I am delighted to celebrate with you, our francophone partners, 25 years since Romania joined the Francophone Movement, which became in 1997 the International Organization of La Francophonie.
I remember this event very well. The accession to the Francophonie was the first act of the reintegration of Romania into the organizations and movements to which Romania aspired to belong. This moment has become a symbolic one as during the next 15 years Romania regained its natural place in the Council of Europe, the Partnership for Peace of NATO, NATO and the European Union.
It is not by chance that Romania’s journey towards integration into the structures to which we belong today began with La Francophonie. Indeed, the values of the Francophonie, the French language and the Francophone culture have accompanied the history of Romania for a long time. During the nineteenth century the Romanian political, economic and cultural elites studied in Paris and maintained close ties with their counterparts from all over the world in the City of Lights.
In 1859, the unity of the two Romanian principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia, ended with the support of the French Emperor Napoleon III. The unity of Romania with its other territories, after the Paris Conference, was accomplished also with with the support of the elites of France.
Between the two world wars of the previous century, the influence of France and the Francophone space in the construction of Romanian institutions, in Romanian culture and fine arts was primary. We must always mention the common Latin sources that French and Romanian share.
The Francophonie is, therefore, for us, a connection with our ancestors and a way of life. It is in our DNA. That is why this quarter century of institutionalized Francophonie in Romania has been filled with success and rich in achievements. Allow me to give some examples, which are certainly known to you: the Bucharest Summit in 2006, which adopted the Vademecum on the use of the French language in international organizations; 700 Eugen Ionescu scholarships awarded to PhD students and postdoctoral researchers at Romanian universities since 2007; a regional office of OIF, followed by the Regional Office of La Francophonie established in Bucharest; more than 6,000 French language courses for diplomats and public servants since 2004; a grandiose Francophone Women’s Conference held in Bucharest, which launched the Appeal of Bucharest, the foundation of the OIF Strategy for Gender Equality, to be adopted later this year, on the occasion of the summit from Yerevan. To celebrate our attachment to the Francophonie, the Léopold Sedar Sénghor Square was established in Bucharest.
In recent history there has been a designation assigned to Romania which greatly pleased the Romanians: the Secretary General of the OIF, Mr. Abdoul Diouf declared Romania the flagship state of the Francophonie in the region. We continue to believe in the values of the Francophonie and its sustainability. Romania is proud to be a Francophone country and intends to continue the Francophone tradition.
Our meeting is much more than an opportunity to celebrate and party. I am convinced that it will be a starting point for a broader reflection on the future of the Francophonie and the role of Romania by continuing to contribute to the influence of the French-speaking culture.
The anniversary of a quarter century of institutionalized Francophonie is also an opportunity to thank our partners. Romania’s efforts to promote French-speaking values in the region have been strongly encouraged by BRECO. The Conference of Francophone Women and the Network of Francophone Women Entrepreneurs are the most recent examples. We sincerely thank Regional Director Rennie Yotova and her team.
The University Agency of La Francophonie (AUF) and its regional office have helped us, since 2007, to manage Eugen Ionescu scholarships. This year our task has been particularly difficult to select among the more than 500 candidates, the 80 who receive the research scholarships. We thank Mr. Regional Director Mohamed Ketata and his wonderful team.
The Institut Français has been an extraordinary technical coordinator for our annual language and professional training programs in French up to this year. All the same, the Wallonia-Brussels Delegation organized for years the technical seminars for Romanian diplomats and civil servants, with the Institute of European Studies of the Free University of Brussels. We are very grateful to them all.
We are sure that the National Institute of Administration, which took over the technical piloting of our French training programs for the Romanian administration, will be up to this task.
A great asset for Francophone Romania was the sustained activity of the Group of Embassies, Delegations and Institutes in Bucharest (GADIF), chaired by the Ambassador of Lebanon. I want to express my sincere congratulations.
This year, the motto of our celebrations is “the French language: our common ground for united action”. Indeed, the political Francophonie has gained weight during the last years. The OIF has developed more and more political fora and mechanisms to promote peace and security in the Francophone area and around the world.
The future Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union also represents an opportunity for the Francophone world. At the same time, we count on the solidarity and support of French-speaking countries for our candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the Security Council, 2020-2021.
Thank you for joining us to celebrate 25 years of Francophonie and a century of unity and modernity in Romania.