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Official speeches and statements - November 12, 2019

Published on November 12, 2019

1. Indian Ocean Rim Association - IORA - Plenary speech by Mr. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Abu Dhabi - November 7, 2019)

[(Mr. Lemoyne spoke in English]

Thank you Chair,

Madam Secretary-General,
Heads of delegations,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,

I am delighted to represent France at this ministerial meeting of the IORA [Indian Ocean Rim Association]. Firstly, I would like to warmly thank the South African chairmanship for its work and the Emirati chairmanship for organizing this event, as well as Bangladesh for its vice-chairmanship. And last but not least, congratulations to the Maldives, which has become a full member of the organization.

We are all indisputably Indian Ocean rim countries. France’s territorial and human presence, with a permanent population of nearly one million citizens in the Indian Ocean, contributes fully to the region’s dynamism. It generates over €20 million per year, contributing to the region’s vitality, as was demonstrated by the recent forum organized by the French President in Saint-Denis de La Réunion on October 23. We were pleased to see many of you present there and many business delegations from India, Mauritius, Madagascar and South Africa, all of your countries. Those businesses we want to increase and to strengthen.

We have built strong friendship ties and a genuine culture between states in the Indian Ocean region. I think that we can prove that the Indian Ocean is not a barrier or obstacle, but a link, a bridge between the African, Indian and Asian coasts. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, the Indian Ocean Commission, with whom we have been making progress for over 30 years on a certain number of priorities developed within the IORA. Within the IOC, we have created effective and structuring projects that France’s AFD [French Development Agency] has committed to financing with €35 million in the next four years. France, as a European Union member, has also helped to mobilize European funds to support IOC regional integration projects.

This is particularly true for maritime safety, a field in which our armed forces in the southern Indian Ocean are fully involved alongside yours. Or course, we have to fight against piracy, illegal immigration and illegal maritime activities: it’s a precondition for the development of a blue economy which benefits the Indian Ocean Rim states. France shares the IORA’s vision for a blue economy and we believe it is in the interest of everyone to consolidate both maritime safety and the blue economy, by working towards a joint vision in the Indo-Pacific region, which produces a quarter of the global wealth in the world.

As President Macron has said, France is an archipelago country which shares many of the challenges of your nations also. So we need to protect our fishing resources and biodiversity, while enabling economic development also based on sustainable fishing and tourism industries. We still have a long way to go together in order to have these challenges achieved. This ambitious agenda will also promote renewable energy, as we are already doing in the International Solar Alliance, launched with our Indian partners. In becoming a full member of the IORA, France will be able to fully contribute to building a collaborative strategy incorporating these challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you are aware, France wishes to become a full member of IORA. We appreciate the work of your organization and we participated in many of the workshops, in Dhaka for example, and in Jakarta on fishery management. We wish to be further involved, in a very concrete manner. That’s why with AFD we will fundraise a contribution of €1 million in technical expertise, to bolster the capabilities of the association. I spoke previously about maritime safety; it will be at the heart of the work of the new Emirati chairmanship. We are already working with our Indian and South African friends to carry out a joint exercise next year. It’s very important to work on this multilateral level while multilateralism is sometimes under stress.

So I hope you will take a favorable view of our candidacy to be a full and active member of your organization, and let’s finish because we have a common destiny; I think we have many challenges to win together. Either we will succeed or we will fail together, and failure is not an option.

Thank you for your attention.