Prime Minister Lionel Jospin
Annual Session of the Institute of Higher National Defense Studies
Paris, France
September 24, 2001

Terrorist Attacks in US

Today we are all still deeply affected by the horrifying tragedy which took place in the United States on 11 September. For our American friends who suffered such a harrowing attack, this sudden wave of cowardly violence is extremely traumatic. Once again, I want to tell them of my enormous shock and distress, and express to them the total solidarity of the French people. The Americans fought with us at the blackest hours in our history. Today in their ordeal we stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

This crime, reaching beyond the American people, offends the conscience of the whole of mankind. The international community must as one resolutely affirm their rejection of terrorism and take the requisite measures to eradicate it permanently. Everything must be done so that crimes like those perpetrated on 11 September in the United States do not go unpunished and can't be committed again in any country at any time.

This battle must be waged collectively, systematically, and over the long-term, with the utmost determination, but without seeing everything in black and white, and avoiding any amalgam. This is not a conflict between civilizations. We haven't got to conduct a "crusade". The battle we're joining against fanaticism and terrorist violence is being waged in the name of respect for life, human rights and democratic values. To my mind, it should also include a huge international effort to promote peace, development and the fight against inequality, since conflicts, poverty and injustice are all conducive to the development of terrorism.

France will play her full part in this determined battle against terrorism.

We are beginning it at home. Everything is being done to prevent terrorist action. On 11 September itself, the government activated phase two of the Vigipirate plan in order to ensure everyone's security, reassure our fellow-citizens and protect areas at risk. This was done extremely smoothly, thanks to the major mobilization of the armed forces, gendarmerie and police services. Once again I want to pay tribute to every one involved. On a more general level, the government has decided to step up surveillance and implement important preventative and protective measures. This requirement for precautions and vigilance is, of necessity, a long-term one.

Faced with the threat of terrorism, no country can foster the illusion of protecting itself in isolation. So the battle must be waged beyond borders.


This is why we have to cooperate at the European Union scale. In the context of the building of a European area of security and freedom, new initiatives have just been taken at the latest European Councils. We are creating joint teams made up of members of national legal and police services from all EU countries to fight terrorism and it has been decided to set up a specialist anti-terrorist team within Europol. A common definition of terrorism has been adopted in order to harmonize the penalties incurred. A European arrest warrant will be brought in to replace the current lengthy complex extradition procedures. All these measures should significantly enhance police and judicial cooperation in Europe.

Similarly, Transport Ministers have agreed that Europe should propose to the International Civil Aviation Organization that security standards be adapted to address the new threats.

Terrorism/UN/Financing Networks

Going beyond our response at European level, the terrorist attacks of 11 September call for increased international cooperation in order to wage an effective battle against terrorism which, as United Nations Security Council Resolution 1368, adopted on 12 September, recognizes, constitutes a threat to peace and international security.

To combat it at its source, we must dismantle the networks bankrolling terrorism. We must be able to take sanctions against banking systems and offshore centres which help finance these crimes. The adoption of the European Directive on money laundering must be speeded up. France also seeks the earliest possible implementation of the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, adopted at our initiative by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999. The Senate will very shortly be voting on the Bill authorizing its ratification by France.

Again in the United Nations framework, the international community must give itself a common definition and instrument for fighting global terrorism. This is the purpose of the Comprehensive International Convention against Terrorism we wish to see concluded. To banish terrorism from international life, we must also make States legally accountable in this sphere. Indeed it is their responsibility to prohibit the activities on their territory of groups and organizations implicated in acts of terrorism. A State's membership of the international community must henceforth be incompatible with turning a blind eye to terrorism.

Terrorism/Military Action/France

As regards potential direct military action against terrorism, this will have to be proportionate, strategically and militarily justified, and politically coherent.

The corollary of solidarity with our allies is consultation. The form of our commitment is governed by agreement on the definition of the political objectives and methods of using force. The historic decision noting the applicability of article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty to the attack on our American ally expresses the support, including using military assets, which we are ready to provide her. In this context, we retain our freedom to decide on the form of France's contribution to any military operation. But France will not shirk her responsibilities.

If French military forces were to participate in an operation, Parliament would be consulted and regularly informed of the conduct of the operations, as was the case throughout the Kosovo conflict.

French Defense/Armed Forces Reform

I have, of course, talked about the challenge presented by the threat of international terrorism. But this must not eclipse all France's other defense missions. Indeed, the purpose of the substantial modernization of our armed forces carried out during this parliamentary term was to adapt our defence to the multiplicity of the risks, diversity of the armed forces' missions and versatility of the capabilities this demands.

After preparatory studies taking on board the far-reaching transformation of our strategic environment, new technology and changes in French society, 1997 saw the actual commencement of the armed forces reform which President Chirac had decided on in 1995. We have carried it through, as evidenced by the fact that, by and large, all the requisite measures have been implemented in accordance with the 1997-2002 pluriannual military estimates Act, amended in 1998 following a review of the programmes. This military planning exercise was completed methodically and without tokenism, incorporating the modifications warranted by our external commitments, particularly in Kosovo.

We didn't want the 2003-2008 military pluriannual estimates Act simply to go on where the previous one left off, which is why the Bill, approved by the Council of Ministers on 31 July this year, will take forward, in accordance with the guidelines laid down in the Defence Council, both the consolidation of the professional armed forces and modernization of their equipment.

On completion of this far-reaching reform, France now has wholly professional armed forces.

I want here to pay tribute to the Defence Minister, Alain Richard, our armed forces Chiefs of Staff and, beyond them, to all the women and men, civilians and military personnel who have carried out this task of exceptional magnitude. This transformation has been completed so fast that we have been able to suspend national service from the end of this year, nearly a year ahead of schedule, without damaging the forces' operational efficiency.

If the professionalization of our forces is to be successful in the long term they must offer attractive careers, training and prospects. The government is ensuring that this is the case. In five years, thanks to the accompanying measures - provision of training courses for civilian life and recruitment schemes - we have managed, on a voluntary basis, to cut manpower by a quarter and recruit nearly 80,000 men and women. For the future, the next military estimates Act, which confirms the stabilization of the forces' strengths, brings together within a specific consolidation fund the measures needed to maintain recruitment, in terms of both numbers and quality. It also pays particular attention to the goals set for training and service, which are essential if the forces are to be efficient and military careers attractive. These priorities require increased operational funds, for which provision is made in the 2002 Finance Bill.


When carrying out the move to fully professional armed forces, the government has paid special heed to safeguarding the bond between the forces and the nation.

The nation gains by being more aware of the work of the armed forces. Today, in the face of the terrorist threat, we see how important it is for citizens, elected representatives and all those exercising responsibility to be aware of how our nation ensures its security and defense. (...)

To heighten French citizens' awareness of defence culture and so that they retain it, the government has brought in three measures. The "route to citizenship", established in 1998, which familiarizes young people with defence issues at school and during the "day of introduction to defence and the French armed forces 2 (JAPD - journée d'appel de préparation à la défense), has been well received. The opportunity to undertake a period of voluntary civilian or military service introduced by the Act of 28 October 1997 has already attracted over 13,000 young men and women. It allows them to bring to the armed forces valuable skills in specific spheres and gain experience before embarking on their professional lives. Finally the new types of reserve forces, created by the Act of 22 October 1999, include an Operational Reserve in which 100,000 specialists will eventually serve as full-time military personnel during their periods of service, while the rest of their time pursuing their professional lives. To meet the needs of external operations and protect French territory, everything possible has to be done to ensure that this reserve force swiftly reaches its full complement.

To revitalize the bond between defence and the nation we must also conduct an active policy of providing information and explanations and ensuring transparency. Our fellow citizens and their elected representatives must be able to assess the pertinence of the operations undertaken and appropriateness of the assets used. The government has resolutely applied itself to carrying out this policy: for example, there is a new system for classifying defence documents, with fewer given the highest classification in response to requests by the judiciary, and more of the archives have been opened up to assist in the compilation of historical records, which is considered essential. The measures facilitating the task of the parliamentary commissions of enquiry looking into France's operations in Rwanda and in the Former Yugoslavia and the work undertaken to address the public's concerns about depleted uranium and the Gulf War syndrome are also moves towards greater transparency. The publication of an annual Defence Ministry report, communication to Deputies and Senators of information on our external operations, arms exports and the implementation of military programmes also address this concern.

Not just wholly professional, but also reorganized and modernized, our armed forces are now better equipped to take on simultaneously their missions at home and abroad, while also contributing to building Defence Europe. (...)

Foreign Operations/Kosovo/Macedonia

Our armed forces are also successfully carrying out their missions beyond our borders. I salute them for doing so and thereby allowing France to shoulder her responsibilities in the international arena at a time when they were frequently called on for public service duties and also in the process of becoming wholly career services. Wherever our forces have been engaged, they have demonstrated remarkable sang-froid and skill which are a credit to our country. They have thus shown their ability to fulfil the missions entrusted to them and to operate within multinational ground, naval and air forces.

These qualities were demonstrated in Kosovo. They are being displayed once again, today, in Macedonia where the "Essential Harvest" operation in which over 500 French soldiers are participating has consolidated the successful outcome of the dialogue between the parties, and our political action, at both national and European levels, has made it possible to achieve the Ohrid agreement. For this fully to bear fruit, once the "Essential Harvest" operation has been completed, an international presence will have to be maintained and its security ensured. France has declared her readiness to participate in the military force which, at the Macedonian authorities' request, should be deployed for this purpose.

The external commitments and diversity of the missions entrusted to our forces have highlighted the necessity of providing them with modern and interoperable equipment. This must give them the requisite autonomy and command, control and intelligence, projection and mobility, and deep strike capabilities. It must also ensure control of the airspace over land and sea, and above.

Defense Budget Priorities

All in all, the modernization of our armed forces' equipment has been carried out in accordance with the military estimates Act, updated following the programme review carried out in 1998. For the 2003-2008 period, the military estimates Bill provides for a defence investment budget of over EUR 80 billion.

The Bill's main objective is to finance the modernization of our armed forces' major conventional capabilities. But the factors governing the military estimates Act refer explicitly to strategic hypotheses taking account of a whole range of risks, including those resulting from asymmetric threats from State and non-State players. Providing a basis for setting and ordering priorities, the Act remains valid. Admittedly, all the lessons from the terrorist attacks of 11 September have to be learned, but here we must be wary of overhasty and simplistic arguments. The day before yesterday, some people were giving absolute priority to external operations. Yesterday, others were proposing allocating substantial amounts of money to ballistic missile defense. Today, people are wondering whether we should direct our whole defence effort solely to the fight against terrorism. On these matters we must keep a cool head and a sense of perspective. I am sure that the debate on the Defence budget and, later, that on the military estimates Bill will provide the opportunity for constructive discussions on the pertinence of France's defense policy choices.

Defense Europe

The modernization of our defense capabilities must be pursued in order to build Defence Europe. Since the Saint-Malo initiative in 1998 we have resolutely developed our defense within a European framework. The situation in Macedonia highlights the degree to which the resolution of contemporary crises requires a combination of political, economic, diplomatic and military tools and how essential that last dimension is for the credibility and efficacy of the action. The developments in Macedonia also show what Europe is capable of undertaking, provided it gives itself the means to act as a fully-fledged political player in the international arena.

Indeed, we urgently need Europe to be capable - which it will be thanks to Defense Europe whose development has seen rapid progress over the last few years, largely at our initiative, I might add - of carrying out the full range of Petersberg tasks. For this, it must be able to deploy, within 60 days and for at least one year, ground forces up to corps level, i.e. 50 to 60,000 men, as well as air and naval combat elements as appropriate. The permanent institutions necessary for conducting this policy were established by the Treaty of Nice and are well on the way to being up and running. The capabilities required are the subject of commitments by all member States, and will be topped up in November. Finally, the ongoing talks should allow definition of the planning mechanisms, and clarification of the method of coordinating action by the Fifteen and by NATO. From the outset, this work has been carried out with a determination and pragmatism which should overcome the last remaining obstacles.

Our fellow-citizens already see Defense Europe as a reality, from which they are expecting tangible results. It is our job not to disappoint them. This is why France is making energetic efforts to ensure that the force is declared operational on schedule at the Laeken Summit.

But the attacks on 11 September reminded us that to defend peace we must also protect our own countries and so it would be paradoxical to envisage the European Union's defense solely in terms of operations beyond its borders. To counter the terrorist threat, France and her EU partners have mobilized their military assets in order to support and build on the preventive and protective measures carried out by their police forces. The activation of civilian and military procedures in each of the EU States has been accompanied by mutual exchanges of information, but hasn't yet led to intensive operational consultation, despite the undoubted usefulness of this for ensuring the security of our airspace, coordinating the surveillance of coastal areas and rationalizing the allocation of additional capabilities on the ground.

The Fifteen should therefore envisage involving Defense Europe in this sphere. When it comes to mobilizing military assets in order to wage an effective battle against terrorist ambitions threatening EU territory, Defense Europe could help forge closer ties and coordinate operations. Moreover, now that the fight against terrorism is prompting us all to mobilize civil and military assets, it is vital to ensure smooth coordination between the policies conducted under the different EU pillars.

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Ladies and gentlemen,

With the completion of the reform carried out during this parliamentary term, France has radically modernized her defense capability. Today she has at her disposal forces allowing her to ensure her security, help protect the European Union and shoulder her responsibilities on the international stage.

All of us here know that, in a still uncertain world, our fellow-citizens can count on the vigilance, readiness and sang-froid of their armed forces.