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August 2, 2023 French

Alain Juppé : « Monsieur Bihozagara m'a indiqué que la France était un partenaire fiable parce qu'elle était à l'origine du processus d'Arusha »

Card Number 31756

Bilalian, Daniel
Boisserie, Philippe
Baechler, Isabelle
Pasquette, Frédéric
Lerner, Olivier
Albin, Bruno
23 juin 1994
Time zone
Journal de 13 heures [1/2] [10:22]
Alain Juppé : « Monsieur Bihozagara m'a indiqué que la France était un partenaire fiable parce qu'elle était à l'origine du processus d'Arusha »
La France, qui a obtenu l'accord des Nations unies, envoie ses troupes pour une opération humanitaire visant à sauver des vies humaines au Rwanda.
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- Operation Turquoise is therefore launched. France, which obtained the agreement of the United Nations, sends its troops for a humanitarian operation aimed at saving human lives, when it is still possible, in Rwanda.
- Philippe Boisserie: "We are in Goma, on the western border of Rwanda, in Zairian territory, where since this morning the planes have been landing and taking off to finish bringing in the men of the operation Turquoise. About 2,000 men, including 800, will arrive shortly from France. […] Goma is in a way the forward base of the system. But in fact the operational base will be more in Bukavu, south of Goma, where operations should normally begin tomorrow [June 24] with about 350 men based in Bukavu […] A priori the first operation would be carried out in Cyangugu, in Rwandan territory, some fifty kilometers from Bukavu. It would be a question of going to protect 5 to 6,000 refugees who are either Tutsi or Hutu opponents, who are therefore always threatened by the Hutu militias, or even by the Rwandan government forces. […] We saw Colonel Schill a moment ago who told us that his men were operational this afternoon. They are waiting for the political green light. A priori this one should arrive tomorrow morning [June 24]".
- The humanitarian operation under military cover is therefore in the process of being deployed. 200 French soldiers are already hard at work, therefore at the Zairian border. 600 are to join them tonight. They will be a total of 2,500 with aviation, tanks and heavy and light equipment which is currently on the way or about to embark, as this morning at Roissy airport.
- Charles de Gaulle airport, terminal 2A. Destination: Africa. It's 10 a.m. this morning and Operation Turquoise is in the air. All these soldiers are professional soldiers. For three days they had been on a war footing precisely so as not to go to war. We talked to them about humanitarianism. So the men and women who leave are focused but rather relaxed.
- Not very, very talkative certainly, these soldiers on the departure. It must be said that the Armed Forces Information and Public Relations Service, the essential SIRPA, classified this departure secret-defence and did not want us to shoot these images. The defense secret therefore took place calmly before our eyes and moreover in full view of all civilian travelers from Roissy.
- Soldiers vaguely worried about this mission which does not look under the best auspices but who will not say so. They embark for Libreville via Marseille and come from all over France.
- A senior officer, who is a commander: "I come from Saumur, from the Armored Cavalry School of Application. I was notified on Monday [June 20] and the procedure applied. […] Out of the entire detachment, I believe there are around 200 of us, but I don't know exactly. The precise mission will be given to us on the spot. And within the framework of this humanitarian operation, we will be liaison teams with of the various forces present, whether they are from Rwanda themselves, from Zaire or from the various NGOs on the ground".
- 200 soldiers therefore flew this morning from Roissy, i.e. a fifth of the contingent that left France.
- The French troops come into action for what exactly on the ground? Saving human lives is the objective that the government has set itself, as the Prime Minister said yesterday [June 22], without the intention of intervening in the conflict, and in a very specific sector. First of all, the sector of the border between Zaire and Rwanda.
- 2,500 men commanded by General Lafourcade, 500 vehicles, around forty planes, the men of Operation Turquoise did indeed leave this morning with a simple idea in mind: to put an end, if possible, once and for all, to the massacres that bloody Rwanda.
- To do this, the French soldiers are now landing on Zairian bases, in the south in Bukavu, in the north in Goma.
- There is talk of sting operations to both protect and move Rwandan refugees. In other words, the French soldiers practice back and forth, rotations between Zaire and Rwanda.
- A perilous gymnastics of which we do not yet know all the figures. We simply know that a massive evacuation to Zaire is excluded. We also know that the French soldiers have no intention of really encrusting themselves on Rwandan territory.
- Difficult under these conditions to provide long-term protection to the thousands of Tutsi refugees trapped in pockets nestled in the western part of the country, an area controlled by the government army.
- The French soldiers will have to avoid several major pitfalls: save the Tutsi from massacres and famine. And above all not to aggravate the troubles in the region by finding themselves facing the rebels of the RPF who do not appreciate this French operation at all. French people suspected of favoring the action of the government army.
- The mission set up by France in Rwanda should be humanitarian, impartial and not exceed two months. So decided the Security Council. And the French and Senegalese soldiers and those of the other countries associating themselves with the operation will be able, if necessary, to make use of armed force. The UN has authorized the use of all necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of people threatened by civil war. Jean-Bernard Mérimée, representative of France on the Security Council: "Our soldiers in Rwanda will not have the mission of interposing themselves between the belligerents and even less of influencing in any way whatsoever on the military and political situation. Our objective is simple: to rescue threatened civilians, to put an end to the massacres, and to do so in an impartial manner".
- Mr. Boutros-Ghali specified that this intervention would enable the UN to prepare the dispatch of 5,500 blue helmets planned to reorganize the UN force in Rwanda, currently paralyzed in Kigali. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, UN Secretary General: "I would like to express my gratitude to the French government for this extremely courageous initiative, this humanitarian initiative".
- For his part, the representative of the Rwandan Patriotic Front once again denounced the action of France, an "invasion" he said, and "which will be fought by all the means at our disposal".
- The green light from the UN was obtained by a fairly small margin, 10 votes out of 15, with the abstention of China and those who fear that the French intervention will sound the death knell of the hopes of the United Nations in Rwanda. But for the majority of the members of the Security Council, waiting more without trying to do anything was simply impossible.
- On the relative isolation of France in this operation, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Juppé explained this morning: for him we have exaggerated our isolation, although for the moment only the Senegalese troops are announced on the ground. "The Organization of African Unity is not as opposed as people say", says Mr. Juppé. "As for the rebels of the Patriotic Front", still according to Mr. Juppé, "their hostility towards the operation is not as radical". Alain Juppé: "I myself received yesterday [June 22] Mr. Bihozagara who is Deputy Prime Minister designate of the Transitional Government, one of the most important personalities of the political bureau of the RPF, here in Paris. He had a working session of almost three hours with the services of the Quai d'Orsay. I myself spoke with him for more than an hour. Naturally, I did not remove his objections to the operation, but I would like to quote two words that he said to me in the presence of a dozen people who can bear witness. He first told me that in his eyes France was a 'reliable partner', I quote, for the RPF in the months and years to come Reliable partner because it was at the origin of the Arusha process, which had led to the full approval of the RPF Reliable partner, because the RPF knows very well that when Rwanda will have to be rebuilt, France will have its full role to play Mr. Bihozagara's second word that I want to quote quite literally: he told me that France's initiative was a laudable one. But that for a reason of principle, linked to the past and linked to the conception that they have of things, namely UNAMIR yes, other intervention, no, he could not approve it".