Bastille Day Celebration at the French Residence - July 12
French Residence, July 12 2012.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I please request your attention for the national anthems.
Justice Sandra O’Connor,
Monsieur le Commissaire Européen,
Senators and Representatives,
U.S. Air Force Secretary Michael Donley,
FBI Director Robert Mueller,
Ambassadors - and among them may I mention Ambassador Jean Felix-Paganon, France’s special representative for the Sahel region,
Mme la Conseillère à l’Assemblée des Français de l’Etranger, Chère Christiane Ciccone,
Monsieur le Consul général, Cher Olivier,
Monsieur le Consul honoraire,
It is a great pleasure and privilege for my team and for me to welcome you this evening to the French Residence for this very special occasion, as we are celebrating together Bastille Day.
- Ambassador François Delattre
Among all the very distinguished guests who are here tonight, I would like to particularly recognize :
the Honorable Justice Sandra O’Connor, a true friend of France whose presence honors us all;
and the European Commissioner for Internal Market and Services Michel Barnier, former French Foreign Minister, who is a long-time friend of America. Un grand merci pour votre présence parmi nous ce soir.
I would also like to say a particular word of welcome to the Senators and Representatives who are with us this evening and to Congressman Mike Michaud, co-chair of the French caucus.
The French Caucus in the U.S. Congress is a great success story, as it now counts one hundred and ten members in the Senate and the House. The White House and the State Department in particular are also very well represented tonight, as well as the media and think tanks. I should recognize all of you.
May I extend my warmest thanks and appreciation to the companies which are supporting today’s event:
Orange, the leading French telecommunications company, represented tonight by its Vice President for North America Philippe Andres.
We celebrated earlier today with Orange at the Air & Space Museum the 50th anniversary of the first transatlantic satellite liaison Telstar, and I believe it was a great success.
My warmest thanks also to Sanofi, the leading French pharmaceutical company, represented by its Senior Director Frédéric Badey;
to EADS, the leading European aerospace company, represented by its Chief Counsel and corporate secretary for North America Paul Pastorek as well as our friend Marc Bouvier ;
And a warm word of thanks also to Arianespace, to the electricity company EDF (Eric Bret, Daniel Leroy) as well as to Champagne Mont d’Hor, Château Canon in Saint-Emilion, Château Rauzan Ségla in Margaux and Comte Henry Dassay from Château de Tracy for providing us the Champagne and the wines tonight.
Ladies and gentlemen, Bastille Day is the French National Day, but it’s actually more than that.
- The French Residence, Washington, D.C.
As we are celebrating Bastille Day we are celebrating indeed the values that our two countries share, the values that come from the French and American revolutions and that are at the core of our identity.
Let’s never forget that France and the United States owe each other their very existence as free nations; and that from La Fayette and Yorktown to the battlefields of World War I and the beaches of Normandy, our two countries have always stood shoulder to shoulder to defend and promote the values of freedom and democracy that we together gave the world more than 200 years ago – you recognize here the traditional and well-known French humility.
On a more personal note we celebrated a few weeks ago the 68th anniversary of D-Day ; I went to West Point on this occasion to bestow the Legion of Honor upon 38 American veterans of World War II, and I can tell you it was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
In the same spirit, it should come as no surprise that the largest event ever organized outside the United States to commemorate the tragedy of September 11 took place in Paris, Place du Trocadero, for the tenth anniversary of this tragedy.
In line with these shared values, I have good news tonight : French-American relations have never been closer than today, as illustrated by the very successful visit of President Hollande to the United States in May, literally three days after his inauguration.
It’s true on the diplomatic and security front. In Libya, our two countries prevailed over Qhadafi, bringing 42 years of a bloody dictatorship to an end. Our soldiers are fighting side by side in the mountains of Afghanistan.
France and the United States are each other’s closest allies in the fight against terrorism, and our two countries are in the forefront of international efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapons state.
In the same vein, Washington and Paris are working closely together to solve the tragic situation in Syria –where Assad must go, the sooner, the better- and to overcome the current economic and financial crisis.
In this respect make no mistake about it : we Europeans are seriously addressing the Eurozone issues and we’ll come out of the current crisis stronger, and better equipped to prevent such a crisis from happening again in the future.
The French-American economic partnership is also growing stronger every year. France is one of the top 5 foreign investors in the United States, where 4,000 French companies support more than 650,000 jobs. The major investment from Airbus in Mobile, Alabama, which was announced a few days ago and will create many American jobs, is a good illustration of this.
Conversely the U.S. is the number one foreign investor in France, and American investment in my country increased by more than 40% over the last two years. Overall France is one of the top 5 destinations worldwide for direct foreign investment.
In the context of growing competition from the emerging countries in particular, innovation is in France our number one, number two and number three priority. That’s why we have put in place 71 competitive clusters that offer companies, universities and public research centers the resources to develop collaborative R&D projects.
And through the “investment for the future program”, France is investing 60 billion dollars in a period of three years in research and higher education. This is an unprecedented investment in my country and it means many new opportunities for French-American partnerships in this domain.
That priority for innovation translates here at the Embassy into support for increasing university and scientific exchanges. This is clearly one of my top priorities. The fight against breast cancer is a good illustration of this, bringing together several American and French universities and institutions such as the Curie Institute in France –which is one of the world leaders in this field.
Innovation goes hand in hand with booming entrepreneurship in France. Over the last year, we started in my country more than 600,000 new businesses. 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 the French economy and it reminds us - pardon my French - that after all “entrepreneur” is a French word.
Ladies and gentlemen, French-American partnership rests on common interests but is also solidly anchored in the values that we share –the values that we are celebrating today on Bastille Day.
And these shared values remain today more than ever our best tool, I would even say our best moral compass, to confront together the current challenges we face.
So let me conclude on this positive note and in French :
Vive les Etats-Unis! Vive la France!
Et vive l’amitié franco-américaine !