The International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) reports that Nicolas Sarkozy, president of the French Republic, and Abdou Diouf, secretary general of La Francophonie, celebrated International Day of La Francophonie in the midst of Cité Internationale Universitaire in Paris on March 20, 2008.
President Sarkozy spoke of his “personal commitment to La Francophonie and the solidarity that binds France to all other organization members” as well as his “confidence in the future of La Francophonie.” President Sarkozy also declared, “Today I would like to tell you just how much I find it desirable and possible to reconcile respect for our identity—which springs from our language —with modernity, but also how much I prefer a proactive Francophonie to a reactive Francophonie, one that plays a leading role through the diversity it represents.”
The OIF press release notes that Abdou Diouf issued an appeal to young people: “Today more than ever, we are, as Saint-Exupéry put it, ‘swept along by the same world, all crew on the same boat.’ So, students, learn to love a world that does not yet exist to better shape it, learn to talk with other cultures today, learn solidarity. The language you have in common makes it possible; the values defended by La Francophonie urge you to.”
Alain Joyandet, Secretary of State for Cooperation and La Francophonie, and Valérie Pécresse, Minister of Higher Education and Research, attended the ceremony, which was followed by a debate with writers who, despite not having French as their mother tongue, have elected to write in the language. The 25 winners of the Dix Mots Contest were announced and received their prizes.
Hyperlinks to the speeches from Sarkozy and Diouf in full (French only) can be found at the foot of the OIF press release.