Discours de l’Ambassadeur à l’occasion de la Fête nationale le 14 juillet 2022

Hon. Jenelly Matundu, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation,
Honourable Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Members of Parliament, National Assembly and National Council,
Dear Colleagues Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Chargés d’Affaires, Diplomats,
Dear Representatives from the business community, from the civil society, from the cultural sector,

Mes chers compatriotes,

Today, it has been three years since our National day was celebrated here. Everyone knows the reasons for this, without needing to elaborate. It is a great joy for me and for the whole Team France to see us all together today.

The 14th of July is commonly known in English as Bastille Day, in reference to the storming of the Bastille, a grim prison in Paris with very few prisoners, on the 14th of July 1789, which was the first act of armed rebellion of the French Revolution. But this date also commemorates the Fête de la Fédération, Federation Day, one year later, on 14th July 1790, on the Champ de Mars, at the foot of the not yet existing Eiffel Tower, with the King and La Fayette, and the Nation assembled, a moment of national unity and concord.

Unity matters. The motto of the Republic of Namibia makes it its first word. The motto of the French Republic has "Fraternité", which has somehow a similar meaning. In these times of hardship, indeed the world needs unity, indeed the world needs fraternity. In too many places, war and violence crush people, hurt human beings, create deep distress. I am thinking of Northern Mozambique, of the Eastern DRC, and of the Ukraine, victim of brutal aggression by Russia since February. Our mottos also have the word Freedom in common (Liberty, Liberté), and when the Namibians say Justice, the French say Egalité. Clearly, our two mottos have much in common. As our two countries have much in common : a constitution that protects fundamental rights and public freedoms, a free press, and many other guarantees to be protected and promoted.

Our two countries also have responsibilities in the service of international peace and security and regional and international cooperation. France has just completed its six-month presidency of the Council of the European Union. Namibia will soon, next month, take over the chairmanship of the SADC Organ for political, security and defence cooperation. We wish Namibia well in addressing regional challenges with SADC partners and helping to mitigate or solve them. On a broader scale, we need to work together, within the United Nations and together with the UN institutions and agencies, for the sake of a more effective multilateralism in all aspects, be it peace and security, Human rights, Culture and Education or the broader spectrum of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including Gender Equality, Clean Water and Climate Action.

France has longstanding ties with Namibia : missionary links since the 19th century, on the Catholic side of missionary work, with both male and female congregations ; political links established quite early, ten years before independence, with an official representation of SWAPO in Paris from 1981 ; cultural links through the FNCC, which was founded right after independence, and which I hope we all know and appreciate ; scientific, educational and development cooperation links, with the strong support of the French Development Agency ; and, of course, economic links.

These economic links take very diverse forms. In the energy sector, Innosun has been investing in renewable energy for years and TotalEnergies made some very promising announcements earlier this year about deep offshore off Lüderitz and Oranjemund. In the water sector, Veolia supplies the city of Windhoek with clear drinking water ; Orano desalinises ocean water for Namwater, and this water goes to Erongo region mines and coastal towns. In industry, Peugeot Opel Assembly Namibia has assembled vehicles in Walvis Bay, 3C Metal-Belmet builds steel structures that are used, among other things, for NamDeb’s vessels. Our companies, often in joint-venture with local managers, are also in the hotel sector, logistics, maritime transport, advertising, agriculture or agro-industry… And the French community in Namibia includes many business leaders active in the tourism sector, who have been careful to preserve jobs during the viral pandemic. All these companies contribute, each in their own way, to the prosperity of Namibia. And other French companies are interested in this country to invest and produce.

Regarding our Franco-Namibian business community, I would like to wholeheartedly thank the sponsors who have made this event possible : TotalEnergies, Veolia, Innosun, CMA-CGM, JCDecaux, Orano, Matiti Safaris, AirFrance-KLM, and Pernod-Ricard. The difficult current international context, with an impact on our lives, invites us all to sobriety. And it makes it all the more necessary to come together to celebrate what unites us.

In the last nine months, H.E. President Geingob visited France a number of times ; last November, for the Paris Peace Forum and the 75 years of UNESCO, plus some bilateral economic diplomacy, in Lille and Paris ; and again last February, for the One Ocean Summit in Brest, followed by a few days in Paris ; and I should not omit the Champions’ League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool, of course. In the field of sports, how could I forget the splendid qualification of Namibia, last Sunday, in Aix-en-Provence, for the Rugby World Cup next year in France. It will be Namibia’s seventh Rugby World Cup in a row since 1999. And the very same weekend, France reached the first place in World Rugby rankings, for the first time. I like those two well synchronised Franco-Namibian rugby achievements.

To animate this dense Franco-Namibian relationship, or all the diversity of these relationships, I have with me an active and dynamic Team France, which I sincerely thank for its dedication and energy - within the embassy, expatriates and local staff, at the Franco-Namibian cultural centre, expatriates and local staff, and at the French Development Agency, AFD. This summer will see two departures. I would like to mention Thomas, my Deputy, who will be leaving for Jordan at the end of August, and Estèphe, Economic officer ; both have done a remarkable job with us.

There is Team France, but there is also Team Europe. I warmly greet the group of European ambassadors, our closest circle of solidarity. I especially greet our friend Javier, the ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain, and Karoline, whose departure is now imminent, sadly.

I greet all of you gathered here just as warmly, first of all yourself, Hon. Jenelly Matundu, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

And I now propose a toast to Namibia, to His Excellency Dr. Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, and to the people of Namibia, friends of the French people who took the Bastille and then celebrated their unity at Federation Day.

Dernière mise à jour le : 3 août 2022