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Official speeches and statements - March 23, 2016

Published on March 23, 2016

1. Fight against terrorism - Reply by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris, 22/03/2016)

Once again democracy is being attacked, and a blow has been struck to Europe a stone’s throw from its institutions, where the attacks took place. Yet, more than ever, Brussels embodies, and more than ever will embody, European solidarity.

Today the hearts of French people beat for Brussels. I spoke to my counterpart, Didier Reynders, to tell him that France is at one with the Belgian people and that we’re totally committed, as the Prime Minister said a few moments ago, to fighting terrorism together.

As you pointed out, the savages, the terrorists hesitate at nothing and have no more limits; they’ve hit Tunisia, they’ve hit Côte d’Ivoire, they’ve hit Turkey, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Mali. But wherever democracy is attacked, we shall respond with strength and determination; wherever lives are stolen, we shall respond with courage and solidarity.

To be effective, as you pointed out, this response must be global, it must be European. And, indeed, it’s a matter of urgency to implement the decisions already taken and the commitments which have been announced. This applies to the exchange of air passenger data, which the European Parliament must finally adopt.

But the same goes for controlling our external borders. The creation of a European border guard corps has been decided; it must be implemented in practice.

But mobilizing also means mobilizing internationally to eradicate the source of barbarism. So, [this means] fighting Daesh [so-called ISIL] militarily in Iraq and Syria, but also making headway - as the negotiators in Geneva are doing - on a political solution in Syria. And also providing help to the countries which need it, particularly in Africa, as we’re doing with the European countries. This was also my message to Tunisia, which we must help to ensure security and development.


2. Tourism - gastronomy - Operation Goût de France-Good France 2016 - Statements to the press by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development - excerpts (Paris, 21/03/2016)

THE MINISTER - On the one hand, there are the great chefs: Alain Ducasse initiated this; we’re going to see him shortly at the [Restaurant] Le Meurice. I wanted to show here that there are also young chefs taking risks and getting involved. I think this is an absolutely extraordinary adventure. (...)

I think it’s very important to show that there are a huge number of resources in our country and that gastronomic heritage, the development of the regions, in other words culinary expertise but also the quality of produce - not only produce for creating meals but also French wines -, this quality isn’t focused on the past but bears the promise of hope for the future. And if we ensure it’s promoted globally - as we’re doing this evening, with up to 1,715 meals organized by chefs all over the world, great chefs, great restaurants but also bistros and small, high-quality restaurants - it helps a great deal to show that this expertise is part of, and contributes to, France’s attractiveness.

That’s what I wanted to promote and show this evening: that our country’s young people have talent and want to deploy it in France. Of course, when cooks learn their trade and go travelling around the world, they learn new things elsewhere. But the tremendous thing is that this also happens in France, and that France is capable of new initiatives and also capable of inventing new things; this, too, is what gives it its charm, and this charm is about living together and about quality.

Q. - Are you going to continue the «gastro-diplomacy» your predecessor initiated?

THE MINISTER - Yes. I’ve quoted Talleyrand, who said about Napoleon: «Give me a good chef and I’ll give you good treaties.»

But I think it’s also about the quality of the relationship: yesterday evening I had a meeting with my Japanese counterpart, we shared a dinner together - it’s also the quality of the welcome that enables a relationship to be built - and at the end, he said to me: «I’d really like us to be on first-name terms.» I don’t know if the dinner played a part, but it was a powerful moment in which we discussed a lot of things. It was a working dinner, but at the same time it was a pleasant moment. I think that’s important.

Here in Paris, it also sends a message: on 13 November, there were terrible attacks that we no longer even have the words to describe, they were so horrible, and at the same time France doesn’t give in, France doesn’t surrender, especially Paris. So this evening is also a way of saying no, and a way of saying yes to life.

In our network of French embassies, 150 countries are going to take part in this Operation Goût de France/Good France today, very often in ambassadors’ residences but also in the sky, because Air France, the national airline, is going to organize some dinners. There’s even a cruise company, Ponant, which is organizing dinners under the French flag.

It’s not a nationalist idea. On the contrary, it’s an idea of openness to the world, of sharing: we’re sharing the quality of produce, sharing expertise, sharing the quality of French wines, and we want others to share them too. And because we also want our country to be attractive, to welcome new investors, welcome new creatives, welcome tourists, it’s a way of saying to them: come to France, come and appreciate not only the quality of the gastronomy but also a certain art of living; it’s about France’s originality, which is also universal.

It’s something of a message of hope this evening: it’s the beginning of spring, and it’s important that we can also send this message, which is a message of confidence.

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