French Ambassador Marc Abensour’s 14 July Speech
To watch the full video of the speech, and the speech of Dr. Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Health, click here.
Discours du 14 juillet 2021
Seul le prononcé fait foi
Mr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Communications and Information and Ministry of Health,
Dear Singaporean friends,
Today we are celebrating the French National Day, which commemorates two distinct events: the Storming of the Bastille on 14th July 1789 that marked the sudden entrance of the people on the scene of French history; the Festival of the Federation on 14 July 1790 that affirmed the Nation’s unity in the midst of revolutionary transformations. Both dates symbolize the French Revolution, which gave birth to our Republic and enshrined the values of liberty, equality and fraternity in our political history.
It is the second time that we have to celebrate this double anniversary online. As 1790 differed from 1789 however, 2021 differs from 2020. We have developed tools to trace, detect and fight the virus, and of course we now have vaccines. These are, without a doubt, trying times. There are still deaths, families separated and courageous frontline workers - we do not forget them.
Very much like our revolutionary forefathers, we are in the midst of changes we know to be great but which we do not fully comprehend. While we are commemorating the 200th anniversary of the death of Napoléon Bonaparte, we resemble Stendhal’s character Fabrice del Dongo at the battle of Waterloo: tossed about by history, unsure which way to go.
Durant toute cette crise, l’ambassade reste pleinement mobilisée et la protection de la communauté française est sa priorité. Je souhaite à cet égard relever la force de résilience de l’équipe France à Singapour, avec ses diverses composantes, la communauté d’affaires, l’International French School, les autres écoles et campus et ses associations de compatriotes. Pour autant je mesure aussi vos difficultés, et parfois vos frustrations, en particulier dans cette période des congés d’été. C’est pourquoi nous continuons de travailler sans relâche avec nos partenaires singapouriens pour trouver les solutions à certaines de vos préoccupations, en particulier s’agissant des autorisations de retour et des périodes de quarantaine. Les dernières annonces des autorités singapouriennes soulignant les avancées de la campagne de vaccination – et je remercie celles-ci d’en avoir fait bénéficier l’ensemble des résidents – permettent d’espérer un assouplissement des restrictions dans les prochaines semaines.
In the past year, we managed to adapt to new realities and promote even further France-Singapore partnership quite successfully:
Just to highlight a few, France and Singapore have worked hand in hand to design a multilateral response to the covid crisis, through initiatives to secure access to vaccines for developing countries. Multilateralism is not a catchphrase, it is an effective method of action. France has placed it at the heart of its foreign policy and strategy for the Indo-Pacific. This is why France has become a development partner of ASEAN last September, hoping to further contribute to the sustainable development, peace and stability of the region.
Despite the pandemic, the relations between France and Singapore in the field of Defence have continued to reinforce. General Philippe Lavigne, the Chief of Staff of the French Air and Space Force, visited Singapore in April and received from Minister Ng Eng Hen the Meritorious Service Medal, a prestigious military award for his contributions to strengthening ties between the two countries Forces.
Already our armed forces carry out regular missions to uphold international law. They do so in the spirit of partnership and inclusiveness that presides over our engagement in the Indo-Pacific. Such was the sense of the exercise organized last May between the French Navy ship LHD Tonnerre and the RSS Steadfast of the Republic of Singapore Navy as well as two Super Puma helicopters of Singapore Air Force. This type of exercise is built on trust, a trust that extends from leaders to soldiers and has been reaffirmed two weeks ago during our Defence Policy Dialogue. This important meeting held in person in France was the first Defence Policy Dialogue outside Singapore.
Over the past months, France and Singapore have also cooperated to make science and innovation the basis of our response to the covid crisis. Together, we can accelerate the digital and green transition of our economies. The second meeting of the France-Singapore Joint Committee on Science and Innovation on 24th June, with the participation of DPM Heng Swee Keat and Minister Vidal, attested to the dynamism of our cooperation on issues such as artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, circular economy, health, agrifoodtech and biotechnologies. Just to mention one key deliverable among others, the recent validation of the CNRS multi-faceted programme on AI for smart cities within CREATE represents a significant milestone of our collaboration.
The dynamism of our bilateral relationship bodes well for the future. We may not know exactly what the times ahead will look like but we are both determined to seize the opportunities engrained in the current crisis.
The ambitious €100 billion recovery plan in France aims to make France one of the most competitive, innovative and low-carbon economies in the world. Already, in 2020, for the second year in a row, France was recognized the most attractive country in Europe. Here in Singapore too, French businesses will contribute to the emerging stronger Taskforce in areas such as MedTech, Agri-Food Tech, Edutech and green finance.
Covid also encourages us to find new ways to cooperate, to build solidarity mechanisms that will outlive the virus. Probably none other than the European Union, through its Next Generation recovery plan, has gone futher in this regard. We are learning to build a structured and cooperative response to the crisis. It is now our shared responsibility to extend this spirit to other challenges ahead, from climate change to an evolving international order.
In this regard, France will continue to synergize with the European Union’s strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. Singapore’s role as country coordinator for the ASEAN-EU dialogue, which is about to come to an end, has been key in stepping up the relationship between the two regions, from its elevation to a strategic partnership in December to the signature of an air transport agreement in June. The Indo-Pacific will be featured highly during the French presidency of the European Union in the first semester of 2022.
L’année à venir sera aussi celle des élections présidentielle et législatives, moments importants de notre vie démocratique. Nous nous y préparons. L’élection des conseillers des Français de l’étranger le 30 mai dernier nous a permis d’expérimenter l’organisation d’un scrutin dans un contexte de restrictions sanitaires. Je salue à cette occasion nos nouveaux élus, avec qui l’ambassade travaillera à votre service pendant les cinq prochaines années.
Also on the agenda of the year to come is the vOilah! France-Singapore Festival. It carried on in 2020 as a sign of our commitment to overcome the crisis. It will carry on in 2021, from 3rd November to 10th December, full of positive energy, to revive the smiles beneath our masks. In this spirit, we invite you today to watch a comedy titled ‘How to be a good wife.’ No hidden message with a learning and development objective embedded with it! But hopefully a enjoyable comedy about women’s liberation movement that does resonate well with the recent Generation Equality Summit organized two weeks ago in Paris
Have a good screening. Have a good Bastille Day.
Long live the French-Singaporean friendship!
Vive la France ! Vive la République !