In a fitting and moving ceremony, we paid tribute to the memory of those thirteen servicemen involved in Operation Barkhane who, in their prime, heroically lost their lives fighting the global terrorist threat that affects us all.
This particularly heavy loss of human life serves as a painful and vivid reminder of the toll paid by forces deployed to the most perilous war zones.
I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute once again to the memory of these soldiers we have lost and to express my condolences and solidarity to their families and relatives. These men personified the courageous commitment of France and other European countries in Mali and the Sahel to curbing a multifaceted terrorist threat and other threats to security.
Restoring lasting peace in the Sahel is essential for the stability of the region and, more broadly, for Africa and Europe.
France’s engagement in the cause provides an indispensable contribution to the EU’s efforts in the region. On the security front, the European Union is highly committed to helping to stabilise the region, with two missions — one military (EUTM) and one civilian (EUCAP Sahel Mali) — currently deployed to Mali to provide active support to the armed forces and the Malian authorities in their campaigns. Added to this are a third mission, to Niger (EUCAP Sahel Niger), and a support package, including financial support, provided to the G5 Sahel group of five Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad).
But we know that stability and security in the region cannot be achieved by security measures alone. The crisis in the Sahel has many dimensions which need to be tackled holistically, using an approach which covers socio-economic development, the re-establishment of State authority and the strengthening of public services, including the justice system.
The European Union and its Member States are also strongly committed to pursuing this goal. Since 2014, the EU has provided global support of €3.8 billion to the countries in the region. Combining this with the development assistance provided by the Member States, the support has amounted to €8 billion.
Recent history has taught us the painful lesson that terrorism knows no boundaries, so there can be no limits to our response. On this day, we honour the sacrifice made by the French servicemen. Their sacrifice must serve as a call upon us collectively to redouble our coordinated efforts to fight tirelessly against threats to our security and for inclusive socio-economic development for the benefit of the peoples of the region.