Célébration du 14 juillet 2012 à Freetown
Hon. Madam Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation,
Honourable members of the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone,
Honourable members of the Parliament,
Your Excellencies, dear colleagues, members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives of the International Organisations in Sierra Leone,
General, Chief of Defence Staff,
Members of the Consular Community,
Officers of the RSLAF,
Representatives of the French NGO’s in Sierra Leone,
Members of the French business community,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,
We are gathered here together tonight to celebrate the French National Day. One person is unfortunately missing : H.Exc. Mr Bertrand Cochery, Ambassador designate of the French Republic to the Republic of Sierra Leone, who is already in charge in Conakry. Some administrative issues and the recent political changes in France, which led to changes in our Administration, delayed the presentation of his credentials in this country a little bit and he regrets very much, as we all do, not being able to celebrate with us tonight aboard this French Navy ship.
Nevertheless, he has asked me to give you his warmest regards and to assure the Sierra Leonean authorities and every one of you that he will be in Freetown very soon, strengthening in his capacity as Ambassador the bilateral relationship between France and Sierra Leone.
In talking about Bastille Day, I would like to stress that, on that Tuesday, 14th of July, 1789, when the people of Paris took by force the famous royal jail known as the Bastille (where one was not usually detained following a Court’s judgment but solely because of the King’s will), nobody at that time could challenge the French Monarchy and the King of France, Louis XVI.
As a matter of fact, the Monarchy survived the Bastille for more than two years, until 1792. Indeed, when the French people took and destroyed the Bastille, their initial purpose was not to foment a Revolution but instead to get rid of arbitrary justice and to establish a Constitutional state under the rule of law.
The Revolution itself came a little later, and after decades of political turmoil and many different Constitutions, France found her own way to democracy and established the stable Republic that we know today.
As a Frenchman, I am convinced that every country and every people have their own way of building democracy, adapted to their culture and history. And there is no doubt, nowadays, that democracy is the best political system for guaranteeing sustainable peace through the rule of law as well as sustainable development through the freedom of the citizens and fair division of the common wealth. Therefore, France is very impressed with what Sierra Leone has achieved during the last decade.
After a terrible civil war that lasted for so long and destroyed so many lives and property, the peace consolidation process has allowed this country to hold two pluralist elections that were internationally considered as fair, peaceful and transparent. This year, in November, Sierra Leone will go once again through the process of general elections and I have no doubt that these will be as fair, as transparent and, hopefully, as peaceful as the previous ones. Let me salute, here, the commitment of the political parties of Sierra Leone as well as the very good job already done by the National Electoral Commission, the Political Parties Registration and Regulation Commission and other national institutions to make sure that the 2012 elections will represent a new start for Sierra Leone and its courageous people. Now and after this process, Sierra Leone can count on the support of France, whether this support is expressed through the European Union or at a bilateral level.
Firstly, as an illustration of the French support to Sierra Leone and its people, I would like to cite here the four French NGO’s that are present in this country : ACF – ACTION CONTRE LA FAIM, HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL, INTER AIDES and SOLTHIS. They all work on very different issues for the benefit of the people of Sierra Leone, here in Freetown and up-country, and I know that the French people who run and work for these NGO’s represent France at her best, every day. May they be thanked and congratulated for their most valuable work.
The bilateral cooperation between France and Sierra Leone has recently made a step forward in a new programme to promote the teaching of French, notably for the benefit of the RSLAF. As an experiment, the French military joined forces with the French Cultural Centre in Conakry to conduct French teaching lessons. These are currently provided, and have been since December 2011, for the cadets in Benguema as well as for the commissioned officers at the Wilberforce Signal Centre. In those military facilities, two class-rooms have been fully equipped with computers, lap-tops, TV-sets, books, furniture and air-conditioning by our Defence Attaché in Conakry, and the French Cultural Centre in Conakry supervises the French teaching at a pedagogical level. In the meantime, the French Cultural Centre continues with the French teaching lessons provided to Sierra Leonean civil servants from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and State House. Within the coming weeks this program will be extended to seven civil servants who work for the Ministry of Justice. Beyond these programs, our current ambition is to help the Ministry of Education establish its own strategy, develop its own programs and train its own teachers. To support reaching the objective enacted by the reform which made French compulsory at the primary and junior school levels. And we are seeing progress, hoping that we will get concrete results by the end of the 2012/2013 academic year.
Many different sectors are beginning to show themselves as attractive to bilateral cooperation between France and Sierra Leone, such as military cooperation, sustainable forestry, fisheries, tourism, city sanitation, and more. The French Diplomatic Office in Freetown is discussing these matters with the relevant authorities and administrations and I hope that, by this time next year, , France and Sierra Leone will be exploring new fields of bilateral cooperation.
But, it is my opinion that there is no better and more sustainable approach to development than one which is underpinned by the private sector. That is why, since last September, the French Diplomatic Office in Freetown has dedicated much of its efforts to creating and strengthening links between the French business community and Sierra Leone. In this regard, the first Sierra Leonean Investment Road show was held in France from 16th to 20th April, 2012. The Hon. Minister of Trade and Industry led this mission to Paris, and they had the opportunity to meet with high level political personalities and officials of the French Government and Administration, as well as with business organisations and private companies. This Investment Road Show was conducted in a highly professional manner and the feedback from Paris was very positive : as a result, I can tell you that there are already several French investors entering discussions, whether with Sierra Leonean partners and Administrations, or with the French Diplomatic Office in Freetown, with the aim of operating in the near future in Sierra Leone. Tourism may be the first sector in which we will see these new partnerships come to fruition but there are also industrial and agro-industrial projects under discussion.
Those new projects will come in addition to the French companies which already operate in Sierra Leone. Today, with Bolloré, Total, Air France, Sky Handling Partners, Ags Frasers, Catering international service, Delmas Vieljeux, F-Scott, Gaia international, Eden park resort and Petrogas as well as some individual entrepreneurs, we can safely say that the French business community is expanding rapidly. I hope that our joint efforts, as Government representatives, will create new opportunities for French companies to come and invest here, in order to help building the future development and prosperity of Sierra Leone.
Thanks to the Ship’s captain for hosting this celebration, then :
“Long live the French Republic ! / Long live the Republic of Sierra Leone !”)
Discours du Commandant du Jacoubet
Honourable Madam Deputy Minister of Foreign affairs,
Honourable members of the government of the Republic of Sierra Leone,
Honourable members of Parliament,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank our guests for their presence and particularly, Mrs Jusu which brings dignity and solemnity to the occasion.
It’s indeed a great honour for the crew and myself to host the French National Day Celebration in Sierra Leone.
This port visit in Freetown marks for us the beginning of a 5 week mission in the Gulf of Guinea.
Since 1990, there has been a permanent presence of a French naval force in this area of interest, ready to detect and prevent crisis.
Our presence fulfils the strategic functions of anticipation and prevention. It represents a rapid operational capacity to support forces ashore in case of crisis and to evacuate French nationals if necessary.
The presence of a warship acts also as a deterrent to reduce all illegal activities such as piracy, drug trafficking or illegal fishing,….
Our mission is also to strengthen cooperation with countries of the area such as Sierra Leone. The calls are therefore a good opportunity for bilateral meetings and joint training with navies of host countries.
Our visit in Freetown is the first one for a ship of this category since 2008 and I’m personally very enthusiastic and excited to be here.
I believe our visit to be a bright and fruitful episode of our common history. This evening is an occasion to rekindle the flame of friendship between our two countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you an excellent evening aboard.