Friday, August 27, 2010

Remarks by the Hon. Minister of Defence, Justice and Security on the occasion of Bastille Day (French National Day)

source: Republic of Botswana TAUTONA TIMES of 8/8/2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
“Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery”

B8) 14/7/10: Remarks by the Hon. Minister of Defence, Justice and Security on the occasion of Bastille Day (French National Day)

• Your Excellency, The Ambassador of France to Botswana, Madam Geneviève Iancu, • Honorable Ministers here present, • Members of Parliament present, • Your Excellency, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps; and your colleagues, • Distinguished guests, • Ladies and Gentlemen;

Bonjour à tous!

1. It is my greatest honour to join you today as you celebrate the Bastille Day, a day which symbolizes the liberty, equality and fraternity of the French people both in France and across the world.

2. Your Excellency, let me take this opportunity, on behalf of the Government and people of Botswana, to extend to His Excellency, President Nicolas Sarkozy, and the people of France our warmest congratulations on this momentous occasion marking the 221st Anniversary of the ‘Storming of the Bastille’.

3. Botswana’s relations with France have flourished significantly since the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 1967. France has truly seen the transformation of Botswana from its humble beginnings – from a dusty patch of semi-arid territory with little or no development - to a middle-income state with impressive infrastructure.

4. The peoples of Botswana and France are today bound together by strong bonds of friendship, mutual trust, respect and partnership brewed over many years. It is this partnership that has seen cooperation between our two countries in areas such as education, culture, tourism, environment and capacity building.

5. We are further encouraged to note that Botswana’s relations with France have grown beyond the normal civilian-to-civilian cooperation to include joint military cooperation. Our Botswana Defence Force and the French army periodically engage in bilateral exercises.

6. At the political level, Botswana and France continue to interact through various fora such as the Franco-Africa Summit, the Parliamentary Association and two of our former Presidents have made visits to France.

7. In March 2008, Former President Festus Mogae, made his last official trip to France as sitting President, a trip which culminated in the signing of an agreement on the teaching of French to Batswana.

8. Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, as the people of France celebrate this important day, we look back at the role they have played in the lives of our people and the contribution they have made through their membership of the EU Development Fund. Among many others, France continues to assist us in our capacity building programmes such as training in the tourism industry, the procurement of HIV/AIDS medicines, environmental protection and conservation, as well as cultural and language training. It is particularly France’s contribution in the sphere of culture and language that has made the significant impact to Botswana’s youth as well as to society in general. The renowned Alliance Française, which was established in Gaborone in 1980, has remained the cornerstone of cultural cooperation and understanding between our two nations. Alliance Française not only promotes the teaching of French, but also cultivates people-to-people contacts through captivating exhibitions, cultural festivals, music and art.

9. Your Excellency, I must also mention that my Government is proud that the French Government is honouring one of Botswana’s own citizens with the ‘Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur’ (Legion of Honor), the highest decoration in France for meritorious service. There is no doubt that Ms. Unity Dow is a deserved recipient of this award following her contribution to the judicial system in Botswana and her role as a champion of human rights. We congratulate Ms. Dow for this achievement and hope that she continues to inspire the many women and men to contribute to the development of this country.

10. Your Excellency, Botswana extends her immense gratitude to the Government and people of France for their longstanding record of warm and cordial relations. Let me take this opportunity to celebrate this milestone with you and wish you well in your righteous efforts to develop not only Botswana, but Africa as a continent.

11. Your Excellency; Ladies and Gentlemen; may I now ask you to join me in drinking a toast to: -

* The continued friendship and cooperation between Botswana and France;
* The good health of President Nicolas Sarkozy, and to;
* International peace and security.

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