French National Day 2014
Find here the speech given on 14 July at the French Residence by Ambassador H.E. Mr. Michel Trinquier on the occasion of the French National Day 2014, and in presence of Honourable Foreign Minister H.E. Mr. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honour and a real pleasure to celebrate the French national day in Bangladesh, and to address the Bangladeshi People and my fellow citizens in this country on that occasion.
The French National Day offers an opportunity to remind us that the main ideals of the Bastille Day have to be endlessly defended. I am happy to remember these values today with our Bangladeshi friends, who so bravely fought for their independence, and showed their commitment in the restoration of democracy that we so cherish.
In this regard, since the beginning of the year, this country has already regained some stability, which is a positive development. Yet a number of crucial issues remain to be addressed for Bangladesh to continue its development as a democratic, secular, and tolerant State, and I hope that further progress will be made in that direction.
On the same date last year, a few months after the Rana Plaza tragedy, I encouraged all stakeholders to undertake the necessary reforms to bring the Bangladeshi textile industry in line with international standards.
Today, close to three months after the one-year anniversary of the Savar factory collapse, I would like to renew France’s commitment towards continued and enhanced efforts of all stakeholders to improve factory safety and workers’ rights. Much has already been achieved, but much more remains to be done, and efforts must be sustained. Consumers, owners and buyers, policy- and decision-makers – we all have a responsibility in ensuring that workers’ lives are no longer put at risk to supply consumer markets.
France was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Bangladesh, following the September 1971 call for the country’s independence of General de Gaulle’s Minister for Culture André Malraux, to whose memory a Garden was inaugurated at the University of Dhaka in April this year.
Since then, our two countries have been building relations in the economic, scientific, academic, and cultural fields.
The Alliances françaises in Bangladesh are a symbol of these linkages. So is the French archaeological mission in Mahasthangarh, who has been working for over 20 years to revive and preserve Bangladesh’s heritage.
Relations between our two countries are also made of individual experiences. Every year, hundreds of Bangladeshi students consider pursuing an education in France, and it is always a true pleasure hearing from the numerous bright and motivated young Bangladeshis who eventually did. Each of them contributes, at their level, to developing the relations between our two countries.
Bangladesh has set for itself ambitious poverty reduction and inclusive and sustainable development goals, and France is committed to helping it achieve them through a wide range of development cooperation channels. In that respect, climate change, health and gender are three main common areas of interest.
Beside its contribution through European Union funds, France is active in the field of green and inclusive growth in Bangladesh through the French Development Agency – AFD, whose activities additionally have a strong focus on climate change adaptation.
In the health sector, France, who was at the origin of the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, is now its second largest contributor. For 2014-2016, this represents 1.08 billion euros, of which 12% will be allocated to projects being implemented in Bangladesh.
As to gender issues, we proudly support the studies at the renowned school of political science “Sciences Po Paris” of talented young Bangladeshi ladies from Chittagong-based Asian University for Women. One of them, who has just returned from France a few weeks ago, is present with us today.
Last but not least, for an export oriented country like Bangladesh, trade is as important as aid, and in this respect France represents its fourth largest market with revenues amounting to more than 1.6 billion euros a year.
For many years major French companies have chosen to invest in Bangladesh. We are confident that with the help of the very active France Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, which is now the official correspondent of the French trade promotion regional office in New Delhi, many more French companies will follow this example and will come to settle down in, or trade with this country so rich in opportunities.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Before closing, let me thank the organizations which have generously extended their support for the organization of today’s celebrations, as well the dedicated staff of the Embassy for their efforts in preparing this event.
Whether it be in the economic, the cultural, the scientific, or the development field, let me assure you that the Embassy of France in Bangladesh will continue working towards enhanced cooperation and strengthened relations between France and Bangladesh.
Finally, I wish every success and happiness to the People of Bangladesh, and to the French community in this country, who, together, participate in this endeavour, be they civil servants, private sector or non-profit organisation employees.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to invite you to raise your glasses in a toast for the happiness of our two countries.