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Nineteenth Ambassadors’ Conference

Published on September 6, 2011
Speech by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs

Paris, September 1, 2011

In recent months I’ve had an opportunity to meet many of you during my frequent visits abroad, at meetings in Paris or through your cables, which I always read with interest.

Let me say a few words to tell you how pleased I am to welcome you all here today to the Quai d’Orsay, in the presence of the Prime Minister, for this traditional meeting I created 18 years ago to enable you to meet up at least once a year – you who contribute to our country’s action and influence in the four corners of the globe. The fact is that consistency, unity and an ability to act together make our diplomacy strong. I’ll have a chance to return to this at greater length with you tomorrow.

This year, faced with unprecedented upheavals in the global equilibrium, we chose to give our meeting the title: “Diplomacy in a changing world: France, a force for change.”

During our discussions – which will be many – we’ll have a chance to talk about the main issues and major challenges our diplomacy faces.

First of all, the Arab Spring. I said on 16 April – at the conference we organized thanks to Dominique Baudis’ hospitality at the Arab World Institute [in Paris] – that the revolutions south of the Mediterranean are making us change our view of this region of the world and invent a new way of practising diplomacy. Human rights, support for democratic and economic reforms, but also immigration control and the consequences of the international community’s intervention in Libya: in all fields we must learn lessons from the changes under way, as you started to do at the Arab World Institute.

The second challenge is the euro crisis and the future of the European Union. The sovereign debt crisis has made us create innovative tools.

We must continue our efforts to help Europe emerge stronger from this difficult phase, by drawing on the special relationship we have with Germany, of course – which I also had the opportunity to confirm on Monday at the German Ambassadors’ Conference, created on the model of the French conference.

The third challenge is global governance. In the run-up to the Cannes [G20] summit, but also on the eve of major meetings on sustainable development, we’ll consider the markers we must lay down to contribute to the emergence of a world that is more structured, better regulated on the basis of shared values.

The fourth challenge is support for the African continent, which today faces major challenges in the areas of food, democracy, the economy and security. The upgrading of our cooperation and development aid tools is a major trump card in helping us respond to those challenges. We’ve already done a lot to that effect but, as we know, development aid is a field where we must always do more.

The fifth challenge is the safety of our compatriots worldwide.

Whether it’s the situation in Afghanistan, the Iranian crisis or actions we’re taking in the face of the terrorist threat in the Sahel, our discussions will be an opportunity to take stock and see how to do even better in this area, which is at the heart of our ministry’s mission.

Finally, they’ll give us an opportunity to consider the profound changes in our diplomacy tool, which are helping to make it one of the most modern and successful in the world today. Scientific and digital diplomacy, a reform of the cultural network, new operators, the consolidation of resources and personnel: in a constrained budgetary context – and no one will escape those constraints – it’s thanks to streamlining efforts that our ministry is regaining its rightful place in the French and international arena.

It’s thanks to your vision, expertise and suggestions that we’ll be able to tackle all these issues and challenges together. Don’t hesitate to compare views and ideas. Express yourselves freely. Two heads are better than one, as they say. I’d like you to remember how lucky you are, what a fine profession being a diplomat is today, in a world that’s moving and changing, full of promise and dangers.

I have confidence in you and wish you all success in your work./.

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