Emmanuel Macron, leader of the movement En Marche! Is one of the favorites to the succession of Francois Hollande. The candidate for the French presidential election gave an interview to Jeune Afrique, a week to the election.
His perception of Africa and the policy he intends to put in place if he is elected, colonization, official development assistance, the CFA franc, Algeria-Morocco relations, democracy and the Constitutions, Immigration, Trump, Putin …
Before the first round of the French presidential election, on 23 April, we questioned the candidate of En marche !, Emmanuel Macron, in a TGV between Paris and Besançon, where he went to a meeting.
Jeune Afrique: In a nutshell, what do you propose to French voters again or again?
Emmanuel Macron : I propose a profound renewal of French political life and a project for France that brings together the French around clear objectives. The foundation of this project is based on six transformation projects: education and culture, labor market reform, modernization of the economy (notably through ecology and digital technology), safety, operation More effective institutions and an independent and humanist European and international policy.
This project is based on a movement of extraordinary dynamism, En Marche !, carried by women and men engaged in the field, often newcomers to the political life, united by the values of the Republic and progress.
THE CAMPAIGN HAS BEEN FOUND BY THE BUSINESS OF THE NATIONAL FRONT AND CANDIDATE FRANÇOIS FILLON
What do you think about this totally new election campaign?
I would like her to focus on programs. She was plagued by the affairs of the National Front and candidate François Fillon. But I believe that the French and the French will finally vote in full knowledge of the facts. Our project is the only one that is both realistic and ambitious. You have to convince the last day, until the last minute.
In terms of international relations, and particularly with respect to Africa, what would change with you?
In the foreign policy which I shall lead, I shall see to it that the strategic interests of France are defended everywhere, and that the safety of the French is a priority.
In this regard, in Africa, I will take a determined action with our African and international partners against terrorism and trafficking which threaten the stability of several countries.
WE MUST IMPLEMENT A STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN THE EU AND THE AU TO EXIT CHARITY OR CLIENTELISM LOGICS
But I also want France, Europe and Africa to seize the opportunities of this continent of the future together. We need to rebuild our relationship with Africa to create a new balanced partnership of trust and growth.
The doubling of the African population and the emergence of several African countries in the next 30 years could be similar to that of Asian dragons in the 20th century.
But to overcome the fragile elements of African development – security, poorly trained youth, inequalities, land degradation and global warming – we must establish a strategic partnership between the (European and African) Unions which completely renew existing policies, To emerge from the logics of charity or clientelism, and to build a genuinely partnership-based political and economic relationship.
This is how Europe and Africa can prosper together, defend their mutual interests and weigh on the future of our world, alongside the United States, China and other emerging powers.
In the first weeks of my mandate, I will launch a new policy towards the African continent, based on freedom and responsibility, with clear priorities: security, combating climate change, women’s rights, Education and training, infrastructure, including access to energy and water, and the development of the private sector, including African SMEs that create jobs.
From the G20 next July in Germany, I will mobilize institutions and our international partners to make sustainable development of African states and economies a top priority on the international agenda.
IT IS IN ASSURLING THE TRUTH ON OUR COMMON HISTORY THAT WE WILL LOOK FOR THE FUTURE WITH CONFIDENCE
You made a strong statement on the colonization in Algeria , which made controversy. What, ultimately, is your judgment on this subject?
Colonization gave rise to violence that denied the humanity of the victims. I do not inscribe myself in repentance, but I do not wish to repress this past, whose knowledge must help us to build a peaceful future. Soothed in our country, where historians can help us look at our history in the face. And soothed with our Southern partners. It is by assuming the truth about our common history that we can look to the future with confidence.
How do you plan to manage the relations of France with Algeria and Morocco, who do not get along?
France has strong relations with Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia, which are based on human relations and major common interests. They will be essential partners in the framework of the initiative towards the Mediterranean and Africa which I wish to engage from the very beginning of my mandate. I have already visited Algeria and Tunisia and if I have not yet been able to go to Morocco, I will go there very soon after my election, if the French give me their confidence. I do not have to comment on the nature of relations between Morocco and Algeria because they are two sovereign countries. I deeply believe in the interest of the Maghreb countries to cooperate more closely, to intensify their economic relations, which remain weak,
APPROXIMATELY 10% OF THE FRENCH POPULATION TO AFRICAN ORIGINS AND 300 000 FRENCH NATIONALS RESIDENT IN AFRICA. THESE HUMAN LINKS ARE AN ASSET FOR FRANCE.
Which African countries do you know best?
I lived in Nigeria for several months, which enabled me to discover the continent’s most populous African country and one of the first African economies, playing an equal role with South Africa. It gave me a good understanding of the challenges facing African states and the opportunities for the future.
I also met with many African business leaders and policy-makers in my role as Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, as well as the current Presidents of Nigeria, Africa South, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.
Relations between heads of state are important for the challenges we face together, and I would be happy to meet with my African counterparts soon after my election.
But the links between Africa and France go beyond the sole framework of state-to-state relations. About 10% of the French population has African origins and 300 000 French nationals reside in Africa. These human ties are an asset for France. That is why I want to deepen our relations with civil society actors and economic players. It is vital also to end with certain networks of connivance that no longer exist to be.
If you were to summarize the future African policy of France, relatively absent from the debates during the campaign, on what principles would it be based?
I want to write a new page in our relationship with Africa and to do so lead a genuine aggiornamento of our policy towards the continent, to respond to its vitality and contribute to unleash its potential.
I WANT TO ACT IN TRANSPARENCY, AWAY FROM FRENCH-AFRICAN CONNECTIVE NETWORKS AND AFFAIRIST INFLUENCES STILL OVER TOO
That is why I will launch an ambitious initiative between France, Europe, the South of the Mediterranean and Africa, the roads of freedom and responsibility, in order to strengthen our mutual interests in all fields – security , Climate, trade, employment, innovation.
As part of this partnership for the future, I will bring many changes to our African policy.
First of all, I want to act in a transparent way, away from the Franco-African networks of connivance and the business-like influences of which, unfortunately, they still exist in the French political system, far right.
In this spirit, I want to rely on the African and French forces: intellectuals, NGOs, French and African companies, the French diaspora in Africa and Africa in France.
I also want France to pay more attention and place to African youth, which is dynamic and creative, and to the development of the private sector. One of the great challenges for all of us is to create jobs in Africa for African youth. For this to happen, each country must take its share, international aid, national governments and private investors, national and international, to finance productive infrastructures (electricity, water, communications) and businesses, in particular SMEs.
Finally, I want to encourage the francophonie, which is an asset for France in globalization, and which will be very African, since 75% of the Francophones in the world will be African by 2040. We must develop together an economic space and Investment funds.
Last point: I am aware of the suspicions of interference that our military presence can create. I want to emphasize that these forces play an essential role today in the fight against terrorism and crisis prevention, for our collective benefit. I hope that they will work to strengthen national and regional security capacities in Africa.
Should public support be conditional on democratic standards or respect for human rights?
Our development assistance is not enough, particularly in Africa. We must increase it to reach, like our European partners, the commitment of 0.7% of national wealth, between 2017 and 2030, according to our budget margins.
This enhanced development aid will have to focus on Africa and the Francophone area, in support of the priorities I have already mentioned: combating climate change, women’s rights, education and training, infrastructure, good governance, Private sector and employment.
Humanitarian aid and direct assistance to populations in difficult circumstances must of course be preserved, especially in crisis situations, but we must be prepared to reconsider our support for governments that flout the most fundamental rights.
I intend to propose a program to strengthen the capacities of civil societies in all their components: local foundations, human rights or environmental protection organizations, media, political parties, trade unions.
I WOULD DEFEND THE OBSERVANCE OF FUNDAMENTAL DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES EVERYWHERE IN AFRICA
Modification of the Constitutions to stay in power, truncated elections, authoritarian regimes, partial justice: what do you think the role of France should be in the face of these abuses?
African states have adopted an African Charter for Democracy, Elections and Governance, which requires respect for fundamental democratic principles. Can we deny ourselves the principles that the African States have set themselves? Obviously, no. If elected, I will uphold basic democratic principles throughout Africa, in tandem with the African Union and regional organizations that have a major role to play in upholding these principles of good democratic governance that African countries Have defined. I also welcome the very important role played by the Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the resolution of several conflicts, particularly in Burkina Faso and more recently in The Gambia.
I NOTE THAT THE AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS REMAIN, WITH REASON, ATTACHED TO THE TWO MONETARY SPACES OF WEST AFRICA AND CENTRAL AFRICA
The CFA Franc, whose persistence is the subject of a lively debate, still has a future?
I believe so, but it is a choice that belongs first and foremost to the Africans themselves. I note that, in general, African governments remain rightly attached to the two monetary spaces (Central and West Africa) which constitute the CFA franc zone and which contribute to economic stability and regional integration.
I will be entirely in touch with the wishes of our partners in this field of exemplary cooperation.
The debate on secularism is vivid in France. Your position ? Can it accommodate behavioral differences related to religion (special canteens, wearing the veil)?
Secularism is at the heart of the French national pact. It is a principle of freedom which allows, in public space and republican fraternity, to live together in the respect of one and the other.
LAITY IS A FREEDOM BEFORE A PROHIBITED
It guarantees everyone the fundamental freedom to believe and practice the religion he has chosen, as the fundamental freedom not to believe. Secularism also protects the Republic: it ensures that the law is common to all citizens and independent of dogma.
Today confusion reigns over the meaning of secularism and its limits. Too many Frenchmen confuse secularism and the prohibition of religious manifestations – and some make this confusion their business. Secularism, we will never repeat it enough, is a freedom before being a forbidden.
The prohibition of ostensible religious signs at school is fully justified by the age of the children; It must therefore be maintained. It should not, however, be extended to university, where students are major and responsible. The users of public services must be protected by their freedom to express their religious and spiritual convictions, within reasonable limits as well as the rules of public order and the proper functioning of these services. In the public space (streets, beaches), the expression of religious beliefs must of course remain free on condition that they do not infringe public order.
Immigration, selected immigration … What is your position on this sensitive issue?
France must fulfill its commitments with regard to the reception of refugees, while showing, under conditions that are always worthy, inflexible with those who do not fulfill the conditions of residence on our territory.
I WANT IN FRANCE THE BEST TALENTS OF THE WORLD
But to better manage these migratory flows, we must work upstream: against criminal networks of smugglers in countries of origin and transit; Against the causes of migration, helping migrants’ countries of origin to offer their inhabitants a future on the ground. I want to rely on the European level, which is the right level to act strongly, by bringing the European body Border policing to 5,000 agents, strengthening the fight against smugglers in transit countries, and treating the root causes of immigration with European development assistance. Europe will be able to offer mutually beneficial agreements to African countries in order to accompany a controlled and humane migration policy.
I also want to attract the best talent from all over the world (business creators, investors, researchers or artists) and develop visas for professionals (companies, scientists) that contribute to our shared scientific and economic development.
Should international institutions (Security Council, World Bank, IMF) evolve to integrate the geopolitical evolution of the world?
We will continue to advocate for the expansion of the Security Council to include new permanent members to reflect the balances of the world order. Germany, Japan, India, Brazil and an African country have a vocation to accede to this status, with the rights and duties it entails.
I intend to promote, along with the more than 80 countries in favor of this initiative, including Mexico, a framework for the use of the right of veto by the five permanent members of the Security Council in the event of mass crimes.
Finally, there is also a need to continue the rebalancing that has been undertaken in the World Bank and the IMF to ensure better representation of all countries in line with economic developments.
Is Vladimir Putin a competitor, an opponent or a partner?
Russia has a great people, a great culture and a great history. We have often been allies, including the time of the USSR. But today there is no reason to submit to any Russian domination, to be impressed or to let the Russians act in defiance of international law.
CONTRARY TO OTHERS, I AM IN MEASURE TO MAKE ME RESPECT BY VLADIMIR POUTINE CAR I HAVE NO DEBT IN RUSSIA
I will say to Vladimir Putin in a very direct and determined way that I am ready to revive a demanding dialogue to resolve the crises in which Russia is involved (Ukraine, Syria). I will also tell him that I shall be vigilant on the defense of our principles, without hostility but without concession.
Unlike others, I am in a position to be respected because I have no debt to Russia in this campaign where unacceptable interference took place.
If Russia respects its commitments, then we will gradually lift European sanctions and, in conjunction with Germany, we will strengthen the political and economic partnership of the EU with Russia.
And Donald Trump?
France shared with the United States more than two centuries of uninterrupted friendship. It is in the name of this friendship that I will tell President Trump frankly the concerns we have about his political announcements (on trade, the environment or the questioning of NATO).
I believe in a multilateral policy, I believe in the future of the United Nations. I said about Syria.
I will also say to the American President my will and my commitment to a strong Europe in all fields, including that of the Defense; A Europe that has always been the best ally of the United States, with whom we cooperate on the ground to advance our interests, for example against Daech in Iraq and Syria, or in the Sahel.