Benin’s new leader welcomed to France
Benin – Statement by M. François Hollande, President of the Republic, following his meeting with his Beninese counterpart.
Paris, 26 April 2016
Ladies and gentlemen,
I welcomed President Patrice Talon here to the Elysée for the first time. I reiterated to him my personal and political congratulations on his election, which was not only clear in its result but also transparent in terms of the conditions of the ballot.
Benin once again demonstrated its spirit of pluralism and also responsibility, because during this election Benin was able not only to respect all views but also, on the day after the result, to rally around President Talon.
I also wanted to confirm to him that France will always stand alongside Benin, because it’s a friendly country, because it’s a country with a great culture, and because it’s a country where there are very high-level professionals and a brave people.
I discussed with the Beninese President all the cooperation projects we can pursue and others we’ll have to be creative, because it’s clearly a matter of being creative.
It’s true, the French Development Agency, the AFD, will play an active role, with the resources it has. In the coming days André Vallini will go to Benin, and we’ll see how we can broaden and reorient the agency’s interventions.
We also discussed the outcome of COP21, and I must pay tribute to Africa’s support for this process. It was Africa that championed this imperative. But at the same time Africa also asked for COP21 to be translated practically into immediate projects, particularly for renewable energy, but also other technologies that can be shared immediately.
There are a number of projects with Benin, particularly for cities, for everything related to infrastructure and also for energy. So along with President Talon, I’d like to be able to set in motion the financing planned for these projects, for the whole of Africa but for Benin in particular. We also talked about security. I remind you that Benin is involved in MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali] and that Benin supported France when it decided to intervene in Mali to drive out the terrorists. But at the same time, the terrorists haven’t stopped their activities, and sadly we’ve seen the consequences of this in a number of friendly countries: first of all Mali but also Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso. We must combine our efforts, again in Mali in the MINUSMA framework, and we [France] in the framework of Operation Barkhane, but also to ensure the security of the countries in what’s called West Africa. We’ll take care to maintain this high level of cooperation.
Finally, there’s what Benin can bring to France. As I was saying, Benin is a country with a great culture, where there are many professionals – who, incidentally, are in France and are rendering the French economy a tremendous service and who can also render Benin service. I think, here too, we must ensure we have areas of expertise which give us partnerships that can benefit our two countries.
Once again, I want to applaud what democracy is capable of doing, in all countries – i.e. holding free elections, in Africa, in transparent conditions. When this happens, it is always a success for the people, of course, and for the presidents representing them too. When it doesn’t happen, there is always unrest, conflict and difficulties which end up altering the very conditions for development.
So I welcome what’s happened in Benin. I commend all those who have been able to ensure that Benin rightly remains a benchmark for democracy, including its president.