French Around the World Celebrate Bastille Day...

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View onto the Mosque from the entrance to the Yar’Adua centre
French National Day

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja

Speech of HE Mr Yves GAUDEUL

Ambassador of France to Nigeria

Mes chers compatriotes,

Dear Nigerian friends,

Dear friends from the diplomatic community,

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, let me say that we are very pleased, my wife and I, to welcome you once more in this prestigious Yar’Adua Centre. I would like to thank my wife and the members of the Embassy who under her direction have made this celebration possible.

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The Yar’Adua centre, Abuja, in the afternoon...
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...and later in the evening

This day is a special day for the French. It’s a day when they celebrate an old country from Europe, with a long history, and the principles of democracy and solidarity that define it.

Let me go through 4 points quickly.

I - The first semester of 2007 has been politically dense in France and in Nigeria.

If you read the press, you know by now the French people elected a new president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and a new Parliament, in April and June of this year, almost at the same time Nigerians went through a series of elections. I will not comment again on the Nigerian elections. To say the very least we were not satisfied with the way things were done. I note that the new Nigerian president is not satisfied either. Let us hope that tribunals will process the electoral petitions in a speedy and fair manner.

Nigeria has a new president. President Yar’Adua’s moral stature is certainly an asset to this country. His political openness and his willingness to seriously tackle Nigeria’s most important problems, including the situation in the Delta region, are positive and commandable. We are hopeful President Yar’Adua will get all the support he needs from the Nigerian people to carry out his reforms.

II – We have today new generation presidents.

What President Nicolas Sarkozy said about Africa right after his election shows this continent will remain at the heart of France’s diplomatic commitments. At the same time, the approach will certainly be a more pragmatic one, based less on the past and more on the reality of today.

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The Ambassador answers questions from Grace Yussuf, from NAN, and Dele Anofi, from The Nation

III – Relations between France and Nigeria are good. And there is still room for improvement.

The French Embassy in Abuja remains dedicated to help strengthen this relationship. I actually would like our political relationship to be a reflection of our dynamic economic presence in this country, a reflection of our partnership on most regional and international issues. More can be done, should be done.

IV - I would like to take the opportunity of this speech to warmly thank the French business community for its great job.

Thanks to the French companies based in this country and the people who work for them, Nigeria has become France’s first trade partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Trade exchanges with Nigeria have reached in 2006 a historic record with 3 billion Euros. This trend has been confirmed by the first semester of 2007. This is a great achievement in an environment which is tough, and sometimes unstable and dangerous. Despite difficulties, the French companies remain confident that Nigeria has still a lot to offer in terms of opportunities.

Our cultural relations with Nigeria are also gaining strength with an important increase in terms of public to our cultural centre in Abuja and our 9 Alliances Françaises, and with a growth of the number of pupils in French schools, in particular in Lagos and in Abuja.

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Among the many guests...

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FCT Police chief, M. John HARUNA, and Mrs HARUNA, with the Embassy’s Police Attache, M. Yves RAMARE

In this field of culture cooperation, I would like to mention two new developments:

-  After Ibadan University where the French Institute for Research in Africa (IFRA) is already present, an antenna of IFRA was recently opened in Zaria, within the Ahmadu Bello University.

-  Thanks to an agreement with Voice of Nigeria in Lagos, Radio France Internationale (RFI) has been producing and broadcasting programs in Haussa on a daily basis for the last few months

These are good examples of cooperation, which contribute to a better understanding between our peoples. We still have a lot to do to know each other better and we are ready to work at increasing opportunities for both countries.

Having this in prospect, I would like to propose a toast to the friendship between our peoples

Long live Nigeria

Long live France

Long live the friendship between France and Nigeria

All you want to know about Bastille Day, and the symbols of the French Republic...

Dernière modification : 16/07/2007

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