France and Niger in "same battle" against terror - President
Fight against terrorism – Niger – Statements by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, in his joint declaration with Mr Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger
Paris, 14 June 2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
This afternoon I had a meeting with President Mahamadou Issoufou, because Niger and France have special relations linked to history and also to the shared determination to combat fanaticism and terrorism.
Niger itself has paid a heavy price, and [has done so] again in recent days, with the attacks Boko Haram has launched from northern Nigeria, which sadly claimed the lives of several Nigerien soldiers and injured several others.
France has once again expressed its support for Niger and for the forces also there, partly in the framework of Operation Barkhane which we’re conducting. Our forces are at the disposal of the multinational force, which is itself being deployed as I speak.
But France is also being hit by terrorism. Last night there was an attack that was both appalling and cruel, against a man and a woman, a police commander and his partner, herself an Interior Ministry employee. To add to the pain and horror, these terrorist crimes were committed in front of their own child, a child aged three and a half.
Once again, I want to say France is concerned and affected, insofar as two of its bravest servants were attacked in this way. They were attacked because they belonged to the police. That’s what the terrorist – we’ll see who his accomplices were – intended to give his action: this terrible idea of attacking a man and a woman because they belonged to the police.
I’ll be standing alongside our country’s security forces, who, as I speak, are experiencing very great sadness and very great anger. The security forces have been exemplary, outstanding, in the fight against terrorism, since we’ve been especially affected in recent years. Those security forces must have the nation’s support. They will have it. They’ll also be eager to express, with us, their compassion for the families of the two public employees concerned and also for the children: the father had two children, and the couple had one child together. Our attitude to those children will be the only valid attitude: they’ll be recognized as war orphans, because their father, their parents, were targeted for belonging to the police and for representing the state and therefore the whole of France.
We’ll also be mobilized to the maximum level in the face of the terrorist threat. We have been for several months; I myself have ensured that additional resources can be deployed and that vigilance is increased to its maximum level. We’ll continue, because at stake are not only the defence of our principles, our values, but also the fight we’ve embarked on against Islamist terrorism and fanaticism everywhere, and particularly in Africa, and I’ll come back to this.
Ultimately we’re driven by the same cause: to ensure that those who want to develop their messages of hate can be prevented from doing do, those who want to destabilize entire regions, countries, can also be blocked and can be punished when they commit unspeakable acts, and those acts have occurred in recent months. My thoughts return to those girls kidnapped in Nigeria, to those men and women massacred in villages around Lake Chad, to what happened with Boko Haram’s latest attack. There you are: it’s the same battle, and you can’t dissociate either the countries or the people or the victims! They’re the victims of the same fanaticism, the fanaticism we have to overcome.
Finally, I want to emphasize the support France will provide Niger in this battle. There will be – we talked about it – a job of cooperation, training, equipment, intelligence, and France will also take part – as it pledged to do when I went to the Abuja summit in Nigeria – in support of the multilateral force, thus striking the necessary blows to Boko Haram.
Likewise, Barkhane is being deployed throughout the region and again in recent days in Mali, because there’s been an ever-repeated attempt by terrorist groups to destabilize northern Mali. I also discussed development with the President of Niger, because it was also a commitment I made during the visit I paid to Niger before the presidential election, to say we’re fully conscious of Niger’s needs. Among other things, we’ve decided to make an effort in our budgetary aid; we’re also going to mobilize the French Development Agency, particularly in relation to the Kandadji Dam, and we’re also going to ensure our businesses continue to invest, and there will be contacts between President Issoufou and the MEDEF [French business confederation] so that we can always have these investments in the region.
We must also ensure we control immigration, because Niger is a transit country, a country that is also seeing a lot of refugees coming from Mali, from Nigeria, and so it’s in our common interest to be able to control this migration. We’re going to do so in the framework of the programme we established together at the Valletta summit, with the whole European Union, so that there can quickly be access to the trust fund, access to finance, to encourage Niger’s development and the fight against immigration.
That’s what I wanted to say, at a very serious time when our two countries are themselves being attacked, at a time when terrorism must be combated with the necessary intensity and the essential cooperation, a time when we’re also conscious we must encourage development policies and confirm the partnership between France and Niger, and we consolidated and further extended this through President Issoufou’s visit.