Rwanda - Article by M. Bernard Kouchner, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, published in the "Le Figaro" newspaper (excerpts)

Paris, 26 January 2008

Restoring relations with Rwanda, respecting the truth

By deciding, as soon as I took office, and with President Sarkozy’s agreement, to restore normal diplomatic relations with Rwanda, I knew that I was embarking on a tortuous but necessary path. I made this choice, knowing the country, with our common history in mind and remembering the tragedies we have suffered. (…)

France has not remained deaf to the serious accusations levelled against her Rwanda policy between 1990 and 1994. The parliamentary fact-finding mission chaired by Paul Quilès delivered very clear public conclusions: despite "errors of assessment" in our policy and particularly "military cooperation too closely involved [with the Rwandan army]" and an underestimate of the authoritarian, ethnic and racist character of the Rwandan regime", France and her soldiers in no way initiated, encouraged, assisted or supported those who orchestrated the genocide and sparked it in the days following the attack [of 6 April 1994 against President Habyarimana’s plane]. (…)

Normalizing relations with Rwanda is a necessity. The absence of diplomatic relations between two States is and must remain an exception. The negotiations under way to restore diplomatic relations are in no way tantamount to support for the Rwandan regime, but to a simple recognition of the Rwandan State, in accordance with international law. We must appreciate the fact that the status quo is detrimental to both our countries.

Engaged in vigorous economic and social development, Rwanda is today a key player in the stabilization of the African Great Lakes region. She is inescapably involved in the situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. And she is playing a major role in the Darfur crisis, where she is deploying a sizeable contingent in the African Union’s peacekeeping force.

It is particularly so that we can move forward on these issues that we have set about renewing the dialogue with the Rwandan authorities. President Sarkozy spoke to his Rwandan opposite number in Lisbon, promising soon to restore a normal dialogue between our two countries. It is with this in view that I intend pursuing my efforts to put an end to this anomaly in the relations of trust we maintain with all the African countries. (…)./.

Published on 07/02/2008

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