DAVOS, Switzerland -- French President François Hollande on Friday vowed that his country will continue undaunted in pursuing an active foreign policy following the recent terrorist attacks in Paris linked to foreign Islamist extremists.
"Each time we let a conflict last, terrorism benefits," Hollande told a packed auditorium here at the World Economic Forum, specifically pledging that France will remain a central participant in military strikes aimed at containing and destroying the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. "France will be present, always present."
Hollande characterized the attacks in Paris as a basic test of French values, while more broadly characterizing terrorism as a global challenge that requires active French engagement (and military intervention) from the Middle East to Africa.
"It’s not just France which is affected," Hollande said. "It’s freedom. It’s democracy. It’s the ability to live together. It’s the very foundation of our societies which have found themselves under attack. All countries, wherever they are in the world, are vulnerable to terrorism."
Hollande strikingly devoted even greater emphasis to a challenge he described in most dire terms -- the effort to address climate change. Noting that Paris will later this year host an international conference aimed at forging a binding agreement to limit greenhouse gases reaching the atmosphere, Hollande said failure to achieve a pact would resonate as a human tragedy.
"Of the 25 cities that in 2015 have more than 10 million inhabitants, 19 are located on coastlines," Hollande said. "Huge numbers are directly threatened by the consequences of global warming. Here again, we are faced with a moral responsibility, a political responsibility, because a botched solution to the crisis might result in exacerbating the consequences of climate change."
Ultimately, Hollande linked the two challenges of terrorism and climate change: He asserted that concentrated investments in renewable energy could generate fresh economic opportunities and jobs -- itself part of the solution to limit the appeal of extremism among disaffected youth grappling with high rates of joblessness.
Investments that at once accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and create jobs are needed “so that young people have confidence in their future," Hollande said. "The economy is an answer, one answer in the face of despair and poverty.”