President of the Senate,
President of the National Assembly,
Minister of Foreign and European Affairs,
Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The international debate is not abstract. The international debate is not remote. The threats we face today - terrorism, proliferation, crime - know no borders; changes in the environment and in the world economy affect our everyday lives; human rights are violated before our eyes. Guided by our values, our foreign policy must be based on a clear vision of the world and of the interests we defend. Our foreign policy is a reflection of our identity as a nation.
Yet the French are worried about the state of the world, the role of Europe and the place of France. They welcomed, with hope, the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the unjust order of Yalta; progress in human rights and democracy; the promises of globalization that since 1990 has doubled world GDP and raised the average standard of living by 50%.
They see, today, that in contrast to the period following the Second World War, the leaders of the last twenty years have not succeeded in creating a new world order or even in effectively adjusting the old one. Leaving aside rare moments of unity such as the First Gulf War and September 11, 2001, a general and understandable feeling of division and loss of control predominates in a world that is both global and fragmented, a world of uncontrolled interdependence.
While States remain at the heart of the international system, their ability to act is now coming up against the power of economic players, the power of the media, and, worse, the power of terrorist and criminal networks. They are also confronted with the risks of the early 21st century: migratory flows that are less and less well controlled; a disruption of the world economic balance, which is accentuating misgivings over globalization as, bit by bit, offshore relocation begins to affect all sectors of activity; and financial crises such as the one we have just experienced and which could recur if the leaders of the major countries fail to take resolute concerted action to foster transparency and the regulation of international markets. One may support the market economy and competition, and still demand transparency so that creators of wealth aren't made to pay by speculators. The system I believe in is one that fosters the creation of wealth, not speculation. We lack transparency. We are lacking in regulation and we are lacking in consultation. The question is not whether we can act. The one certainty is that we must act, because otherwise we will find ourselves facing other catastrophes, other crises through the fault of a minority that feels it can enrich itself without creating wealth. That's a real insult to creators worldwide.
In international crises such as the one in Iraq, it is now clear that the unilateral use of force leads to failure, but the multilateral institutions - both universal, such as the U.N. and regional, such as NATO - are finding it difficult to prove their effectiveness, from Darfur to Afghanistan.
In Europe itself, pressing questions are being asked, especially in the wake of the latest enlargement: Where are the Union's borders? Should the Union have borders? Are further enlargements compatible with the continuation of integration, which must go forward? More broadly, is Europe not now transmitting the excesses of globalization instead of buffering its impact, as it should be, and enabling our peoples to seize the opportunities globalization offers?
Against this backdrop of apprehensiveness and disillusionment, the French are asking themselves what France can do to address the main challenges facing the world at the start of the 21st century. I see three such challenges, on which everything else depends:
- The first challenge, and no doubt one of the most important: how to prevent a confrontation between Islam and the West. There's no point in waffling: this confrontation is being called for by extremist groups such as al-Qaeda that dream of establishing a caliphate from Indonesia to Nigeria, rejecting all openness, all modernity, every hint of diversity. If these forces were to achieve their sinister objective, it is certain that the 21st century would be even worst than the last one, itself marked by merciless confrontation between ideologies.
- The second challenge: how to integrate emerging giants such as China, India and Brazil into the new global order? They are driving world growth, but I would like to tell them, in a spirit of friendship, that they are also creating serious imbalances. They are the giants of tomorrow and, understandably, want their new status to be recognized, but they must hear reason from a friend: if you want the status of a great power, you must be willing to comply with the rules, which are in the interest of all countries.
- The third challenge: how to cope with the major issues that our generation has been the first in human history to identify scientifically and be able to address globally - issues such as climate change, new pandemics and long-term energy supplies.
Let me give you my answer to these questions on behalf of France, and let me start by giving you my approach to the international issues.
Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that the mark of a statesman is determination to change the course of events, not just to describe them, and not simply to explain them. To do this, it is necessary to have unshakeable determination; it is also necessary to persuade others to share dreams, ambitions and objectives. A politician must have ambitions, dreams and objectives.
I believe that France has much to offer the world because its population is among the most dynamic and best educated, its economy is among the strongest, and its diplomatic corps and armed forces are among the best. But our country is not the only one to have such advantages and it will retain them only if it succeeds in carrying out a large number of ambitious reforms. I proposed these reforms to the French people. As the Prime Minister put it so well, they will all be carried out resolutely, in a concerted and open approach.
I also believe that France is great and that its voice is heard when it is united in support of a vision backed by determination. The French elected me on the basis of a clear and detailed platform. They want a President who takes action and gets results. This is true in domestic policy. It is true in foreign policy. And indeed these two aspects of the action I propose to take are inseparable: France has no more vested right to its international status than any other nation; its message to the world will continue to be heard only if it is the message of an ambitious and confident people, a society reconciled with itself and an economy that is performing well. The domestic reforms that I intend to carry out in order to restore to the French their faith in the future, to modernize the economy and to adapt our institutions are part of my vision of France in the world. I want France to be stronger at home because only then will it have influence beyond our borders. And in that our project is fully consistent. How can France's message be credible in the world if what's happening in France domestically is the opposite of what it's recommending to other countries?
I believe that there can be no strong France without Europe, just as there can be no powerful Europe without France.
I believe that the emergence of a strong Europe as a major player on the international scene can make a decisive contribution to the construction of the just, more efficient world order that our peoples are calling for.
I believe that the friendship between the United States and France is as important today as it has been over the last two centuries. Allied does not mean aligned and I feel entirely free to express our agreements and our disagreements forthrightly and candidly - precisely because I fully embrace the fact that France is a friend and an ally of the United States.
I believe that the ancient bonds of all kinds that unite us with the peoples of the Mediterranean and, beyond it, of Africa are an asset and an opportunity, provided we have the ambition and the determination to organize them, breaking once and for all with longstanding practices.
I believe that our language is at the heart of our identity, that French is part of our soul; that Francophony is of strong benefit to all those who share the French language.
And last but not least, I believe that France continues to bear a message and stand for values that resonate throughout the world - the values of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, of humanism and also, more recently, of humanitarian values and the duty to protect, epitomized by men like Bernard Kouchner, whom I was happy to welcome into the government and place in charge of our diplomacy.
Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The construction of Europe remains an absolute priority for France. Without Europe, France would not be able to provide an effective response to the challenges of our time.
This is why I was determined, as a matter of highest priority, to restart Europe by proposing the simplified treaty. Success was hardly a foregone conclusion; it was achieved thanks to a perfect understanding between France and Germany. I would like to pay special tribute to Angela Merkel. Success also owes much to the Commission and to its most outstanding President, Mr. Barroso. It would in fact be somewhat contradictory for France to have more weight in Europe while not wishing to find common ground with such strong European institutions as the Commission and the European Parliament. How can we act in Europe if our objective is to oppose the Commission or to oppose the European Parliament? We would be doomed to fail. In the adoption of the simplified treaty - and Bernard Kouchner and Jean-Pierre Jouyet will confirm this - the President of the Commission has been a crucial ally. In fact, the good will of everyone came together on this issue, since we had proposed a scenario for overcoming the crisis that was sufficiently clear and unifying. This is a lesson for the future.
My wish is that the Portuguese Presidency, in which I have full confidence, will complete its work by the time of the European Council meeting in October, so as to enable the new treaty to enter into force before the European elections in the spring of 2009. The Prime Minister and I will make sure, in this case, that France is one of the first countries to be asked, via its Parliament, to ratify the treaty. Frankly I would rather see France be the first to ratify than for France to be isolated by its refusal.
Now that Europe has overcome the decade-long stalemate in work on the institutions, the time has come to address the future of the European project. I call on the 27 to create a Committee of Wise Men by the end of this year, made up of ten to twelve members at very high level, similar to the committees chaired by Werner, Davignon and Westendorp and the Delors Committee, to address this simple but no less crucial question: "What kind of Europe should we have in 2020-2030 and what should its missions be?" The wise men should submit their conclusions and proposals before the European elections of June 2009, so that the newly elected Parliament and the next Commission will have the results of its work in addition to the simplified treaty and the work on renewal of the Union's policies and financial framework.
If the 27 undertake this crucial discussion about the future of our Union, France will not object to new chapters in the negotiations between the Union and Turkey being opened in coming months and years, provided these chapters are compatible with both possible visions of the future of their relations: either accession, or a very close association that stops short of accession. I'm not going to be hypocritical. Everyone knows that I'm only in favor of association. It's what I advocated throughout my election campaign. It's an idea I've championed for years. I think this idea of association will one day be recognized by everyone as the more reasonable one. Meanwhile, like Prime Minister Erdogan, I hope that Turkey and France will restore the special relations they established over a long shared history.
I didn't want to raise this issue before that of the simplified treaty, because it would have created a total deadlock. You can't resolve problems by creating a total deadlock. You resolve them by finding solutions. Of the thirty-five chapters that remain to be opened, 30 are compatible with association. Five are compatible only with accession. I told the Turkish Prime Minister: let's deal with the thirty that are compatible with association and then we'll see.
I think this is a solution that doesn't betray the wishes of the French and that, at the same time, gives Turkey hope. Obviously, if this compromise formula is rejected, I would simply remind you that we need unanimity in order to continue the discussions.
The French Presidency of the Union, which is only ten months away, must now fully mobilize our energies. To ensure its success, we must take a collective approach and be attentive to the views of all our partners. Either I or the Prime Minister will be visiting each of the EU capitals before July 1. We will of course have priorities to suggest as ways of taking Europe forward. I see three of them. Europe must have an immigration policy. Europe must have an energy policy. And Europe must have an environmental policy. If we want the people of Europe to love Europe once again, Europe must have an impact on daily life - on immigration, energy and the environment.
I should like today to focus on the issue of European Defense. Nearly ten years after the Saint Malo Agreement, the time has now come to give it a new impetus.
What has been achieved over recent years is far from negligible, since the Union has conducted some fifteen operations on our continent, in Africa, in the Middle East and in Asia. These operations demonstrate, if proof were needed, that there is no competition between NATO and the Union and that the two indeed complement each other. As we have to cope with an increasing number of crises, there is not an excess but rather a shortage of capabilities in Europe.
I hope that the Europeans will fully shoulder their responsibility and assume their role in the service of their own security and that of the world. To do this we need to reinforce our ability to plan and conduct operations; to develop an Armaments Europe with new weapons programs and to streamline the existing ones; to ensure the interoperability of our forces; and we must ensure that all in Europe have a stake in its common security. We cannot continue with four countries paying for the security of all the others. But beyond instruments, we also need a common vision. What are the threats facing Europe and with what means should we respond to them? We must work together to set out a new European Security Strategy. We could approve this new text under the French presidency in 2008. Our white paper on national defense and security, drawn up by HervÃ© Morin, can serve as France's contribution to this absolutely necessary work.
In this European endeavor, France and Germany have paved the way with the French-German Brigade, followed by the Eurocorps. In Saint Malo, France and the United Kingdom continued this construction, as is natural, since together our two defense budgets amount to two-thirds of the total defense budgets of the other 25 members of the Union and since our defense research budgets are twice the size of theirs. Incidentally, when we judge the deficits of the various parties, I'd like it to be remembered that the second-largest part of France's national budget goes to defense. But I'm not convinced that France would be able to play its role if it economized on this sector. Italy, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands and all our other partners are called upon to take part in this common effort, which will enable us to make the most of our assets. The Union has the full range of capabilities needed to address a crisis: military, humanitarian and financial. It must gradually assert itself as a leading peace and security player in the world, in cooperation with the United Nations, the Atlantic Alliance and the African Union. It should also be determined to initiate a genuine policy of cooperation and support with third countries - particularly in Africa - in the area of security.
Let me mention a subject that has long been taboo. The decisive progress made by European Defense, which I wholeheartedly support, is in absolutely no way in competition with NATO. This Atlantic Alliance, I need not remind you, is ours: we founded it and we are one of its major contributors today. Of its 26 members, 21 also belong to the EU. It makes no sense to contrast the Union and NATO because we need both. More than that: I am convinced that it is in the vested interest of the United States for the European Union to assemble its forces, streamline its capabilities, and independently organize its own defense. We must go forward pragmatically and at the same time with ambition, without ideological bias, with security being our sole obsession. The two movements complement each other. I hope that in the coming months we will move forward toward a strengthening of European Defense and the renovation of NATO, and thus its relationship with France. The two go hand in hand: an independent European Defense and an Atlantic organization in which we play a full role.
This is in fact already happening on the ground: in Afghanistan, under UN mandate, the NATO force has been led by the Union's Eurocorps, commanded by a French general.
Kosovo is another illustration of the way in which the EU and NATO complement each other since the two cooperate closely under U.N. mandate. This cooperation will take on crucial importance in coming months. At France's initiative, the Contact Group is continuing its efforts to restart the dialogue between Serbs and Kosovars. We support the principle of independence overseen by the international community and supported by the European Union, in which the rights of minorities will be guaranteed. I wish today to issue a three-part appeal: to the Serbs and the Kosovars to show realism and engage in good faith in this last effort to arrive at a mutually accepted solution; to the Russians and the Americans to understand that this very difficult issue is first and foremost a European one; and to the Europeans to show unity, since it is the EU countries that will have to take on most of the responsibility and thus the costs, and since it is in fact in the EU that the Balkans' long term future lies.
Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The EU will soon have efficient institutions, a stable President of the European Council, a High Representative in charge of foreign policy, and a genuine European diplomatic corps. This will put it in a better position to assert on the world stage the vision and values that we share. For France, Europe must emerge as a global policy player. Allow me to return to the three challenges of the 21st century
The threat of confrontation between Islam and the West is the first challenge. We would be wrong to underestimate such a possibility: the affair of the newspaper cartoons was a forewarning.
Our countries - all our countries including those of the Muslim world - are now under threat of criminal attack similar to the attacks on New York, Bali, Madrid, Bombay, Istanbul, London and Casablanca. Think of what would happen tomorrow if terrorists were to use nuclear, biological or chemical materials. The first duty of our States is to organize comprehensive cooperation among the security services of all the countries concerned.
Our duty, the duty of the Atlantic Alliance, is also to step up our efforts in Afghanistan. With Bernard Kouchner and the Prime Minister, I have decided to strengthen the presence of our trainers in the Afghan Army, since it is that army that must, first and foremost, wage and win the fight against the Taliban. I have decided to step up our support for reconstruction, since there will be no lasting success if the Afghan people do not reap the tangible benefits of a return to security and peace. Nor will there be success in the fight against drugs. The time has probably come to appoint, under the authority of President Karzai, a leading public figure able to ensure better coordination between military action and civilian initiatives.
But our action in Afghanistan would be in vain if, on the other side of the border, Pakistan were to remain the refuge of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and then perhaps become their victim. I am convinced that a more determined policy on the part of all the Pakistani authorities is possible and is in their long-term interest. We are of course prepared to help them.
Preventing a confrontation between Islam and the West also requires that we encourage and help the forces of moderation and modernity in each Muslim country to enable an open and tolerant Islam - an Islam that accepts diversity as an enrichment - to prevail. In this area there is no miracle solution, no panacea. But developments in such countries as Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan and Indonesia show that despite major differences, there is a movement in societies, encouraged by governments. I call on our cooperation to strengthen programs focused on openness and dialogue among societies, in conjunction - why not - with representatives of Islam in France.
Preventing a confrontation between Islam and the West also involves helping - as France is proposing - the Muslim countries to gain access to the energy of the future, nuclear power, in compliance with the treaties and in full cooperation with the countries that have already mastered this technology. Go explain to a billion Muslims worldwide that they aren't entitled to civilian nuclear energy once they no longer have oil and gas; that they aren't entitled to the energy of the future; then we will be creating conditions for poverty, underdevelopment, and consequently, the explosion of terrorism.
Preventing a confrontation between Islam and the West entails, last but not least, dealing with the crises in the Middle East. Just five years ago, there was only one crisis in the region. Within five years, that number has grown to four, all very different, of course, but increasingly interconnected.
Everything has been said about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and much has been attempted. The paradox of the situation is that we know what its solution will be: two States - and as far as I'm concerned I'd like to add: two Nation-States - living side by side in peace and security within secure and recognized borders. We know the detailed content of this solution through the Clinton Parameters and the legacy of Taba. We have an idea of how far we have to go: the roadmap, which must certainly be revisited. Last but not least, we know the sponsors of peace: the members of the Quartet, now represented by a man of the first rank, Tony Blair, and the moderate Arab countries. Yet even though we know all this, everyone has the hopeless feeling that peace is no closer. We know what has to be done, we know who must do it, and yet it is stagnating.
Worse: we sometimes get the feeling that it is losing ground in hearts and minds. I have the reputation of being a friend of Israel and so I am. I will never compromise when it comes to Israel's security. But all the leaders of the Arab countries, starting with President Mahmoud Abbas - many of whom have come to Paris since my election - are aware of my feelings of friendship and respect for their peoples. This friendship enables me to say to the Israeli and Palestinian leaders that France is determined to take or support any useful initiative. But France has one conviction: peace will be negotiated first and foremost between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In the immediate future, our efforts - those of the Quartet and the moderate Arab countries - must be focused on rebuilding the Palestinian Authority under the authority of its President. But it is equally indispensable to revive, without delay, a genuine momentum for peace leading to the creation of a Palestinian State. If the parties and the international community again sidestep this goal, the creation of a "Hamastan" in the Gaza Strip may later prove in hindsight to have been the first step in a radical Islamist takeover of all the Palestinian territories. France is not resigning itself to that.
Lebanon has for centuries had a place in the hearts of the French. This friendship is not directed at one group or one clan: France is the friend of all the Lebanese without exception, because France is passionately committed to the full freedom, full independence and full sovereignty of Lebanon as demanded in Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701. It is this friendship that encouraged Bernard Kouchner to convene all the political players to La Celle Saint Cloud and then to meet with them in Beirut. The dialogue resumed there must continue with the goal of arriving at a positive solution to the crisis: a President elected on schedule, in accordance with the Constitution, with whom all Lebanese can identify and who is able to work with everyone - domestically with all the communities and abroad with Lebanon's major partners. All the regional players, including Syria, must take action to foster such a solution. If Damascus makes a move in this direction, the conditions for a French-Syrian dialogue would be established. Otherwise, they would not be.
We cannot remain indifferent to the tragedy of Iraq. Thanks to Jacques Chirac, France was and remains hostile to this war. That history has proved us right does not absolve us of the need to assess the consequences. What are these consequences? A nation that is falling apart in a merciless civil war; a confrontation between Shia and Sunni Muslims that has the potential to touch off a conflagration in the entire Middle East; terrorist groups setting up permanent bases, gaining experience before attacking new targets across the entire world; a world economy vulnerable to the slightest spark in the oilfields.
The only possible solution is a political solution. This political solution involves marginalizing extremist groups and undertaking a sincere national reconciliation process, at the end of which each segment of Iraqi society, every Iraqi, must be assured of fair access to the institutions and resources of his or her country; it also involves the definition of a clear prospect for the withdrawal of foreign troops. It is the expected decision on this issue that will force all the players to take the measure of their responsibilities and act in consequence. Then and only then can the international community, starting with the countries of the region, be able to act to best effect. France for its part is prepared to do so. This is the message, a message of solidarity and availability, that Bernard Kouchner has just conveyed to Baghdad. He was right to visit Baghdad, and he conducted this trip in a remarkable fashion.
The fourth crisis, which touches on the other three, is Iran. France maintains a forthright dialogue with the leaders of that country, which has proven useful on several occasions. Together with Germany and the United Kingdom, France has taken the initiative of negotiations in which Europe, joined by the United States, Russia and China, plays a major role. The parameters are known; I will not go through them except to reiterate that an Iran with nuclear weapons is unacceptable to me and to stress France's full determination in the current process, which combines increasing sanctions but also openness if Iran chooses to honor its obligations. This approach is the only one that can keep us from facing a disastrous alternative: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran. This fourth crisis is no doubt the most serious weighing on the international order today.
The solutions that are gradually emerging from the other "six-party" talks, which have resulted in North Korea's agreeing to forgo a military nuclear program and to shut down the reactor under IAEA supervision, demonstrate - following Libya's renunciation of weapons of mass destruction - that where there is a will there is a way. The Iranian people, a great people deserving of respect, aspires to neither isolation nor confrontation.
France will spare no effort to convince Iran that it has much to gain by engaging in serious negotiations with the Europeans, the Chinese, the Russians and of course the Americans.
Within a specific but highly emblematic, area I have endeavored to respond to the risk of confrontation between Islam and the West: I refer to the plan for a Mediterranean Union.
Just as the history of Europe is made up of centuries of hostility and war, the history of the peoples of the Mediterranean is made up of conquest and invasion. As in Europe, very strong bonds have been forged and our cultures have mutually enriched each other, sometimes even crossbred. This is especially the case between France and the countries of North Africa. The time has come to take a further step forward, which can be decisive, and to demonstrate the strength of this friendship through action rather than words.
The idea is not to overlook what has already been achieved: the Barcelona process, the 5 + 5 and the Mediterranean Forum. On the contrary, the idea is to go farther, between countries along the rim of our common sea, by taking the approach that Jean Monnet took to Europe - an approach based on practical solidarity. I propose building on four pillars: the environment; cultural dialogue; economic growth; and security. Let us, in each of these areas, work together to devise a number of ambitious but realistic projects that can mobilize States, companies, and civic organizations - all those wishing to take part in this great project. Let us in this way show our peoples that together we are able to build a future of shared prosperity and security for our children! In the Mediterranean, the best or the worst is hanging in the balance.
Naturally the European Union should, through its institutions and in particular the Commission, be a full-fledged player in the Mediterranean Union. An informal dialogue has already been initiated with the countries bordering the Mediterranean, including Libya, which I would like to encourage, now that the matter of the medical team has been settled, to rejoin the family of nations.
We must now begin preparing a first meeting of Heads of State and Government, to be held in the first half of 2008.
Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The last two challenges facing our world today cannot be addressed separately: on our ability to work with the emerging giants to build an efficient and just world order will directly depend our ability to respond to the threats of the 21st century which are, in particular, global warming, new pandemics and threats to the future of our energy supplies.
So far, it must be recognized, the response of the international community to the upheavals that began 17 years ago has not been commensurate with the issues at hand.
Since 1990, the bipolar confrontation has disappeared; the very concepts of Third World and Non-Alignment have lost their meaning. Economic, trade and financial liberalization, the information technology revolution and progress in transport have created a planet where interdependence reigns and where opportunities are pooled, but so are risks and crises.
Meanwhile, and in response to what has quite often been perceived as a Westernization of the world, there have been backlash and rejection, identity politics, religious and national attempts to return through violence to the mythical purity of golden ages. This reaction to globalization has the potential to unsettle and destabilize the world.
Alongside these developments there is a second reality that is no less a matter of concern: the world has become multipolar but this multipolarity, which could be the harbinger of a new entente among great powers, is drifting instead toward the clash of power politics.
The United States was unable to resist the temptation to resort to the unilateral use of force and is unfortunately not demonstrating, when it comes to protecting the environment, the "leadership" capacity that it claims in other areas. When one claims the mantle of leadership, one must assume it in every area.
Russia is imposing its return to the world scene by making somewhat brutal use of its assets, especially oil and gas, while the world, especially Europe, is hoping that it will make an important and positive contribution to settling the issues of our time that its regained status warrants. When one is a great power, one must eschew brutality.
China, engaged in the most impressive renaissance in human history, is transforming its insatiable quest for raw materials into a strategy of control, especially in Africa.
Currency itself, instead of being driven by the laws of the market, has become an instrument of power politics. The rules - labor, intellectual property and environmental standards - that States had gradually negotiated and adopted are all too often flouted.
Faced with the excesses of poorly managed globalization, faced with the risks of an antagonistic multipolar world, I am convinced that the European Union can make a major contribution to the emergence of an effective multilateralism based on compliance by all parties with common rules and on reciprocity.
Since 1990, a reunited Europe has, after five decades of division, recovered full responsibility for its destiny and the ability to once again have a decisive say in world affairs. It alone has acquired, through the long process of building its community, the practical experience of shared sovereignty that is suited to the demands of our time.
At the beginning of the 21st century, the world does not need a tabula rasa. The necessary institutions exist. The reforms undertaken in the United Nations system in 2005 are a step in the right direction. What has been lacking so far is the political will to complete them. France wants to see the necessary enlargement of the Security Council in both membership categories. France asks for new permanent members: Germany, Japan, India, Brazil and a fair representation of Africa.
The International Monetary Fund must also carry out indispensable reforms in order to better reflect and influence today's realities. This is exactly what's being proposed by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, our candidate and the EU's candidate for the post of Director General.
Finally, the G8 must continue its slow transformation, which got off to a good start with the Heilligendamm process. The dialogue conducted during recent summits with the top leaders of China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa should be institutionalized and scheduled for an entire day. The G8 can't meet for two days and the G13 for just two hours. That doesn't seem fitting, given the power of these five emerging countries. I hope that bit by bit, the G8 becomes the G13. Alongside economic consultations, the close cooperation between the most industrialized countries and the major emerging countries that is needed to combat climate change warrants this expansion. If the planet is to be protected it is indispensable that the main powers of this new world recognize common, but differentiated, responsibilities.
This new entente of great powers, from the enlarged Security Council to a G8 transformed into G13, must not leave out the defense and promotion of human and democratic rights. Globalization has contributed, in a development that I welcome, to the emergence of a world public opinion that is increasingly well informed and responsive. Through the media and through civic organizations, world public opinion has become a full-fledged player in international life. In the battle to promote the fundamental values of our Republic, a battle that is focused more on tangible results than on grand declarations, I intend to maintain a regular dialogue with our main NGOs. A first meeting was held at the ElysÃ©e in June; others will follow, especially on development issues in Africa.
I intend to be attentive to the African peoples. What do they expect of France today? I ask you, Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, to reach out to the grass roots of the continent and especially to its young people. In Dakar, I described my own views, with friendship and frankness. I was very touched by President Mbeki's epistolary and political support. I hope to hear, in the same spirit of friendship and frankness, what young people in Africa expect of our country before my upcoming trip to that continent.
Africa will remain a crucial foreign policy priority for us and a central focus of the European Union's cooperation policy. Africa is not the "sick man" of today's world. It does not need our charity. For several years it has posted an average annual growth of 5% and it could do better still if the local producers of certain commodities such as cotton were paid a fair price.
Africa has what it takes to succeed in globalization and France wants to help it do so.
France wants to accelerate its development. For Africa remains on the sidelines of world prosperity. It cannot make the most of its immense natural resources, too often threatened with pillaging, and it suffers more than others the effects of climate change. At the halfway point in the timetable for achieving the Millennium goals, we must therefore continue our assistance effort.
This involves more than financial assistance, though there is no doubt that our commitment must be maintained despite the difficulties that will affect the 2008 budget. We must also aim for better results. More assistance must entail more efficiency and thus substantial progress in management.
But there can be no development or prosperity without security. In this respect too, Africa is making progress. Of the many crises handicapping the continent, some are now being resolved, in the Great Lakes region and in West Africa alike.
The most tragic remains the crisis in Darfur. The suffering of the population places responsibility on us. This is why Bernard Kouchner and I called for France to be fully involved. We were very happy to receive the full and entire support of the United Kingdom. It is reassuring that the international community demonstrated its determination to act after the meeting of the enlarged contact group in on June 25 in Paris. The adoption of the resolution setting up the hybrid United Nations - African Union operation is a first achievement. The force must now be deployed as quickly as possible. The meeting in Arusha between the rebel factions at the beginning of this month opens up the prospect of a political solution - the only solution that can bring about a lasting settlement to the crisis.
To further mobilize the international community to address the challenges of peace and security in Africa, I have taken the initiative of convening a meeting of the Security Council, which I will chair, and which will take place on September 25 in New York at the level of Heads of State and Government.
Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you have surely understood, I have a very high opinion of France and of its role in today's world; I have great ambitions for the European Union and its natural place at the heart of an efficient and just multilateral system.
To carry out this ambitious foreign policy, France is fortunate to have, at the helm of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, four people of outstanding stature: Bernard Kouchner, who has my full trust; Jean-Pierre Jouyet, with whom I am very happy to work again after our earlier collaboration at the Ministry of Finance; Jean-Marie Bockel, who is dealing with extremely difficult issues; and Rama Yade, who offers the image of a multifaceted France that embraces its diversity. France is fortunate to have a diplomatic corps of very high quality. In receiving you today for the first time, I want to tell you that the work you are doing, with competence and talent, sometimes at the risk of your lives as in Beirut and Baghdad, does honor to our Republic. I ask you to remain fully engaged in your mission.
For this, your Ministry must have the resources to carry out its mission and recognition of its inter-ministerial role within our national strategy for France's success in globalization. The time has come therefore to move to a new phase in its modernization. This is the meaning of the letter that I, together with the Prime Minister, sent to the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs this morning. The Ministry will in particular be able to base itself, in conducting its discussions and preparing its white paper, on the report that Hubert VÃ©drine will be submitting to me in a few days' time, and on broad consultations.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this morning's meeting very important to me. It was a pleasure to receive you. I hope you have well understood that the government will show the same kind of voluntarism in the international arena that it is demonstrating domestically.