Mesdames et Messieurs,
This year, Bastille Day, our French National Day, takes place at a time when the world is facing great challenges. COVID-19 has severely affected our everyday lives, from Asia to Europe, the Americas and now Africa.
Today, we salute the dedication and hard work done by nurses, doctors, social workers and essential service workers across the world, and in particular in France and South Africa, who have been fighting the battle on the frontlines. We also think about the victims and their families, as well as those whose livelihoods have been lost due to the economic impact.
On this Bastille Day, we pause, just for a moment, to draw hope and inspiration from our history and our shared values. We need to remember what we stand for, the sacrifices of the French Revolution, 230 years ago, when people took to the streets and stormed the Bastille castle, the very symbol of oppression and tyranny. We need to recall the core principles that have enlightened the progress of democracy, science, education, and international cooperation in our countries.
From the beginning of the crisis, South Africa and France have been working together, alongside our European and international partners. Through our cooperation, we have been able to support various initiatives, in South Africa and all over the continent, to provide assistance and relief to those in dire need.
This started, first and foremost with support to the United Nations agencies, the World Health Organisation, the World Food Programme, and the Global Fund against HIV/AID, TB and malaria.
In South Africa, our French communities and companies have also actively been contributing to South Africa’s efforts to win the fight against COVID-19, and they will continue to do so. That is why we decided to use this year’s Bastille Day celebration as a fundraising event, in partnership with broadcaster Trace and in support of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.
The French President Emmanuel Macron was supposed to visit South Africa this past May. Given the circumstances, we had to postpone the visit. We look forward to when we can schedule a new date for this important visit that will highlight our diverse and rich cooperation with South Africa.
This year, our cooperation also reaches the global stage, where we work side by side on the United Nations Security Council and at the G20. France has also been a strong supporter of South Africa’s leadership at the African Union and continues to play an active role in the European Union, which is the main partner of South Africa in terms of trade and economic development.
We would like to strengthen this rich partnership with South Africa, a county with which France share long-lasting ties and similar beliefs, including dedication to non-discrimination, women empowerment, equal education and our environment.
Long live South Africa
Long live France
Long live to our two countries’ friendship!