Chicago (IL), le 20 janvier 2011. Discours prononcé par le Consul général de France sur les relations franco-israélienne devant le American Society for Technion, Chicago Chapter.
Chicago (IL), January 20, 2011. Speech given by the Consul General of France on French-Isreali relations for the American Society for Technion, Chicago Chapter.
Before talking briefly about the French-Israeli relations, let me say a few words about France, the country you will visit at the end of May.
I. France is changing :
I know that, if only looking at the surface, one could have the impression that France stays the same : a nice country with good food, good wine, the first tourist destination in the world, but shy to confront globalization and offering few opportunities for business. If I may, I would like to challenge that approach :
- France, with a growing population of 64.3 million inhabitants, is the second largest consumer market in Europe and a country with top infrastructures in terms of transportation (highways and high speed train) or energy (nuclear plants supply 77 % of French electricity)
- France is the 5th largest economy in the world and the second largest in Europe.
- France is fifth in the world and second in Europe for the number of international patents.
- France was after the US and China the world’s third largest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment in 2009. With 85 Billion dollars in stocks, the US remains the first foreign investor in France and the first destination of French investments (189 billions dollars).
- 18 % of the French exports go to the US, when 5 % of US exports go to France. France is the 9th trading partner for the US.
- 4200 US companies creating 770 000 jobs in France versus 2800 French companies creating 550 000 jobs in the US.
The economic landscape and the conditions to do business are changing and the reforms implemented are aiming at :
- more flexible working hours,
- abolition of the local business tax on productive investment,
- more investment in higher education (more autonomy and responsibilities for the Universities) and innovation (France has today the most attractive research tax credit in Europe),
- development of 71 innovation clusters associating universities, enterprises and research centres.
- promotion of a new “green economy”.
II. Relations with Israel
France established diplomatic relations with Israel on May 11 1949. Since then, despite some ups and downs, our cooperation has been impressive.
1) The political dialogue has greatly improved since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy who paid a State visit to Israel in June 2008. We have been exchanging very closely on Iran nuclear threat.
2) France is the 9th supplier and the 7th client of Israel. In the recent years, our trade has remained stable with some major investments or joint ventures : examples the desalinisation plant from Veolia in Askhelon or the electric vehicle project with Renault.
3) In Science and Research, France is the third partner of Israel, behind the US and Germany. Example of the joint laboratory between Inserm/Nice and Technion Institut of Haifa or the long standing partnership between the Weizmann Institute and Institut Pasteur.
4) Culture : France has five Institutes or cultural centers in Israel : Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Beer Sheeva, Nazareth
5) Human bonds : 600 000 Jews are currently living in France, 100 000 French in Israel where the francophone community is estimated at 500 000. In that context, I would like to point out the great number of sister cities partnerships (70) which enable grass-root contacts : example Bordeaux and Ashdod or Marseille and Haifa.
III. Peace process
France is concerned by the peace process. We are committed to contributing to resolving the conflict and to the creation of a viable Palestinian State, living in peace and security alongside Israel.
With the EU, France has tried to contribute to promoting the peace process (quartet) and direct talks between Israeli and Palestinian. The parameters of the solution are well known :
- creation of an independent Palestinian State, viable and democratic, established on the basis of the 1967 borders
- proclamation of Jerusalem as capital of both States
- Guarantee for the security of Israel and its full integration in the Region.
But the peace process remains stuck. After some optimism, there is a sense of déjà vu since the Israeli moratorium on settlement building has been lifted. I would like to conclude with a quotation from the remarks by President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly : “we can say that this time will be different, that this time we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way. This time, we will think not of ourselves, but of the young girl in Gaza who wants to have no ceiling on her dreams, or the young boy in Sderot who wants to sleep without the nightmare of rocket fire.”
Let’s hope this time will be different./.