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14 January 2013 - Mali - Remarks to the press by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(in French and in English)

La France avait demandé une réunion du Conseil de sécurité pour faire un point d’information sur la situation au Mali.

Comme le Président de la République et le ministre des Affaires étrangères l’ont déclaré, la France veut agir en totale transparence avec nos partenaires du Conseil de sécurité que nous avions déjà réunis à la veille de l’opération et que nous continuerons de tenir informés tout au long de l’opération. Je crois pouvoir dire après cette réunion du Conseil de sécurité que la France bénéficie de la compréhension et du soutien de tous ses partenaires. Le Secrétaire général vient lui-même d’affirmer son soutien à l’opération que conduit la France à la demande des autorités maliennes.

Tous nos partenaires du Conseil de sécurité ont naturellement reconnu que la France agit en conformité avec la légalité internationale, en conformité avec la charte des Nations unies, puisque la France est intervenue à la demande des autorités maliennes. Comme l’a dit l’ambassadeur de la Fédération de Russie, nous agissons par ailleurs dans l’esprit des résolutions 2056, 2071 et surtout 2085 qui appelle les Etats membres à soutenir les forces maliennes contre les groupes terroristes et dont la mise en œuvre sera facilitée par notre intervention militaire.

Sur le plan politique, la priorité de la politique française n’a pas varié : c’est la mise en œuvre rapide de résolution 2085 dans toutes ses dimensions, à travers notamment le déploiement immédiat des troupes africaines pour appuyer les forces maliennes. L’Union africaine, la CEDEAO et les autorités maliennes seront donc en mesure de reprendre en main ce processus avec l’aide internationale. Les troupes africaines vont pouvoir se déployer dans les prochains jours.

L’intervention militaire n’est qu’un aspect. Elle doit encourager le processus politique de normalisation qui doit se poursuivre ; processus politique de normalisation à Bamako, mais aussi processus de réconciliation inter-malienne.

Il est donc essentiel que les Maliens adoptent le plus rapidement possible une feuille de route, créent une structure de négociation avec les groupes armés du Nord qui se dissocient du terrorisme. Les Nation unies doivent l’appuyer dans tous les aspects et notamment la planification militaire de l’opération africaine. Mais elles doivent surtout appuyer les propositions qui doivent être faites par le président Buyoya, représentant de l’Union africaine, par l’équipe du Président Prodi, pour, une fois la stabilisation de la situation militaire obtenue, lancer un processus de négociations entre le Nord et le Sud.

Je le répète, l’intervention française a été le résultat d’une urgence, c’est-à-dire d’une offensive des troupes terroristes. Mais une fois arrêtée l’offensive terroriste, nous devons mettre en œuvre le plus rapidement possible la résolution 2085 dans toutes ses dispositions, c’est-à-dire avant tout un processus de négociations politiques entre le Nord et le Sud.

Q : Est ce que l’intervention française change le calendrier de l’ONU, comment est ce qu’on fait pour former une armée qui est déjà en train de se battre sur le terrain, l’armée malienne, et quand verra-t-on les premières troupes africaines de la MISMA sur place ?

En ce qui concerne les troupes africaines, je crois qu’elles sont en train d’arriver. Il y a déjà sur place le commandant de la force qui est un général nigérian. Nos partenaires, notamment occidentaux, fournissent des moyens logistiques. Nous devrions pouvoir avoir sur place, dans les jours et les semaines qui viennent, les premiers contingents africains. D’une certaine manière, l’offensive terroriste et la réaction française vont accélérer le déploiement de la force africaine.

Ensuite, concernant le calendrier, ce sera aux militaires de décider. Les contingents vont arriver à Bamako. Il va falloir estimer leurs capacités et voir ce dont nous avons besoin pour les rendre opérationnels.

Q : Can you repeat in English ?

France has requested a meeting of the Security Council because we want to act in a total transparency with the United Nations. The same way that we had a meeting on Thursday before launching the operation, we wanted to have another meeting now that the operation has been launched. We will keep the Council informed in the coming days.

What I can say about this meeting is that all the members of the Security Council have expressed their support and their understanding of the French decision. The statement made by the Secretary-General, who had a long conversation with Laurent Fabius yesterday, expressed this support too.

All the members of the Security Council have recognized that we were acting in perfect international legality, on the basis of the UN Charter and upon the request of the Malian authorities.

Another point, raised by the Russian Ambassador, is that we are also acting in the spirit of the resolutions, in particular of resolution 2085. And we all agree that we should go back to the implementation of resolution 2085.

Our political priority has not changed: it is the quick implementation of resolution 2085 in all its dimensions, especially through the immediate deployment of the African forces. African forces are going to be deployed in the coming days or weeks. The head of the force, a Nigerian General, is already in Bamako and we are grateful to some of our western partners who are providing logistical support to bring African forces to Bamako.

But at the end of the day, the real solution will be a political one. So we want to support a political process in Bamako and also the reconciliation between Malians of the North and the South, the negotiations with the armed groups who dissociate themselves from terrorism. We hope that the UN will support this process in all its dimensions.

Q: Is there a Malian army left to support or to train because there have been so many defections? Secondly, what about those benchmarks that have been set in the resolutions?

The Malian army has been attacked, they have been obliged to withdraw from Konna, they have suffered heavy casualties. But they are fighting and they are fighting in very difficult circumstances.

Once again, we have not started the real implementation of resolution 2085. In the coming weeks, in the coming months, it will be necessary to go through the benchmarks you are referring to, to the process of resolution 2085. Nothing has changed in this respect. Allow me to say that we are in the very first days with new circumstances. We may have to adjust, but we are remaining in the framework of resolution 2085.

Q: Will the first task of the African force change from training to actual combats and also you need a lot of airlift, you have sufficient airlift support of your Western partners. Do you have any new offers of support on that front of the US or others?

In terms of logistical support, we have receive proposals by the US, Canada, UK, Denmark, Belgium, maybe Germany – there are a lot of countries which are providing logistical support. We have to adjust to the new reality but we are in the framework of 2085, so the first thing for the African force is to be a force. We have contingents arriving in Bamako. I am not a military but I do not imagine sending these contingents to the field before first having assessed the military capabilities, having created a real force, having gone through the benchmarks of the resolution 2085.

Q: After the French intervention, do you think that what is happening is going to be a long-term process?

I do not know.

Q: What is the first step in the political process you are talking about? How do you think it would work, particularly since there hasn’t been an interest in negotiations so far?

First, there has been a negotiation, which has been conducted by President Compaoré and Mr Bassolé from Burkina Faso. We have had a political process. What we have been asking to the Malians for sometime is to agree, on a national basis, to a roadmap for negotiations. We would like to have this roadmap agreed in some form by the Malians, and after that, of course, this roadmap implemented in order to have something which has been agreed in Bamako, which is strong and sound-based for negotiations with the North.

Q: Just now Ambassador Bamba of Côte d’Ivoire seems to think that you are operating under resolution 2085, how will we know when you are? It says that the Secretary-General was supposed to confirm in advance with the satisfaction of the Council, will you tell us when you are? And also is Captain Sanogo in any way involved in the Malian military defence of Bamako, and what do you think of that?

Captain Sanogo has an official role in the Malian army so I guess he is involved but I do not have precise information about it.

There is a real question raised by one of the members about how we are going to shift from what is a French emergency operation to the implementation of resolution 2085. First, we are in the context of resolution 2085. Secondly, we want to implant it as soon as possible. So there will be the question of determining if we need a formal transition or not. As it is in resolution 2085, there were questions before, there are the benchmarks, the OP11 “expressions of the satisfaction of the Security Council”… So there is a process and we will follow the process. But we are in the very first steps. First we need to have the African contingents in Bamako. They have not arrived yet.

Q: Can you explain to us what is at stake here, why this is this so significant and do you think the international community has rally around your cause enough, what would you like to see happen?

As for the rallying of the international community, we had an extraordinary expression of support. I have not heard any country or any institution - maybe Ansar Eddine - expressing disagreement with what we have decided. This has been the case with the UN Secretary-General in his phone call with Laurent Fabius and today publicly around the table with the fifteen. France is very grateful of all these expressions of support to our soldiers who are risking their lives.

Nobody can say that France wanted to enter into a military operation. For the last twelve months, the French diplomacy looked for a political and diplomatic solution. We have tabled three resolutions which all of them are calling for a political settlement between the North and the South and giving to the Malians and the Africans the unique role for re-establishing the territorial integrity of Mali.

Suddenly, the terrorist armed groups launched an offensive. They have taken the city of Konna. At this moment, our assessment was that they were totally able to take Bamako. So we decided that the existence of the state of Mali and, beyond Mali, the stability of all West Africa were at stake.

With determination but also with reluctance we decided that we had no other choice but to launch this military intervention. We will conduct it as long as it will be necessary.

Q: Certains au Conseil de sécurité souhaitaient une réconciliation politique avant toute intervention militaire, maintenant on a une intervention militaire, cela ne met-il pas en danger une réconciliation politique ?

La question maintenant est de savoir si les groupes armés du nord qui veulent négocier n’y verront pas finalement la preuve qu’il n’y a pas d’autre voie que la négociation. Nous prouvons aux groupes armés du nord qu’ils ne pourront pas l’emporter par les armes, que la détermination française est totale et que nous défendrons Bamako.

Nous ne laisserons pas tout le sud du pays, treize millions d’habitants, tomber sous la violence des groupes terroristes. Nous attendons des groupes armés du nord, dont certains ont des revendications de longues dates, qu’ils comprennent que la seule voie est la voie de la négociation. Notre objectif, les autorités françaises l’ont dit, est la reprise des négociations entre le nord et le sud, c’est la solution politique.


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Organisation des Nations Unies Présidence de la République France Diplomatie La France à l'Office des Nations Unies à Genève Union Européenne Première réunion de l'ONU