Interview de l’Ambassadeur dans le journal hebdomadaire chypriote Reporter [el]
L’Ambassadeur de France à Chypre, M. Jean-Luc Florent, a donné une interview au journal hebdomadaire chypriote Reporter vendredi 20 novembre, qui a été publiée dans l’édition du 22 novembre.
- What are the elements that change, in your opinion, the situation in France and the European Union in general after the multiple terrorist attack in Paris ?
These multiple terrorist acts have been characterized by their savagery and the clear intention to kill as many innocent people as possible. As François Hollande put it, these are acts of war decided and planned in Syria, organized in Belgium and perpetuated on our national soil with French complicities. The aim was to spread terror among us in order to divide the French people and put us under pressure to prevent us from reinforcing our fight against terrorism in the Middle-East.
Syria has become the largest fabric of terrorists ever. The international community - and the EU in the first instance - has to reinforce its unity and coherence in its efforts to fight this phenomenon. Beyond France, the EU in its entirety has been targeted by these attacks. The young people assassinated in Paris were French, but also Belgian, Romanian, Swedish, Spanish, British, German, and also American, Algerian, Tunisian, among others. And beyond Europe, the entire international community is affected by the growing terrorist activities of DAESH. Lebanon, Russia, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, the Syrian people. The list of targets and victims of this terrorist group is getting longer. It has to stop.
- What are the steps needed to be taken by the European Union to fight the phenomenon of terrorism that threats both Europe but the whole world also ?
We are asking you because there is too much criticism against European Union for its foreign policy, in relation with countries that nurture Terrorism. Does this foreign policy of the European Union and the way the refugee problem is managed has to be changed ?
Harlem Désir expressed it very well at the last Foreign Affairs Council : “the EU solidarity is beyond value. Our cohesion is essential. Our unity is vital. Our coordination is decisive”. After the terrorist attacks in January this year, we proposed a number of measures to be taken, which are urgently needed today, as the Paris slaughter shows it.
On the EU domestic front, we need the Passenger Name Record to be implemented, the directive on the control of weapons to be revised, the works on the funding of terrorism and money laundering to be re-launched, and the reinforcement of our action on the Internet. These are essential steps to be taken so that the EU, which is a space of freedom, continues to be also a space of security.
On the external front, we need to reinforce the control on our external borders, notably at the Turkish-Greek border. Greece needs a decisive EU support and mobilization in order to really control the thousands of people crossing the border and who need international protection. If some of these persons represent a threat, then it has to be identified and controlled. But one shouldn’t put the blame of the terrorist attacks on the refugees who are also fleeing DAESH and are the main victims of this terrorist group. This is why it is essential that Europe still welcomes those in need of international protection. That is why President Hollande reaffirmed the commitment of France to welcome 30.000 Syrian refugees on the French soil.
- Will there be any co-operation between France and Cyprus towards terrorism ?
There has been for years an important cooperation between Cyprus and France on various security challenges, be it maritime security, fight against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism. Cooperation is ongoing between all relevant institutions in this sphere, and will be reinforced in the future. Since the beginning of our engagement in Syria, Cyprus offered significant support through the possibilities of using Paphos Airbase, its ports. And Cyprus is also engage in CFSP operations where France has played an important role (Mali, Central African Republic).
And beyond this strategic and operational cooperation, our political dialogue is going on as well to exchange analysis and proposition regarding regional crisis and Mediterranean Security, be it on a bilateral basis or through the EU. At the EU level, we have established, following a Spanish-Cypriot proposal a coordination group on Mediterranean called the MedGroup, which gathered last February in Paris. The EU policy on maritime security has been proposed jointly by Cyprus and France in 2012 and has now been adopted.
So, we made many things together in the past and I’m expecting a reinforcement of this dialogue and cooperation in the coming months because we obviously face common challenges.
- After Friday, fear has spread over France and the whole Europe as well. How can European citizens feel safe again ?
Exceptional measures have been decided by President Hollande immediately after the attacks on Friday 13 November. State of emergency has been declared, dozens of police searches have been made and led to arrest people involved in illegal activities related to terrorism. As you have seen, other members of the terrorist groups have been arrested, some of them killed, in downtown Saint Denis on Wednesday. The army has also been deployed in the streets and reinforces police teams in securing public spaces. France has also requested the assistance of neighboring EU member-states to reinforce controls in international stations and airports and proceed with joint controls at the borders. This is for the immediate aftermath of the attacks.
On a longer term, measures envisaged at the EU level have to be taken and to produce results to ensure the safety of every EU citizen. And at the national level, decisions were made to increase the numbers of staff dealing with terrorist activities in the relevant administrations.
France has also strengthened its fights against DAESH in Syria, targeting command and control centers and supply routes, in coordination with the International coalition. We have to fight DAECH on its soil, to tackle the problem at its source. That is why the President has decided to send the aircraft-carrier Charles de Gaulle in the Eastern-Mediterranean, which will dramatically increase our ability to target DAECH.
And more broadly, I would say that we need also to keep our values and spirit. We should keep on going out in stadiums, concert hall and cafés, participating to our social activities. Of course we need to be more vigilant, but keeping our way of life is the best way to show that terrorist have not and will not win.
- What is your message to people as the Ambassador of France in Cyprus ?
I want to warmly thank all those who showed their support to France in this difficult moment. We received, immediately after the attacks, messages of condolences and solidarity from the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus : the President, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, all the ministers, the Chairman of the House, the political leaders ; but also from the leader and other prominent members of the Turkish-Cypriot community. Every Embassy staff received messages from their contacts and counterparts in the Cypriot administration and society, but also in the diplomatic community. And we have seen and participated to the solidarity movement organized in the streets of Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Nicosia, around the French community of Cyprus but also with average Cypriot people. This shows that our two people share the same values and pain.
I want also to say that France will do its utmost to put an end to the brutal, terrifying and bloody existence of DAESH. We know that Cyprus stands by us. This is important : unity and civilization will be our strength in this fight.