National Day of the French Republic (Dacca, 14/7/2018)
Allocution by the French Ambassador to Bangladesh, HE Mrs Marie-Annick Bourdin, on the National Day of the French Republic (Dacca, 14/7/2018)
Honorable State Minister for Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mr. Shahriar Alam, MP
Honorable Ministers present, Honorable Members of Parliament,
Honorable Guests and Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to thank all of you for joining us in this beautiful building, which hosts jointly the Embassies of France and of Germany, for almost a year now. Yes, bold leaders can decide to reconcile, overcome deep historical oppositions, and develop progressively a model of much broader cooperation, which laid the ground for today’s European Union.
We commemorate today the storming of the Bastille in Paris on the 14th of July 1789. It is the mighty symbol of our revolutionary fight for emancipation from a regime of absolute monarchy, followed by the proclamation of the “Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen”, on the 26th of August. It took us some decades of political turbulence, internal and external, accompanied by successive legal and institutional transformations, until we could stabilize the foundations of democracy and rule of law, then strengthen them gradually.
It remains a continuing process, building on our values and the international commitments we freely entered into, building also on the collective actions of citizens and human rights defenders. Let me recall the courageous Olympe de Gouges, claiming for citizenship and equal Rights for Women in 1791 , and those 20th century French women, full citizens as Ministers or Résistantes, yet deprived of the right to vote until 1944. We have benefitted from their fight, extolling the much-needed freedom of expression and of association, right to peaceful demonstration, access to justice for all and to protection by impartial institutions ; we must pursue it for all citizens, female and male, in the world.
Our two countries have developed warm and friendly relations since the early days of the fight for Independence led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971; André Malraux, who fought for freedom during the civil war in Spain, lent him a strong support, along with other intellectuals (B. Henri-Levy). It is a pillar of our shared sense of solidarity and cooperation, consolidated by high-level political exchanges and visits, including President Mitterrand’s visit to Dacca, allowing for a fruitful dialogue on issues of common interest.
President Emmanuel Macron was honored to receive the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in Paris on the 12th of December. In their bilateral meeting, the President expressed our gratitude and sincere appreciation for the generous welcome and protection Bangladesh has granted to the more than 800.000 Rohingya refugees, forced to flee violence and persecution in Myanmar since August 2017. He reaffirmed our active support in the UN Security Council, UNGA and Human Rights Council, pressing for an end to violence, prosecution of perpetrators, creation of conducive conditions for voluntary and safe returns.
Both leaders reaffirmed their shared commitment to the full implementation of the 2015 Paris Agreement to combat climate change at the ensuing “One Planet Summit”. Sheikh Hasina forcefully made the case of Bangladesh, one of the most vulnerable State-Parties. In March, at the International Solar Alliance Summit in New-Delhi, the Presidents of Bangladesh and France and the Prime Minister of India attested our respective commitments to renewable energy.
Sustainable development is at the heart of our development assistance. The Agence Française de Développement operates projects aiming at ensuring access to drinkable water, facilitating sustainable urban transportation, reinforcing access to energy and improving its efficiency. Our scientific and technical cooperation also focuses on sustainable development issues : climate change, oceanography, hydrology, renewable energies…
Our President lauded the impressive economic growth achieved in Bangladesh over the last 10 years. Our Government has welcomed the announcement of the graduation of your economy from an LDC to a Developing country by 2021 or 2024, we salute this great achievement. We will keep on supporting your economic development through our ODA and technical assistance, as well as through our private sector companies. They are supplying high quality, reliable and environment friendly technologies. Allow me to give you a few recent examples :
France fully shared your pride upon the successful launch of the first communication satellite, Bangabandhu-I, built by the French Thales Alenia Space. Congratulations, your country has entered a new era indeed, becoming the 57th nation owning a satellite in the world. In the field of drinkable water, Suez has been here for 20 years and has realized with Dhaka WASA the first two Saidabad water treatment plants. In May, our 2 major water operators, Suez and Veolia have joined forces to undertake the Gandharbpur project due to provide safe water to an additional 2 M. persons.
As for energy, Technip has built the Eastern Refinery 50 years ago, it still works well. Technip recently completed the studies to expand its capacity, with advanced technologies and environmental standards, and stands ready for a request to deliver on it. Total is operating in Bangladesh for 16 years and aims at expanding its operations, in the gas sector and in renewable energy. Finally, outside, you may have seen 2 French car brands, Peugeot and Renault, which entered your market this spring, both are green, energy-efficient and reliable.
Besides these companies, allow me to express my sincere thanks to the following other sponsors who contributed so happily to the organization of this event : Idemia, Commercial Bank of Ceylon, HSBC, Sanofi, Bolloré Logistics, Instrumental Clique, Servier, Carrefour, JM Export, Oryx Bangladesh, Schneider Electric, Grameen Veolia.
We are convinced that we can do and achieve a lot more together :
*in contributing to peace and stability, as both our countries hold shared views on a number of issues of concern, and are active contributors to Peace-Keeping Operations;
* in ensuring sustainable development for all, implementing the 2030 Agenda and assisting each other in implementing our international commitments;
* in promoting the importance of education and diversity of languages and cultures, in which are rooted the identity, the sense of belonging and individual rights of every citizen. They have been and remain key factors in our respective history and fight for emancipation.
* And obviously, as we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on the 10th of December, we also can do more together in consolidating democracy through free and fair elections, as well as inclusive, and in defending the human rights of all women and men in the world, as well as in our respective countries.
Kindly bear with me for a series of announcements :
*The President Emmanuel Macron has invited leaders from all countries who contributed troops in the 1st World War, and Bangladesh has also been invited, to commemorate the 1918 armistice, on the 11th of November. Besides the commemorative ceremonies, France is organizing the Paris Peace Forum, a Global Platform for Governance projects, aiming at consolidating peace and building a more cooperative and better organized planet, on November 11-13. Kindly take both documents: presentation of the Paris Peace Forum and call for applications, to see if and how you can contribute with your own initiative.
*I wish to thank the whole team of the Embassy for their mobilization for today’s celebration, but also throughout the year. Many of our cadres are going to leave this Summer, starting with our Deputy Chief of Mission ; our Economic and commercial Counsellor, and his Deputy ; the Director of the Alliance Française of Dhaka ; the Head of our Consular and Administrative section ; the Regional Security Officer ; and my secretary, whom most of you know. The Head of the French Agency for Development has left us early to witness the birth of their lovely third child.
*Let me close by returning to Europe : after weeks of suspense and passion, two teams from EU Member-States, Croatia and France, will try their best to win the World Cup Final tomorrow evening. We organize a screening in our Franco-German premises, it will be a friendly and simple gathering. I hope, dear Mr Minister, that you will join us. Despite a likely small bias on my side, that I try to share with you…, the motto tomorrow will remain : “May the best team win”.
Long live France, Joy Bangla, Long live the Franco-Bangladeshi friendship.
A woman has the right to mount the scaffold. She must possess equally the right to mount the tribune (Declaration of the Rights of Woman and of the Female Citizen)