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New draft resolution on Mali at the UN (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - October 5, 2012)

Regarding the text that France is going to propose at the Security Council relating to an intervention in Mali: Do you know when the resolution will be examined and what type of intervention this will be? Will France only participate at a logistical level? Will French troops be involved?

Yesterday evening, France proposed a draft resolution on Mali to its Security Council partners. This resolution, if it is adopted, will firstly reaffirm the need to adopt a political solution to the Malian crisis, a solution that would notably involve the establishment of genuine dialogue between the Malian authorities and the non-terrorist rebel groups in northern Mali.

That will be the first aspect covered by this draft resolution. Regarding the second aspect, this resolution will call on the states and the organizations concerned, including the European Union, to respond as swiftly as possible to the request from the Malian authorities themselves for help in reforming the country’s armed forces. Regarding the third aspect of this draft resolution, and in light of the urgency of the terrorist threat in northern Mali, we want the Security Council to urge the Malian authorities, ECOWAS and the African Union to put forward as swiftly as possible a detailed concept of operations enabling the deployment of an African force.

On this basis, the Security Council will then subsequently be asked to authorize the deployment. President Hollande already stated that France was ready to provide logistical support to this operation. I would like to add - because this is the question you’ll ask me next (what exactly does this logistics support consist of?) - that we’ll respond to this question once we have the concept of operations, i.e. once the requirements – as articulated by the Malian authorities in cooperation with ECOWAS and the African Union – have been clearly defined.

In parallel with the work being carried out in New York within the framework of the United Nations, we would also like the EU to move forward, to clarify its response to the request for assistance issued by the Malian authorities. Indeed, we believe that the EU must play its full role in the international efforts to resolve the Malian crisis. The EU response is currently being discussed. It will be on the agenda of the next Foreign Affairs Council on October 15 and will therefore be clarified at that time.

Logistics is a vast topic; it could involve many things. Are the European countries – with France leading the way – considering providing air support to ground forces without putting boots on the ground? But they would provide support for aerial reconnaissance or even support for the ECOWAS forces through air operations?

We know what we don’t want to do: “no boots on the ground.” This was stated very clearly by President Hollande, the minister of foreign affairs and the minister of defense. We don’t want to give our views on what we want to do because in order to do that we need a clear definition of the requirements. We won’t have this clear definition of the requirements until the Malian authorities have defined what’s known as the concept of operations. Once we have that we will be able to indicate what type of logistical assistance we’re prepared to lend the force. This isn’t an expeditionary force that we’re sending to Mali. In order to be able to clarify our willingness in principle to lend support we have to wait for the Malian authorities to spell out what they want to do.

You said three points. Could this draft French resolution be a step toward a later resolution?

Exactly, it’s a two-step process.

And in this current draft resolution there are 3 points: talking to the non-terrorist groups. I’m not sure who this means.

The principle has been very clearly established; there’s no question of talking to the terrorists. However, we believe that a definitive solution to the Malian crisis can also be achieved through a political solution and that the Malians must therefore talk to each other and that the Malian authorities should talk to anyone that’s not classed as a terrorist, anyone who renounces terrorism, who renounces violence and who recognizes the need to ensure the territorial integrity of Mali. It’s up to the Malian authorities to initiate this political process on the ground. In very simple terms, there can be no political solution without genuine dialogue.

France’s draft resolution proposes sending a mission involving an African force. What would be the assignment brief? What would this African force in Mali actually do?

The draft resolution calls on the Malian authorities, in coordination with ECOWAS and the African Union, to present what’s known as a concept of operations, i.e. to define what this force will be, what its missions, its goals, etc. will be. It’s up to the Malian authorities to do that and it’s up to the Africans themselves to establish this force. Once we have all that, the Security Council will be able to adopt a second resolution authorizing the deployment and France will be able to clarify what type of assistance it will be able to provide to this force. It’s not the French who will establish this operation in Mali and it’s not the French who are responsible for planning or force generation.



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