Bastille Day Speech
14 July 2017
Representatives of the defence forces,
Colleagues from the diplomatic corps,
Ladies and gentlemen
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Residence of France in Australia.
We have been in Australia for three weeks and we are very pleased to celebrate our first Bastille day in Canberra with you.
I feel privileged to start my mandate at a time when our bilateral relationship has reached an unprecedented level of trust and friendship.
As you know, President Macron welcomed Prime Minister Turnbull at the Elysée Palace over the last weekend for their first bilateral meeting.
Following this, the Prime Minister visited Cherbourg in the context of the project to build Australia’s future submarines.
French foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited Australia in March this year and signed with his counterpart Julie Bishop the Enhanced Strategic Partnership between our two countries.
Three months before that, in December of last year, our Defence Minister and Prime Minister Turnbull signed the inter-governmental agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the Republic of France for the design and construction of 12 submarines in Adelaide.
The relationship between our two countries is stronger than it has ever been. In a world full of uncertainties, it is a relationship based on our common values : liberty, the respect of human rights, democracy, our conception of the international order, for a safer and fairer world.
The Franco-Australian relationship is also rooted in our shared history and sacrifice when, 100 years ago, young Australians came to fight for freedom alongside their French brothers.
The commemorations of the centenary of World War One and the historic bond that links our two countries will culminate with the opening of the Sir John Monash Centre at Villers-Bretoneux on Anzac Day in April next year.
For this year’s 14 July we wish to emphasize an additional thing which binds our two countries : their shared passion for sports.
As you would have seen on your way through the Residence, we have stands set up for The Rugby League World Cup, l’Etape du Tour, and France’s bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics.
First of all, the Rugby League World Cup, hosted by Australia this October and November, with a France-Australia game in Canberra, will be a tough challenge - and, for my first months in Australia, I would have been more comfortable with a football confrontation…
Anyway, it will be a great competition and I want to thank Michael Christo and Maria Sykes (and Maria is present today !) for their contribution to the reception.
And a special welcome, too, to Mr. Tas Baitieri, former Rugby League player, who played in the French Championship, coached our national team and offloaded the ball to his son, Jason, currently captain of the French national team.
Second, the Tour de France, which became a true love story for many Australians.
In the beautiful scenery of the Snowy Mountains, L’Etape Australia now offers the possibility to every amateur to live the experience of a Tour de France stage.
And, last but not least, the Olympic Games and France’s ambitions to host them in 2024 in Paris, hopefully with the same success as Sydney in 2000, which was probably one of the most successful Games ever.
If the IOC decides in our favour in Lima next September, it will be also a unique moment for environmental responsibility, innovative transport, celebration and inclusiveness.
By celebrating these events, we also want to emphasize the will of this Embassy to develop our relationships through sports, as it is part and parcel of the Australian identity, and because lots of cooperation projects can be usefully developed.
Thank you very much for you all for joining us in the celebration today.