July 14: Bastille day cocktail party
On July 14th, France celebrated its National Day in memory of the first Fête de la Fédération in 1790, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the fortress prison "La Bastille".
It was the occasion for the French community and the friends of France in Papua New Guinea to gather at a cocktail party organized by the Embassy of France at Ela Beach Hotel in Port Moresby.
H.E. Ambassador of France Alain WAQUET,
on the occasion of celebration of French National Day
Saturday 14 July 2012
As Ambassador of the French Republic, it’s a pleasure for me as well as an honour
to welcome you this evening, on the occasion of our French National Day, the
14th of July, which every year offers an opportunity to recall some key moments
of our own history and traditions, which are the inmost depths of our pride toward our
After my presentation of our French national Day and a few remarks, then, thanks to
the presence of the Protocol of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Papua New
Guinea, the official exchange of toasts will take place.
Let me now introduce you our French National Day, whose name in France is Fête
Nationale, that literally means "National Feast" but which is known around the world
in the English speaking countries as “Bastille Day". I’II tell you why.
However, just before telling you about our National Day, I would like to introduce you
our new Head of State, recently elected.
As you may know, this year 2012 is important in the five years cycles of
French democracy. lndeed, the French have just elected two months ago a new
President of the Republic of France, Mr François Hollande.
In the same way, a new Parliament have also been elected and the President has
appointed a new Prime Minister, Mr Jean-Marc Ayrault.
As a matter of fact, every five years in France , the presidential election and general
election as well, are always an intense period of hot debate and, whatever could be
the result for the ones or the others, it’s always a good opportunity of healthy and
beneficial breathing in our vibrant but, now -more and more- mature, democracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Back to the reason why we are together in this place today, surrounded by French
Flags and traditional French cockades and ribbons, I have to tell you that for
understanding what is July 14, you have to know a little of French
Indeed, every year, many of you kindly and friendly congratulate me on this day for
our "Independence day"... I courteously thank them for it, but I have to confess that -
as a Frenchman- I always feel a little bit uncomfortable when I hear this. lndeed,
France definitely has no reason to celebrate an Independence Day. I’ll quickly tell
To be able to understand what is July 14, you have just to learn a bit of
history of France. Indeed, well before being a republic, France used to be the oldest
monarchy of Europe and is still one of the oldest Nation-States in the world.
Twelve centuries of monarchy that built our national territory as it is today, beginning
with Clovis, first « King of the Franks » and first of the catholics kings, who unified the
kingdoms of the Franks in the year 481, then when the Empire of Charlemagne (Charles the Great) was divided in 843, and at last with Philippe the Second
(Philippe Auguste) first with the modern title of « King of France » in 1179.
Thus, history of France is full of famous names, and among them great kings, like
Louis IX « Saint Louis », Francis 1, as well as Louis XIV, and also other symbols like
Joan of Arc, or the Marquis de La Fayette. Among this great richness that is our
history, the Age of Enlightment in the Eighteenth century, whose political ideals
influenced the American Declaration of Independence as well as our French
Declaration of the Rights of the Man and the Citizen. This period brought us famous
great philosophers like Diderot, Voltaire, Rousseau and Montesquieu, who gave birth
to the ideas of the French Revolution : popular sovereignty, direct democracy,
elections on a regular basis and universal vote…
Of course, later and many times in its fifteen centuries of History, France did occupy
and has been occupied by its neighbours and, consequently, its borders changed in
one way or another, but they roughly remained almost the same until the early
Therefore I would like to emphasize the fact that July 14 is not about
independance, it’s about the end of a society of privileges in the then Kingdom of
France and the beginning of a democratic process that began in 1789 with the
The date of July 14 of the year 1789 is related to the storming of the Bastille
fortress -prison, as a symbol of absolutism of the monarchy, that was taken over and
destroyed by the people of Paris.
Shortly after the Bastille destruction, the old regime was abolished and the
Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen was proclaimed. The French
Declaration of Rights of Man and Citizen of 1789 recognised fundamental individual
rights and freedoms and declared these to be the basis of government. The old
social system was completely shattered and three years later, in seventeen 1792,
France became a Republic for the first time. Later, within less than one century and
after several restorations of Monarchy, France finally has remained a Republic since
I hope this quick lesson of French history has fulfilled your expectations on this
Nowadays these revolutionary principles are still reflected in our official motto
through three words which are "Liberty - Equality - Fraternity "
My country is respectful towards all countries which try to achieve democracy and
Papua New Guinea belongs to them. However that may be, the way to democracy is a
very long lasting run and no country -and France in the first place- may pretend to
have achieved it.
Lady and Gentlemen,
France is a country of the South Pacific, through its three French Territories of Tahiti,
New Caledonia and Wallis-and-Futuna and, since Papua New Guinean Independance,
we have always maintained a harmonious relationship with your country, which we
hope to develop further.
Papua New Guinea is now on the way to prepare the future. ln this prospect, France
is present in PNG, both through our French companies and through the action of the
European Union. As you may know, in this country, the European Development Fund is
the second most important aid donor whose France is a major financial contributor for
about 20% of the global aid.
Today, a lot of things can be done for Papua New Guinea’s development and among
many other countries, France, as well as the European Union, will make all possible
efforts in favour of the intensification of their action in your country and l am sure that
a closer political, economic and cultural relationship, between France and Papua
New Guinea will be of mutual benefit for both our countries.
ln the field of culture and language, let me take this opportunity to pay a tribute to the
action of the "Alliance Française” and its director Antoine Lombard who has already
done a difficult and successful job since eighteen months. Culture and language,
these are the two focus of every Alliance worldwide, and the Alliance Française de
Port Moresby is no exception.
The cultural program is the occasion to discover and rediscover some aspects of the
French culture, like poetry, history, cinema and cuisine, which gave France its letters
lt’s also a pleasure for the French Ambassador to extend my best and friendly
regards to the members of the French community which has been growing since the
start of LNG project. lndeed, most of them are working in French Companies like, for
instance, SPlECAPAG, in charge of the on-shore pipe line, CGG Veritas, and others...
With the French Embassy staff, l am glad to maintain friendly relations as well as to
remain at their disposal for their needs as French citizens and I extend to them my
best wishes of full success in PNG.
Lady and Gentlemen,
ln this period of general election, l would like to extend my best wishes for the good
achievement of the electoral process, along with setting up a new cabinet in the
weeks to come with political leaders who are eager to work for the future of Papua
New Guinea and its citizens.
ln conclusion of my remarks, l would like to say that our French National Day, in
commemoration of the advent of democracy in Franoe, is a good opportunity to
remind all of us that democracy should remain not only a permanent goal, but also a
sustainable goal for all the Nations of the world.
« Long live Papua New Guinea, Long live France ! »
Vive la Papouasie-Nouvelle Guinée, Vive la France !