The Ambassador of France speech during the Francophonie cocktail on March 20, 2016.
Your Excellency The Governor General,
Mr. Minister or representatives,
Distinguished Ambassadors and representatives of the diplomatic corps,
Honorable Derek Walcott,
Madam Representative of the region of French Guiana,
Madam delegate of the territorial community of Martinique
Madam Representative of Saint Lucia to the IOF (International Organization of La Francophonie)
Every year, we meet here at the residence of France to celebrate the Francophonie. Every year, your Excellency, you do us the honor and friendship to be among us; I thank you most sincerely.
I particularly want to thank this year the High Commission of Canada in Barbados for sending representatives for this evening, and for their contribution towards the organization of the show that you will see just now.
I also extend greetings to the members of the IOF who have an embassy in Saint Lucia, whether they are full members like Morocco, or an observer like Mexico. Today, our flags fly side by side, as well as the one of Canada, our special guest tonight.
French is the only language, with English spoken on the five continents. It is the third language of business internationally, with 274 million speakers today and which number will approach 700 million by 2050.
But francophonie represents values related to humanism, generosity, democracy, and also respect for the diversity of the cultures, the religions and even the languages of each.
The Francophonie is not only a language and a culture, but it is also the promotion of peace, of democracy and human rights, of education and vocational training, of sustainable development and solidarity economy.
With regard to peace and human rights, the terrorist violence which has struck various Francophone countries during the past year, such as France attacked twice in the heart of her capital city Paris, has highlighted how much of a priority the mobilization of an active citizenship and the fight against all kinds of extremism and radicalization affecting young people are: this is a great fight of the IOF.
However, actions to promote human rights and good governance are an ongoing battle and constitute a line of force of Francophonie. A zero Tolerance must me our target, because any deviation would lead to encouraging extremism.
The path is still very long on this subject. Indeed, too many countries around the world still use practices of another age which jeopardize the economic and social balance and the right to live peacefully together; Inequalities of all kinds, violence between communities, lack of respect towards each other and lack of freedom of expression are lived every day by many men and women of our planet.
Fortunately, in many countries, this framework has been far exceeded and democracy is a reality. This is the case today in most countries on the American continent. It is of course the case of St. Lucia where democracy is a core value, where political alternations operate fully, where respect for the opposition by the majority in place is a permanent guideline, regardless of the party in power.
But good governance must be maintained at all times so that the executive, legislature and the judiciary could function harmoniously, with mutual respect, not only for the interests of citizens but also for the image projected to the outside world.
However, in this area, the support of IOF member countries or even of friendly countries sharing its values may prove invaluable. This should, in my view, be a priority. France is ready, in any case, to act and assist Saint Lucia in this direction the Government so require.
In another area - that of sustainable development - the Francophonie plays a major role in supporting the implementation of national and regional policies. In this context, I wish to recognize the undeniable success of the Paris conference on climate change and the highly acclaimed position of states of the Caribbean. States that have led the fight for a commitment towards maximum limitation of global warming at 1.5° Celsius. And it is a Saint Lucian minister, Honourable Dr. James Fletcher, who led the negotiations on behalf of all those States.
Let us hope that another large francophone country - Morocco - which is responsible for the next conference in 2016 in Marrakech can enjoy the same success. I do not have any worries on this subject, as the initiatives of this country with regard to sustainable development are numerous and recognized.
Another important francophone topic for Saint Lucia is the contribution of the University of the West Indies which provides a high quality education at very low cost, provided that students can master a minimum of French. The head of cooperation of this embassy follows this issue with particular attention, so that the number of Saint Lucian students can increase.
In a moment, we will enjoy the show that renowned artists from our three neighboring territories, Martinique and Guadeloupe and French Guiana, will present to us. They designed this show especially for this annual Francophonie festival, here in Saint Lucia. No doubt, we will be delighted, as we have been for all productions set up by our delegation of the Alliances Françaises to which I express my sincere thanks.
Finally, I am also convinced that this evening we will particularly enjoy the cocktail since, under the auspices of my wife, Chef Didier concocted typically French preparations, as part of operation "Taste of France" already realized last year around the world, showcasing in more than 1,300 restaurants worldwide, and 160 homes of France, the "French Cuisine", listed as intangible Heritage of UNESCO, cuisine aiming today to combine taste quality and environmental friendliness. I will also point out that in Saint Lucia, a special meal will be held tomorrow in 3 restaurants of the island: the Sugar Beach, Jade Mountain in Soufrière and Calabash Resort in Marisule, the chef whose presence I welcome tonight. I encourage you to go in great number tomorrow night in one of those restaurants: this will reward the creativity of the chefs and you will definitely enjoy a tasting of great quality, for a reasonable price compared to the quality of the dishes!
I also wish to thank the Alliance Française de Saint Lucie for the always exemplary work of its director (and General delegate, Bruno Stefani) and his team when it comes to maintaining the Francophonie at the level it is, not only in St. Lucia, but also across the eastern Caribbean network. Special thanks to you Bruno for all what you have done during these last 4 years to promote French language, Education and culture, and thank you also for the constant support for this embassy and myself.
Finally, a word to thank the team of the residence who welcomes you this evening, the team of technicians, with a special mention to our chief technician Roland Bergeron, and of course my colleagues of the embassy, without whom this event could not have taken place.
Thank you all for your kind attention!