Iraq - International Conference on Peace and Security (Paris, 15/09/2014)
Opening speech by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic / Photo : Présidence de la République
Mr President, Fuad Masum, your presence here alongside us reflects the purpose of the initiative we ourselves have launched. We wanted a conference on security and peace in Iraq and against terrorism to be held with you, here in Paris.
I thank all the countries present here - about 30 in number. I also welcome the European Union, the Arab League and the United Nations Special Representative, because the international community is here in Paris today for Iraq.
This conference has a single goal: to lend the new Iraqi authorities the political support necessary for them to combat a major threat, which is called Daesh [ISIL] and poses a major risk to Iraq, the Middle East region and the world. The cowardly murder of David Haines is a frightening illustration of this, if any were needed.
That terrorist group has not only beheaded journalists and humanitarian workers but also perpetrated massacres and atrocities against civilians. That terrorist movement has attacked the weakest: women and children. That terrorist movement has also attacked religious minorities, which it has hunted down in order to eliminate a number of communities. That terrorist movement has been deployed over a whole territory, in Iraq and Syria. That terrorist movement holds borders in contempt and even intends to found a state. Such is the threat: it’s global, so it requires a global response.
This response must come from the Iraqis themselves, and that’s why I welcome the sense of responsibility of the new authorities in Iraq, who have managed to begin dialogue and form a national unity government under the authority of Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, enabling each sector of the Iraqi people to be respected and thus ensuring its unity and sovereignty. This was the essential condition for restoring trust and ensuring unity.
But unity is also necessary at international level. In its Resolution 2170, the Security Council declared that Daesh is a huge danger for the world’s security. So the Iraqis’ fight against the terrorists is also ours. And we must commit ourselves together - that’s the purpose of this conference - alongside the Iraqi authorities, clearly, steadfastly and strongly. And there’s no time to lose.
This assistance must, first of all, be humanitarian. Nearly two million people have been displaced, and in Arbil on Friday I myself saw the distress of those who had left everything behind in the face of the terrorists’ advance. For the sake of those families, for the sake of those women and children, we must embark on an exceptional effort.
A real humanitarian bridge must be established, and the United Nations’ action on the ground - which, incidentally, is outstanding - must be strengthened. But we should be effective - that too is the purpose of this conference -, raise funds from friendly countries, deliver the essential provisions and equipment, and take in the people most under threat in the region and sometimes beyond.
Iraq also needs military support. Iraq’s friends must coordinate their action to respond to the Iraqi authorities’ requests. For its part, France has already delivered equipment, in coordination with Europe and those countries that were able to join us. The United States has acted, and that’s the purpose of President Obama’s initiative to form a broad coalition to combat Daesh. Many countries have responded to it, in the region and beyond, and France will play its part in it.
But Iraq isn’t the only country concerned: Daesh has settled in Syria and threatens the whole Middle East. That terrorist movement also appeals to fighters from all over the world, and each country - including mine - is concerned. So we must do everything to combat the indoctrination of our young people, prevent them being recruited, smash the jihadist networks, deprive Daesh of its resources and punish all those associated with it from near or afar. At this very moment, the French Parliament is debating a bill which will seek to nip those movements in the bud, combat the networks and punish those responsible.
The response to the terrorist threat is also political, and the international community must find a lasting solution where the movement was born, i.e. in Syria. Let me remind you that over the past three years now, the crisis in Syria has claimed 200,000 victims - 200,000 deaths. The chaos plays into the terrorists’ hands, so we’ve got to support those who can negotiate and make the compromises necessary in order to protect Syria’s future. And for France, these are the democratic opposition forces; they must be supported by every means. Here too, France is playing its part with the regional partners who have understood what’s at stake in Syria.
Finally, at this conference I want to draw attention to the urgent need to protect the unity and sovereignty of Lebanon, because Lebanon is taking in nearly two million Syrian refugees. France and Saudi Arabia have decided to support the Lebanese army in equipping itself to ensure, here too, Lebanon’s security and unity. I also know that under the aegis of the United Nations Secretary-General the [International] Support Group for Lebanon is coordinating international aid going to that country. I’m also thinking of Jordan, which also has to benefit from the international community’s support.
That is what’s on the agenda of our conference, which must consider every dimension of the solidarity we must bring Iraq: political support for the new authorities, enabling reconciliation and unity; humanitarian aid to protect and assist civilians and refugees; finally, fighting Daesh, a terrorist movement which, as we know, doesn’t rule out any methods, and it’s everyone’s concern.
By holding this conference, the countries meeting here are showing their solidarity with Iraq, and I thank them for it. But they’re also expressing their shared desire to protect themselves against terrorism and act accordingly.
This is why I thank you for being here; it will make this Paris conference a landmark in rallying the international community in support of Iraq and the new authorities.
I once again welcome President Fuad Masum’s presence here.