Opening of France-Atlanta 2011
Melia Hotel, October 26, 2011
Monsieur le Député,
Honourable Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta,
Dear Representative of the Governor of Georgia,
Dr. Bud Peterson, President of Georgia Tech,
Monsieur le Vice-Président du Conseil-Général de Seine-et-Marne,
Dear members of the Consular Corps, French Consul General Pascal le Deunff,
Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished guest,
It is an immense honor and a great pleasure to be here with all of you tonight to officially open “France-Atlanta 2011”.
I would like to warmly thank our many American friends who are committed to this wonderful initiative which is a catalyst to promote cooperation between France and Atlanta, between France and Georgia, with a special word of thanks to Mayor Reed.
I also want to welcome the strong French delegation who have crossed the Atlantic to participate in “France-Atlanta 2011”, with a particular word of welcome to Mr. François Scellier, distinguished member of the French parliament, as well as Mr. Gerard Eude, Vice-President of the Seine-et-Marne county.
This strong French presence demonstrates the importance that France attaches to developing its relations with this City, this State and this region, which I believe will continue to play an even greater role in this country’s economy and society.
Each and every one of you has contributed, in one way or another, to the “France-Atlanta” project, and I would like to congratulate you collectively for the exceptional result that you have achieved. You have produced an amazing program, and this kind of initiative is a great example of what France wants to promote and encourage with its American partners.
In this respect, the context could not be more favourable as French-American relations, and this is good news, have never been closer than today.
On the diplomatic and security front, our two countries are fighting together in the mountains of Afghanistan and the skies of Libya, where we prevailed against Kadhafi and his affiliates and brought 42 years of dictatorship to an end.
France and the US are each other’s closest ally in the fight against terrorism. Our two countries have taken the lead to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapons State - this is one of today’s main strategic challenges.
They are in the forefront of international efforts to support the democratic movements in the Arab World.
And we are working very closely together, under the French chairmanship of the G8 and the G20, to bring a coordinated response to the economic crisis in order to restore confidence and to promote financial stability as well as economic growth.
In this respect the coming days are critical, with a very important European summit tonight in Brussels on the Eurozone challenges, followed by the G20 summit that will take place in Cannes, France, on November 3rd and 4th.
On the economic front, the French-American partnership is very solid and is growing stronger every year, in terms of cross-investment in particular. France is one of the top 5 largest foreign investors in the United States, where 4,000 French companies support more than 650,000 jobs.
Conversely, France is one of the top 5 leading destinations worldwide for direct foreign investment. The U.S. is the number one foreign investor in France, and American investment in my country increased by more than 30% last year.
Last but not least, our two countries share a strong common commitment to research and innovation, which is France’s number 1, number 2 and number 3 priority.
In France, this effort in research and innovation is being made on an unprecedented scale.
To give you just a few examples, we have put in place 71 competitive clusters that offer companies, universities and public research centres the resources to develop collaborative R&D projects.
In the same vein, France has established the highest R&D tax credit in the industrialized world.
And by virtue of the “investment for the future program”, France is investing 50 billion dollars in a period of two years in research and higher education, as well as in selected strategic industry branches such as biotechnologies, nanotechnology, de-carbonated energy technologies and health. Already, France is one of the world leaders in the main current technological and industrial revolutions, especially in areas such as sustainable development, life sciences and digital economy.
Innovation goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship, which is just booming in France. Over the last year, 650,000 new businesses have been created in my country. This is a spectacular increase compared to previous years, and this is a record high in France and in Europe. It says a lot about the vitality of French economy and about the fact that entrepreneur is a French word.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All this creates many new opportunities for French-American partnerships.
Priority for innovation translates into support for increasing international university and scientific exchanges, trade and cross investments in high technology sectors, promotion of French contemporary arts and know how.
Promoting these exchanges is at the top of my agenda as Ambassador in this great country.
By presenting an exceptional scientific, business, cultural and humanitarian program centred on innovation, “France-Atlanta 2011” complies right to this agenda.
The French presence in the American South East is already very significant: we estimate that around 15 000 French people live in this region, 5000 of them in Georgia. Some 300 French companies are present in the region, supporting close to 100,000 jobs, more than 15,000 of them in Georgia. In this respect the joint venture between Delta and Air France KLM is in many respects an example. As is the investment of Sanofi-Aventis in the region. Desjoyaux, Ingenico, Price Induction, BPI are some of our latest investments in the area.
The signature last July of a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Atlanta and Hubstart Paris, centred on the Greater Roissy, to jointly attract new investments around our airports should bring even more French investors to Atlanta. In parallel we have strengthened our cooperation with the universities of the region. We have also established strong relations with the main cultural institutions, following the great Louvre-Atlanta project, as well as with majors NGOs such as the Carter Center.
But we want to do more, and the “France-Atlanta” initiative gives us a unique opportunity to increase our efforts.
The level of participants speaks a thousand words on the quality of this event, that I enthusiastically support. Albert Fert, French Nobel Prize of Physics of 2007, Toulouse Mayor Pierre Cohen, Compagnie Dernière Minute dancers, representatives of major French and U.S. NGOs are among the many to have confirmed their presence.
About 50 French companies are coming to Atlanta on this occasion to make business here. This is quite an achievement.
I have asked our outstanding Consul General Pascal le Deunff and his team to closely pursue the relations, that will develop as a result of all the contacts between French and American Scientists, business people, artists and humanitarian personnel, organized in the framework of “France-Atlanta”. Our goal is to create long term partnerships between them.
Please allow me a few words in French to the French community in Atlanta:
Mes chers compatriotes,
Je voudrais vous saluer ce soir tout particulièrement et vous remercier chaleureusement du soutien actif que vous apportez à « France-Atlanta ». Je sais que vous êtes de plus en plus nombreux à vous établir dans cette région des Etats-Unis. Je sais aussi combien vous êtes attachés à notre pays et combien vous êtes des acteurs essentiels de la relation franco-américaine.
Sachez donc que je suis très attentif bien sur à vos conseils, mais aussi à vos besoins et qu’avec Pascal Le Deunff et nos équipes nous sommes à votre disposition.
« France-Atlanta » contribuera à accroître notre présence ici. Je sais notamment que nombre d’entre vous souhaitent une diversification de l’offre d’enseignement français à Atlanta. Je suis donc ce soir très heureux de vous annoncer qu’une demande d’homologation a été officiellement transmise aux autorités françaises par la Little Da Vinci International School d’Atlanta.
J’ai bon espoir que cette demande aboutisse et que cette nouvelle école vienne ainsi bientôt compléter le programme de qualité qu’offre déjà la section française de l’Atlanta International School, à laquelle nous renouvelons parallèlement tout notre soutien.
I would like to renew my warmest thanks to all of those who made the “France-Atlanta” project possible, particular the Honourable Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia, the Honourable Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta, and the President of Georgia Tech, Dr. Peterson.
In addition to Georgia Tech, which co-presents this initiative with us, many academic, business, cultural and humanitarian institutions are strong supporters of this project. It demonstrates how, together, we can achieve great things.
As Ambassador of France to the United States, I feel very proud tonight thanks to all of you. French-American cooperation is proceeding strongly in Atlanta, in Georgia and in the South East.
So I wish the best success to “France-Atlanta 2011”! And long live the US!
Vive la France!
And long live French-American friendship!./.