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Official speeches and statements - February 22, 2019

Published on February 22, 2019

1. Gastronomy - Press conference for the launch of Goût de France/Good France 2019 - Speech by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - February 21, 2019)

Dear friends,
Minister, cher Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne,
Cher Philippe Faure,
Cher Alain Ducasse,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I’m very happy to be hosting you at the Quai d’Orsay to outline to you the fifth Operation Goût de France/Good France, which will be held from March 21 to 24.

Again this year, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is actively working to tell the whole world how excellent our gastronomy is and how talented our chefs are.

First of all, our influence abroad depends on it, because when our cuisine travels it carries with it something of what we are.

Since 2015, Goût de France has established itself as a date that can’t be ignored by anyone who wants to celebrate this incalculable part of our heritage or who wants to get to know it better.

Every year, thousands of restaurants around the world—be they small, quality diners or renowned establishments—agree to revisit and sometimes enhance our specialities, with the support of our whole diplomatic network.

During Goût de France, the whole French way of life is played out and exemplified in our embassies, our consulates, our Instituts français and the offices of our operator Atout France, and we’re also keen to put the conviviality integral to our gastronomy at the center of our events.

Several initiatives will demonstrate this to you. We’ve also been concerned to ensure that our cuisine reflects our values.

That’s why Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne and I have wanted the event to keep changing—obviously without lessening its quality—, because our cuisine can’t be reduced to the sumptuous image people sometimes have of it. French gastronomy is about, first of all, a philosophy of sharing and solidarity. For example, in Hong Kong, meal trays will be distributed to low-paid workers, some of whom aren’t familiar with our cuisine at all and will be discovering it for the first time. French-style meals will be served at canteens in disadvantaged districts of Caracas, at a time when Venezuela is still suffering the serious humanitarian crisis we’re aware of. Refugees in Hamburg will be invited to prepare and savor a large meal from the south of France. And finally, our Consulate in Chicago will be organizing a charity dinner, with all the money raised to be invested in an organization promoting healthy food accessible to all through educational and cultural programs. A variety of innovations, then.

We also wanted Goût de France 2019 to testify to our commitment and that of our chefs to protecting the planet and to sustainable development. So we wanted to make this new Goût de France exemplify responsible cuisine, and we issued a simple challenge: to provide, on March 21, a French-style menu, of course, but also one that respects the environment. This challenge will be taken up in thousands of restaurants in 150 countries; on March 6, you’ll find a list of them on the website

While our gastronomy allows us to project our culture and values around the world, it’s also one of the keys to our country’s seductiveness to international visitors: no fewer than a third of them say they come to France to discover our cuisine and our wines!

Last year, as you know, we welcomed nearly 90 million foreign tourists. Our challenge is to remain the world’s leading tourist destination and hit the target of 100 million visitors in 2020! And I’m convinced that in order for tourism to develop in France the diversity of our regions must be highlighted, and conversely that in order for our regions to develop they must attract tourists. That’s why, every year in Operation Goût de France, we’re keen to put the spotlight on one region, because there’s not just one Destination France but as many destinations as there are unique and charming stories in our regions. Through this event, we want to tell the world about these stories.

This year, it’s the turn of Provence and its irresistible southern flavors! All over the planet, we’ll make sure those flavors are known and recognized. In New York, for example, a festival will be organized to give Mediterranean products and dishes pride of place for several days in various cultural spots in the city.

We chose Provence for the vitality of its gastronomy. More and more young chefs are settling there—in particular in Marseille and the surroundings, at the crossroads of the cultural influences that so enrich the region—in order to develop a reinvented and responsible French cuisine. I’m also aware that people are very excited the launch of Goût de France there, because our operation will mark the start of a year of gastronomical festivities in the Bouches-du-Rhône.

Of course, our fellow citizens and visitors will also join in the party.

In France, from March 21 to 24, professionals from all our regions will share with them their love of fine dishes and flawless technique, in workshops and tastings. That too is what French gastronomy means to us: a particular way of meeting others and passing on experience.

In our primary and secondary schools, awareness-raising activities will be organized about responsible food, a theme which will also be at the center of a seminar to be held at UNESCO on March 23.

So it’s a great joy for me to find more of you at this event every year. I see it as a sign of what, Ambassador, you could call taste diplomacy, which we’re inventing with each Goût de France. I see it as a sign that that taste diplomacy now arouses not just curiosity but, if I may say so, quite an appetite!

In a moment, a few of the chefs who are doing us the kindness and honor of devoting a little—and sometimes a lot—of their time and energy to our initiative will tell you themselves what they’re expecting of Goût de France 2019. I want to thank everyone with us today, and all those people in all four corners of the world who, in exactly a month’s time, will be answering our call. I’d like to pay special tribute to Alain Ducasse, whose support every year is absolutely invaluable to us, as well as Guy Savoy and Ambassador Philippe Faure, without whom this event would never have seen the light of day.

Thank you.

2. Munich Security Conference - Reply by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - February 20, 2019)

You referred to the Munich conference, which is something of an annual barometer of the state of international relations, both in terms of security and, more broadly, discussions about the planet’s major challenges. Ms. Parly and I were there, and I took away three lessons from the conference. The first and perhaps most important is that there was a very big gap between the ideas of the American administration and its allies on many issues, in particular how to manage the instruments of multilateralism. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen the American administration so isolated from its allies; I’m talking about the American administration and not the United States.

Secondly, during the conference it emerged that there’s an absolute necessity for Europe to unite to ensure its own security, in order to avoid merely being a witness to challenges unfolding on its territory over which it has absolutely no control. So can Europe rise to the major challenges of our time, particularly its security, while honoring its alliances?

Finally, thirdly—and you referred to it—, it seemed to us essential to help overhaul multilateralism. Multilateralism implies rules, it means treaties—in other words, the opposite of survival of the fittest. Are there currently enough powers willing to ensure we can rekindle multilateralism in new forms, in the face of security but also climate, digital and migration challenges?

That’s what I and my German colleague tried to do; perhaps this Munich conference will be the debut of a new multilateralism.