Read and watch the ambassador’s speech on the occasion of the French National Day.
Members of the Parliament,
Madame la conseillère des Français de l’étranger, Madame et Messieurs les consuls honoraires,
Seven months after my arrival in Cyprus, I am happy, with my husband and the team of the Embassy, to welcome you tonight to celebrate our national day. Many thanks for being present!
Due to the COVID measures, we had to adopt a reduced reception format but I am hopeful that, next year, we will be much more numerous as we were used to be before. I have been told that, during the previous French national receptions, this garden was usually so packed that it was quite difficult to see an inch of grass!
Let me first have a thought for the victims of the terrible fire that took place 10 days ago, for those who lost their house or, sadly, their lives. The solidarity displayed by the EU and by friendly countries, including France, and by the Cypriot people to their compatriots, was very moving.
The 14th of July is a very special day for France and for the French people. Looking back at history, it celebrates two landmark events of the French revolution : the capture of the Bastille on 14th of July 1789 but also, a year later, the “fête de la Fédération”, the party of the federation, which took place to symbolize the unity of the French nation around its ideals and values. Those values reflected in our motto : “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”. Those values whose importance was highlighted by the pandemic.
Liberty : despite the necessary restrictions we had to enact to fight the pandemic, we managed to safeguard our fundamental and vital democratic freedoms.
Equality : the difficult period we went through has challenged our societies, putting at risk the equal access to healthcare, to decent living conditions, to dignity, to our basic rights. That’s why it was so important that the European Union put in place a huge recovery plan allowing States to provide their citizens with what they need.
Fraternity : without fraternity and solidarity among Europeans, we would not have been able to swiftly get the vaccines needed. It is now our duty to help other countries to get the same possibilities. The battle against the pandemic has not been won yet. But, at least in Europe, we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what Europe can do when it is united and shows solidarity !
Geographically, Cyprus and France are located at both ends of the European continent. But through the heart, our common history, and the strength of friendship, Cyprus and France have never been closer.
I will start with culture, language and education : this year, significant progress has been made, especially with regards to francophony.
Associate member of the international organization of francophony, Cyprus has decided to better position the French language in its education system. I welcome that significant development. It will offer young Cypriots new opportunities.
In the field of defense, strong strategic ties exist and have been deepened, in particular thanks to the many port calls French navy ships make in Cyprus. As you know, the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, this monster of steel, docked once again in Cyprus recently. For sure, it was not the only one in this “heavyweight” category this year!
The French military presence in the Eastern Mediterranean illustrates our enduring commitment to the stability and security of the region. Tensions have recently decreased. Illegal activities have stopped in the last few months. Yet this “détente” should be sustainable. France will remain vigilant and always ready to defend international law through dialogue and mutual respect. Energy is another field that could foster cooperation – and not competition – in the region. France will play its part as a new member of the East Mediterranean Gas forum (EMGF).
I also wish that Cyprus and France could expand their partnership in new domains such as innovation and research, especially in the digital sector ; energies, including renewables as it is the energy of the future ; or tourism. All of which are key sectors for Cyprus’ development strategy.
We also know that we can count on Cyprus to work on global challenges, such as gender equality that has been at the heart of the “Generation equality forum” that just took place in Paris.
All those projects would bear even more fruits should Cyprus be in peace with itself and its regional environment, should the country, united, is able to mobilize all its forces, in order to look at the future.
This obviously requires finding a solution to the “Cyprus problem”.
This solution cannot be found through division. Division means that all sides would be losing. France, as an EU country and a permanent member of the Security Council, is looking forward to the resumption of negotiations in the framework of the United Nations parameters. Creative ideas or some flexibility will probably be useful as it is the case in any successful negotiation process. But our compass should firmly remain the bi-zonal and bi-communal federation with political equality. Today there is a risk of a dangerous deadlock given the positions exposed in Geneva. Urgency, determination, maybe some boldness, are then needed more than ever. Not counterproductive and unrealistic preconditions to talks.
The reopening of the crossings points after nearly 450 days of closure has been a very positive development. More needs to be done to build trust. Building confidence excludes any actions going against UN resolutions. That is why unilateral decisions regarding Varosha have to be avoided and the matter be dealt with through dialogue.
Please allow me to conclude by speaking about Europe. We thought that listening to the European anthem, the “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven, alongside our national anthems, would be a good way for us to remember how much we need Europe. The pandemic has made that so clear.
A Europe that provides more solidarity, a Europe that is more sovereign, a Europe that fully plays its role as a major power on the international scene, and a Europe loved by its youth that represents our future.
Those will be the main priorities of the French Presidency of the European Union in the first semester of 2022. We know that we can count on Cyprus to support us in the implementation of such an ambitious agenda.
Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen, I now invite you to enjoy the rest of the evening.
Long live the friendship between Cyprus and France!