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The Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie in Vientiane: a springboard to the Québec City summit

Following the Ministerial Conference of La Francophonie in Vientiane, Laos, on November 20 and 21, 2007, Quebec’s Minister of International Relations and Minister Responsible for La Francophonie, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, and Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Maxime Bernier, outlined the framework for the Francophonie Summit to be held in Québec City, Canada, from October 17 to 19, 2008.

Ms. Gagnon-Tremblay declared, “As host government, Québec is delighted to welcome back the French-speaking family 21 years after the 1987 Québec City Summit. We hope that the summit will be a genuine success that breathes new life into the organization.”

The press release notes that, unlike previous summits that since the Moncton Summit in 1999 have concentrated on just one theme, the Québec City Summit will revolve around a series of issues of key concern to the Francophonie, namely governance and democracy, the French language, and the environment.

“We hope to modernize the traditional formula of past Francophonie summits, enliven talks, and promote free discussion of issues that affect not only heads of state and government, but in which citizens are also interested, because we believe that the Francophonie of today must be a citizens’ affair,” declared the minister upon the conclusion of the ministerial conference.

The Final Declaration for approval at Summit end will concisely outline concrete commitments, in keeping with the responsibilities of heads of state and government, notes the press release.

As for the ministerial conference preceding the summit, it will give operators a chance for greater public exposure. “These operators do work every day that deserves greater public awareness,” said the minister. According to the press release, some sessions could be televised for this reason alone.

Lastly, the press release by Québec’s Minister of International Relations concludes that “The Francophonie is the main international multilateral forum in which Québec can make itself heard. It allows Québec to develop diplomatic relations with the heads of state and government of over 60 countries. It also gives it the opportunity to export its constitutional fields of competence and share its human expertise with the rest of the world through its programs. As stipulated in Québec’s International Policy of 2006, Québec is determined more than ever to avail itself of all the levers at its disposal to intervene on the international stage since many challenges facing states cannot be resolved in isolation, instead requiring concerted action, sustained cooperation, and multiparty negotiation.”