Mali (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - Novembre 9, 2012)

Q - There’s talk of an EU mission to train 200 men. Do you confirm these figures?

A - I think it’s a bit too early to provide figures. Following on from the unanimous adoption by the Security Council of resolution 2071, the EU foreign ministers decided to start planning a mission to train and advise the Malian forces.

This is in response to the formal request made by the Malian authorities to the EU. This EU mission – and it doesn’t just have a military component – is more comprehensive in the Sahel; it also includes a political component and a humanitarian component.

Q - Is the idea of an intervention still just as unavoidable as we were told given that the statements issued by Romano Prodi, Ansar Dine and the Algerian interior minister offer different positions?

A - We have taken note of all that. The basis is resolution 2071 which has two components: a political component which we hope will move forward, i.e. dialogue with the groups in the north in accordance with two criteria: the groups must accept the territorial integrity of Mali, and secondly, the groups must renounce terrorism. And then there is the security aspect because there are obviously groups with whom a dialogue is impossible, notably the groups that don’t meet these criteria.

Q - How do you feel about that? There now seems to be division among the groups. Ansar Dine is asking for negotiations; you already spoke about this, but yesterday the Katiba from Niger also defected, returned to Niger and turned themselves in to the Nigerien authorities. Are you hopeful that the matter will resolve itself or will the intervention continue in accordance with the plans at the UN?

A - It is, first of all, up to the Africans to make these decisions and take these initiatives. We support the requests made by the Malian authorities, ECOWAS and the African Union. But the two components – the political component and the security component – are complementary and not mutually exclusive since there are groups with whom a political dialogue can be initiated and terrorist groups with whom a political dialogue is impossible.