We’re all aware that the intensity and scale of the very different events that have succeeded one another since January—from the Ivorian crisis to the “Arab Spring,” the Japanese disasters to the fighting in Libya, not to mention the debt crisis—make this an exceptional year.
The time has come to fully evaluate these events and what they mean for France, for the European Union and for the G20.
I want to begin with Africa. 2011 will no doubt go down in history as a year of major progress for democracy on the African continent.
Such progress on the democratic front leads to progress on peace. In Sudan, it was the overwhelming and freely expressed will of all concerned populations that brought an end to a civil war lasting more than 20 years and gave rise to a new, still fragile State: South Sudan. This progress makes the Somali crisis and the famine striking the Horn of Africa all the more unacceptable. The entire world must do more to bring an end to these tragedies.
… these facts offer good reasons for making Africa’s economic rise a real priority for Europe. The proximity of the African continent represents an opportunity for our economies.
The first difference is demographic. The countries of the Soviet empire had completed their demographic transition. In the Arab world, it is only just beginning.
Tomorrow, we will welcome here at the Elysée the new authorities from Tripoli. With all the countries represented, with the UN, the Arab League and the African Union, we will turn the page of dictatorship and fighting, and open a new era of cooperation with democratic Libya.
But beyond that, is there anyone who doesn’t see the relevance of the Union for the Mediterranean when it comes to meeting the expectations of these various peoples? The time has come to revive and reestablish the UfM, and in the coming weeks, France will present its proposals to its partners in that regard. The deadlocked peace process must not prevent the UfM from being the engine of a true Mediterranean renaissance!
That is the aim of initiatives involving the G8’s Deauville Partnership and in the framework of the EU. It is also the aim of our military actions in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya.
We upheld respect for international law; not with words but with deeds. By rallying the Security Council on these two crises, we fleshed out for the first time a principle of action that France succeeded in getting adopted by the UN in 2005: the responsibility to protect.
For the first time, at our behest and on two occasions, in Côte d’Ivoire and in Libya, the Security Council authorized the use of force to protect populations under attack from their own leaders.
One might say—and justifiably so—what about the massacres in Syria? I regret that the Security Council still has not shouldered its responsibilities with respect to the Syrian tragedy. But those in power in Damascus would be wrong to believe they are protected from their own people. The Syrian President has gone beyond the point of no return. France and its partners will do everything legally possible to ensure the triumph of the Syrian people’s aspirations to freedom and democracy.
Another lesson must be drawn today from our intervention in Libya. I refer to France’s return to NATO’s integrated command.
NATO turned out to be a crucial tool in the service of our military operations. As the United States did not want to be too heavily involved in Libya, for the first time since 1949, NATO was placed at the service of a coalition led by two determined European nations, France and the United Kingdom. That was possible only because we assumed our full rule within the integrated command.
Better yet, I would remind those who predicted negative reactions from the Arab world that three countries—the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan—participated in the coalition’s operations from the beginning. As for our Libyan friends, every day they clamored for more NATO actions!
The fighting in Libya provided the best response to prophets of the “clash of civilizations and religions”: Side by side, Arab, European and North American forces helped a suffering people fulfill its yearning for freedom.
One last lesson should be drawn from the Libyan crisis, and it relates to Europe. In this crisis, through the initiative of France and the United Kingdom, the Europeans demonstrated for the first time that they were capable of intervening decisively, with their allies, in a conflict on their doorstep. That is remarkable progress, compared with the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo.
The world is changing. President Obama has presented a new vision of American military involvement whose implication is that Europeans must assume more of their responsibilities. If we don’t draw the consequences from that, if we don’t consider the realities in the world, Europeans will experience a rude awakening.
Europe will have no defense worthy of the word without robust military capabilities and real industrial and technological policies.
The other country I want to talk about is Iran. Its military, nuclear and ballistic ambitions represent a growing threat. They could lead to a preventive attack on Iranian sites, which would spark a major crisis. Iran refuses to negotiate seriously and is engaging in new provocations.
This new context, which combines the hopes inspired by the “Arab Spring” with threats from the Sahel to Iran, does not in any way detract from the relevance of the old crises, starting with the Israeli-Arab conflict. On the contrary, it makes a settlement more urgent.
The only real security is peace. It’s primarily through the creation of the Palestinian State that we will achieve it. And Israel, which has an unalienable right to existence and security, will be the main beneficiary.
The parameters of the settlement are well-known; President Obama recently reiterated them very effectively. It’s on this basis that the peace negotiation must be relaunched and all parties must understand that it is in their interest.
If we don’t succeed, the member States of the United Nations will be called upon to take a position on the State of Palestine in a few weeks in New York. I hope that the 27 countries of the European Union will speak with one voice and that together we will assume our responsibilities.
The role of the United States is indisputable and essential, but everyone knows that it’s not enough. We must expand the negotiating circle, examine the role and the relevance of the Quartet, give everyone the place they deserve in terms of their relations with the parties. We should bear in mind that the EU is Israel’s top economic partner and the leading aid donor to the Palestinians.
For 60 years, the EU has been developing a new form of collegial governance based on compromise. Today, Europe still remains the main proactive force with respect to building the world order for the 21st century, often on France’s initiative.
Everyone now feels that the lack of a balanced and representative international monetary system is detrimental to the global economy. Since the conference in Nanjing we’ve made a great deal of progress. We now have a precise and concrete agenda defined by the French presidency.
The international monetary system must first and foremost be representative of the current global economy. The SDR must be able to include new currencies.
The famine in the Horn of Africa, which required emergency action with the FAO, and the suffering of almost a billion humans as a result of constant malnutrition are outrageous; but these outrages will cease only when the world reinvests in agricultural production on a massive scale.
Globalization is the dominant phenomenon of our time. Its effects now extend to every sphere of activity, to all parts of our planet. The resulting interconnection of economic, financial, social, political and environmental systems at the global level is accompanied by increased instability and growing vulnerabilities.
As we face these risks, there is but a single response: solidarity and a sense of responsibility. That is the path France proposes to its EU partners and to the G20. With one conviction: If we are divided, incapable of taking the necessary decisions, we will head straight toward consequences that will be tragic for us all.
Standing together, the Europeans can make their Union an unparalleled center of wealth and influence.
United, the countries of the G20 can establish new world governance and essential rules for making the 21st century a century of unprecedented shared prosperity. Read the entire speech HERE
Comment by Adamantine:
Thanks to Scott at Born to watch for this summary of the remarks. I repost it here so that I and others may comment.
1) The Clash between Islam and the rest of the world is not over. The secular west simply decided to go along with Islam while the Christian west simply decided to go to sleep.
2) Obama does not lead because he is not a worthy leader and has no ideas. He is ignorant compared to most past US leaders. Harvard Law is not a good preparation for President.
3) Obama does not lead because he is possibly a plant for some new world order group.
4) Obama does not lead because he is in favor of decisions because his ideas are against the US and those decisions need to be left to others to take the heat.
5) Obama does not lead because the US is going broke.
6) France is leading because the EU as yet does not have a leader.
7) Plans for a new economic system are being put in place.