Message from the Ambassador of France to Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Régis de BELENET, on the occasion of French National Day

Dear Pakistani friends,

July 14th was designated National Day in 1880 to commemorate the liberation by the People of Paris of political prisoners held in the Bastille Jail on the 14th July 1789. The “Assault of the Bastille” symbolises Freedom for all the French people as well as all the citizens of the world.

Freedom and principles of Equality and Fraternity, all inherited from the “Philosophy of Enlightenment”, constitute our devise. These values are enshrined in our Constitution.

Two hundred and seventeen years later, in 2006, these values of Freedom, Equality and Fraternity, still inspire our policy. It is true for our domestic policy, as well as for our foreign policy.

In an increasingly complex world that remains fragile and dangerous, we need to rely on landmarks. The principles of Freedom, Equality and Fraternity provide us with those landmarks. Their natural outcomes are :

-  Respect of Human Rights and civil liberties

-  Acknowledgment of the value of otherness

-  Priority to multilateralism against unilateralism

-  Commitment for building a multipolar world

-  Support to the reinforcement of Collective Security

-  Solidarity

Recents events offer exemples. I will mention a few of them :

- At the first session of the United Nations HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL in
Geneva, on the 19th of June : our commitment on the draft international convention for the protection of all persons from enforced disappearances ; our support to the fight against impunity and to curb violence against women.

- We are deeply attached to the liberty of expression and we have always
struggled for it; but this liberty cannot justify everything. It is the reason why we condemned the publication and the reproduction of the caricatures of Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Those cartoons have profoundly and sincerely hurt a great number of persons throughout the world. Freedom of expression has to be used with a sense of responsibility.

- I mentioned the value of "OTHERNESS" .We are convinced that " no one
people, no one nation, no one civilisation represents or sums up human genius", that “each culture enriches humanity with its share of beauty and thruth" and that " it is only through their continuously renewed expression that we can perceive the universal that brings us together". I am quoting here what President Jacques Chirac said on the 20th of June, at the opening of the QUAI BRANLY MUSEUM in PARIS, a museum I invite you to visit, next time you come to our country.

- We think that only multilateralism is able to put an end to the crises that the international community is facing.

This is why we consider the United Nations and the respect of its Charter by all the members States so important.

This is also why the progression of unilateralism in the Middle-East, in Israeli- Palestinian relations, is a growing concern. It constitutes a dangerous path.

In the Iranian nuclear dispute, we have been constantly stressing the need for a diplomatic solution within the multilateral framework for collective security, a solution that would also ensure the necessary unity of the international community. We have contributed to these international efforts and will continue to do so.

- Multipolarity is already a fact of life. It is essential for us that Europe, through the European Union, constitutes one of these centres of power of the international scene. We believe that Europe has a great role to play in the world’s affairs because of its political project based on shared values, its large population, its historical influence and a dynamic economy as well as the EU capacity to combine the means of action of its member States. The Project for a European Constitution has been rejected when a referendum was organized in France in May 2005. Nevertheless, this result does not mean that the French rejected the European Union but rather that they expected the EU to do better and to fully respect each member states’ identity.

- Our commitment to reinforce the collective security explains our resolve to fight proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

We are also fully engaged in the fight against terror. This goal is developed in the “White Paper on internal security in the face of terrorism”, recently published on behalf of the French government. We consider terrorism as a strategic threat. But linking the fight against terrorism to a war or linking terrorism to Islam would be totally inappropriate . We have circulated our white paper to our partners, including countries of the Muslim world, and we intend to enhance the international dialogue on this issue. Terrorist groups fall within the scope of criminal law and must be treated as criminals.

- As far as solidarity and development are concerned, France is resolutely carrying an increase policy of its Official Development Assistance (ODA) that will raise from 4,7 billion euros (360 billion rupees) in 2001 to 9 billion euros (690 billion rupees) in 2007 (0,5 % of GNI).

We also think that a there is a need for additional innovative sources of development funding. This is why, along with Chili, Brazil, Norway and the United Kingdom, France launched this initiative of creating an air-ticket contribution (one euro for domestic flights and four euros for international flights). The goal of this air-ticket contribution is to fund an international facility for drug purchases -UNITAID- that will provide drug to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

How could I not mention the French-Pakistani relationship ?

Several of its aspects are presented witin the pages of this supplement. I will therefore limit myself to say that it is very pleasant to notice the remarkable progress made in this field:

- France wanted to promptly respond to the need of Pakistanis after the terrible 8th October earthquake. France brought a significant contribution to the international relief effort. The French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Philippe Douste-Blazy has personaly anounced our pledges in Islamabad, when taking part to the Donors ‘Conference on the 19th November 2005.

- Our political and security dialogue has been strengthened as the visits in the last months of delegations of top civil officials, high-ranking military authorities, members of Parliament in Pakistan and the recent visit to Paris (4th to 6th July 2006) of the Foreign Minister Mr. Khurshid Kasuri.

- We appreciate the economic policy carried out in Pakistan. It provides new opportunities and perspectives to our commercial relations.

- We are already contributing to the tremendous efforts made to develop higher education and we intend to remain supportive in the future.

It was only natural to do so :

- Pakistan is a country that is interested not only in democracy but in a sustainable one. France is on its part devoted to democracy.

- Pakistan is a major country within its strategic region and moreover in the world. Along with its European partners, France intends to fully play its role on the international scene.

This message on the occasion of the 14th of July is my first one since I took up my duties in Pakistan. It gives me the opportunity to thank the Pakistani Authorities for their warm welcome and to thank the Pakistani People for their hospitality. /.

Dernière modification : 04/11/2008

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