By: Sam Doak
September 5 2023
The full transcript of this speech makes it clear Macron's statement has been mischaracterized
On July 26, 2023, Niger’s elected president was removed from power in a coup orchestrated by elements within the country’s armed forces. In the weeks since, the country’s diplomatic relationship with France, which has historically maintained a heavy and controversial presence in its former colony, has rapidly deteriorated.
In relation to this, a video has been widely shared on social media. It shows the French president, Emmanuel Macron, delivering a speech. While Macron speaks in French, social media users have taken it upon themselves to inform English-speaking audiences what is being said. One such user, posting on X, stated “'Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger exist only thanks to France and we will not hand them over,' said Macron.”
In the days since this was shared, this post has garnered over 7,200 reposts and 9,900 likes. Despite many seeming to believe this translation, it is incorrect and does not accurately reflect what Macron said during this speech.
The video currently circulating shows a speech Emmanuel Macron delivered on September 4, 2023, at a conference in Paris. Addressing a large number of France’s ambassadors, he spoke on foreign policy issues including the recent coups across West Africa.
The transcript of this address is available on the Elysee Palace website. A translated version of the excerpt reads, “France intervened in 2013 because states asked us to intervene, because they were simply being cut in two. If France had not intervened, if our soldiers had not fallen on the field of honor in Africa, if Serval then Barkhane had not been decided, we would not be talking today about Mali or Burkina Faso, nor from Niger. These States would no longer exist today within their territorial limits.”
At no point in Marcron’s speech does he say, “Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger exist only thanks to France and we will not hand them over.” Read within the context of the whole speech, it is clear that in this excerpt he is attempting to argue that the governments of Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso would have lost control of their territory had France not intervened to provide security assistance in the past.
The full text of Macron’s speech makes it clear that the statement currently circulating is not a direct translation, and that his remarks have been mischaracterized. This claim has therefore been marked as false.