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Chad - France Relations

France has a "Saharan history" : the French presence there dates back to the late nineteenth, the English made official the control of the desert by the French, who have well experience in this area. Chad is a key country of the French presence in Africa, located in a strategic area (intersection of Sudan - Darfur and Central African ore and oil resources). Some have considered this a "shameful avatar of colonialism" (Mongo Beti, Cameroonian novelist in 1993). Its institutional stakeholders are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but also to the secretariat African affairs at the Elysee Palace, among others, as well as French diplomatic network (these diplomats versed in colonial affairs they were "almost vice-presidents" of African states).

Then the oil shocks weakened the African countries, and "Afro-pessimism" settled in France. The revaluation of the "African burden" (1981-1994) came with the arrival of the left in power, but little changed immediately. In 1990, the French President said that now he will bring more aid to African states which will go to democracy. However interventions continued when French interests were at stake (the French influence in the Sahel ...) and as part a new policy for military assistance and security was put in place progressively.

Chad belongs to the "French family" of Central Africa (with Gabon and Congo). But it is not not linked to France by a defense agreement (such as Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Djibouti ...), there are simple agreements on technical military cooperation. In 1976, France and Chad signed a technical military cooperation agreement. The Hawk system was set up in Chad in February 1986 at the request of the Chadian State, to contribute to restoring peace and maintaining the territorial integrity of the country. It currently contributes to the stability of Chad and the subregion. The Hawk force provides two permanent missions: it is able to ensure, if necessary, the protection of French interests and, in particular, the security of French nationals residing in Chad: and in accordance with the technical cooperation agreement signed between France and Chad, it provides logistical support (supplies, fuel, transportation, education, medical, intelligence) to the Chadian armed and security forces (forces armées et de sécurité (FADS) tchadiennes).

In consultation with Chad’s civil and military authorities, France shifted its approach from assistance to project-based partnership, with the aim of strengthening Chad’s military capabilities. The main purpose of its action is to reorganize the Chadian National Army (ANT), with a focus on reintegrating demobilized military personnel, training (which remains the intangible basis of our action), and providing institutional support for the gendarmerie by strengthening the rule of law and healthcare, with support for the military teaching hospital. In the context of securing the territory and border surveillance, a project supporting the reorganization of the National and Nomadic Guard of Chad (GNNT) has been underway since summer 2007. In addition, internal security cooperation was extended in autumn 2014 to include counter-terrorism, with France providing support to build Chad’s judicial and police capacities in this field.

During the Darfur crisis, France took many steps to support Chad, in order to find a political solution and address the regional dimension of this crisis, especially the security and humanitarian aspects, and to help the regions concerned: France initiated the Security Council resolution on the deployment of an international presence in eastern Chad and the north-east of the Central African Republic, operation EUFOR Tchad/RCA, to which it was the main contributor. This mission, in which around twenty countries participated, was a success for European security and defence policy. France then supported the aim of replacing EUFOR by a UN mission (March 2009).

France also supported inter-Chadian political dialogue prior to the 2011-2012 elections: it held observer status, with the EU, on the follow-up committee for the agreement of 13 August 2007, and it supported setting up a commission of inquiry to shed light on the events of February 2008 (rebel attack on N’Djamena, violence and disappearances).

Since 2010, Chad has enjoyed a period of stability enabling its development. France requested and obtained EU support to fund projects linked to the reform of the Chadian army (reduction of staff numbers and professional reintegration of former soldiers) and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR).

France also supported President Déby’s personal commitment to protecting Lake Chad, the level of which has fallen over the last twenty years. President Déby attended the World Water Forum in Marseille on 12 March 2012, where he appealed to international donors to finance some thirty projects to protect Lake Chad. France contributed to the mobilization of funds when these projects were presented, providing support of €800,000 via the French Global Environment Facility. President Déby made another appeal at the Rio+20 Conference on 21 June 2012. “The Climate Challenge and African Solutions”, a summit held on Tuesday, 1 December 2015 in the framework of COP21, was an opportunity to continue mobilizing donors, with a focus on three major African priorities, namely access to renewable energy, the Great Green Wall initiative and development of the Lake Chad basin.

In January 2013, Chad intervened in Mali in response to an appeal from the Malian authorities. The Chadian troops fought the terrorist groups in northern Mali alongside the forces of Operation Serval and suffered heavy losses. On 1 August 2014, France established the headquarters of Operation Barkhane in N’Djamena. This operation consists of 3,000 troops throughout the Sahel-Sahara region combating terrorist armed groups and any trafficking that might destabilize the countries concerned.

France is one of Chad’s main economic partners. Annual trade totals €160 million. The trade balance between France and Chad has improved thanks to the rise in French exports, which are mainly in the fields of pharmaceuticals, flour and cereals, electrical equipment, cars, and public works and civil engineering. Until 2012, the main French import from Chad was acacia gum; in 2013, oil became the main import. With stock of €101 million in 2012, France ranks third in terms of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Chad, after the United States and China. Despite a relatively difficult business environment (Chad ranked 183rd out of 189 countries in the World Bank Doing Business rankings for 2015), around twenty subsidiaries of French companies are present in Chad and have development prospects, especially in the field of renewable energy.

France is Chad’s main bilateral donor (excluding humanitarian and food assistance) and there is extensive civil cooperation between the two countries. In 2014, the commitments of the Agence française de développement (French Development Agency, AFD) in Chad totalled €17.5 million. Three projects are underway: one to support small businesses through a body called the “Maison de la Petite Entreprise”, one to support the healthcare sector in Chad, and one in the field of livestock watering. In 2013, two new Priority Solidarity Fund (FSP) projects were launched in the fields of governance support (increasing public policy accountability) and higher education and research.

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