Discours de l’ambassadeur à la réception du 19 juillet en l’honneur de la délégation du Conseil régional en Bourgogne
Mme la Vice-Présidente du Conseil régional de Bourgogne,
Representatives of the Western Cape Government and of the consular Corps in Cape Town
Members of the Burgundy delegation and also Bourguignons de Cape Town
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mesdames et Messieurs,
Good evening. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you tonight to the Residence of France in Cape Town to celebrate the cooperation between two beautiful regions of the world, the Western Cape Province and the region of Bourgogne.
This residence is certainly not as impressive that the Castle of Good Hope and its extraordinary dining room where we were treated yesterday night to a grand gala dinner by the Premier, Mrs Helen Zille, but I think it is a fine example of Cape Dutch architecture.
Those of you who attended yesterday’s dinner already know everything about the cooperation between Western Cape and Burgundy. But for our other guests, let me recall a few facts, Mrs Vice-President.
The history of the agreement takes us back ten years. When the Prefect of Bourgogne met the Ambassador of South Africa in France, Ms. Skweyiya, in 2000 – the year in which South Africa was the guest of honour at the International Food Fair of Dijon.
Following the signing of the first official partnership between the two regions in 2002, several projects have been launched with a strong accent, initially on wine and cheese-making. Nowadays, the depth and diversity of the cooperation’s beneficiaries is wide : from regional institutions and their administrators to “satellite” partners such as agencies, associations, organisations in the sectors of tourism and agricultural development, from hospitality and catering schools to young people benefiting from professional training programs, with a strong emphasis on training Youth from previously disadvantaged communities.
But the most successful achievement has been without a doubt, the people to people relationships. It was obvious to me yesterday, when I saw the members of the two delegations hugging one another and joking together. This kind of friendship and complicity cannot be faked.
The new cooperation agreement signed yesterday by Premier Helen Zille and Mrs Safia Otokoré will allow you to take the relationship a step further. Along with the agreement, large-scale projects are planned in a diverse array of sectors - from agriculture and economic development to tourism promotion, the environment, sport, public health, and culture.
People from both regions believe in this partnership and have high expectations for it. The quality of the projects and exchanges, over these ten years, has only reinforced this confidence. And my government also believes in this cooperation. Indeed, the French Foreign Ministry had always strongly supported this partnership throughout the years and it has recently allocated a grant of 150 000 euro over the 2010-2012 period.
Your two provinces never miss an opportunity to broaden and deepen their relationships. They now contemplate to be the main implementer of a France-South Africa Youth Exchange developed by the National Youth Development Agency and its French counterpart the Agence du Service Civique. This new project would allow South African youth to do their service work for 6 months in organisations based in France and in turn French youth will be deployed to do their service work in South African organisations.
This regional cooperation is also a wonderful and innovative addition to the larger relationship between our two countries, which is very rich at the moment.
Obviously, there was the successful State visit of President Zuma to France last March, which allowed us to consolidate our partnership in so many fields, from energy to development cooperation, from culture to business. And since January first, as fellow members of the UN Security Council, we have had a very intense and constructive political dialogue on the crises of the hour, mainly in Côte d’Ivoire and Libya.
Our dialogue has also been permanent on global issues. France is chairing the G20 in 2011 and we had a very productive meeting of the G20 Development Working Group two weeks ago here in Cape Town.
I also want to stress the increasing role of the French Development Agency. Here in the Western Cape, the extension of the Port of Cape Town through, in part, a 200 mios euros credit line from the AFD is a great example of this action. The AFD also granted 1.2 mios euros to the province to extend and renovate the Grabouw community Health Centre and the Inzame Zabuntu clinic in Mitchell’s plain for HIV-AIDS patients. And we soon expect AFD to fund the second extension of the Cape Town airport, as well as the first Eskom wind farm.
People to people links are more and more important in modern diplomacy. And in this regard, the opening by Air France of a new connection between Paris and Cape Town three times a week from next November is excellent news for Burgundy and France’s relationship with the Western Cape Province.
Allow me to end this brief speech on a very exciting note : la « saison française » . Indeed, our two governments have decided that in 2012 there would be a season of France in South Africa, from June to October, and, in 2013 a season of South Africa in France. This will be an occasion for each country to offer to the other the best of its culture, of course, but also of its science, its gastronomy, its economic and tourism assets. There will be live shows, exhibitions, debates, dance, live music, film screenings, and creative collaboration between artists from both countries taking place all over South Africa and in particular in Cape Town. Needless to say, the regional partnerships will be closely associated with the seasons. And I am sure that Burgundy and the Western Cape will find new opportunities to develop their friendship through this event.