Bastille Day 2020 - H.E Ambassador Laurence Beau’s speech

This 14th of July, due to exceptional circumstances, the celebration of the French National Day will take place virtually.

Dumelang Batswana betsho! Mes chers compatriotes,

Moletlo wa go ipelela letsatsi la bafora gompieno / re o keteka ka tsela e e pharologanyo /, ka ntata ya segajaja sa Covid 19 /, se se re tshoganyeditseng lefatshe ka bophara.

After a year of being posted here, I was looking forward to welcoming you all at the French Residence but unfortunately this is impossible due to the current situation. We have therefore decided to celebrate our National Day differently and this is why I am addressing you today through social media.

***

First of all, I would like to commend the Botswana authorities for their exemplary management of the health crisis, as safety and hygiene measures were quickly implemented and complied with.

France has had to take similar decisions, hence the postponement of many international events that we were supposed to host this year, such as the Africa-France Summit, the IUCN World Conservation Congress and the Generation Equality Forum.

This year’s celebration of the Bastille day is an opportunity to pay tribute to workers in all essential services who have been and still are on the front line of the fight against COVID-19. I would particularly like to thank all medical staff whose exceptional mobilization allowed many lives to be saved : they embody the values of solidarity, fraternity and commitment that both our countries share and promote far beyond national borders.

The pandemic that is still raging has highlighted the interdependence of States and economies in a globalized world. It is all the more so necessary to avoid the trap of withdrawing from the international community. France and Botswana stand together in promoting a collective response within the framework of multilateral institutions.

This is why France has been involved in supporting Botswana in its fight against the outbreak of the virus, on the bilateral level and through European Union channels (“Team Europe”), as well as on the international level in strengthening WHO, GAVI and the Global Fund, to develop innovative and ambitious initiatives. In this spirit of cooperation, we are pleased that the ACT-Accelerator initiative has raised 9.8 billion euros to guarantee universal and fair access to a vaccine against Covid-19.

Botswana can count on the commitment of France to support its objectives of strengthening its healthcare system as well as stimulating its economic recovery through greater diversification.

***

Botswana and France have always had a very good relationship, based on the same values of democracy, respect of the rule of law and human rights. My wish is to develop them further, in collaboration with my counterpart at the newly opened Embassy of Botswana to France, His Excellency Mr Mustaq Moorad. Our embassy is currently working on several cooperation projects, such as health economics in partnership with University of Botswana or the fight against gender-based violence with civil society. Our cooperation also includes defence and security, education, media, archeology and culture.

Regarding more specifically cultural and educational cooperation, 2020 is indeed a special year for the Alliance Française of Gaborone which is celebrating 40 years of promoting local and French cultures and languages in Botswana. Many cultural events have had to be cancelled unfortunately but the Alliance française has adapted to the new normal and put in place new ways of distance learning and events sharing on social media.

Our cooperation extends also to SADC, with which France shares the same vision towards democratic elections and the same will of stability and development in the region, all the more so in these challenging times. The current pandemic has dramatically underlined the need for regional cooperation, and France commends SADC for the measures it successfully put in place to face the consequences of the crisis in the region.

As for the economic cooperation between France and Botswana, it is robust thanks to the longstanding presence of French companies in Botswana and to the France Botswana Business Club. I would like, however, to make it even more dynamic. That is why I have been promoting opportunities to invest in Botswana to French companies specialized in water and waste management, renewable energy, agriculture and ICT, to name but a few.

Let me take a moment here to address a special “thank you” to the Botswana authorities for supporting my work during my first year of service. I would also like to address my gratitude to my team at the Embassy and to the Alliance française for its outstanding work this year in favour of our bilateral relationships and cooperation in these particular and challenging circumstances.

***

I would like to conclude my speech by underlining that the collective response to the multidimensional crisis we are facing must not neglect environmental and social awareness.

Investing in the ecological and energy transition must therefore be a way for us to turn this crisis into an opportunity by respecting the commitments made under the Paris Climate Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. In this light, the third edition of the Paris Peace Forum which will take place in November this year will be devoted to multi-stakeholder response to Coronavirus, both in terms of improving our immediate response and resilience, and of rebuilding a more sustainable world. President Macron and France are very much committed to the African continent, its development and its stability. We hope there will be a strong attendance at this first international summit.

Mes chers compatriotes, permettez-moi de vous faire part de la fierté que j’éprouve de représenter notre pays au Botswana, où la communauté française est particulièrement active et intégrée à la vie locale. Aux Français de passage et à ceux établis au Botswana, je souhaite réitérer l’engagement et le soutien du ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères, mais aussi du Consulat général de Johannesburg et des membres de cette ambassade pour répondre à vos besoins en ces temps difficiles. C’est dans ce cadre que nous avons rapatrié les citoyens de passage qui le souhaitaient et mis en place un système de télémédecine accessible depuis l’étranger à tous les patients. N’hésitez pas à vous tourner vers nous pour vous accompagner dans ces démarches.

***

As a conclusion, let me invite you to a virtual toast in honour of the people of Botswana and of His Excellency the President, Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi.

We will all come out of this crisis stronger and more united.

Happy Bastille Day ! Joyeux 14 juillet à toutes et à tous.

Pula !

Vive la République ! Vive la France !

To watch the video of the speech, please click on this following link : https://www.facebook.com/franceinbotswana

Last updated on: 14 July 2020