DHAKA: It’s my privilege and great honor to celebrate my first French National Day in Bangladesh, and to address the citizens of Bangladesh and my fellow citizens on this occasion.
July 14 is the French National Day. For all of us, French people, this date is known as the Bastille Day, in 1789, the day the common people decided to get rid of absolute monarchy.
But July 14 is also the day the French people tried to unite around the idea of a comprehensive commemoration of the Bastille Day, in 1790: at that time, the idea was to put an end to privileged and religious classes.
This day is called the Federation fair. Hardly a few people know about it.
July 14 became our national day in 1880, under the Third Republic. It took a long time for our country to consider that France was a Republic and a united nation. Our motto is: “liberty, equality, fraternity”. It is a fundamental point of our history, as a nation and as a State.
We, French people, love liberty. We love to be free to speak and to debate on everything. We barely agree. And we accept contradiction, considering that we prefer to die for other points of view to be expressed, rather than having a “pensée unique” (which means “single mindset”) leading our lives.
We, French people, also consider that all human beings are equal. That’s why our State, as an institution, is given the difficult job to get sure that everybody gets an equal opportunity to progress and contribute to the welfare of our global society.
And we, French people, consider that solidarity is the basis for the common progress of our nation. The rich have to contribute in order to help the poor. That’s a very big challenge, all the more as the world has become global. That’s why we adapt our national model to the global constraints, but without forgetting our values.
Here in Bangladesh, we support the national goal of being a middle income country in 2021. That’s a dream and a goal, which will become reality within a stable and secure framework. We feel that Bangladesh is living a transition, and we want to be part of this transition. This is an exciting project.
We know that we are one of the many partners Bangladesh have, but we want to develop a demanding relationship with Bangladesh.
We want to increase our presence here. We will soon have a new embassy, the first French German collocated embassy in the world.
The French Agency for Development has re-opened an office in Dhaka two years ago. We have an economic department; we have two venerable institutions, the Alliance Française of Dhaka and the Alliance Française of Chittagong. Both of them have accompanied the inception of Bangladesh and have played a very important role, as our linguistic and cultural operator here in Bangladesh, even before the inception of the country.
A special demanding relationship with Bangladesh means no concession: our companies are high technological companies, reliable companies. This means that with French companies, no “bad surprise” will occur.
We want to develop partnerships with Bangladesh on many projects: for the launching of the first Bangladeshi satellite, “Bangabandhu Satellite”, the new water plant to provide Dhaka with drinkable water, the extension of the Chittagong Refinery that a French company had built 50 years ago.
I am pleased to announce that this embassy, along with the France-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will organize this year the French Trade Show on 27th and 28th of November, at the brand new Le Méridien Hotel.
We also want to increase our relationships with our very longstanding partner in peacekeeping operations.
We also have a very important and common issue: climate change. France will host the 21st conference of parties for international climate negotiations.
In France, we are convinced that our world has come to a turning point and that our global world is being challenged: either we are able to create a new world, free of greenhouse gas emissions, with low carbon strategies, in order to maintain the global increase of temperature below 2 degrees Celsius by the end of the century; or we may fail.
And a failure would be a disaster for humanity. We can observe what has happened in India during the last weeks: more than 2,500 people died because of heat wave. Climate change is not an idea, or a scientific issue: it is our reality.
We must work together in order to build a new world. Governments have to create the policy frameworks in order to offer private sector and all citizens the opportunity to build a new society.
Solutions already exist, but innovation, as well as public and private financing, has to be mobilized in order to promote solutions and expand their implementation.
Here in Bangladesh, we, French embassy, through our local action, want to show that climate change can be an opportunity to change our ways of living, producing, consuming and assessing values.
People have started to develop innovative solutions to tackle climate change. These solutions should become policies. Bangladesh is leading amazing projects in order to face climate impacts; reforestation, domestic solar panels.
I thank Bangladesh for its longstanding involvement on climate change issues.
And there is one message: everybody should consider one question: what kind of world do we want to build for the future generations? There is no “plan B” because we have only one planet.
So let’s work together to protect our planet.
Vive le Bangladesh, Vive la France, and long live the friendship between France and Bangladesh!
BDST: 1230 HRS, JULY 13, 2015