Starting yesterday Bucharest is the only European capital city with a square dedicated to the Francophonie. Situated at the Libertatii Boulevard – Calea 13 Septembrie junction, on the right hand side of the Palace of Parliament (looking from Parliament in the direction of Unirii Square – a/n), the Square of the Francophonie was opened yesterday at noon by Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean and Bucharest Mayor Sorin Oprescu, in the presence of diplomats accredited to Bucharest, numerous personalities, journalists and residents of Bucharest. Pierre de Cocatrix – personal representative of the Secretary General of the Francophonie, Abdou Diouf, was also present. The event is part of a series that will take place this year, celebrating 20 years since Romania became a full member of the Institutional Francophonie, today the International Organisation of the Francophonie.
The name of the square – ‘Square of the Francophonie’ = was decided by the Bucharest City Council at the end of January, at the proposal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In his speech on the occasion, FM Titus Corlatean said Romanian authorities must continue the consolidation of the Francophone heritage in Romania by fostering the study of the French language by young Romanians. In the context he reminded of the moment when Romania joined OIF 20 years ago, which strengthened ‘its identity as a country with a European destiny’. ‘However, we must take care to keep and consolidate this Francophone heritage by education and encouraging young people to use French more as means of access to the labour market as well as to latest technologies,’ said the foreign minister. He thanked Mayor Sorin Oprescu for acting on MAE’s request and setting up the Square of the Francophonie ‘in a very short time’, for the celebration of 20 years since Romania’s accession to OIF in 1993. Pierre de Cocatrix, in his turn, pointed out that Romania had become in the past years ‘a flag-ship country of the Francophonie’ in Central and Eastern Europe.
He reminded of the Sommet de la Francophonie organised in Bucharest in 2006, the establishment and financing by the Romanian Government or the doctoral and post-doctoral scholarship research programme ‘Eugen Ionescu’, as well as the training of Romanian civil servants in French. Mayor General Sorin Oprescu said Bucharest needs a place like that ‘to prove again our membership of the French speaking family where we have been de facto for 150 years and, institutionally for 20 years’. On the occasion, Oprescu reminded of a few names of ‘titans of Romanian thinking and spirit’ who, in his opinion, should be carved on the pedestal of the monument in the Francophonie Square, including Constantin Brancusi, Emil Cioran, Elvira Popescu and Nicolae Paulescu.
The Mayor of Bucharest noted that the Square of the Francophonie stands on a former nobleman’s court that burned in 1812. Both the space and the monument standing in the new square – including two plaques, one in French and one in Romanian dedicated to the event yesterday – were done by the Municipality. Mediafax quotes representatives of the Bucharest Municipality as saying that the monument in the Square of the Francophonie cost approximately EUR 8,000.