French-American Foundation’s Gala
Ladies and Gentlemen, mes chers Amis,
It’s a great pleasure for Sophie and me to be here with you tonight on this very special occasion.
Well beyond and before my responsibilities as Ambassador, Sophie and I have been close and long-time friends and supporters of the French-American Foundation – Sophie being also a former yound leader.
And I truly believe that the role of the Foundation, through his various programs, and chief among them the Young Leaders program, is more important than ever as the principal non-governmental organization linking the United States and France.
So tonight on behalf of the French government as well as personally, I’d like to express my warmest thanks and encouragements to each and everyone of you for supporting the Foundation’s work. With a special word of thanks to its very talented President Charlie Kolb and his staff ; to its Board Chairman Allan Chapin and the other members of the Board ; and to Dorothée Pineau, who has come especially from Paris to be here with us this evening.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we are celebrating today the 69th anniversary of the Normandy landings, I want to tell you that we will never forget the so many Americans who risked and often sacrificed their young lives to restore our freedom.
One year ago to the day I went to West Point to bestow the Legion of Honor, France’s highest award, upon 50 American veterans of World War II. I can tell you that this was one of the most moving experiences of my life.
Today we remember that our friendship is bound in blood and that our two countries owe each other their very existence as free nations. We remember that from Yorktown and Lafayette to the battlefields of World War I and the beaches of Normandy, the United States and France have always stood shoulder to shoulder to defend and promote the shared values of freedom and democracy that we together gave the world more than 200 years ago.
Here you recognize the traditional and well-known French modesty…
Mes chers amis,
Our event tonight could not come at a better time as French-American relations, and this is good news, have rarely been stronger than they are today.
On the security front, our two countries are each other’s closest allies in the fight against terrorism, as illustrated by France’s military operation in Mali, with much appreciated American support, to combat Al-Quaeda in North Africa.
On the economic front, innovation is France’s number 1, number 2 and number 3 priority, and the Franco-American partnership in this field is growing stronger every year.
To give you one illustration of this, every day I conclude or help conclude with my team an agreement between American and French Universities or “grandes écoles” about student exchanges, research collaborations and incubators’ partnerships leading to innovation.
Last month, for instance, Stanford University announced that it will establish at Ecole Polytechnique in France its European entrepreneurship center, starting in September – reminding us that entrepreneur is a French word. And we’ll organize at the end of September a major event here in New York, Taste of France, to promote France and rebrand France’s image.
In a broader perspective, we strongly believe that the more the emerging world is rising – which is a great thing – the more the transatlantic partnership is vital for us all as one of the backbones of today’s and tomorrow’s world.
It’s true in the strategic arena, based on the values that we share, but also on the economic front, where Europe and America remain the anchor of the world economy – accounting together for nearly 50% of the world’s GDP. That’s why a free-trade agreement between the U.S. and Europe can be an important opportunity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The partnership between our two countries is at its strongest when it allows us to walk on the two legs: our shared history and values on one side, our joint commitment to innovation and cross-investment on the other side.
That’s what our event tonight and the French-American Foundation are all about.
So my heartfelt thanks again to all of you, my warmest congratulations to our five outstanding honorees, who make us so proud, and
Vive les Etats-Unis !
Vive la France !
Et Vive l’amitié franco-américaine !