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Djibouti - France Relations

Djibouti gained its independence from the French in 1977. Djibouti and France have remained close since independence and our cooperation is deployed in many areas (military, economic and academic). France remains one of the main donors of development aid to Djibouti.

An agreement between France and Djibouti was signed December 21, 2011 in Paris. It entered into force on 1 May 2014. France reaffirms, by this treaty, its commitment to the independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Djibouti. The Treaty establishes operational facilities granted to the French stationed forces, which is the most important French military base abroad.

In August 2003, France agreed to pay to Djibouti 30 million euros annually (approximately $36 million) for use of military facilities in country. The agreement was for ten years. Under that agreement, France paid about 200,000 Euros annually to support civil-military projects, an additional 5,000,000 Euros for equipment (similar to U.S. Foreign Military Financing), and a direct infusion of about 25,000,000 Euros in cash. This equals 30 million Euros (about USD 42 million). Other technical assistance, economic aid in health, education and other fields, plus French spending on the local economy are "extra,"

In March 2006 Djibouti and France signed a bilateral agreement through 2010, which includes a 76 million Euro aid package for Djibouti. This agreement was signed during the February 28-March 1 visit of Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf to Paris. Both sides agreed to conduct more high-level meetings on a regular basis, and to give a "new start" to Franco-Djiboutian relations. France wanted to clear up any lingering misunderstandings over the Borrel Affair, a decade-old case regarding the death in Djibouti of a French judge that had driven a wedge in Franco-Djiboutian relations.

Djiboutians made an unprecedented show of support for their president, Ismail Omar Guelleh. In 1995, when Borrel died, Guelleh was Chief of National Security. During a government-organized rally on 20 October 2007 over 20,000 people thronged the streets to express an anti-French sentiment over the celebrated Borrel Affair. Schools, businesses, and government offices were officially closed. People were transported to and from the rally point by buses and trucks. Djibouti's government-owned newspaper, La Nation, continued to publish articles affirming Djibouti's innocence in Judge Borrel's death. Anti-French songs in three languages were heard on the radio several days preceding the march, and Imams included the issue during their Friday sermons.

With tensions still running high on the Djibouti-Eritrea border, the government of Djibouti marked Djiboutian National Day on 27 June 2008 with modest celebrations. In previous years, President Guelleh had delivered his speech in Arabic. This year, Guelleh spoke in French, and explicitly thanked France twice -- once singling out France for support during the ongoing Djibouti-Eritrea border situation, and once personally thanking President Sarkozy for his "courage and will to help create a Palestinian state."

French forces stationed in Djibouti (FFDj) are numerically the largest French contingent in Africa. As of 1978 the French military presence was approximately 4,500 men under the command of French Lt. General Garen. This figure was composed of approximately 1,100 foreign legionnaires, 1,400 gendarmes, 1,000 regular army, 800 french airforce and about 200 french navy. Total figure does not include french regular navy contingent under alindien which tends to vary widely according to ships in port. The figure did not include French military seconded to French Cooperation Agency. The total French presence, including private business people, dependents of military and cooperation employees, was estimated at 12,000.

As of 2004 France had approximately 2,850 service men and women in Djibouti, which remained France's largest military presence outside France.

By 2015 the general commanding the French forces stationed in Djibouti had a joint staff that controlled about 1,900 soldiers, including 1,400 permanent, belonging to pre-positioned and rotating units that constitute the presence of forces. It is basically: for the units of the Army, the 5th Joint regiment overseas and a detachment of light aircraft of the Army (4 Puma and Gazelle 2) for the Air Force Air Base 188, 7 Mirage 2000 C160 1 and 2 Puma helicopters, for the French Navy, 2 barges transport equipment, the Medical Surgical Hospital Bouffard (Role 3). Base French Forces in Djibouti provide support for FFDj.

The FFDj also arm the combat training center and hardening of Djibouti (CECAD). This center hosts the permanent units or short mission of FFDj, units or metropolitan schools, the Djiboutian and foreign forces.

Bilateral trade between France and Djibouti is at a relatively low level, with a structural surplus balance for France (almost nonexistent imports). The French FDI amounted to an average of 10.4 million per year, the stock representing 19 million at end 2012. In addition to the companies created decades ago by French nationals, there are a dozen French settlements including the Bank of Commerce and Industry-Red Sea (a subsidiary of BRED-Banque Populaire), Total, Colas, Stereau, Air France, CMA-CGM, the Bollor Group. Opportunities for interesting markets exist for French companies in the fields of services, infrastructure works, equipment and telecommunications.

The Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) confirmed in July 2013, the integration of Djibouti to the list of priority countries for French cooperation. Cultural cooperation is done in close partnership with the Djibouti French Institute (DFI). The

Franco-Djiboutian alliance is an important part of the linguistic cooperation in Djibouti. French scientific cooperation is based primarily on the Centre of Studies and Scientific Research of Djibouti -CERD- to promote different areas of research. University Scientific cooperation has developed: launch of the promotion of French higher education, opening of the Campus France space, scientific programming stays for doctors and Djiboutian postdocs. Cooperation in governance was relaunched: increased training grants - all co-financed - to strengthen the Djibouti authorities.





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