countries involved. We have now convinced many others and I believe that we are going to finish the job in the coming weeks. This will enable us to engage in decisive dialogue on this issue, particularly with China. I mentioned that China made important progress at Osaka on this issue, and I believe that the visit that I will make to China in November should continue to build on the progress on this issue, because, as I mentioned earlier, China has become a key partner. We must also continue the momentum generated by these tangible coalitions. I will not cite each one here, but the vast majority were presented during the G7 summit. They include coalitions on HFC gases, maritime transport and the textiles industry. These tangible groups will help to tackle sectors which have been completely ignored until now. The textiles industry is the second-largest emitter of CO2. No concerted action has been taken until now.
We have managed to mobilize industrial actors, but states must now make commitments to produce the regulatory changes that support this work. We are talking about a sector which produces 8% of emissions and 30% of ocean pollution. As regards HFCs, which are far more polluting than CO2, we have also started an unprecedented strategy with industry stakeholders involving India. We must now see results. As regards maritime transport, we know that this is a polluting industry which is also making commitments, but we must also concentrate on this in international forums and together with our main partners. As regards biodiversity, we know that we must take urgent action and much remains to be done. For the first time, during the G7 summit we signed a charter for biodiversity. This was the tangible result of a first report from the IPBES in the spring. We must now translate this into a concrete agenda. This will be the responsibility of the Marseille summit and especially of the biodiversity COP in China. This work is essential. But the step taken in Biarritz was a historical one. Because the biodiversity charter was not only signed by G7 members but also countries like South Africa and India. On this issue, it would be impossible not to mention what is happening in Brazil, which led to an extremely quick reaction form the G7 members and all powers present. I was able to present the Amazon initiative yesterday with President Pinera.
This initiative responds to the urgent needs by using our resources. I would like to thank the Minister of the Interior on this issue as he reacted immediately sending several firefighters in the region straight to the affected areas, as well as providing financial contributions with several other countries which could be the most effective solution, and, above all, involving us straight away in the reforestation. This issue is crucial for each of the Amazon countries and crucial for the planet as a whole, both from a climate change and biodiversity perspective. In this regard, I noted the concerns and what I am sure was clumsiness on the part of several leaders who believe that sovereignty is synonymous with aggressiveness. I believe that this is a fundamental error. We are a sovereign country, but at times of major events we willingly and openly accept international solidarity because it is a sign of friendship. But, above all, there are nine countries in the Amazon. Many other countries have requested our help and it is therefore important to take quick action to ensure that Colombia, Bolivia and all the regions of Brazil that wish to have access to this international assistance may have access and quickly reforest the region.
More generally on these issues, we must consider how to continue this agenda and carry out several initiatives. We are seeing a change in the international framework. The first change is when we speak about the Arctic, Antarctic, oceans, Amazonian forest and African forest, which is burning too, while respecting the sovereignty of the states who have territorial jurisdiction over these regions, we are very clearly speaking about geographical common goods that are inextricably linked to our biodiversity and the climate issue. We must also build good governance and the international framework for useful action. I believe this is essential. Furthermore, we must continue the work we started to create new environmental rights, which has been blocked by many.
The work we started after the working group chaired by Laurent Fabius to build this new international environmental law, and the demarche launched by France, must be resumed. I believe that we must not give up on this and I hope we can get French diplomacy strongly behind this objective once again through a new initiative, because it complements all of the actions that I have just mentioned. Of course, when we talk about global commons, we also include health. I would like to briefly mention that France will be hosting the Replenishment Conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Lyon in October. Our entire diplomacy is expected to be heavily involved in supporting this. At the G7 summit, we added a total of nearly €5 billion in financing to the Fund. I will announce France’s contribution in Lyon, but I would ask you in the meantime to do all you can to meet our objective of €13 billion.
French diplomacy must also work for gender equality. We put it at the heart of the fight against inequality at the G7 summit, but we must continue with genuinely feminist diplomacy. We must recognize the work of the previous G7 presidency, held by Canada, in initiating and inspiring this action. We decided to keep the Advisory Council for Gender Equality and adopted a formal legislative package in accordance with the recommendations made. This work must be continued and stepped up for the conference we will hold in Paris in July 2020, and Beijing in 2025 which will be an important date in terms of results on this issue. The fight against inequality is also a genuine educational agenda. As I have mentioned, it is the common thread between our national and international strategy.
Last year we invested heavily in rebuilding the Global Partnership for Education with our Senegalese friends. We undertook to commit more and we must continue in this vein. It is one of the priorities of the French Development Agency, it is a priority of our work, it should also be a priority for our operational engagement, as I mentioned earlier on the subject of Africa. It will also be one of the priorities which runs deeply through the reform of the Agency for French Education Abroad which the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs will present to you in his speech. This was inspired by work in Parliament written by some of you present here in this room and created in very close collaboration with the Minister for National Education. This will help us not only to develop the French education model, to be able to not only provide the service that we want for our fellow citizens but also to develop teaching in French and teaching with French methods. This strategy is set to continue with a considerable investment in trainer training. I believe that wherever we invest in education we cannot be satisfied with providing loans or buildings, we must also ensure that we are doing enough for high-quality education, and this will be part of our investment strategy. We are giving ourselves the resources to take action on all of these issues. I therefore confirm the commitment that I made to increase France’s official development assistance to 0.55% of GDP by 2022.
This investment of solidarity is at the heart of our strategy; we must now define all the actionable levers and above all make sure that our strategy is coherent with the crucial priorities that I have mentioned. This is the goal I have set myself for the Presidential Council for Development which I will hold in October. The Minister will then present the text that will follow.
The last priority I want to talk to you about is our methods. If we wish to succeed in being a balancing power, rebuilding European sovereignty, obtaining results through a diplomacy of the global commons, and renewing the partnership with Africa and the Mediterranean, I believe that we also need to continue to overhaul our methods. Thanks to your work and your involvement, the G7 summit was an illustration of this method, which I believe in. I raised this point earlier more strategically – it’s about boldness. If France and Europe are audacious in reviewing their thought patterns and reflexes, and renewing their commitment to international bodies, no one else will do it for us. We are the only ones for whom inertia is deadly. Others can have a non-multilateral, unilateral or bilateral strategy, we cannot. So I strongly encourage you to embody this boldness and, to some extent, this wide-ranging freedom of action, in a very simple way.
Firstly, I think it is essential to renew and enhance ties with civil society – as I know many of you are doing – in all of the areas in each of the countries where you represent France, and where bilateral relationships and our understanding of deeper issues are played out. Meetings with artists, intellectuals and creators show the deep divisions in these countries, and help us to understand what politics or the aspects we perhaps focus on too much do not allow us to see. I really believe that this is the contribution that needs to be made by our diplomatic network. It is a very difficult task, I know, but this is where our added value lies. So I ask you to meet all these groups, meet young people – their ideas, their aspirations and their projects – and tell them about France and what makes it unique, attractive and innovative, and also to understand the underlying issues being played out in each of these countries. I firmly believe that this is needed for our diplomacy. I also think that, if we wish to be at the epicentre of efforts to rethink major global trends and act usefully, we must work with civil society, and this is where we need to keep innovating.
This is why, last year, I created the first Paris Peace Forum. The purpose of this Forum is to bring together in Paris, at least once a year, renowned philosophers, think tanks, businesses and governments from around the world, to meet and establish a joint agenda. This work with civil society – with intellectuals and academic circles around the world – is essential if we wish to rebuild ourselves, reflect in the right way on the issues I mentioned earlier, and act usefully through the right channels. We were able to make progress on the Internet information protection agenda at the G7 summit because we worked closely with Reporters Without Borders, because they launched this initiative at the Paris Peace Forum last year, and because we have continued our work in this field. In sowing these seeds, we create ideas that we would not have come up with ourselves, we follow through, and we gain partners for our own diplomacy.
And I believe that this work with civil society should not just be a box to be ticked. It is how we rebuild our deep understanding of a country, France’s deeper understanding in these countries, but it is also a useful action for us and at the international level. Because working with civil society in each of these countries helps to ensure that our actions are mirrored in these countries. For this reason, when we talk about the Amazon, we will continue working with indigenous peoples, regions and non-governmental organizations, because they will also put pressure on governments, including when they are tempted by obscurantism. This work is central to the effectiveness of our diplomacy. But, over and above this, I am asking you to step up your intellectual audacity and operational tenacity. Think outside the box. I have shared with you some of my convictions; I expect you to share them and act effectively to build on them. But I also think that you should be proactive; you need to help those in Paris – directorates, ministries, government and myself – rethinking these changing equilibriums.
Contemporary diplomacy is changing, and sometimes we remain bogged down in trench warfare. Be proactive, be audacious, make proposals. And make sure you have that operational effectiveness that establishes our credibility in building and encouraging initiatives everywhere, at the bilateral and multilateral levels, and in obtaining results. I think that this is a very useful element. This audacious and changing diplomacy is essential if we wish to rebuild. As I said, we have taken steps to attempt to convince the Americans that solving the issue of international trade is not just about waging trade wars. But this only applies if we ourselves manage to reform the World Trade Organization. Basically, what I am asking you is to no longer be experts, but to be connoisseurs and friends of the people in the countries you are in, and inventors of a new kind of diplomacy. In tomorrow’s world, we will still need technical experts, but if we have experts everywhere, we will be stuck in yesterday’s world, because, by definition, experts specialize in what already exists. So I need experts on some topics, in-depth connoisseurs, but also friends – because that is what I think is necessary – entrepreneurs and diplomatic innovators. It is not just a whim, this is what we really need.
Lastly, as the Minister will state, and as the Prime Minister will reiterate, there have been many changes which have affected your lives, but when are we actually effective? I think it is the underlying purpose of our diplomacy when the entire French state works towards the same end. This covers a whole lot of organizational issues; it is not for me to go into them. I know that there were a lot of discussions on whether economic services would be at the Quai d’Orsay, not at the Quai d’Orsay, whether climate diplomacy would be this or that. I know what implications these decisions have in terms of organization and, sometimes, budget. But I think that, above all, we must be effective. So if we want to be effective, France must have a single voice everywhere, it must be at the top of its game in each of these areas, and it must have the necessary resources and act as a team. As I said earlier, we need assemblers that support this strategy and who are supported by effective specialists. If the assembler does not understand the issues, he or she is useless; if the specialist does not have the overall strategy, he or she can be dangerous. As we all want a consistent and effective strategy, I think that these organizational improvements are essential if we are to have our say concerning the digital agenda, the cyber agenda, the space agenda, and the major industrial and technological standards agenda, which is also central to tomorrow’s diplomacy. Here also, I would like us to really innovate.
When I look at how others operate, I think that we need organizations that, over time, allow us to better understand people, countries and regional transitions. But we also need organizational mobility, so that when we have priorities, we can create project teams that focus all their energy on the project at hand and, in some cases, lead us to review our priorities. There is no point in having an army for trench warfare if the war we are fighting is a war of movement. This means we must also reconsider our reflexes. This is not only true of diplomacy. It is true for the entire State. Like you, I am struck by the fact that, from an organizational point of view, most of our budget, 95%, goes towards recurring expenses. 95% that are often priorities. These are everyday lives. So new priorities are allocated 5% of our time. It cannot work. So we must be more mobile.
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. I know that I’ve taken up a lot of time. However, I haven’t been exhaustive. Over and above the G7 summit in recent days, which was an excellent demonstration of our diplomacy, I wanted to share these convictions with you and present these ideas. Ladies and gentlemen, our diplomacy is strong and consistent. I say this because it must never be forgotten. In comparing ourselves, each time, we have shown that we need to mobilize. We can be proud of this, and I want to emphasize this here.
Our diplomacy is also strong because we have a strong army, a strong state, and I think it is essential that we continue to reflect on ourselves. I want our strong diplomacy to work towards the strategic goal I have just mentioned: in a rapidly changing world, to regain control over our destiny. To give our people back some of the control they are owed, and to breathe new life into the European civilization project we have contributed, politically, strategically, culturally and in terms of imagination.
Our diplomacy has a key role to play in this respect. The new humanism I believe in, which we need to build and which must be central to the government’s strategy, must also be central to our diplomacy. I am counting on you for this every day. I will be as exacting as I am appreciative. And I will always stand alongside you to ensure that France is central to these major issues, that our citizens have strong representatives everywhere, that our interests are defended and, over and above our interests, that our values are upheld everywhere.
Thank you very much.
Long live the Republic, long live France!./.