On the Occasion of Bastille Day, Wednesday, 14 July 2004

On the Occasion of Bastille Day Wednesday, 14 July 2004 Speech by French Ambassador H.E. Mr Eugene Berg

WE HAVE GATHERED TODAY TO CELEBRATE THE 215TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE STORMING OF “ LA BASTILLE ”, AN EVENT WHICH MARKED THE BEGINING OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, KNOWN ALL OVER THE WORLD, AS BASTILLE DAY.

SOMEONE ONCE ASKED CHU EN LAI, A ONE TIME WORKER-STUDENT IN PARIS IN THE 1920S, WHAT HE THOUGHT OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. HE PONDERED AND REPLIED : « IT IS TOO EARLY TO ANSWER, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION HAS NOT YET BORNE ALL ITS FRUITS ».

WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO THE GREAT CHINESE LEADER, I CAN HOWEVER ASSURE YOU THAT THE FRENCH REVOLUTION HAS DEFINITELY ENDED. WE DO NOT CLAIM TO IMPOSE ON ANYONE, OR ON ANY COUNTRY, OR ON ANY POPULATION, A FORM OF GOVERNMENT, INSTITUTION OR WAY OF LIFE THAT RUNS AGAINST THE POPULAR WILL. WE ARE A PACIFIC COUNTRY AND INTEND TO REMAIN SO.

EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO , THE FRENCH-OCEANIC SUMMIT WAS HELD IN PAPEETE WITH PARTICIPATION BY THE MAJORITY OF THE LEADERS OF THE PACIFIC. THE PRIME MINISTER OF THE FIJI ISLANDS, MR LAISENIA QARASE, AMONG MANY OTHERS, WAS PRESENT. THIS GATHERING WAS A UNIQUE OCCASION TO COME TO UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER BETTER AND TO BUILD COOPERATION, A TRUE AND LASTING PARTNERSHIP, DIRECTED TOWARDS SUSTAINABLE GROWTH, GOOD GOVERNANCE AND SECURITY.

SOME OF THESE SUBJECTS WILL BE ADDRESSED IN THE DAYS AND WEEKS TO COME. A SYMPOSIUM ON FRENCH RESEARCH IN THEPACIFIC WILL BE HELD IN NOUMEA BETWEEN 24 AND 27 JULY WHICH WILL BE ATTENDED BY MANY RESEARCHERS FROM FIJI ; FROM INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS THE UNIVERSITY OF THE SOUTH PACIFIC AMONG MANY OTHERS. LET ME JUST MENTION THAT IN NOUMEA THERE ARE MORE THAN 350 SCIENTISTS, RESEARCHERS AND TECHNICIANS. MY AIM IS TO STRENGTHEN COOPERATION BETWEEN THE FRENCH INSTITUTIONS AND THOSE IN FIJI IN THE FIELD OF EDUCATION, TRAINING, RESEARCH, SEMINARS AND SYMPOSIUMS, PUBLICATIONS AND SO FORTH. THERE ARE SO MANY FIELDS OF COMMON INTEREST: AGRICULTURE, MARITIME SCIENCES, GEOLOGY, GEOPHYSICS AND HEALTH. IN SEPTEMBER A SYMPOSIUM WILL BE HELD IN PAPEETE ON ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES.

ELECTIONS HAVE BEEN HELD RECENTLY IN BOTH NEW CALEDONIA AND TAHITI, WHERE THE POPULAR VOTE HAS SHOWN A WILL FOR CHANGE. A FORUM MISSION WAS IN TAHITI LAST WEEK. ALL THIS CORRESPONDS TO OUR SINCERE WISH TO ASSURE THAT OUR TERRITORIES CONTINUE TO DEVELOP WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THEIR REGIONAL SETTING. LET US HOPE THAT THE NEXT MEETING OF FORUM LEADERS IN APIA IN AUGUST WILL EXAMINE ALL THESE QUESTIONS IN A POSITIVE SPIRIT.

THE LAST MONTHS HAVE SEEN A SIGNIFICANT ENRICHMENT OF OUR COOPERATION WITH THE REPUBLIC OF THE FIJI ISLANDS.

JUST BEFORE MY ARRIVAL A NEW AND COMPREHENSIVE UNDERSTANDING WAS SIGNED IN FEBRUARY BETWEEN OUR TWO COUNTRIES IN THE FIELD OF DEFENCE. COMMON EXERCISES HAVE BEEN HELD. VISITS OF FRENCH NAVAL VESSELS HAVE BEEN MORE FREQUENT (IN MAY , JULY AND NOVEMBER). WE HAVE ALSO PURSUED OUR MARITIME SURVEILLANCE OF THE FIJI ISLANDS’ EEZ IN ORDER TO REDUCE ILLEGAL FISHING.

IN APRIL WHEN THE FLASH FLOODS SUDDENLY APPEARED, ALONG WITH OUR PARTNERS OF FRANZ, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND, WE PROVIDED RAPID ASSISTANCE. A FRENCH VESSEL RESCUED 10 OF YOUR FISHERMEN.
(MINISTER), WE ALL KNOW THAT THE ISSUES OF SECURITY AND THE THREAT OF TERRORISM HAVE BECOME A GREAT PREOCCUPATION FOR ALL OF US.
WHEN THE FRENCH CHIEF OF STAFF VISITED THE REGION LAST MAY HE WAS VERY CLEAR. HE SAID THAT THE FRENCH TROOPS BASED IN NOUMEA CONSISTING OF MORE THAN 2,000 SOLDIERS ARE NOT THERE SOLELY TO PROTECT OUR LAND, BUT ALSO TO PROVIDE ASSISTANCE WHENEVER IT WILL BE FELT NECESSARY AS WAS THE CASE IN EAST TIMOR IN FULL COOPERATION WITH OUR AUSTRALIAN PARTNER AND ALLY. SHOULD NEW DISRUPTIONS IN THE STABILITY OF THE REGION OCCUR, WE WILL BE WILLING, IF REQUIRED , TO ASSIST UNDER THE RIGHT MANDATE.

COMRADESHIP-IN-ARMS IS DEEPLY ROOTED IN FRANCO-FIJIAN HISTORY. YOUR GREAT LEADER RATU SIR JOSEPHA LALABALAVU SUKUNA CROSSED THE CHANNEL DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR TO FIGHT IN THE CHAMPAGNE REGION, THE WONDERFUL STRETCH OF LAND WHICH PRODUCES FAMOUS BOTTLES OF WINE. HOWEVER, THIS TIME IT WAS NOT TO SAMPLE THE RENOWNED BEVERAGE BUT TO FIGHT FOR LIBERTY AND DEMOCRACY IN THE WORLD. THAT HE DID, AND WON MANY DISTINCTIONS, AMONG OTHERS THE « CROIX DE GUERRE » WHICH IS DISPLAYED IN THE FIJI MUSEUM.

OUR COOPERATION HAS REACHED A CERTAIN MOMENTUM. THE ALLIANCE FRANCAISE HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS IN TOWN. IT PRESENTS NOT ONLY OUR CULTURE AND LANGUAGE BUT ALSO PROVIDES TEACHING IN FIJIAN AND HINDI.

THEATRES, ART EXHIBITIONS, CIRCUS PERFORMANCES , MUSIC FESTIVALS, INCLUDING THE ANNUALLY HELD FIJI MUSIC FEST WERE AMONG ITS GREAT EVENTS. WE CAN NOW ALL LISTEN TO FRENCH AND INTERNATIONAL NEWS AND CULTURE OR SPORT EVENTS ON FM 91.8.

WE ARE ALSO CONTRIBUTING TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF FIJI IN THE FIELD OF TOURISM. THE ACCOR GROUP HAS RECENTLY LAUNCHED THE CONSTRUCTION OF A NOVOTEL HOTEL ON DENARAU ISLAND. AFTER SO MANY YEARS OF PATIENT WORK AND DEDICATION, MR GERARD SALIOT AND PARTNERS HAVE SIGNED AN AGREEMENT REGARDING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATADOLA BEACH PROJECT : A HUGE PROJECT WHICH WILL SEE THE ERECTION DURING THE FIRST STAGE OF TWO TO FOUR HOTELS AND TWO GOLF COURSES.

CAN I TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO ANNOUNCE THAT MR GERARD SALIOT HAS BEEN APPOINTED “CONSEILLER DU COMMERCE EXTERIEUR ” BY THE FRENCH PRIME MINISTER AND HE WILL ASSIST THE FIJIAN BUSINESS COMMUNITY IN THEIR EFFORTS TO INCREASE THEIR RELATIONS WITH NEW CALEDONIA AND TAHITI.

INDEED FRANCE AND FIJI SHARE MANY VALUES AND TRADITIONS IN COMMON :

AN ATTACHMENT TO THE SOIL, ITS SPIRITUAL VALUE AND ITS SYMBOLIC SIGNIFICANCE.
A VENERATION FOR GREAT MEN AND STATESMEN : RATU MARA AND GENERAL DE GAULLE.

IN CELEBRATION OF OUR FRENCH NATIONAL DAY, MAY WE RAISE OUR GLASSES AND ADDRESS A TOAST TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE GOVERNMENT AND TO THE PEOPLE OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE FIJI ISLANDS.

Published on 06/12/2005

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