26.08.2009 - Seventeenth Ambassadors’ Conference - Speech by Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic
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On September 15, 2008, a year after the beginning of the subprime crisis, the entire world was pushed to the edge of a precipice by the American authorities’ decision to let Lehman Brothers fail. A decision, let me remind you, that was taken without any consultation with the United States’ principal partners.
On that day, the world saw that endless deregulation and a blind trust in financial players’ sense of responsibility had led to widespread irresponsibility caused by the irresistible lure of quick profits.
On that day, the world saw that a certain form of capitalism based on speculation and unlimited competition between money markets threatened the real economy with death.
That day marked the end of a type of globalization in which market players imposed their own law, in which everything was subject to speculation, in which the price of oil or wheat, just like stocks, could double or triple in a few months before collapsing.
On that day, nations found themselves alone, confronted with their responsibilities.
They alone could stop the panic, restore confidence.
They alone, through their interventions, could prevent a chain reaction spanning the entire globe from carrying off the savings and jobs of tens of millions of men and women in an unprecedented disaster.
On that day, nations realized that they must imperatively work together, and that the only kind of health was collective health.
I will never forget the sleepless nights when we had to find the billions that were needed, before the markets opened the next morning, to save this bank or that country from collapse.
And I will never agree to allow those who plunged us into the most severe crisis since the 1930s to go back to the way things were before.
Faced with the temptations of a run-for-your-life, every-man-for-himself kind of attitude, and given the risk of national measures that would lead to the return of protectionism, on September 23 I stood before the United Nations on behalf of Europe and proposed holding a summit of major world leaders. A summit so that together we would adopt the necessary rules. Five weeks later, the Washington summit was held, and five months after that the London summit. I also asked that a third G20 summit be held at the end of September. It will take place in Pittsburgh.
Initial progress - unthinkable a year ago - was made, notably on tax havens. In Washington, France was the only one to fight for this issue ; in London, with Chancellor Merkel’s support, we pushed through the publication of a list ; and since then, we have seen spectacular progress - we obtained an end to bank secrecy ! These advances must be supplemented in Pittsburgh with the adoption of a complete list of counter-measures to apply as of 2010 to those who do not cooperate fully.
But much remains to be done to ensure that finance, which was at the root of this crisis, is now at the service of investment and growth. I am thinking in particular of the remuneration of market traders, or, to put it clearly, the scandal of bonuses. In London, we established principles. It is high time for them to be applied and reinforced. Let those who think they can go back to business as usual, the way it was before the crisis, understand that they will pay the price !
France will immediately implement the latest and strictest rules concerning bonuses, as outlined in my statement yesterday. France’s role is to spearhead change rather than to submit to it. When so many are suffering, it’s all too easy to say “ let’s wait for others to move before we ourselves make a move”. What is at stake in Pittsburgh is considerable and France will be saying to its partners “this is what we have decided to do, not what we are thinking of doing”. We will be tabling an international initiative aimed at implementing throughout the G20 member states, the rules of transparency, governance and responsibility that henceforth apply to France. We will propose tightening sanctions vis-à-vis banks that do not uphold the rules. Lastly, we will go yet further and raise the question of capping bonuses.
We must also work to adopt accounting standards that no longer favour the short-term, to the detriment of investments. And to rein in hedge funds, which remain insufficiently regulated and can throw entire markets into disarray. And finally, to have the IMF prevent systemic risks, so that we are no longer faced with situations in which the excessive indebtedness of certain countries threatens the financial stability of the entire world.
On all of these subjects, France will be uncompromising. We must see these reforms through. We cannot lose our momentum, we must act now.
But in Pittsburgh, other jobs await us.
First, the question of energy prices, notably oil. This is the other time bomb menacing tomorrow’s growth. If prices are too high, growth will be stifled. If they are too low, investments will cease, which after a few years would lead to a shortage and skyrocketing prices. Gordon Brown and I proposed to restart the producer-consumer dialogue. We must establish two objectives : the fight against market speculation and the determination of a reasonable price range. It is in Pittsburgh that we must launch this dialogue, because the main consumer countries will be sitting around the table as well as such major producers as Saudi Arabia, Russia, Canada and Mexico.
Meeting the global energy challenge also means promoting access to civilian nuclear energy. Thanks to its strategic choices in the 1970s, France is today the world champion of this clean energy. There will be no solution to global energy problems without an equitable sharing of civilian nuclear energy. Some 60 new countries around the world have already expressed their keen interest in electronuclear programmes. Access to civilian nuclear power is worthy of a substantive debate. It is a weighty choice, with long-term commitments and responsibilities. In the coming months, in conjunction with the IAEA, France will host a conference to help define this path for international civilian nuclear energy players. France’s choice is to cooperate without discrimination, thereby achieving one of the central objectives of the non- proliferation treaty.
In Pittsburgh we must also consider rebalancing the models of growth of the major economies. In this area too, the crisis meant the end of an era-that of the unsustainable imbalances of the United States and China, in which the former’s excess indebtedness responds to the latter’s excess saving.
President Obama can count on France’s support in his determination to transform the American social and economic model. But the inevitable rise in household saving and the necessary reduction of America’s gigantic deficits means that America will import less and will seek to export more.
China was able to react swiftly and strongly, firing up a new engine of growth : its domestic market. We should applaud this achievement. But its development model will still be based on exports for a long time to come.
How can we manage the inevitable tensions that will arise during this transition period ?
How can we withstand the protectionist temptations that exist everywhere ?
And especially, how can we avoid shifts in parity among the main currencies, which could lead to serious tensions ?
China and Russia have outlined proposals that show that the multipolar political and economic reality of today’s world must sooner or later be translated into monetary terms. A renewed international architecture, a strengthened IMF will make it possible to create the forums for debate and coordination that are more necessary than ever to avoid excessive, destabilizing currency fluctuations.
France stands ready, within the framework of the euro, to actively participate in this process. But it will not agree-let me say this loud and clear-to allow the euro alone to bear the brunt of adjustments, as in the past.
The last major issue that we must deal with and bring to a successful conclusion in New York, Pittsburgh and Copenhagen is climate change. It is forcing us to invent and finance a new, decarbonized kind of growth. Under the French presidency, Europe fully responded to scientists’ unanimous demands. So far, we are alone. It is essential for other industrialized countries, starting with the United States, to quickly state their medium-term objectives, in comparable terms. It is necessary in order to lead the major emerging countries toward an ambitious agreement in which each must do its part for the common effort.
The first topics to be discussed in Pittsburgh are major : nothing less than reforming capitalism to ensure the world’s stability and prosperity. The final one, climate change, is fundamental-the very future of humanity and our planet is at stake.
Reaching a conclusion in Copenhagen is crucial, and we must all assume our responsibilities. Any delay in action will be impossible to make up.
Time is not our ally. It is our judge, and we are already living on borrowed time.
To prepare these meetings where the future will be decided, on September 14 in Paris, France will present the conclusions of the commission that I appointed last year-headed by two Nobel Prize laureates in economics, Joseph Stieglitz and Amartya Sen-to examine the measurement of our economic performances. For we won’t change our behavior if we don’t change the way we measure our results. This international commission comprised of leading experts did a fascinating job. I ask you to publicize this meeting as much as possible so that leaders and experts worldwide will adopt its thinking, which will contribute to the economic and environmental changes that have become indispensable.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ambassadors,
These summits, which have followed one another at an unprecedented pace, must relegate one era to the past and lay the foundations of a new economy, one that is healthier, fairer, more sustainable, “greener.”
At the head of the European Union and within the G20, France has made multiple proposals to this end. It will continue to reaffirm its convictions and to lead all those throughout the world who are not resigned to inertia and the status quo.
The crisis frees us from the fetters of a doctrinaire approach. It forces us to think differently. It’s an opportunity.
While, in our globalized world, we must not underestimate the weight of economic and financial actors, over the past year the State has regained its position, and it must preserve it by unhesitatingly leading the way toward new global regulation.
Because our world is globalized with no possible way back, acting collectively is a categorical imperative. But we will succeed in the long term only if we establish ambitious objectives. If the objective is mediocre, who will be prepared to make commitments, to make fundamental choices ? It was this conviction that motivated me throughout our European presidency and which enabled me to adopt, for example, the “energy-climate” package. It is this same conviction that inspires me in the G8/G14 and G20 debates.
Beyond these three convictions, one fact is obvious : When the world emerges from the crisis, the hierarchy of power will no longer be exactly the same as when the crisis first broke out. China, India and Brazil, I am convinced, will come out higher.
At all times, whenever I make a decision, I ask myself the same question : Will this choice help France and the French to come out of the crisis stronger ?
François Fillon, Christine Lagarde and I acted very quickly to adopt a series of measures to stabilize our financial system, support economic activity and consequently jobs, and to protect those who are hit hardest by the crisis.
Because of our decisions, despite the difficulties and rising unemployment, the French economy is holding up better than those of its major partners. It is once again the world’s fifth-largest economy, between Germany and the United Kingdom.
But that is not enough : each decision must also help us prepare for the future. Each one must allow us to be better equipped for the new world that these successive summits are putting in place.
That is the entire purpose, notably, of the national loan that will be the subject of a wide-ranging debate this fall and will enable us to invest in sectors that are key to our future : science, research, innovation, green growth, universities and training. Investing in the future leads to more jobs, more growth and consequently the means of reducing our debt.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ambassadors,
The subject of the hierarchy of powers once the crisis ends is also of concern to Europe. The first question we must ask is : does the European Union want to be a power ? Does it want to be one of the principal players of the twenty-first century ?
The French presidency provided its portion of the answer by launching the Union for the Mediterranean ; by stopping the war between Russia and Georgia ; by leading the way through its responsible and collective management of the financial crisis ; by demonstrating, with the “energyclimate” package, that an ambitious agreement is possible in Copenhagen ; and by reviving European defence.
For Europe, where there’s a will there’s a way.
That said, Europe must have the institutions that will facilitate decision-making in a 27-member body. That is the challenge of implementing the Lisbon treaty, if the Irish referendum on October 2 has a positive outcome. Choosing the first stable president of the European Council and the High Representative / Vice President of the Commission will be of crucial importance and there will be no room for error. France has full confidence in the Swedish presidency as it leads us in these considerations.
With the entry in force of the Lisbon treaty proposed by France, 10 years of institutional debates are coming to a successful conclusion with the strengthening of the European Parliament ; an EU largely relieved of the rule of unanimity that was all too often synonymous with the lowest common denominator ; and the creation, finally, of a true EU diplomatic corps.
It will then become a matter of practice, and I would like to draw the lessons of my experience. More than any of my predecessors, I have sought to act collectively, working closely with the Commission and the European Parliament while listening attentively to each member state. The 27 states are equal in terms of rights. But is there anyone who failed to notice, notably with the crisis, that they are not all equal in terms of duties ? The responsibilities of each state are directly proportionate to their weight. This observation isn’t aimed at demanding the establishment of any particular structure. It simply implies an approach and a commitment that, now more than ever, it seems to me, are the hallmarks of Franco-German understanding.
In each crisis, on every major issue, Franco-German understanding and my friendship with Angela Merkel were powerful factors in helping Europe shoulder all of its responsibilities. There’s nothing exclusive about this understanding ; the United Kingdom-as Gordon Brown has demonstrated-Italy, Spain, Poland can make major contributions provided they adopt the same attitude. Beyond the rights of each state, what are the duties, the responsibilities that each nation is prepared to assume in order to make our European Union a leading actor in the 21st century ? An actor with a role it is destined to play because of its people, its scientific capacities, its economic and financial weight.
In order for Europe to once again make history instead of enduring it, it must first embrace and defend its values, not aggressively but firmly. That is what it did at our behest in Geneva when President Ahmedinejad delivered an unacceptable speech, and when it decided to strengthen sanctions on the ruling junta in Burma following the unjust sentencing of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Next, Europe must strengthen its military capacities by resolutely implementing the plan adopted under the French presidency. Europe is not one huge Red Cross ! It must be capable of acting militarily to defend its interests or simply peace, as it is already doing in the Balkans, Georgia, Chad and off the Somali coast.
It is in this spirit too that France rejoined the Atlantic Alliance’s military structures. Now that France is playing a full-fledged role in NATO, it is the Europeans who are the strongest in the Alliance. In a few days, I will receive NATO’s new secretary-general, and a French officer, General Abrial, will assume the leadership of one of the two major Allied Strategic Commands, the Transformation Command. The stakes are enormous : it is about building the transatlantic alliance we will need in the coming decades. The debate is under way. It should conclude in a year at the next NATO summit in Lisbon. France now has the means to make its weight felt in this debate.
In the coming months I will have the opportunity to clarify our views on another major issue that must see progress in 2010. I am referring to the organization of a vast common economic and human space between the European Union and Russia, our great partner. At the same time, we must move forward to renew our continent’s security-a renewal that, with President Medvedev, I hope to see completed within the framework of the OSCE. It is in this context that together we must all guarantee all of Europe a peaceful future based on respecting everyone’s security interests but also everyone’s freedom of choice.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ambassadors,
With so many rights come still more duties, and greater responsibility must also become the guiding principle for the reform of world governance.
This is a key subject : in a globalized world where no single power can resolve problems alone, where all nations are interdependent, where all subjects are connected, effective global governance is an absolute necessity.
Ever since I was elected, I have called for adapting international organizations to the realities of the twenty-first century. The crisis accentuated the obviousness of this need, and activity got under way immediately. But we are only at the beginning. President Lula and I proposed to our G14 counterparts an “Alliance for Change” to reform world governance, and France will spare no effort to ensure that reforms are carried out in full.
The first institutions in need of reform are those informal bodies that are irreplaceable drivers. The G8’s transformation into the G14, with the addition of China, India, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa and Egypt, was an important step this year, thanks to the Italian presidency. I hope to see the Canadian presidency in 2010 organize the key aspects of the upcoming summit in the G14 format. My intention is to complete this transformation under the French presidency in 2011.
At the same time, France intends to develop with each of these great emerging countries a relationship that is in keeping with their responsibilities in the twenty-first century.
The G20, focused on economic and financial issues, has turned out to be an effective format but its composition has not been fully established. We intend to work in the G20 in line with the IMF reform ; the Fund’s managing bodies-its ministerial Monetary and Financial Committee and its Executive Board-must become more political, better articulated with the G20 ; their decision-making methods must also evolve to reflect the reality of a multipolar world.
Finally, the Major Economies Forum, which for the past two years has been playing a useful role in the search for ambitious, well-balanced compromises for climate negotiations, should no doubt be maintained after Copenhagen to oversee, among the principle players, the proper implementation of the agreement to be concluded in December.
These three informal bodies cover the major fields of negotiation of our time : global subjects, economic and financial issues, and a climate agreement. For the most part, their membership is the same, with the G14 members at the heart of the system.
These three bodies, which are relatively effective, do not however enjoy the legitimacy that only universality confers. Now more than ever, our globalized world needs the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. And these organizations too must be in a position to better assume their responsibilities.
It is this need that is leading France, together with the United Kingdom, to resolutely plead on behalf of an interim Security Council reform. Everything must be done to ensure that the next General Assembly session makes decisive progress in this direction.
Beyond that, as I told the UN secretary-general, all the major UN bodies and specialized institutions must change, with an obsessive focus on effectiveness.
The reform of the IMF and World Bank, guided by the G20, should be completed by January 2011 according to decisions taken in London. I am glad that the G14 decided to get to work on that of the UN, taking a thematic approach beginning with all the organizations responsible for dealing with one of the main tragedies of our time : food security.
At France’s proposal, a global partnership for food and agriculture was adopted last year and, at the behest of the United States and Italy, it was decided at the L’Aquila summit to contribute 20 billion dollars to this partnership. Still-and this is the G14’s ambition-the FAO, the WFP, the FIDA as well as the World Bank and regional development banks must join forces in a cohesive, coordinated approach.
After food, I would like the G14 to establish a diagnosis and to present proposals for all the international organizations-there are no fewer than eight-that deal with health issues. Given such scourges as AIDS and perhaps in the very near future an H1N1 flu epidemic, nations must be assured of a response capability that is equal to the various threats.
The proliferation of international organizations is itself a real problem. The environment illustrates this to the point of caricature : each sectoral agreement has its own follow-up and oversight body. The time has come to create a real World Environmental Organization, an anchor for all the tools that are currently dispersed. Copenhagen should lend a decisive impetus to its creation. Its vocation, of course, would be to ensure follow-up for the international community’s 192 member states.
Finally, there’s one last governance issue that is close to my heart. I spoke to you about it last year, and I discussed it in June at the ILO in Geneva, starting with a simple observation : in each international organization, the same 192 states are adopting rules without worrying about an overall vision.
France proposes that the ILO, followed by the World Environmental Organization, have their say at the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank whenever the eight core labor standards or essential clauses of climate agreements are challenged. For example, if the principle of a border adjustment mechanism were to be adopted in Copenhagen, its implementation should be assured in cooperation with the WTO and the future World Environmental Organization.
In short, it would be a way of ending a form of schizophrenia in the international community. It would also correct the excesses caused by a “merchandising of the world” by placing labour law, environmental law and trade law on an equal footing.
As with every new idea, resistance will be strong. But the current crisis, in all its dimensions - financial, economic, social, environmental - is forcing us to substantially re-think globalization, which has gone astray.
In 1945, the leaders of the day had the wisdom to build, on the ruins of World War II, the United Nations with the San Francisco charter, and the IMF and World Bank with the Bretton Woods agreements. Today the challenge is even weightier, more complex. We cannot be satisfied with half-measures. We cannot stop before reaching our destination.
I would like to thank Bernard Kouchner for his daily commitment and for the flair he gives our foreign policy, assisted by Alain Joyandet and Pierre Lellouche. I wish to pay tribute to his determination to reform his ministry : he is now tackling the issue of cultural action abroad, and he is right. We must be bold. I know that I can rely on him. I also want to thank Bernard Kouchner for making all of these subjects the focus of your conference. I ask each one of you to vigorously convey France’s message and to listen to the expectations, the concerns and the hopes of the people among whom you live. Our voice will be heard all the more strongly if it reflects the aspirations of the largest number of people.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ambassadors,
Time is not our ally. It is our judge. I said this with respect to the threats against our planet as a result of climate change. I have this same conviction with respect to the crises that are threatening global security. They perpetuate themselves amid the international community’s inexcusable impotence. Each passing year brings further tensions and hatreds and makes the search for a solution that much more difficult. Yes, time is our judge and letting it fly by is a mistake.
This is true in particular for the Middle East conflict, whose implications are global. Everyone is aware of the parameters of peace, and the path that leads there has been mapped out. We mustn’t wait any longer. In early September I will receive President Mahmoud Abbas to encourage him to accelerate the renewal of structures that in the near future will govern the Palestinian State. And I hope that today’s meeting between the Prime Minister of Israel and the U.S. President’s envoy will finally lead to a specific, complete freeze on settlements and the revival of negotiations.
If that is the case, France, together with Egypt, with the agreement of the Swedish EU Presidency and in concert with the United States, will invite all the member countries of the Union for the Mediterranean to hold a second summit this fall that would accompany the resumption of all three tracks of the peace negotiations.
France, which has renewed a constructive relationship with Damascus, is prepared to assist in the discussions between Syria and Israel if the two parties confirm that that is their wish. In Lebanon, where the progress achieved over the past 18 months is a hopeful sign, we call for the speedy formation of an effective national unity government.
Time is not on our side either in the two nuclear proliferation and ballistic crises in Iran and North Korea. They are developing under our very eyes, day by day, and if we do not act, others might follow their lead. We won’t be able to say that we weren’t warned !
In Iran, in particular, the political crisis overshadowed the fact that during the crackdown, proliferation hasn’t ceased ; there are ever more nuclear materials, ever more missile tests and there has never been so little negotiation.
It is the same leaders who are telling us, in Iran, that their nuclear program is peaceful and that their elections were honest. Frankly, who believes them ?
Choosing their leadership is the Iranian people’s responsibility. But preventing proliferation is ours. Barack Obama took the right decision by offering his hand and joining the Europeans, Russians and Chinese. The six parties are prepared to sit down tomorrow at the negotiating table. But for that we need a partner, an interlocutor who is prepared to negotiate seriously. Yet we have received no positive response. We will take stock of the situation at the end of September. But let’s be clear : if Iran doesn’t change its policy, we are headed straight for a major crisis.
France would then support harsh economic sanctions in the Security Council and the European Council, sanctions equal to what’s at stake. And it will propose giving the IAEA reinforced inspection powers for situations of this kind.
I would like to take this opportunity to salute our ambassador to Iran, Bernard Poletti, whom I have raised to the rank of Ambassador of France. He honors France through his courage, the sharpness of his analyses and his firm defense of our values and interests.
The passage of time is also not our ally when it comes to international terrorism. The threat is still there, as the attacks in Mumbai demonstrated. The terrorists are betting on the weariness of Western opinion in order to resume their activities in Afghanistan, in Pakistan and now too in Somalia and the Sahel.
Still, progress is being made. The Afghan elections unfolded smoothly, despite the worst threats. By going to the polls, the Afghans said no to barbarity and terrorism ; they said yes to peace, democracy and progress. That in itself is a success. As we await the final results, I would appeal to all candidates and their supporters to show a strong sense of responsibility.
In Pakistan, civilian and military authorities finally assumed their responsibilities when confronted with a situation that was becoming uncontrollable. We must support them.
It is now that we must act against terrorism wherever it seeks to profit from the weakness of national governments to take root.
It is for this reason that France will remain strongly engaged, with its Allies, alongside the Afghan people. This year, it will complete the transfer of responsibilities for the security of the central region to the Afghan authorities. It will focus civilian and military assets on the eastern districts, with the aim of stabilizing them in two years.
We must work hand-in-hand with civil society. In the coming months I will invite Afghan women engaged in the rebuilding of their country to come testify and receive the support of the French.
We will also mobilize our efforts to support Africa in the face of the growing threat of al-Qaeda, whether it be in the Sahel or in Somalia. What happened in recent months, notably in Mali, Niger and Mauritania, is a clear signal. Let me say loud and clear : we will not allow al-Qaeda to establish a sanctuary on our doorstep, in Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ambassadors,
2010 will be an important year for relations between Africa and France : fourteen former colonies will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their independence. It will therefore be a year dedicated to faithfulness in friendship and solidarity. But I also want 2010 to signal the completion of a substantive overhaul in our relations with the continent.
Two major events will honour both this faithfulness and this renewal.
First the Africa-France summit, which will be held early in the year in Egypt. I would like nongovernmental actors to be closely associated with its preparation, for example through a business forum and a meeting between development associations and migrants. The summit, strictly speaking, would be the official component of a broader process on which Bernard Kouchner and Alain Joyandet, with the assistance of our ambassadors, will consult with our African partners.
Then, on July 14, the [Bastille Day] parade on the Champs-Elysées will include contingents from the former territories of sub-Saharan Africa that contributed to the liberation of our country during both World Wars. All the pertinent heads of state will be invited. France knows what it owes to Africa ; it will express its gratitude. But this event will also be future-oriented. In late 2009, our defense agreements with eight African countries will be renegotiated from a radically new perspective : France now perceives its role first and foremost as supporting the creation of African forces capable of collectively ensuring the security of their continent within the framework of the African Union’s defense initiative.
The instruments of our economic presence too must be substantially overhauled, in a context of increasing our public aid effort. Despite the crisis, our aid budget will rise from 0.38% of our GDP in 2007 to 0.44% in 2009. 60% of that total will go to Africa.
At my request, the French Development Agency created a fund to support private initiatives that will amount to 2.5 billion euros over five years. I would like our businesses too to evolve and show the way : perhaps they could sign a charter in which they would pledge to show greater transparency and respect for social and environmental rights. Or they could commit to targeted objectives for the private African ownership of company shares, the local recruitment of executives, on-site subcontracting and ongoing training.
That would be the best response they could give to unjust but all too widespread suspicions that they are exploiting African resources for their sole profit. It would also be a challenge to the businesses of other countries, that-and this is all to the better-are finally taking an interest in this continent.
During this 50th anniversary of independence, we must also showcase Africa in France and highlight the contributions of French nationals of African descent. A congress of African associations in France could be one major event. But I hope there will be many other initiatives throughout our entire country, such as, for example, the introduction of pre-colonial African history in our textbooks.
To run events during this exceptional year, I have asked Jacques Toubon to head an interministerial structure. He will be in regular contact with all the pertinent ambassadors.
And I chose Jean-Pierre Raffarin to be my personal representative to the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. He will prepare the upcoming summit-another high point of 2010-with the authority and passion for which he is known.
Overhauling our Africa policy also means continuing to strengthen solid partnerships with the major players : South Africa, Nigeria and Angola. It means contributing to peace through new initiatives in Sudan and in the Great Lakes region. Finally, it means always promoting respect for the values of democracy and human rights enshrined in the great documents of the United Nations and the African Union.
Faithfulness and renewal : these two words sum up France’s message very well. A faithful friend, faithful to a long shared history, France knows that Africa is changing, that its young people want a different future. France intends to accompany it on this journey and listen to what Africa has to say.
Ladies and gentlemen, Ambassadors,
From the very beginning, mankind has not evolved in a linear fashion from advance to advance, with brief pauses before moving forward again. All civilizations have experienced phases of decline ; some have vanished.
What is radically new about our era is that despite different traditions and cultures, despite the reaffirmation of identity politics here and there, the world has found unity, mankind is now one. The threats it is now facing are global. Our responses must be as well.
The questions facing the leaders of our time are momentous : Will we, together, be able to provide the necessary responses to avoid a potentially fatal decline and to continue humanity’s forward march ? Will we be able to avoid a clash of civilizations and religions by resolving regional crises ? Will we be able to reform the only effective economic system, capitalism, by making all the necessary decisions ? Will we be able to make the urgent choices confronting us to limit climate change ?
We have diplomatic cooperation, technical and scientific tools, and economic and financial means at our disposal to respond positively to these questions upon which our future depends. Everything today rests on the wisdom and collective resolve of the leaders of this new concert of nations, the relative powers of the twenty-first century.
In a way, the construction of Europe, despite all its imperfections, has shown the way. After two World Wars that led our civilization to the brink of collective suicide, visionary leaders 50 years ago were able to show their people that a shared future of understanding, peace and prosperity was possible.
It is this same journey that France is proposing today to the world’s major leaders, with two convictions : there is no other path toward a better future ; and the time for decisions and actions is not tomorrow, it is today.