(BRUSSELS2 - at the Elysée Palace) It was in the shadow of the portrait of Nelson Mandela that the French President, in front of more than 40 African dignitaries gathered at the Elysée Palace, delivered a speech which is intended as a refoundation of the links between France and Africa to maintain peace and security on the continent, calling for a " exceptional alliance » between Africa and Europe “in the service of peace, development, and the future of the planet”.
From "policeman" to "firefighter"
French interventions in Mali a year ago and now in the Central African Republic are “ financially heavy and demonstrate the need for Africans to equip themselves with a common defense capability. " Africa must fully control its destiny and to achieve this fully ensure its own security. affirmed the French president in his opening speech. An opinion shared by Guinean President Alpha Condé, for whom he is "not not normal " than " France is obliged to intervene as a firefighter to save us ».
A necessity: preparing African forces
François Hollande calls on everyone to look (the truth) in the face ". " Everyone knows that there are shortcomings, shortcomings, weaknesses and that there is a need to prepare African forces to respond to all threats and to be able to equip themselves, in their regional organizations or at the level of the African Union, essential means to ensure the security of Africans. »
Faced with the terrorism that is emerging from Somalia to the Sahel, the French president calls for " a new partnership in terms of military cooperation », with several priorities: « advice, training, equipment, intelligence ". " These groups now have considerable resources, from all trades, have access to highly sophisticated weapons, which even sovereign states are unable to acquire. » The goal is that " African armies can be provided with all the means enabling them to cope” to terrorism.
A commitment: 20.000 soldiers trained per year
A key point of the French proposal is the creation of a " rapid reaction force under the aegis of the African Union”. What " requires command and intelligence assets ". " It is the responsibility of Africans » explained Fr. Hollande. But France is ready "to bring all its assistance to this force ". 1°) “ by making military executives available to its staffs » ; 2°) “ through training activities. France can train every year, if you decide, 20 African soldiers. »
Facing piracy: a common structure
Last security aspect of the speech: piracy. France is " ready » to support the integrated maritime strategy defined by the African Union. She is ready to constitute a common structure to coordinate your actions at sea ».
Comments (NGV): a dotted Europe?
We thus see the rebirth of the project Recamp - such as Strengthening African Peacekeeping Capacities - which had been transferred to the European level under the name of EuroRecamp and whose momentum was somewhat lost, it must be recognized, with the creation of the EEAS, the European diplomatic service, despite the commendable effort of a few. A Europe that remains fairly absent from the French presidential speech, despite the presence at this summit of Herman Van Rompuy (for the European Council) and José-Manuel Barroso (for the European Commission). Not a word was said about the EUTM Somalia and EUTM Mali missions which respond precisely to this objective of training and structuring African armies. It is only through the detour of a rather cryptic phrase that the EU finds its mark on a " Europe, (which) I know, will be there "" to show, not only its solidarity with regard to the friendly continent, but also a responsibility in the pooling of means and forces”.
(Leonor Hubaut at the Elysée & Nicolas Gros-Verheyde in Brussels)
Download the opening speech
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