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France/Foreign Ministry handover

Published on July 6, 2011
Handover ceremony – Speech by Mme Michèle Alliot-Marie, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Paris, November 16, 2010

Minister, My dear Bernard,

My dear Pierre,

Thank you first of all for this welcome, thank you for this warmth and thank you too for everything you have done, for everything that together you have done for this House and for France’s policy.

You have known periods which weren’t always easy, you have experienced a number of difficulties and I want to thank you, my dear Bernard, for your action in those tough times; I want to thank you for that action, that determination to modernize this ministry which reflects the President of the Republic’s strong desire for modernization.

It’s true that today, with Henri de Raincourt, Laurent Wauquiez, we are happy to be able to draw on the work done over the past three years.

For me, it’s first of all an honour to come to this ministry. An honour to have been chosen by the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister to head a great ministry. To head the ministry which, at the end of the day, is the image of France around the globe. It’s also, and I am conscious of this, an important responsibility. And, secondly, I’m going to tell you very simply, for me it’s also a, real joy which I think the two ministers share.

The joy of serving France, continuing her traditions and her commitment to values and her vision of the world, a vision probably held by very few countries and nations. We believe in global balances, we believe in a multipolar world in which it’s important for France, and France in Europe, to be able to make her voice heard.

It’s an honour and also a pleasure to serve France in her aspiration for modernity. As you rightly reminded us, Bernard, things have changed a great deal in the world, not only because of the emerging powers, but for us also because of Europe’s action as an entity. This compels us, of course, to rethink our own ambitions for the world, our way of doing things, our forward vision of the way continents may develop in every sphere, be it economic, political or cultural.

It’s for us an honour, a responsibility and a joy to serve France with the men and women of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And I say this very sincerely, it’s true that it’s because of the work of each and every one of you that our country has a positive image in the world and, whoever you may be, from the lowest to the highest rank of this ministry, it’s important for you to carry with you the certainty that, whatever you do, you are France. You are the soldiers of this generous, ambitious France, called on to advance values throughout the world.

France isn’t a country like the others, as I often noted when I was Minister of Defence, particularly during my visits abroad, and I’m sure, Bernard and Pierre, that you too have observed this. It’s a fact that when people abroad talk about France, they don’t talk about her the same way as they do about other countries. So that compels us, compels us to show that France must never be an overcautious country, huddle up inside her borders, or fall back on conservative certainties.

No, France is part of the global dynamic where the challenges are commensurate with globalization and we must be capable of meeting these challenges. Which entails displaying solidarity and not being inward looking, but being capable of working with others, all the others, both inside a department and in relations with the other countries in the international fora.

Our foreign ministry both guarantees this image and ability of France and provides her with the wherewithal to act. Our diplomacy must not be an abstract or immutable concept, it must be dynamic, open, and imaginative, and this is clearly what you have set in train and I am intent on pursuing.

Yes, France has a lot to offer or propose to the world. It’s up to us to carry forward that hope and those values.

I know I can count on everyone of you. I would like you to know, you too, in what you do every day, in the challenges you take up, that you will be able to count on each of us. We are absolutely determined to serve, since “serve” is certainly the finest word which can exist in politics and also within the Administration. It’s a word which, in today’s world and in this ministry probably means more than it does anywhere else. Each and every one of you is France’s soldier promoting values and the France who is ambitious for the world.

It’s this task which, I hope, we will carry out together, without forgetting what we are, since confronted with these challenges, we are all exactly the same. Each and every person has equal importance in the mission to be accomplished. So what I really wish is that together, with your skills I referred to a moment ago, your determination and your love of our country, we will bear France’s colours and the colours of her Foreign Ministry.

Thank you./.

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