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courage is contagious

Viewing cable 08PARIS1501, FRANCE'S CHANGING AFRICA POLICY: PART I

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08PARIS1501 2008-08-01 15:03 2010-12-04 12:12 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Paris
VZCZCXRO2340
RR RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDU RUEHFL RUEHKUK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHMR RUEHPA
RUEHRN RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHTRO
DE RUEHFR #1501/01 2141544
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 011544Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY PARIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4013
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 1754
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 1534
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 2802
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1229
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 1562
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RHMCSUU/CJTF HOA
CO N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 06 PARIS 001501 

NOFORN 
SIPDIS 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/01/2018 
TAGS: PREL PINR ECON MARR PHUM XA FR
SUBJECT: FRANCE'S CHANGING AFRICA POLICY: PART I 
(BACKGROUND AND OUTLINE OF THE NEW POLICY) 

REF: A. 05 PARIS 5459 
B. 06 PARIS 5733 

PARIS 00001501 001.2 OF 006 


Classified By: Political Minister-Counselor Kathleen Allegrone, 1.4 (b/ 
d). 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The revised Africa policy President 
Nicolas Sarkozy announced after taking office in May 2007 is 
taking shape. This new policy features a reduction and 
consolidation of France's military presence to align it more 
closely with Africa's regional structures, more 
"business-like" relations replacing the "France-Afrique" 
model, larger EU and UN roles, and increased expectations in 
terms of transparency, good governance, and results on the 
part of Africans receiving French aid. While the advantages 
of France-Afrique allowed that model to endure for decades, 
its saliency has weakened as the colonial era grows more 
distant and as the political and economic costs to France of 
backstopping former colonies have become harder to sustain. 
In modernizing and normalizing relations with Africa, the 
French risk losing some influence while reducing a number of 
burdens. This is a trade-off they believe they must make, 
and seem confident that the France engaged with Africans on 
these new terms will be an attractive partner capable of 
sustaining old relationships and cultivating and nurturing 
new ones across the continent. The new policy may also 
provide opportunities for the U.S. to extend its influence in 
Africa without meeting French resistance or interference. 
Part I (this message) provides historical background and 
outlines Sarkozy's policy shift; Part II (septel) focuses on 
its implementation and African reaction; Part III (septel) 
centers on the new policy's military/security aspects. END 
SUMMARY. 

"France-Afrique" 
---------------- 
2. (C) Former Cote d,Ivoire President Houphouet-Boigny 
reputedly coined the phrase "France-Afrique" (in French, the 
more evocative "francafrique" with a cedilla under the "c") 
to describe the complex web of economic, military, political, 
social, and cultural ties that linked France with its former 
colonies and to a lesser extent non-francophone Africa. 
These ties, built over decades of colonial rule, persisted 
after independence in the 1960s, and provided a mutually 
beneficial environment for both sides, with Africans enjoying 
French protection, military and security support, and, not 
least, foreign aid. 

3. (C) The governmental, educational, legal, military, 
bureaucratic, and administrative systems and methods of many 
former African colonies were modeled on French structures, 
and many still are. French is often the official language 
and lingua franca (sometimes in competition with a dominant 
local language) in several African countries. Often, air 
travel between nearby African countries could only be done by 
transiting Paris. These factors alone guaranteed continuing 
French influence post-independence in many African societies. 
Other "benefits" were manifest: African leaders were able 
to amass private fortunes sometimes transformed into vast 
real estate and other holdings in France and elsewhere in 
Europe, cases of which the press continues to uncover to this 
day. France profited from a ready-made set of compliant 
client states and leaders, easy access to resources and 
markets for exports, and a tacitly accorded freedom of 
action, both private and official, for French and locals 
alike, of the sort that produced cases like the "Falcone 
Affair," the long-running arms trafficking case in Angola. 

4. (C) Culturally, Africans of the colonial and 
independence eras were deeply steeped in French ways, with 
some achieving high positions in France, e.g., 
Houphouet-Boigny's serving in the French government and 
Senegal President Senghor's rise to the very pinnacle of 
French society with his election to the Academie Francaise. 
The African elite and their children were often schooled in 
France, with the ever-expanding "francophonie" movement 

PARIS 00001501 002.2 OF 006 


ensuring that they remained part of France's global network. 
At the other end of the scale, tens of thousands of African 
colonial troops fought for France during the World Wars and 
other conflicts, with surviving veterans still receiving 
pensions for their service to France. 

5. (C) France-Afrique operated well for decades, under the 
tutelage of a succession of "Mr. Africas" at the French 
Presidency, beginning with the legendary and controversial 
Jacques Foccart, Africa Advisor to de Gaulle, Pompidou, and, 
briefly, Mitterrand and Chirac. Others in that role have 
included Mitterrand's son Jean-Christophe. For many years, 
the Africa Advisor at the Presidency did not report to the 
President's Diplomatic Advisor (the French equivalent of our 
National Security Advisor) but directly to the President, 
thus enjoying a status equal to or perhaps even greater than 
that of the Diplomatic Advisor (who had to worry about the 
rest of the world), a fact not lost on those currying favor 
at the Presidency. 

Nothing Lasts Forever 
-------------------- 
6. (C) As the 20th century drew to a close, France-Afrique 
as an effective model began having trouble adjusting to a 
changing global landscape. We noted certain factors in Ref A 
(05 Paris 5459 -- The Future of France in Sub-Saharan 
Africa). These include shrinking older generations on both 
sides wedded to France-Afrique; younger generations lacking 
such knowledge and experience and less reflexively inclined 
to view relations through the France-Afrique optic; increased 
exposure of Africans to other parts of the world, either 
first hand or through the omnipresent global media; 
aggressive pursuit of African resources and commerce by 
hitherto outsiders (e.g., especially China -- see Ref B, 06 
Paris 5733 -- China in Africa); and, culturally and socially, 
a growing exposure to non-French films, fashions, sports, 
music, and literature, with the U.S. enjoying an advantage in 
this area. Francophone Africans began to lose their tendency 
to look to France as their model. In short, France-Afrique 
began falling victim to several of globalization's effects. 

7. (C) For France, the cost of maintaining France-Afrique 
started becoming less commensurate with its returns, both 
political and economic. France shifted to an all-volunteer 
military in 2001, which immediately increased the cost of 
sustaining a global military presence. EU requirements limit 
deficit spending, France's traditionally generous safety net 
and an aging population strain finances, and booming and 
resource-hungry economies elsewhere raise the cost of 
commercial transactions, threatening French privilege in 
Africa. Cost-cutting, at home and abroad, has become a 
priority for the GOF, and maintaining the qualitative and 
quantitative investment France-Afrique entailed is becoming 
harder to accomplish. 

8. (C) Politically, brush fires have occurred that are 
harder and more expensive to put out. The French are quite 
bitter about Cote d,Ivoire, once a crown jewel of 
France-Afrique, which spiraled into chaos after the death of 
one of France-Afrique's biggest advocates and beneficiaries, 
Houphouet-Boigny, reaching a nadir with the November 2004 
bombing by Cote d,Ivoire of French forces in Bouake. 
Operation Licorne in Cote d,Ivoire, perhaps France's last 
unilateral military intervention in the old style, has cost 
France about 250 million euro per year, or well over a 
billion euro in total, without yielding decisive results. 

9. (C) Other brush fires and scandals, which in earlier 
days might have been ignored or covered up, have erupted with 
regularity: Borrel in Djibouti, Kieffer in Cote d,Ivoire, 
and Falcone in Angola, to name a few. In addition to 
Falcone, other renegade French in recent times have been 
making mischief across the continent -- Bob Dennard 
repeatedly in the Comoros, Gnassingbe advisor Charles 
Debbasch and arms dealer Robert Montoya in Togo (with effects 
in Cote d,Ivoire), and, recently, the Zoe's Ark "rescue" 

PARIS 00001501 003.2 OF 006 


mission of Darfur children. 

10. (C) In the past, the GOF might have tacitly or openly 
tolerated or even supported some of these activities. Now, 
with an instant global media and the weakened cover afforded 
by a deteriorating France-Afrique, these become problems, if 
not major scandals, that must be addressed in a less 
sheltered environment. One old-timer, commenting on 
Sarkozy's trip to Chad in the Zoe's Ark case to seek the 
partial release of French and other Europeans implicated in 
the "adoption" scandal, sniffed that "it used to be that one 
phone call from the Elysee would have settled this. How far 
we have come that the President himself has to go there, and 
even then, doesn't really finish the job." In pushing for 
good governance, transparency, accountability, and a free 
press as part of its democratization, foreign assistance, and 
human rights agendas, France has partly become its own 
victim, as those forces have helped bring scandals to light. 

11. (C) France-Afrique provided privileges to France but 
carried a burden of expectation that has become harder to 
shoulder. Everyone acknowledged France's primacy in parts of 
Africa, but this created expectations that when problems 
arose, "the French will take care of it." France was long 
able and willing to face these challenges when everyone 
accepted this reality, but that is no longer the case. 
France-Afrique has sometimes been a double-edged sword, with 
some, including Africans, wanting France to intervene 
forcefully when problems arise, but with others happy to 
accuse France of acting unilaterally or as a 
"neo-colonialist" when it does. "Damned if you do, damned if 
you don't" has become an underlying theme in the debate over 
France's role in Africa. 

12. (C) The Chirac government, while aware of 
France-Afrique's stagnation, was disinclined to do much about 
it and tried to preserve France-Afrique's facade. Acting in 
the old style, Chirac, to some embarrassment, was quick to 
mourn the 2005 death of his "friend" Eyadema in Togo and to 
accept quickly the questionable process that led to his son's 
taking power. The Presidency, citing "executive privilege," 
refused to turn over records to judicial authorities 
investigating the Borrel case, although Michel de Bonnecorse, 
the Presidency's last "Mr. Africa," had to suffer the 
indignity of having his personal home and vacation house 
searched. As in the heyday of France-Afrique, the French 
military was given a relatively free hand in responding 
militarily to rebel incursions in Chad and C.A.R. prior to 
the end of the Chirac era. 

Sarkozy Brings Change 
--------------------- 
13. (C) As he did in other areas on taking office in May 
2007, Sarkozy wrought change to the Africa account. His 
basic approach has been to try to clean the slates, rid 
relations of the colonial era hangover, and conduct more 
"normal and business-like" relations with Africans. He is 
quick to attribute events and activities before his 
Presidency to "past French governments," always suggesting 
that he represents a new era. 

14. (C/NF) Sarkozy did away with the "Mr. Africa" position 
-- at least on paper. He named Jean-David Levitte (who had 
the same job under Chirac before becoming UN PermRep and then 
Ambassador to the U.S.) as his Diplomatic Advisor, and Bruno 
Joubert as Levitte's Deputy. Joubert, however, is also the 
President's senior advisor on Africa and was previously MFA 
A/S for Africa. The "Mr. Africa" position no longer 
officially exists, but Joubert, already wearing one hat as 
Levitte's Deputy, functionally also wears the hat the former 
Africa Advisors wore, although he now reports to Levitte 
rather than directly to the President. Two "technical 
counselors" work with him -- Remi Marechaux (francophone 
Africa plus South Africa, a specialty), and Romain Serman 
(non-francophone Africa, UN issues, and crises). When one of 
Marechaux's countries goes into crisis, Serman will often 

PARIS 00001501 004.2 OF 006 


take charge. Marechaux was an MFA AF DAS-equivalent when 
Joubert was MFA AF A/S, and Serman previously covered Africa 
at the UN. Marechaux earlier worked at the Department under 
the Fellowship of Hope exchange program. 

15. (C/NF) Joubert, Marechaux, and Serman make an effective 
team, with complementary styles -- Joubert a classic 
diplomat, smooth, and savvy bureaucratically; Marechaux 
intellectual, cerebral, and somewhat reserved; and Serman 
fiery, action oriented, and a master of rapid repartee in 
both French and English. They dominate African issues within 
the GOF, and although they collaborate closely with MFA 
colleagues, they seem to win intra-GOF disputes. Their MFA 
counterparts -- AF A/S Jean de Gliniasty and DASs Helene Le 
Gal, Christine Fages, and (temporarily) Christian Daziano -- 
are also quite capable and friendly, but they do not have the 
same drive or clout that comes with being in close proximity 
to the hyperactive and demanding Sarkozy. Joubert (who knew 
her when he was MFA AF A/S) and Gliniasty handpicked 
Charlotte Montel, a virtual first-tour officer (and 2009 IVLP 
member), to serve in FM Kouchner's cabinet, ensuring the 
presence of a dependable colleague on African issues within 
Kouchner's inner circle. Montel's role has increased with 
the recent departure of Laurent Contini (new Ambassador to 
Zimbabwe), who was Kouchner's senior AF Advisor but who will 
not be replaced. 

The New Policy 
-------------- 
16. (C) Sarkozy used three speeches to express publicly the 
new direction Africa policy would take, in Dakar on July 26, 
2007, in Lisbon at the EU-Africa Summit on December 8, 2007, 
and in Cape Town on February 28, 2008. The general theme 
emerging from these speeches is that France will seek to 
modernize relations, get rid of lingering colonialist and 
post-colonialist baggage, engage with Africans on a more 
business-like and arms-length basis, no longer seek to play a 
paternal role, and instead opt for a partnership among 
equals. To be sure, Sarkozy promises continued French 
engagement, but engagement based on a calculation of 
interests rather than on inertia and outdated sentiments 
deemed to be relics of the past. He calls on Africans to 
meet this challenge and to begin relating to France and 
others on the same basis. 

17. (C) The speeches -- and the outlines of the new policy 
-- were received with varying degrees of acceptance. The 
Dakar speech included apologies for France's colonial past 
but also suggested that Africans needed to acknowledge that 
they derived benefits from the colonial period. Sarkozy 
stated that Africans needed to become more self-reliant, less 
dependent, and to take charge of their destinies without 
raising "colonialism" and its ills as the continuing source 
of their problems or as excuses. Some Africans welcomed 
Sarkozy's speech as a necessary dose of reality while others 
claimed that his call for a less paternalistic relationship 
was delivered in a distinctly paternalistic and condescending 
manner. (See Part II, septel, for a discussion of Africa 
reactions to Sarkozy's policy.) 

18. (C/NF) Presidential Advisor Serman later said that the 
Dakar speech was drafted by Henri Guaino, Sarkozy's Special 
Advisor, and had not been vetted by Levitte, Joubert's unit, 
or the MFA. Serman believed the speech was too provocative 
and not "diplomatic" enough and would have been revised had 
Guaino not given it, uncleared, directly to Sarkozy. (Of 
note, on July 26, 2008, one year after the Dakar speech, 
Guaino published a self-serving article in Le Monde 
justifying the approach he took in the speech.) The Lisbon 
and Cape Town speeches received closer vetting and their tone 
was less aggressive, although their contents built on the 
foundation laid in Dakar. The Lisbon speech, delivered at 
the EU-Africa Summit, stressed the importance of a strong 
Europe working with a strong Africa. The centerpiece of the 
Cape Town speech was Sarkozy's plan to change France's 
military posture in Africa (analyzed in Part III, septel). 

PARIS 00001501 005.2 OF 006 



"Reward the Good, Punish the Bad" 
--------------------------------- 
19. (C) Our GOF contacts say that Sarkozy's Africa policy 
intends to "normalize" relations with Africa, strip them of 
the France-Afrique veneer, make them more transparent, hold 
Africans to certain standards of accountability and 
responsibility, and end France-Afrique's long cycle of 
dependency and paternalism. Serman puts it succinctly: 
"Sarkozy wants to reward the good and punish the bad." The 
GOF views some of the Defense Agreements (see Part III, 
septel) maintained with eight African countries as patently 
absurd and out of date -- for example, Serman says that 
several agreements give France exclusive monopoly rights to 
natural resources. "Nobody pays any attention to this, so we 
need to get rid of it all and stop playing pretend." 

U.S. an Attractive Partner in Africa 
------------------------------------ 
20. (C) Sarkozy's policy acknowledges the growing role in 
Africa of former outsiders such as China and takes a 
favorable view towards increased U.S. engagement. Although 
skeptical at first and sensitive about protecting French 
influence, the French have gradually come to accept, if not 
welcome, U.S. activities such as AFRICOM, TSCTP, ACOTA, AGOA, 
MCC, and other Africa-centric U.S. projects. The French do 
not find them threatening and, moreover, they offer the 
possibility of a new U.S. willingness to "share the burden" 
in Africa that earlier fell largely on France. Moreover, the 
French are comfortable with an expanding U.S. presence in 
Africa as a counterbalance to China's regional expansion. 
Sarkozy's policy, combined with his generally favorable views 
of the U.S., may allow the U.S. a freer hand in Africa, at 
least as far as the French are concerned. 

21. (C) Similarly, the French are seeking to increase EU 
and UN engagement in Africa as another form of burdensharing 
and to allow France to operate discreetly behind EU and/or UN 
cover. The French have actively sought EU and UN involvement 
in recent years, from elections support in a number of places 
to military support in DRC and Chad/C.A.R. Success in 
lobbying EU members (and some non-members) to deploy EUFOR in 
Chad and C.A.R., although deployment required the French to 
provide more troops and equipment than first desired, was a 
significant political milestone in French eyes and the EUFOR 
case may represent the way the French will try to engage the 
EU in future crises. The French went out of their way to 
depict this as an EU and not French activity. The possible 
transformation of EUFOR into a UN PKO would also be 
consistent with French desires to increase the UN's role in 
crisis management, a process that has also worked in Cote 
d,Ivoire with the linkage between the French Operation 
Licorne and UNOCI. 

22. (C) As noted in Ref B and above, the French remain 
concerned about China's growing influence in Africa and 
believe that the Chinese employ methods to achieve their ends 
that are no longer practiced (at least not so overtly or 
boldly) by France and the West. They express frustration 
that the Chinese can operate so effectively, acknowledge that 
many African countries are easily seduced by Chinese 
practices, but also are quick to notice any African backlash 
suggesting that there is "too much China too fast" in Africa, 
a backlash that seems to be gathering momentum. Publicly, 
Sarkozy's attitude has been that France has no objection to 
China's becoming more present in Africa -- so long as 
Africans apply the same rules to the Chinese that are applied 
to everyone else. 

Policy as a Reflection of Personality 
------------------------------------- 
23. (C) The new Africa policy -- a break with the past, the 
shelving of relations based on history and sentiment, the 
call for rationalizing relations and having them reflect the 
shared interests of equals, the insistence on transparency 
and accountability, the desire to work constructively in 

PARIS 00001501 006.2 OF 006 


Africa with partners such as the U.S., EU, and UN -- seems 
very much a reflection of Sarkozy himself, who came to office 
in a hurry to initiate reform left and right, and not simply 
to tinker on the margins. There have been a few setbacks on 
the domestic front, where he has had to compromise when faced 
with entrenched groups willing to push back. In foreign 
affairs, however, he has had a freer hand, and in some ways 
France-Afrique was an institution waiting to be changed. 
Previous French leaders talked about changing France's 
relations with Africa and may have taken a few steps but 
Sarkozy is doing significantly more than that, at least from 
today's vantage point.. 

24. (C) One close observer reminds that Sarkozy, himself a 
sharp break with French tradition, is the first French 
President to have grown up without meaningful personal 
experience with the colonial era and is therefore free of 
sentimental attachment to France-Afrique. To Sarkozy, 
France-Afrique no longer makes sense, with France and Africa 
needing to modernize their ties and move on, based on a 
calculation of interests on both sides, which, in Sarkozy's 
view for the French, boils down to "reward the good, punish 
the bad." 

25. (C) How have the French gone about implementing this 
new policy and how have Africans reacted to it? See Part II 
(septel) for a discussion of those topics. 


Please visit Paris' Classified Website at: 
http://www.intelink.sgov.gov/wiki/Portal:Fran ce 

STAPLETON