A review of France’s efforts in Fiji

Since last year’s Bastille Day, the French Embassy in Suva has engaged in national, regional and international events. This is a chronology of events;

* News of the inclusion of French territories, New Caledonia and French Polynesia into the Pacific Islands Forum last year at its annual summit in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia as full members, were highly applauded. This will create more opportunities for trade and bilateral relations between the member countries. Paramount in discussions at the annual summit was the issue of climate change, among other issues;

* On military cooperation, the new army commander, Major General Philippe Leonard from the French Armed Forces based in New Caledonia visited his Fijian counterpart. Maj Gen Leonard also met with the Prime Minister and former Fiji military commander, Rear Admiral Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama at the Prime Minister’s office. Prime Minister Bainimarama acknowledged the long standing military cooperation between the two forces. The French navy frigate, Vendemiaire arrived in Suva for its routine port call under the leadership of Commander Philippe Guyon and together with Maj Gen Leonard, hosted Mr Bainimarama to a guided tour and a lunch on board;

* In November last year, the Fiji Military Forces was invited to Noumea for the biannual Croix du Sud or Southern Cross multinational military exercise. The newly commissioned French navy ship, D’Entrecasteaux based in Noumea, arrived in Fiji for a three-day goodwill visit on its maiden Exclusive Economic Zone maritime patrol;

* The Gout de France/Good France event was organised again by the Embassy in partnership with local restaurants and chefs. Suva foodies celebrated the dinner at Victoria Wine’s Bad Dog cafe and the Sofitel at Denarau hosted a similar French cuisine dinner to celebrate French cuisine and the variety and quality of French gastronomy. More than 2000 chefs and restaurants participated in this global French dinner on March 21. French Ambassador to Fiji hosted a Gout de France/Good France dinner at the French residence for senior government officials and the media;

* The Embassy of France also strengthened its sports diplomacy with the Fiji Ministry of Youth and Sports, Fiji Association of Sports and National Olympic Committee, Fiji Rugby Union and the Fiji Football Association. The Embassy is also creating awareness on France’s bid to host the 2024 summer Olympics in Paris. The Fiji Football Association employed French man, Christophe Gamel as the head coach for the Fiji National Vodafone football team;

* Together with USP, the French Embassy organised a two-day conference in June that coincided with the United Nations Oceans Conference in New York. The French scientific research schooner, Tara, was also in Suva and scientists shared research and findings at the conference;

* La fete de la musique is an annual event not to be missed in Suva. The global French music festival is organised by the Alliance Francaise in Suva and is very popular with the local musicians. This festival is free and is open to all musicians — amateurs to the professionals and it covers a wide range of music genres.

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