Posted by: APO | 27 August 2008

France / Africa / Speech by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, at the opening of The Sixteenth Ambassadors’ Conference – Paris – 27 August 2008


France / Africa / Speech by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, at the opening of The Sixteenth Ambassadors’ Conference – Paris – 27 August 2008

PARIS, France, August 27, 2008/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Speech by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the French Republic, at the opening of The Sixteenth Ambassadors’ Conference – Paris – 27 August 2008 :

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Our fourth break with the past concerns Africa.

First, there is a process that I object to, that of so-called “Françafrique,” if it jeopardizes the ties that France—unlike the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain—successfully maintained with its former colonies after independence. It is to France’s credit that we successfully provided these nations, at their request, with massive and various aid packages. France is a faithful friend. It accepts the ties woven by History without complexes.

At the same time, we must recognize a real problem of perception, notably among the younger generations who are the continent’s future. The study that our ambassadors in Africa conducted at my request, and for which I thank them, offered an unretouched view of a France seen to exploit for its sole profit the continent’s resources through entrenched networks.

Economic realities totally contradict these perceptions, and I ask you to help those realities become better known and understood. But in politics, perceptions are important. We must take account of them and correct those that may be the source of misunderstandings. That was the whole meaning of the speech I delivered before the South African Parliament in Cape Town last February 28, underscoring the urgent need to modernize our development aid instruments in order to support the private sector on a priority basis; marking our resolve to establish solid partnerships with South Africa, Angola and Nigeria without neglecting our old friends; and affirming the importance of our relationship with a continent whose peace, development and prosperity, as well as its failures, will also be ours in Europe.

But I want to go beyond words and shore up this new African policy through actions: those being, after discussions with our concerned partners, the systematic revision of our defense agreements and the reduction of our military bases. They must be adapted to our current vocation, which is the training of regional African peacekeeping units in strict respect of our commitments, without intervening in domestic conflicts as we demonstrated this past February in Chad. It means cooperation with the UN, the African Union and sub-regional organizations for conflict resolution, defense and the promotion of principles that the Africans themselves have adopted: the rejection of coups d’Etat, the affirmation of democracy and human rights. Our recent role in Mauritania offers a perfect illustration of this.

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SOURCE : Présidence de la République française


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