Paris, May 16th 2007
Ladies and gentlemen,
On this day when I officially take up my duties as President of the French Republic, I’m thinking of France, this venerable country which has gone through so many ordeals and always picked itself up, which has always spoken for all mankind and which I now have the weighty task of representing in the eyes of the world.
I’m thinking of all the presidents of the Fifth Republic who have preceded me. I’m thinking of General de Gaulle who twice saved the Republic, who gave France back her sovereignty and the State its dignity and authority. I’m thinking of Georges Pompidou and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing who, each in his own way, did so much to take France into the modern era.
I’m thinking of François Mitterrand, who found the way to safeguard the institutions and embody the changeover of political power at a time when it was becoming necessary for the Republic to belong to all the French.
I’m thinking of Jacques Chirac who, for 12 years, worked for peace and projected France’s universal values throughout the world. I’m thinking of his role in making mankind aware of the imminence of the ecological disaster and of everyone’s responsibility to the coming generations.
But at such a solemn moment, my thoughts go first to the French people, a great people with a great history and who stood up and declared their faith in democracy, said they no longer wanted to have no say. I’m thinking of the French people who have always been able to overcome ordeals courageously and find in themselves the strength to transform the world.
I’m thinking, with emotion, about this expectation, this hope, this need to believe in a better future which were voiced so strongly during the campaign which has just ended. I’m thinking solemnly about the mandate the French people have entrusted to me and the extremely high imperative expressed by them - I have no right to disappoint them.
Imperative of bringing the French together because France is strong only when she is united, and today she needs to be strong to take up the challenges confronting her.
Imperative of keeping promises and honouring commitments because trust has never been as shaken, as fragile. A moral imperative because never has the crisis of values been as deep, because never has the need for people to regain their bearings been as strong.
Imperative of restoring the value of work, of effort, of merit, of respect, because these values underpin human dignity and requirement for social progress.
Imperative of tolerance and opening-up because never have intolerance and sectarianism been so destructive, because never has it been so necessary for all women and all men of goodwill to pool their talents, their intellectual skill, their ideas for conceiving the future.
Imperative of change because never has inertia been so dangerous for France as in this world in flux where everyone strives to change faster than the others, where any delay can be fatal and quickly becomes irretrievable.
Imperative of security and protection because it has never been so necessary to fight the fear of the future and feeling of vulnerability which discourage initiative and risk-taking.
Imperative for order and authority because we have too often given in to disorder and violence from which those who suffer the greatest are the most vulnerable and humble.
Imperative to deliver results because the French have had enough of nothing in their daily lives ever improving, because the French have had enough of their lives becoming ever tougher, ever harder, because the French have had enough of sacrifices being imposed on them with no result.
Imperative of justice because for a very long time so many French have not felt such a strong sense of injustice, and had the feeling that the sacrifices weren’t fairly shared, that everyone did not have equal rights. Imperative of breaking with past behaviours, ways of thinking and intellectual conformism because never have the problems to be resolved been so completely new.
The people have entrusted me with a mandate. I shall fulfil it. I shall fulfil it scrupulously, with the determination to be worthy of the trust the French have placed in me.
I shall defend France’s independence and identity.
I shall ensure respect for the State’s authority and its impartiality.
I shall strive to build a Republic founded on genuine rights and an irreproachable democracy. I shall fight for a Europe which protects, for the unity of the Mediterranean and for the development of Africa. I shall make the defence of human rights and battle against climate warming the priorities of France’s diplomatic action in the world.
The task will be difficult and will have to be long-term.
Every one of you in your official position in the State and all citizens in their positions in society are destined to contribute to it.
I want to express my conviction that in the service of France there are no sides. There is only the goodwill of those who love their country. There are only the skills, ideas and convictions of those fired by their passion for serving the general interest.
To all those who want to serve their country, I say that I am ready to work with you and that I shall not ask them to renounce their beliefs, betray their friendships or forget their history. It is for them to decide, in all conscience as free men and women, how they want to serve France.
On 6 May there was only one victory, that of the France who doesn’t want to die, who wants order but also movement, who wants progress, but wants fraternity, who wants efficiency, but wants justice, who wants identity, but wants an opening-up.
On 6 May there was only one victor, the French people who don’t want to give up, who don’t want to be confined to inertia and conservatism, who no longer want others to decide for them, think for them.
Well, to this France who wants to go on living, to this people who don’t want to give up, who deserve our love and our respect, I want to express my determination not to disappoint them.
Long live the Republic!
Long live France!