France and PH: Facing today’s challenges together
Today, France celebrates its national day, more commonly known to the public as Bastille Day. On July 14, 1789, French revolutionaries stormed the fortress of Bastille in Paris—a symbol of the oppression of the “Ancien régime.” This event commemorates a pivotal moment in the history of France, symbolizing the end of tyranny and the birth of the modern French Republic founded on the democratic values of liberté, égalité, and fraternité.
While the French Revolution shaped France as a nation, its meaning and influence are timeless and universal, having inspired movements for liberty and democracy all over the world, including in the Philippines. The celebration of the French National Day on July 14, therefore, provides us an opportunity to reflect on the common values and commitments that have shaped our two countries as we respond to the challenges of the present.
The French government has taken a strong leadership role in the global fight against climate change. In 2015, our countries stood together side by side as the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change was signed. Today, France, under the presidency of Emmanuel Macron, continues this role through the annual organization of the One Planet Summit, where heads of state and government and stakeholders from all sectors, all over the world, come together to discuss initiatives to accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement, collaborate on and propose climate solutions, and ensure that climate financing is made accessible to the most vulnerable countries.
France remains ready to work with the Philippines on sustainable development, renewable energies, and disaster risk reduction and management toward a greener future.
Terrorism is a threat that knows no boundaries and that undermines freedom and security. In recent years, France and the Philippines have been victims of senseless and bloody acts of violence that have killed hundreds of innocent people in both countries. Despite military progress in Syria and Iraq, extremist groups remain active, including in Southeast Asia. It is, therefore, vital for our countries to continue stepping up our cooperation in relentlessly combating terrorism, including its financing, as well as promoting tolerance and economic development in order to address factors that provide a fertile ground where terrorism can flourish.
On Nov. 11, the centennial of the end of World War I, France will host the first Paris Peace Forum, an international gathering initiated by President Macron which aims to bridge peace and governance project developers to decision-makers. I very much encourage Filipinos to submit project proposals for the opportunity to present your ideas in this conference and contribute to a more peaceful international community.
The economic benefits of globalization can only be truly enjoyed through an inclusive economy. Each year, more and more French multinational companies and SMEs are looking toward the dynamic and innovative Philippine economy and its skilled and educated workforce to invest in and provide jobs in sectors such as aerospace, manufacturing, agribusiness, construction, transportation, defense and health. A growing number of young French entrepreneurs are also establishing start-ups in the Philippines to develop technological innovations and solutions.
With the upcoming bilateral economic committee meeting to be hosted in Manila this year, we hope to foster more commercial exchanges between our two countries, which amounted to 1.75 billion euros in 2017—a 5.3-percent increase compared to 2016.
We remain committed to further develop existing cooperation between France and the Philippines in fields such as culture, science and education. Culture is a powerful tool to facilitate understanding between peoples. Through the years, the French Embassy has been organizing artistic performances, exhibitions, musical concerts and film festivals that aim to share with Filipinos opportunities to interact with other cultures and find inspiration in French creations.
France is likewise committed to working with the Philippines in discovering archaeological and scientific breakthroughs through collaborative efforts between our scientists. We also wish to facilitate people-to-people exchanges, which has led us to expand our French government scholarship program, in partnership with the Commission on Higher Education. This way, more young Filipinos will have the opportunity to pursue higher education or specialized programs in France, while more French students will come to study in the Philippines and discover the country.
The French and the Filipinos are united by their adherence to human rights and the rule of law—two major ideals of the French revolutionaries of 1789—the protection of which is essential to a free and democratic society. I look forward to intensifying French-Philippine relations and cooperation in all aspects, including the fight against poverty, as well as our dialogue on gender equality, women’s rights and the freedom of expression.
Vive l’amitié franco-philippine! Mabuhay ang pagkakaibigan ng Pilipinas at Pransya!
Nicolas Galey is ambassador of France to the Philippines.
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