The French Embassy in Lusaka celebrates Bastille Day

Members of government and the diplomatic corps, Representatives of the French and Zambian business communities and many more were invited. In total, more than 200 people attended.

The Embassy of France in Lusaka organized on July 14th a cocktail reception at the French Résidence on the occasion of Bastille Day. Hon. Elias Mubanga, minister for Small and Medium Enteprises Development, represented the Republic of Zambia as a guest of honour.

Pictures taken during the event can be found here.

Read the speech by the French Ambassador below :

« Honorable Mr. Elias Mubanga, minister for Small and Medium Enterprises Development,

Ministers, Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Once again, it seems that humankind, and more specifically its claim and ability to anticipate its own destiny, is being tested by higher powers, just as if, somewhere above the skies, it had been decided that we were not meant to enjoy a stable, prosperous and peaceful year 2022.

As a matter of fact, the contrast between what we could reasonably hope for six months ago and what is, in effect, happening in front of our eyes could not be starker.

Six months ago, the expectations were high that 2022 would mark the end of the pandemic the world has been going through since early 2020 and that the new year would inaugurate the transition to a more manageable endemic situation. Similarly, six months ago, there was a wide consensus that both the developed and the developing economies would experience a strong rebound, with a robust return to the level of economic activity the world had enjoyed prior to the pandemic.
Six months later, however reasonable they seemed to be at the time of their formulation, these expectations appear severely dented.

To begin with, we now realize that the continuous emergence of new subvariants puts off the definitive end of the pandemic for a still undetermined amount of time.
As if another delay in a definitive victory over the virus was not enough, the steep acceleration of inflation all around the world, up to levels unseen for the past four decades, and, accordingly, the decisions swiftly taken in reaction by most central banks in order to fight this surging economic scourge, are creating shockwaves that evoke the possibility of a return to the notorious stagflation years of the 70’s.
Above all, in the most unexpected way, the irresponsible and unprovoked war of aggression launched, almost five months ago, by a nuclear-armed country, right in the heart of the European continent, carries with it the risk of destroying the fragile rules-based international order that emerged from the ashes of World War II, a rules-based order best epitomized by the principles of the United Nations Charter, a Charter we are all supposed to cherish, protect and defend, even more so when one claims to be a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, with the specific responsibilities attached to such an eminent status.

Exposed to an unjustified war of choice, the initial aim of which was nothing less than to eradicate a sovereign nation from the political map of the world, the international community has shown a remarkably united and steady resolve.
Confronted with the worldwide effects of this unwarranted attack on a sovereign country, those who, in a kind of immature denial, initially refused to see that a direct attack on the most sacred principles of the United Nations Charter would create ripple effects all around the world, have now no other choice than to admit the extent of their blindness.

As His Excellency the President of Zambia, Mr Hakainde Hichilema, rightly said a few weeks ago, “instablity anywhere is instability everywhere,” and the fact that the conflict is taking place 7000 km away on another continent does not make any difference in the deeply interconnected world in which we live.
I thus wish to pay tribute to the courageous positions, taken last March, on two occasions, in the framework of the General Assembly of the United Nations, by the Zambian authorities, who, along with a wide majority of sovereign countries, took a firm and resolute stand against the invasion of Ukraine.

It is heartening to see that, though confronted to events nobody had fully anticipated, France and Zambia, together with many other United Nations members, share the same view of the unacceptable drama that is unfolding, and, despite the web of political and economic ties at stake, have chosen to take a principled position.

However, as widespread and persistent as it is, condemnation is unfortunately not sufficient to bring an end to this unnecessary conflict, which, since February 24th, causes everyday hundreds of unwarranted deaths. This is the reason why France, together with, among other nations, its European and North American allies, has embarked upon a policy consisting of imposing incremental sanctions on the aggressor, sanctions which are not only morally justified, but which, more fundamentally, aim at bringing a swift end to the invasion.

Doing so, we remain faithful to the principles of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”, which inspired the French revolutionaries 233 years ago when they stormed the Bastille, the jail where the French monarchy used to keep its political prisoners.
On that day, July 14th, 1789, 300 revolutionaries surrounded the fortress, demanding the huge stash of arms and ammunition stored inside the prison’s walls. As the guards resisted, the attackers surged forward, and, after a violent battle, eventually captured the building, pulling down its walls and releasing the inmates.
This seismic act demonstrated that ordinary people would no longer accept the monarchical power of the king. It signaled the start of the French Revolution, from which ensued the creation of the modern French Republic.
July 14th was eventually chosen as the French national holiday in 1880 and has been observed ever since.

In August 1789, just a few weeks after the storming of the Bastille, the National Assembly abolished feudalism and adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen as its constitution. Inspired by the American Declaration of Independence, it contained the iconic statement : “Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.” Just as the Declaration of Independence led later to the writing of the American Constitution, so did the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen lead to the writing of a constitution for France.
France was finally declared a Republic in September 1792, bringing the 1300-year-old monarchy to an end, and, in January the following year, Louis XVI was executed on the grounds of treason. He had been the unfortunate 82nd King of France since Clovis was crowned in Reims in 481. The events of 1789-1793 thus put an end to the oldest monarchy in Europe, which had been established only 5 years after the fall in 476 of Rome and of the Western Roman Empire.

It is this old country, proud of its history, its arts, its accomplishments and its values, and at the same time resolutely turned towards the future, which extends its hand of friendship to all those who cherish peace and multilateral cooperation.
In this respect, the Republic of Zambia is obviously a partner of choice, thanks to the magnificent energy of its people and to the superb democratic credentials which have characterized its recent history, democratic credentials which were so brilliantly reaffirmed last August.

With the perspective of ever promoting peace and cooperation and of reaching higher stages of prosperity, we hope, through the work of the Embassy, of the Alliance française, of the French School, of the Agence française de développement, of the French Business Circle, and thanks to the well-established track record of French companies in fields as diverse as, among many others, energy, logistics or the leisure industry, to reach new levels of common success, a common success to which I now propose to raise a toast. »

Dernière mise à jour le : 18 juillet 2022