Message of the Ambassador : French National Day 2021 [fr]
French National Day 2021 :
Message of the Ambassador
On July 14, the storming of the Bastille, a fortress in the centre of Paris where a few prisoners were still detained in 1789, was a pivotal moment in the history of France and the popular uprising against royal absolutism.
Every year on July 14, now, we celebrate the National Day and the Freedom, Equality and Fraternity. However, these three words have been undermined during these months of pandemic: limited freedom, compromised equality in facing the disease and fraternity hard to achieve during this tough time.
Covid-19 pandemic has badly hit France with more than 110,000 deaths. Today we are out of the third wave and things become gradually normal again while fear persists of a fourth wave.
I hope the situation in Sri Lanka also improves as the country is hit by the third wave of the pandemic since mid-April. On this occasion, I would like to pay special tribute to all those in Sri Lanka who are fighting to overcome the pandemic disease (medical staff, members of the administration and the security forces, Red Cross volunteers and all the organisations that help the patients and their families, other volunteers, neighbours and friends who are making life easier of the most vulnerable people). Thanks to them, Sri Lanka is gradually coming out of this difficult crisis.
Since independence in 1948, our two countries and people are maintaining excellent relations and we look forward to returning to our normal rhythm of exchanges which unfortunately were less active due to sanitary situation.
However, this year we hosted virtually our traditional and annual French Spring Festival. We organised concerts, lectures and competitions around the theme of “insularity” which is very familiar for Sri Lankans. We are very pleased of conducting of all these events, even if the direct exchanges with the public are inevitably lacking.
Although we have been forced to reduce our activities, we had the opportunity in recent months to inaugurate several projects financed by French Agency for Development (AFD) such as the Nawalapitiya substation in March. The Kelani River Bank Water Treatment Plant built by Suez was inaugurated in November 2020. Similarly, the Veolia drinking water supply project for the district of Matale will be launched within the next weeks. These two important projects financed by the Sri Lankan government expand our cooperation. It also reaffirms our willingness to work with the Sri Lankan government to enhance public services needed by the community (water and electricity are top priority).
The recent port call made by French naval group Jeanne d’Arc, comprised of the LHD Tonnerre and the Frigate Surcouf, enabled to further strengthen our relations between the two navies. It also provided an opportunity to the French sailors to discover Sri Lanka (under strict sanitary travel bubble).
In the naval sector again, we are pleased that the construction of the cable ship "Sophie Germain" ordered by the French company Orange Marine will begin very soon in Colombo Dockyard. It’s an additional sign of another successful industrial cooperation between France and Sri Lanka.
Projects have also emerged in the scientific research sector like the one that will finish at the end of this year concerning the socio-ecological changes of the Southern and Eastern coasts of Sri Lanka in partnership between the French Institute of Pondicherry and 4 Sri Lankan universities.
In spite of the difficulties, many projects are carried out and others will start such as the construction of a desalination plant in Jaffna by the Suez Company. Also, we strongly hope that the major irrigation project financed by the AFD in Mundeni Aru near Batticaloa will be signed before the end of this year to illustrate once more the close relations between France and Sri Lanka.
Above all, we are waiting for the world to reopen. Of course, we are expecting to resume exchanges between students, researchers and businessmen of both our countries and also the arrival of many tourists.
On this National Day, I would like to thank all the citizens, both French and Sri Lankan, working to develop our projects, to enhance our ties, to build bridges between our cultures and promote mutual understanding among our two population.