Bastille Day 2022 : Speech delivered on behalf of the Ambassador [el] [fr] [tr]

Find the speech delivered by Mrs Virginie Corteval, DHM, on behalf of the Ambassador.

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Mister President,
Dear friends,

Good evening and welcome to the French Residence for the celebration of the “14 juillet”, in English “Bastille day” !

As you may be informed, Ambassador Salina Grenet-Catalano was unfortunately tested positive to Covid19 this morning. She regrets not being able to receive you tonight. We wish her a speedy recovery. I will now deliver the ambassdor’s speech on her behalf.

After two years of restrictions due to COVID 19, it is a great pleasure for us and all the Embassy team to finally be able to welcome you all, once again, in a full and regular format.

I had hoped to say that today is a happy day but sadly this is hardly the case given the state of international crisis we have been living in since February 24th.

War has returned to the heart of the European soil. Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine has already had wide ranging consequences : deaths, destructions, a more brutal world, an energy and food crisis. But this drama also brings its own share of hope : hope stemming from the incredible resilience and resistance of the people of Ukraine ; hope from the united and strong reaction of the European Union and its partners ; hope for a better future with the decision to grant Ukraine and Moldova candidate status into our Union. We will remain at Ukraine’s sides until peace returns to our continent.
May this drama taking place not so far away to the North demonstrate that there is no time to waste to look for a lasting and viable peace, here, on the beautiful island of Cyprus ! Frozen conflicts remain wounds to be healed. The status quo in Cyprus is hardly a status quo. The situation is changing, and not necessarily for the better : from the questioning of international norms in Varosha to the looming threats in the Cypriot Economic Exclusive Zone, from the difficult economic conditions and restricted rights Turkish Cypriots are experiencing to the high levels of migrations taking place through the Green line. Our Ukrainian friends have demonstrated that there is hope as long as we keep that hope alive. No goal is unreachable provided there is will and trust.
France is ready to support any step in that direction, such as confidence building measures. Division is not an option and we remain convinced that a re-united, federal and European Cyprus, that is to say a solution within the UN parameters, is still achievable. We are appreciative of the United Nations’ tireless efforts in this regard.
Mister President, as you know, the last 6 months were very special for France as we held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union at a challenging time. You are well aware of that because you personnally - and your ministers - had to travel to the four corners of France for the different informal meetings we organized in a few weeks time.

I hope that it was not too exhausting and that you enjoyed your stays there. It is a pity that our Presidency is over, now that we have several direct flights between Cyprus and France !

At the beginning of our Presidency, President Macron put forward our ambition : first, to build a more sovereign and autonomous Europe ; secondly, to speed up the recovery of our economies and to lay the ground for a new European growth model after COVID ; thirdly, to work towards a more humane Europe, closer to its citizens and taking care of its youth.

We had to dedicate most of our attention to the war in Ukraine. But our initial goals remain 100% valid. We even had to accelerate our efforts towards more autonomy, especially as far as energy is concerned.
We have altogether registered numerous successes. Allow me to mention a few of them : the “Strategic compass” to better face security challenges ; the ambitious “Fit for 55” climate package ; key initiatives to increase the protection of biodiversity through the Once Ocean Summit which took place in Brest ; the introduction of a minimum representation of women in company boards ; the creation, everywhere in Europe, of a minimum wage.

I know, Mr President, that the implementation, in Cyprus, of the European minimum wage was a project dear to the late minister Zeta Emilianidou to whom I would like to pay homage once again.
With the Conference on the Future of Europe whose outcome was revealed in May, we listened to our citizens, in particular the youth, about their expectations and proposals. We have a lot of work ahead to implement their recommendations.

Here in Cyprus, we organized several events during our Presidency. A series of important working lunches between EU ambassadors and high level Cypriot officials, and you, Mr President. Efharisto ! Some public and cultural events such as “the European Night of Ideas”, hosted by the Parliament, where we gave the floor to the Cypriot youth ; an exhibition on European architectural heritage ; a European film festival. Many thanks to my European colleagues for having contributed to those events.

Let me also thank warmly my collaborators at the Embassy, at the French institute and at the Residence for their excellent work during our Presidency. It was a real team achievement !

We now wish the best of luck to the Czech Presidency.
Mr President, the past year has also been very important for the deepening of our bilateral relationship, a relationship that draws its strength from our shared European values and belonging to the EU. In the field of defense and security, I cannot but mention the recent decision of Cyprus to purchase six state of the art helicopters from Airbus, hence contributing to the reinforcement of our European Defense. Many thanks again to the Republic of Cyprus for welcoming our ships in its ports, including once more, this year, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

We are joined tonight by sailors from Frigate Provence, which is currently enjoying Cypriot hospitality as part of its NATO mission in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Our relationship also expanded in the economic sector thanks to new contracts signed recently in the field of water treatment and sanitation or in the food retail market between Casino group and Alphamega for instance. More direct flights have also brought French tourists to Cyprus and Cypriots to France. Significant progress has been made in the education sector : 1. with the development of the French-Cypriot school in Nicosia (more than 440 kids study there; we expect even more next year) and the opening, in September, of a branch in Limassol. 2. with the increasing number of Cypriots learning French in Cypriot schools ; 3. And with an increased number of Cypriot students choosing French universities for their studies. Ekanan mia kali epilogi! They made a good choice.
Concluding on this more positive note, let me thank our sponsors for allowing us to organize this reception tonight (you can find the list in the entrance) and let me thank you all once again for coming here so numerous to celebrate the French Bastille Day, which embodies our key values of “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”.

Have a great evening !

publié le 19/09/2022

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