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Speech by François Hollande at 20th French Ambassadors’ Conference

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For the first time since my election, I am speaking to you at this Ambassadors’ Conference, which has become more than a ritual, a tradition, a meeting. It is because I know the role you play in defining and carrying out our diplomacy that I intend setting out to you the principles guiding France’s foreign policy – responsibility for which I have entrusted to Laurent Fabius – and the way I am addressing the major issues of the time.

In my view, what characterizes today’s world is its instability; a long-established order has disappeared, but no other has yet emerged. New powers are asserting themselves, driven by their populations, their economies, but still hesitant about taking on their full role and responsibilities. The blocs are long gone, but new entities are seeking each other out, based on geography, interests and cultural proximity, although without any coherence between them.

New threats have piled up: terrorism hasn’t disappeared and has even spread to other territories such as Africa, drugs are becoming the major scourge of the coming decade, major pandemics are spreading, ignoring boundaries, and there’s misuse of new information technologies which can be extremely beneficial but also extremely bad for individual freedoms.

But the instability is also economic and financial. The crisis is now affecting every country, including the emerging countries, which appeared invulnerable, and is even further weakening the poorest. International regulation, much vaunted for so many years, is revealing its shortcomings in the face of financial excesses. Growth in world trade is slowing down and we’re seeing dangerous protectionist practices resurface.

Commodity prices are experiencing volatility which is no longer simply governed by natural causes – these exist – but by speculative movements; agricultural markets have become financial markets. Geopolitical considerations are more important than ever in determining fuel prices. We’re seeing this today, at the expense even of world growth and household purchasing power.

In addition to instability there is uncertainty: uncertainty looming over the environment, the climate and biodiversity. Here again, let’s admit, clear-sightedly, that after the failure of Copenhagen, the last Rio summit on sustainable development showed that efforts made by states still fell far short of expectations.

But the most serious uncertainty stems from the risk of nuclear proliferation and its consequences, and also from the legitimate fears which such proliferation can spark and from the pre-emptive reactions it can provoke, directly threatening peace. There is also uncertainty because of permanent conflicts, the resolution of which is delayed every day, as in the Middle East.

Arab Spring/Global Challenges/France’s Role

Admittedly, the world also inspires hope; there’s the vitality of peoples, their democratic aspirations, the demands for good governance and the ability human beings always find to be innovative. Policies are shifting and dictators are falling. In this respect, the world is moving in the direction of progress.

This is what’s at stake in the Arab Spring: once political groups claiming to represent Islam pledge to guarantee freedoms – particularly those of women –, respect changeovers of political power and protect cultural or religious minorities, it’s up to these transition countries to prove it and it’s up to us to encourage the movement, not mistrustfully but vigilantly. In this unstable, uncertain but also new world, it falls to me to decide France’s role, what she has to do and, above all, what she can do. My starting point will be what forms our historical, geographical and political identity, one allowing us to be listened to, raise expectations and hopes and, above all, be useful.

So my starting point will be our universal values, with which France illuminated the world and which must go on determining how she acts internationally. These values are those of human rights, democracy, international justice, laïcité [secularism] (1) and equality between women and men.

By defending these values throughout the world, France is promoting a specific approach to relations with states and displaying confidence in societies. It is when France is overcautious or silent that she takes a backward step. This is why we serve our own interests when we affirm our commitment to democracy, to the fight against corruption and to respect for the law.

France is a bridge between nations, including the emerging ones, between North and South, between East and West. Our country is an actor and mediator in the dialogue between civilizations.

The world values her independence.

France is a world power; we are one of the few countries still to have a very broad range of actions, a nuclear capability, a country which is constantly involved in international life due to its responsibility as a permanent member of the Security Council.

We base our approach on the law, taking part in the long process of organizing international society. I want to continue, in France’s name, to make the United Nations the main organization of global governance for safeguarding peace, but also for protecting populations – an organization able to issue sanctions and enforce them by bringing international justice to bear on dictators and the most serious crimes.

We act within international law and I confirm here that our country participates in peacekeeping and population protection operations only with a mandate and thus in accordance with a United Nations Security Council resolution.

Yet Security Council members – this issue is being raised again today – must face up to their responsibilities to allow the Council to take decisions, because deadlock in the system leads to it being either bypassed or powerless. This is why I say to Russia and China that, in the Syria crisis, their approach is weakening our ability to carry out the mandate entrusted to us by the United Nations Charter.

I would like to get progress made on Security Council reform to allow there to be seats for new permanent and non-permanent members alike.

In the same way, the United Nations system must be broadened to include vital new issues such as the environmental challenge; this is why I argued in Rio for the creation of a United Nations environment organization based in Africa, and this will be France’s position.

So under my presidency, I intend our country to promote the imperative of better global governance. The financial and economic crisis has shown the current institutions’ limitations. The G20, which had allowed us to respond urgently to the banking crisis, must again reflect on its role, because we’re a long way from the essential financial regulation.

In fact many countries have not even implemented the decisions on prudential rules, even though they date back to 2008, while France and Europe have adopted these principles, at the risk of reducing the availability of credit. Similarly, the battle against tax havens has been initiated, but still too timidly, and the countries sheltering them will have to be more severely penalized.

Financial Transaction Tax

As for the ambition, reiterated thousands of times, of adopting a financial transaction tax, it is encountering some strong resistance. This is why I have decided to take it forward in the European enhanced cooperation framework, particularly with Germany. This is an achievement of the 28 June European Council and the tax will be defined and brought in early in 2013. France will continue to argue for its adoption at international level, with some of the proceeds allocated to development and the battle against AIDS.

Cereals Market Regulation

In fact all markets need regulation and the current cereals market volatility, following the drought raging particularly in America, justifies the issue’s swift referral to the G20 and the latter having a power of decision. I have asked the Minister of Agriculture to make active efforts to this end.

Foreign Policy Fundamentals/Partners

Finally, when I speak about our identity, when I talk about our values, our place in the world and our commitment to the law, I am mindful as well of the asset of our language and our culture. Language is a way of thinking and also acting. It’s a battle for plurality and diversity. This is why we have a minister, Mme Yamina Benguigui, to defend the place of French across the world. I ask you, ladies and gentlemen ambassadors, in your day-to-day work, never to forget that promoting the French language and creative industries strengthens a vision of the world embracing every culture.

These are the foreign policy fundamentals on whose basis France must act.

She will do so by her own strengths, using her own unique qualities, her assets and her outreach. But she will not succeed on her own. She will do so with her European partners and her allies, particularly the United States.

Europe/Defence/UK

This is the thrust of my commitment as leader of our country, a fully European country.

Europe has strength it often fails to realize. It is, I remind you, the world’s leading economic power. I shall ensure that it is more active and above all vigilant when it comes to respecting trade rules, the reciprocity of trade and opening up public procurement everywhere.

We Europeans must also strengthen our positions on the major international issues and avoid any lack of coordination or quest for purely national interests. In defence, we must also face up to our responsibilities. I have decided to extend still further our defence cooperation with the United Kingdom and we are making this part of the effort to strengthen European capabilities. Other major partners, particularly Germany, share the same needs. The conclusions of the new White Paper on Defence and National Security, entrusted to M. Jean-Marie Guehenno, will be consistent with Defence Europe in the framework of our alliances.

US/France/NATO/Defence Europe

Alliances, yes, we have one with the United States of America and this relationship is today marked by trust. President Obama and I noted the great extent to which we see eye to eye on major international issues, the economic crisis and the imperative for growth. I am keen to see the excellent relationship between France and the United States become even stronger over the next few years.

At the Chicago [NATO] summit, I recalled France’s commitment to the Atlantic Alliance – which did not prevent me, with the foreign and defence ministers, from expressing my reservations or laying down some conditions, particularly on antimissile defence. I have, moreover, asked Hubert Védrine to assess what the return to the integrated military command has really contributed to our goals and to Defence Europe.

But France has her own goals in line with her situation, role and even her interests.

Mediterranean

First of all, France has long promoted an ambition for the Mediterranean region, for it to be an area of cooperation and not tension. Economic exchanges, which must be intensified, must also be enriched by human exchanges. Security concerns must always go hand in hand with a requirement for dignity. Ideas too must circulate; this is necessary in a context where the Mediterranean Arab countries are opening up and committing to political change. I want us to take these realities on board; we are seeing some costly delays. But France will never fail to reiterate that respect for the opposition, press freedom, minority rights, everyone being able to participate in public life, regardless of his or her political or religious opinions, are for France all essential principles.

My priority is to develop what I call “a pool of Mediterranean projects”; this is why I have asked the government to appoint an interministerial delegate for the Mediterranean. I want better use to be made of the Union for the Mediterranean secretariat’s expertise, with the European Union and particularly the Commission’s involvement; we must do this with Europe. Thanks to the Deauville Partnership, which is a good initiative, we can provide the best possible support for the development of the countries in political transition. Finally, I am paying particular attention to cooperation with the Maghreb countries, including in what’s called the 5+5 Group, through which the dialogue will have to be relaunched.

The two shores of the Mediterranean complement each other in very many ways. So in this pragmatic way, we can envisage an effective control of immigration, improve professional and academic exchanges, help these countries’ public administrations to modernize and then also encourage exchanges between business communities.

Africa

With Africa, I want to establish a new scenario. France will maintain her commitments to this continent full of such promise. All the world’s powers are there, trying to develop their influence, and the Africans themselves don’t want France to disengage. But our policy must be different from the past. It must be based on transparency in our trade and economic relations. It must be based on vigilance in the application of democratic rules and also respect for countries’ sovereign choices. Our vision of Africa must reflect what it is today, i.e. a continent which is – and knows it is – enjoying strong growth and can no longer stand tear-jerking speeches about it. A continent where democracy is making strides, where the environment and energy are equally important issues. A continent with which we have an exceptional historical, cultural and linguistic proximity. In 2050, 80% of French speakers will be Africans, 700 million women and men; everyone understands what is at stake here.

In a few weeks’ time I shall be going to the OIF [Organisation de La Francophonie – international francophone organization] summit in Kinshasa. There I shall reaffirm that La Francophonie is not simply to do with sharing a language, it’s also a community of principles and ideals, which need to be repeated every time, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But not just there. There I shall meet the political opposition and community activists and civil society; this is the aim of France’s new Africa policy: to say everything everywhere and make sure that everything said is done. This policy will be clearly set out.

Multipolar World/BRICS/Japan/Turkey

France must take more account of the emergence of a multipolar world, which she has in fact so often called for. The five countries making up what are known as the BRICs account for 40% of the world’s population and over 30% of its GDP – yet another reason for having clear ideas on the relations we intend having with these new powers.

With China, of major importance and not just on the economic front, I want to establish a frank relationship embracing not only all the political topics, including the most sensitive ones, but also trade and monetary issues. Here, the imbalance of our economic relations is a challenge to take up and so presents us with opportunities. There is immense potential and the state – this is also a matter for this ambassadors’ conference – will have not only to play its full part in helping businesses act, but also tell the Chinese that we want always to act on the basis of reciprocity, particularly with respect to public procurement.

With India, the strategic partnership uniting us will see major advances – at any rate I hope it will. It reflects the excellence of our ties and the engagement we must have with the world’s second most populous country.

With Russia, France maintains a unique historical bond. It’s economic and cultural too, and we must draw strength from this relationship in order also to clarify what we have to say to Russia, especially as she will be taking on the G20 presidency at the end of the year. We must seek together the solutions to the international crises and do so without masking the disagreements, particularly on human rights. It’s better to say what these are rather than look at them from afar.

With Brazil, who is affirming her status as an active power a bit more with every passing day, I would like us to increase our trade still further and shall be welcoming the President of Brazil to France before the end of the year.

Finally, I consider that Japan, the world’s third-largest economic power, a great partner of France, has not received all the attention she has deserved over the past few years, and I shall personally endeavour to rectify this situation.

But more generally, I am absolutely sure of one thing: France will influence the world’s future by strengthening her ties with the emerging countries of Latin America, Asia, Oceania, Africa and the Arabian/Persian Gulf.

And, closer to us, with Turkey, who is enjoying undeniable economic success and wants to anchor herself in Europe; and so France will have a stable, trustful relationship with that country without ignoring or hiding the difficult issues.

Development/Threats/Drugs/Terrorism

By working for every country’s integration on the global stage – this is France’s duty – we shall avoid the marginalization of some populations unable to emerge from poverty. This is one of the tasks assigned to our development policy, which Pascal Canfin is in charge of. The number of least-developed countries has not gone down in the past few years. I would like our development policy to be widely debated and our commitments put on a long-term footing. This is not just a matter of solidarity, but one of security in the face of a number of threats.

And among these threats, the continuing increase in drug production and trafficking has become, as I have said, a huge scourge destabilizing some states and even whole regions, weakening societies, including ours, and fuelling arms trafficking and sometimes terrorism. This is why I shall propose to our G8 partners and the United Nations the launch of a global strategy to fight the drug scourge more effectively than we do today.

Europe/Economy

But above and beyond these guidelines, I want immediately to move to the most burning issues.

The first challenge is the crisis hitting Europe: a lack of foresight for too many years has multiplied debts, weakened our industry and undermined social cohesion. Europe too has its share of responsibility: it has not protected us as much as we had hoped. Mistrust is spreading, fuelling populism, and austerity risks adding still further to the impugning of European policies.

This is why, immediately after my election, I decided to reorder Europe’s priorities. I contributed with others to the adoption of a growth pact whose every measure must be implemented rapidly. France, through Bernard Cazeneuve, will very soon make proposals to amplify these policies, give priority to innovation and investment and defend production in Europe, and I have confidence in the European Commission represented here to ensure we waste no time in implementing these decisions and spending the funds put on the table: €120 billion. My goal – I am not pursuing it alone – is also to put an end to the doubts which are fuelling speculation. This is the aim of the European Council and the decisions taken on 29 June this year. An agreement exists for the European Stability Mechanism, in cooperation with the European Central Bank, to be able to intervene to reduce sovereign debt interest rates when these become prohibitive. Do we have to keep on waiting for the European Stability Mechanism finally be able to act? The Karlsruhe [Federal Constitutional] Court will provide the answer. And in the meantime, we still have the European [Financial Stability] Facility (EFSF). So the mechanisms exist, they must be brought into play and if still further fine-tuning is needed, the Central Bank contributes to it. I think the time has come for states to be able to use the instruments available to them if these are requested. Everything has to be in place by the end of September, and the 18 October European Council will have to ratify the decisions so that a compromise is also found before the end of the year on the banking union and European-level supervision by the European Central Bank, which I want to see.

The budget treaty to be put before Parliament in early October is consistent with this rebalanced framework.

Euro/Greece

I want to emphasize this vigorously: France is wholly determined to act for Europe and to preserve the euro. The euro is irreversible since it is a fundamental commitment. Its defence does not boil down, cannot be reduced to a simple financial calculation – no, economic governance depends on it.

It is also what justifies political union. Greece now belongs to this political community and France is determined that she remain in the Euro Area. She must, of course, take some measures – I reiterated this to the Greek Prime Minister when he came last Saturday; she has to prove her credibility. But Europe has to understand too that for years the Greeks have also agreed to make efforts and so everyone has to do their duty, respect the disciplines, and demonstrate credibility. But we must also support growth in that country.

EMU/Eurogroup

Generally speaking, I have proposed that the EU move forward on the basis of the idea of mutually-supportive integration allowing at each stage new mechanisms to be supported by democratic advances. This is political union. I am ready to respond to the proposals which have already been made. We can immediately open this discussion with the Europeans and in the first place with Germany. The road map for deepening Economic and Monetary Union, which we are going to discuss between now and the end of the year, is already a first step in this process.

But I also want to make some proposals. The role of the Eurogroup and its president – I have informed the Minister for the Economy and Finance about this – must be strengthened. I propose too that the heads of state and government – i.e. Euro Area heads of state and government – meet far more regularly when Euro Area matters are at issue, so not just twice a year, which we had been told was sufficient to prove the existence of economic governance. No. If we think there is a currency to defend, an economy to organize, growth policies to conduct, disciplines to enforce, then the Euro Area Council must meet more regularly.

This deepening of the Euro Area must also enable us to establish solidarity instruments. Ultimately, I think the budgetary union will have to move towards mutualizing debts, under the best conditions for every country concerned, so as both to regulate existing debt stocks and borrow for the future. This will be a matter for discussion. Finally, integration must allow us to move towards fiscal harmonization and social and environmental policy convergence.

At every stage, France will ensure democratic control of these decisions and mechanisms. In this respect, the conference bringing together national parliaments and the European Parliament is a very good initiative.

I know full well that it will not be possible for all 27 – soon to be 28 – states to engage right away in this process; so let’s change the way we go about it. Those wanting to commit faster must be able to do so without this meaning the exclusion of the others. Some envisage joining the euro; they are welcome; others don’t and we must regard them as such, in that position of being on the sidelines. I am in favour of implementing enhanced cooperation projects which allow faster progress for those who decide together to commit.

The Franco-German relationship is, of course, fundamental to this reordering of Europe’s priorities. The 50th anniversary of the Elysée Treaty offers the opportunity to inject new impetus. This friendship is a real one; it does not need to be proven. We must build on this friendship. It is not exclusive. France feels herself called on to talk to every one of her partners, all necessary for Europe’s vitality, and to the European institutions, which may be prompted to do more than they do today. That’s what I wanted to say on Europe. To show that for us it is both a subject of concern – because growth there is weak, if not non-existent – and at the same time a subject of hope and mobilization.

Syria

The second challenge is the Syria crisis.

The principle is simple: Bashar al-Assad must go. There’s no political solution with him. He is a threat, he’s continuing with unbelievable violence to massacre the people, destroy cities and kill women and children – we’ve had evidence of this again in the past few days. It is intolerable for the human conscience, unacceptable for the region’s security and stability. The matter should be referred to the International Criminal Court so that those responsible for these atrocities one day stand trial.

I want to be clear: France shoulders all her responsibilities and spares no effort in order for the Syrian people to gain their freedom and security.

To achieve this, we have to overcome obstacles at the Security Council; the Foreign Minister is working on this. We’ll return to this at some point because the Syria crisis is dangerous for everyone, beginning with Syria’s neighbours. We’ll go on as much as necessary doing a job of exerting pressure and persuading at the Security Council in order for the international community to reach a consensus. But in the immediate future, we must act.

Firstly, stepping up efforts so that the political transition takes place as soon as possible. With this in mind, France is asking the Syrian opposition to form a provisional, inclusive and representative government, able to become the legitimate representative of the new Syria. We’re urging our Arab partners to speed up this initiative and France will recognize the new Syria’s provisional government as soon as it has been formed.

Secondly, and without delay, we are strongly supporting those working on the ground for a free, democratic Syria who guarantees the security of all her communities. We are helping in particular those organizing the liberated areas in Syria. We are working on Turkey’s initiative of proposed buffer zones. We are doing so in consultation with our closest partners. Finally – and I say this with all due solemnity – we and our allies remain very vigilant in preventing the regime from using chemical weapons, which for the international community would provide a legitimate reason for direct intervention.

I know how difficult the task is, I’m aware of the risks, but what is at stake goes beyond Syria; it concerns the whole security of the Middle East, and in particular the independence and stability of Lebanon.

Iran/Nuclear Issue

My approach to the Iran crisis is based on the same requirement for collective security.

The Iranian nuclear programme, which has no credible civilian purpose, constitutes a threat to all countries in the region. It’s all the more unacceptable because it’s being carried out by a regime that frequently issues statements – reiterated in recent days – directly calling for the destruction of the State of Israel.

France’s position is clear: it would be unacceptable for Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. And that country must comply with its international obligations under the NPT as well as the resolutions adopted by the Security Council and the IAEA. The path of dialogue remains open because our goal is to achieve a diplomatic resolution to the crisis, but until Iran answers all the outstanding questions and complies with international law, France has a responsibility to further strengthen the sanctions against the Tehran regime.

Middle East

It’s in this context that we must also take action to ensure peace in the Middle East.

France believes – and this isn’t a new position – that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains key to stability in the Middle East and this can be achieved only by recognizing the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and by guaranteeing Israel’s security. A lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict requires a negotiated peace settlement that addresses all issues. Right now, I advise the Israeli authorities to resume the path of negotiations as soon as the Palestinians withdraw many of their preconditions.

I am also aware of the dangerous situation in the Sinai. I have confidence in Egypt, with her new president – who was democratically elected – to play her full role in the region, to serve peace, with due regard for her international commitments.

Mali

There’s another issue that is of particular concern to me: the Sahel.

An organization claiming to be a terrorist entity has established itself in northern Mali and is challenging our interests, our values, our people. We are responding to this challenge. The Mali crisis reflects, or is the result of, a weakening of the state over the past several years but also the mistakes made at the end of the Libya crisis, with the uncontrolled spread of weapons. Terrorist and fundamentalist groups are now occupying northern Mali but want to expand their reach across West Africa.

France is directly concerned, not in the way that she may have been before, but in any case we will need to take action, not in the way we have intervened in the past: that time has come and gone. Our role involves supporting our African partners: they must take the initiative, the decisions, the responsibility, along with the regional organizations, for any action they wish to take. Our task will then be to support their action within the framework of the United Nations and the decisions of the Security Council.

I’ve worked with Laurent Fabius to help the Malian people regain a stable government and start reconciliation efforts; there have been calls for an intervention within the framework of ECOWAS, the African Union to be considered; France and all countries that would like to put an end to this crisis will have to provide logistical support to this intervention if it’s organized and implemented within the framework of international law.

Afghanistan

The last topic I would like to address here with you is the withdrawal of French forces from Afghanistan. This was a commitment I made; it’s being implemented in accordance with the decision I adopted following my election.

The Afghan army will, by the end of the year, take control of the areas that are still protected by our army. 650 of our soldiers have already returned; 2,000 will do so by the end of 2012. And all this is taking place in agreement with our allies, who are themselves involved in a similar withdrawal process. I thank the ministers – the Minister of Defence, the Minister of Foreign Affairs – for implementing these decisions as agreed, without exposing our soldiers to any risk.

France will continue to be present in Afghanistan, but in different ways. We will keep trainers to support the senior military and police officers; above all, we will maintain a civilian presence in order to continue our cooperation, particularly in the areas of education, health, and the emancipation of women. That is the purpose of the friendship treaty that was signed between our two governments and ratified by Parliament. This is how we will support the Afghan people. This is the logical follow-up to our commitment. And this is how we’ll honour the memory of our 88 soldiers who have died in Afghanistan.

French Diplomacy

Ladies and gentlemen ambassadors, in order to pursue the French foreign policy I have just outlined, we need to have a high-quality or even top-quality diplomatic tool. This is the case: 163 embassies, 15,000 staff – and this doesn’t mean that changes, innovations, and adjustments can’t take place. Over the last few months I have witnessed your professionalism, your dedication, and the conviction with which you defend, in all circumstances and in all forums, the interests of France. I would like here in particular to commend the ministry officials who, in the highest-risk countries, promote our country’s ideas and France’s presence, sometimes risking their lives. I thank them all for it.

France also has a large cultural network; we have to develop it, expand the audience it reaches, but at the same time I’m especially concerned that this network should remain in place. Similarly, with respect to the educational establishments abroad, I wanted to go back on covering the cost of school fees [for French expatriates], as has hitherto been the case, which led to situations of unfairness and difficulties [for non-expatriates] in gaining access to the schools. But we must find the best solution in order to ensure that French nationals abroad have access to high-quality institutions.

We must also swiftly resolve the issue of our external public broadcasting service. This will be addressed.

Lastly, I want to stress one point: of course diplomacy means the state, the President of the Republic, the government with its own responsibilities, the Foreign Minister, the [other] ministers; it also involves the local authorities, which, through decentralized cooperation, are also part of France’s presence. And the overseas regions which are asking to take part; we must have confidence in them to participate in the cooperation that may exist across certain continents. I’d therefore like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to support these trends, these initiatives and these efforts.

The diplomatic network serves the French communities abroad; Minister Hélène Conway is tasked with supporting, promoting and protecting French nationals abroad, in collaboration with the parliamentarians, senators, and deputies who represent them. For my part, I will endeavour during each of my visits – and I have already done so – to meet our compatriots, listen to them and encourage them; they also have a role to play in economic diplomacy, in defending our businesses, in promoting our goods as well as our language.

Laurent Fabius will present to you an action plan for what we’ve called economic diplomacy. It’s mobilizing the entire government; it will mobilize you as well. What’s at stake is recovery, i.e. the ability to be more competitive, to capture markets, and we must each play our part in this: companies – it concerns them of course –, but we also need to promote the traditional strengths of French industry; the Minister for Production Recovery is mindful of this. And also the new energy sources, water, as well as civilian nuclear technology when it’s requested by countries and when we have the technical capability, and the decommissioning of plants, since this will also be an industrial challenge over the next few years. So what you’re being called upon to do is of course the work that you’ve already begun, but we must make this work more coherent. Recovery is needed everywhere, not just in France; it means production in France, and sometimes abroad so that there are benefits in terms of job creation and the balance of payments. Everyone has understood – the Minister of Foreign Trade has spoken about it – that our foreign trade deficit amounts to €70 billion; if we take out oil then that leaves €35 billion. This is what we have to do: capture new markets, conduct research into new products, develop our innovations all around the world, and be proud of ourselves.

Ladies and gentlemen ambassadors, our duty is to work to ensure our country’s recovery. This recovery is dependent on the efforts we’re undertaking everywhere.

We will do so by increasing our influence. We will do so by being faithful to the principles, the values on which our Republic is based. We will do so with our independence as well as through our alliances. We will do so together with Europe, we will do so with the French people who want to contribute to this effort.

We will do so knowing that clear-sighted, resolute and coherent action can change the course of the future; this, in any case, is our hope.

Long live the Republic and long live France!

(1) "laïcité" goes beyond the concept of secularism, embracing the strict neutrality of the state.

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