Cultural diversity

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Speech by the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs on the occasion of the 16th Ambassadors’ Conference

The Ambassadors’ Conference is a major French diplomatic event that has been held every year since 1993. The Conference brings together the minister and secretaries of state for foreign affairs, all of the approximately 180 French diplomatic mission heads, and the persons in charge of the central administration of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs.

This year, the Ambassadors’ Conference specifically addressed the modernization of diplomacy, the lessons to be learned from the Georgian crisis, the external actions of the European Union as regards France’s presidency of the Council of the European Union, and the issues of energy security facing the EU. The 16th edition of the Ambassadors’ Conference took place from August 27 to 29, 2008.

In a speech delivered for the occasion, the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Mr. Bernard Kouchner, introduced the reform that he has decided to bring to his ministry. “It is a long-term, overall modernization project,” stated Mr. Kouchner. “We are going to modify the structure of the central administration, reorganize our diplomatic and consular network, and reorient our open diplomacy tactics. In addition to developing our organization, we also want to improve our work methods.”

Mr. Kouchner stated that the modernization of his ministry must address three main priorities:

  • “Return of Quai d’Orsay to the center of the State’s external actions through the renewed commitment by our ministry to ensure the consistency of the State’s international actions, and, concretely, by strengthening the powers of ambassadors
  • Help our ministry to deal with the global issues that our country must face, which requires us to step up our expertise on these files
  • Also, put our minister at the center of the partnership network (NGOs, universities and research centers, industry, etc.) on which all future, credible external actions are based.”

Mr. Kouchner proceeded to present the content of his reform. He announced the implementation, in 2009, of a new organizational structure for the central administration, which will have three main thrusts: “political action, addressing global issues, and management.”

One of the elements of this reform in particular will have an impact on the issue of the diversity of cultural expressions. Mr. Kouchner announced the implementation of a head office in charge of globalization and partnerships. This office will be divided into four main departments, including one for cultural and linguistic diversity. According to Mr. Kouchner, this department “will be responsible for the teaching of French and for the cultural sphere in the broadest sense. It will guide those who develop through CulturesFrance and AEFE, and will also take over the duties of France’s current foreign audiovisual office.”

To learn more about the reform announced by Mr. Kouchner, we invite you to read the complete version of the speech he gave at the 16th Ambassadors’ Conference.

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