Bastille Day: speech by French Ambassador H.E. Stéphane Crouzat [fr]
Read and watch here the Bastille Day speech of French Ambassador to Ireland H.E. Stéphane Crouzat
Address by H.E. Stéphane Crouzat
Ambassador of France to Ireland
14 juillet 2020
Chers collègues ambassadeurs,
Mesdames et Monsieur les conseillers des Français de l’étranger,
Madame et Messieurs les consuls honoraires,
Cairde na hÉireann agus na Fraince
Tá an-áthas orm fáilte a chur romhaibh ar lá Bastielle anseo i ngairdíní theach ambasadóir na Fraince
This celebration of Bastille Day today is like no other we’ve had. We have been hit by a pandemic that has disrupted our lives, stolen too many lives, in Ireland, in France and thoughout the world.
I thought we would not be able to hold a celebration this year, but then, in Ireland, thanks to our common efforts to contain the spread of the virus, the authorities have authorised small-scale gatherings. So here we are, a few of us, at a good distance from each other, celebrating the French National Day together.
Who could have predicted at the start of the year the upheaval brought about by the pandemic ?
30 000 deaths in France, over 1700 deaths in Ireland. These staggering figures would have been much worse had it not been for the extraordinary efforts of doctors, nurses and other health workers who have cared for the sick, putting their own health at risk, and have saved - and continue to save - many lives.
This morning in Paris, the military ceremony paid tribute to the medical personnel and to all the actors mobilized in the fight against the Covid-19. It honored in particular the participation of our armies in the fight against the pandemic, through the operation "Resilience”.
Here in Ireland, many of those who have helped this Embassy during the crisis are here today, doctors, psychologists, citizens who have translated the word solidarity into action. We are immensely grateful to you.
Je suis également très reconnaissant aux conseillers des Français de l’étranger, à nos consuls honoraires, et à toute l’équipe de l’ambassade, qui se sont dépensés sans compter pour venir en aide à nos concitoyens.
The challenges we face to confront the aftermath of this pandemic are immense. The European Union may rise to the occasion, with an unprecedented proposal of the European Commission, supported by France, Ireland and many other Member States, to borrow 750bn€ to spearhead the recovery, and mutualise repayment over the next decades. This may prove a seminal development in European integration and solidarity. Let us hope our leaders will come to an agreement on this proposal in a couple of days at the European council.
In this new context, let me share with you some thoughts about France and Ireland.
First, I can now say without doubt that France is Ireland’s closest neighbour in the EU! The Brexit saga has lasted over 4 years, and has dominated discussions during my three years in Ireland. The solidarity that France along with the other EU-26 have shown to Ireland has been unshakeable. It isn’t quite over yet, but we have made strides since last year. The border issue with Northern Ireland has been resolved in the withdrawal agreement. The devil is in the details of implementation, but we are hopeful. We now have a few months left to agree on the future relationship between the UK and the EU. Again, we - the EU27 - have shown how united we are in these negociations.
Second, our bilateral ties are getting ever closer. Bilateral trade has increased by 11% in 2019 compared to the year before. The celtic interconnector project has made huge progress in the last year. This 1bn€ energy project will connect our two countries with an electric cable, 500 km underwater, by 2026. It will have the power to provide electricity to 450.000 homes in Ireland and will boost renewable energies on both sides. It has enjoyed tremendous support from the French and Irish governments at the highest level since its inception, with a renewed sense of purpose since Brexit, and the EU has allocated some 530M€ toward its completion. It will be Ireland’s physical link to France and the continent, a symbol and material proof of the closeness between our two countries.
Third, Ireland and France share a common vision, at the very heart of Europe, and common values. Among them, the protection of the environnement and climate action. France has inshrined into law its target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. And Ireland’s new government has set out ambitious targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions. The Irish experience of citizens’ assemblies has ellicited much interest in France: only three weeks ago, an assembly of 150 citizens, inspired by the Irish model, delivered a report after 9 months’ work to president Macron on ways to reduce our carbon emissions. It will lead to new legislation and one, perhaps, two referendums.
We share a common commitment to multilateralism. We are delighted that Ireland will be a partner at the UN security council for the next two years. Congratulations on your election! You will have much to offer to the council, with your huge experience in peacekeeping, your capacity to speak to all, big and small, your staunch belief in the virtues of multilateralism.
And finally, on a more personal note, this will be, for our family, our last Bastille Day in Ireland, as we are due to return to Paris at the end of the summer. It is also the last Bastille Day celebration for my deputy Lionel Paradisi-Coulouma and his wife Marion, who are heading off to Buenos Aires (if there is a plane to take them !) and for our political councillor Franz Coïdan who have all been very trusted collaborators, and have contributed to the efficacy of our work as a team.
These last three years have been a magnificent journey, somewhat upended in the last months, but we will leave this country much enriched, by its culture, by its people, and not least by the musical talents we had the pleasure of discovering throughout our stay, some of whom are with us today.
I am happy to introduce soprano Mairead Buicke who will perform the European, Irish and French anthems, accompanied by her husband, concert pianist and teacher extraordinaire Tony Byrne, and the brilliant accordeonist Dermot Dunne who will delight us with some French and other tunes.
Many thanks, as always, to my team, for preparing this event.
An Eoraip abú!
An Fhrainc abú!
Go maire an cairdeas idir Éirinn agus an Fhrainc
Go raibh míle maith agaibh