First French President to visit Australia [fr]
The President of the French Republic François Hollande arrived in Australia to attend the G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane on the 15th and 16th of November. Following this meeting, he flew to New Caledonia on the 17th of November and then returned to Australia for a historic first visit by a French President to Sydney and Canberra.
During the G20 summit, the President conducted a series of bi-lateral meetings with other world leaders. The President gave a press conference to French and international journalists at the end of the summit during which he highlighted France’s four priorities: economic growth, financial regulation, fighting fraud, tax evasion, and spelled out France’s targets for the Climate summit which will take place in Paris next year.
For the text of the press conference click here.
At the end of the G20, the President departed for New Caledonia and returned to Australia on the 18th of November. Upon his return to Australia the President received an official welcome by the Governor-General, the Hon. Sir Peter Crosgrove at the Fleet Steps in the Botanic gardens in Sydney. M. Hollande was joined by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister for Overseas France Mrs George Pau-Langevin and Minister of State for Veterans and Remembrance, attached to the Minister of Defence, Mr. Kader Arif.
Following the official welcome, the President attended a luncheon hosted by the Governor- General at Admiralty House. The President then visited Thales Australia to see first-hand an example of French-Australian cooperation in the technology sector.
M. Hollande held a meeting with the Premier of New South Wales, M Mike Baird. Accompanied by a business delegation comprising of the heads of leading French companies, he had the opportunity to address the Business Council of Australia.
To round out his program in Sydney the President hosted a reception for the French community of Australia at the Sydney Opera House. This gathering was followed by a dinner with eminent French personalities in Australia.
On the 19th of November the President arrived in Canberra. Before joining Prime Minister Tony Abbott for a press conference, the 2 Heads of State had a private meeting at the Parliament.
The President then visited the Australian War memorial where he laid a wreath at the tomb of the unknown solider and paid tribute to the Australians who fought in France during WWI. M. Hollande and M. Abbott then planted a French oak tree in the soil from the battle fields of Villers-Bretonneux on the grounds of the war memorial to symbolise the bond forged between the two countries during wartime.
The President was hosted by of M. Abbott at an official luncheon at the National Gallery of Australia. You can find the President’s speech here.
To finish his historic visit, the President visited the French Australian School Telopea Park. M. Hollande got up close with primary and secondary students and gave an interview to the school’s radio station.
M. Hollande gave a speech in front of all the students which was attended by Australian and French government ministers, parents and the diplomatic corps.