French President Francois Hollande told the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday that the country’s forces will remain committed to Africa, particularly Mali, “to avoid a situation where terrorist organizations can take control of an entire country, and can destabilize an entire region.”
Hollande also announced a 2020 Agenda for Africa, “a continent full of promise,” to give everyone access to electricity.
“Two-thirds of Africans today do not have access to electricity. This is an injustice, but above all, it is an impediment to sustainable growth in Africa,” he said. “What is at stake here, therefore, is responding to the needs of 15 percent of the world’s population. What is at stake is permitting Africans to benefit from and to realize their immense potential for development. What is at issue here is reducing displacement of populations, by which I mean migration.”
“Migration destabilizes countries of origin, but also countries of destination. In Paris, therefore, during this conference, I launched an initiative for renewable energy in Africa. Ten donors, and I would like to thank those donors here, committed to donating $10 billion by 2020.” France is pitching in 20 percent, and the president called on other countries to partake in the “mutual investment which will be beneficial for the entire world.”
“I’m calling for that to be realized as quickly as possible, but there will be no development in Africa if that continent’s security is not guaranteed,” he added.
Hollande noted that the terrorist threat “had been stemmed” in Mali, but “other organizations are appearing – Boko Haram and al Qaeda – and here again, they are jeopardizing the security of a number of countries in West Africa, in the Sahel and the Lake Chad region.”
“Here again, France is present,” he declared. “France is present to support the armies in the countries concerned, to train them, to exchange information with them and also to support them in their fight against terrorism.”
“This is what we’ve done with Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and other countries and we should also continue this action with the United Nations and with the African Union. But let’s be clear. The security of Africans has to come also from Africans themselves, if we want to avoid interference from outside.”
His call for “development and for renewable energy,” he stressed, “is also a call for security for Africans so that we can equip their armies and give them the means to respond, and so that these African nations can organize themselves in a free and sovereign fashion around that development.”
Hollande vowed that the country hit hard by the Charlie Hebdo, November Paris and Nice attacks “will never resign itself” from the terror fight, “even though it’s difficult, especially if it’s difficult.”
“No country can say that it’s immune to the threat of Islamic terrorism. Fundamentalism, fanaticism which has claimed the individuals lost in our societies and radicalized them. No sea, and no wall, can protect a country from this tragedy, this scourge of terrorist attacks or aggression. However you want to name it, terrorism prospers from open conflicts that have for too long not been solved. It’s brought with it a wave of refugees,” the president said.
“It’s shaken the international order. The borders that we thought had been established, the law that we thought we could have respected, the collective security that was the very principle of the United Nations – in the face of these dangers, France once again turns to the United Nations.”
“…However, if we want to eradicate terrorism, if we want to act, then we need to take decisions. We can’t just talk about solidarity when a terrorist attack happens to a friendly country. We can’t just show compassion to the victims. We need to take on our responsibilities, every single time that it is useful. That is what France is doing. Not because it was attacked. As I said, every country is potentially a terrorist target these days. That’s not what I’m talking about. France takes on responsibilities because it’s a permanent member of the Security Council, and its role is not to block, but to act.”
Hollande said France “has no other enemies than the forces of hate and intolerance that use a religion that they have betrayed to incite fear.”
“Because we want to combat populism, which is taking advantage of the disarray to separate, divide, stigmatize, to oppose religions against each other, to play them off against each other,” he said. “…France is a secular country but a country which speaks to all religions and which assures freedom of religion in its own country.”