Paris, 22 October 2009

Dear Director General,
Dear Presidents,
Madam Director-General,
Ladies and Gentlemen Ministers,
Ladies and gentlemen ambassadors,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dear friends,
This 35th General Conference of UNESCO is a special moment because it is marked by the legitimate wish, expressed by each one of us, to pay tribute to ten years of hard work, passion and fighting in the service of all, Ten years at the head of this organization so dear, as you know, to the heart of the French.
Mr. Director-General, by your selflessness and humanity, you have succeeded in reuniting the "UNESCO family" and thus in restoring it to that universal dimension which is its vocation.
To the universal you have taken care to secure a disinherited continent, if at all, by patiently elaborating what is called the “Africa” priority, to which France is very attached, so attached is it to a “certain idea” the decisive role that UNESCO must play for the African continent in the key fields of education and culture.
You have also been a worker and a craftsman of the universal, increasingly affirming UNESCO on the international scene and reinforcing its role as spearhead and crucible of the intellectual and moral solidarity of the whole of humanity.
You have shown how, in our "globalized" world, which unfortunately seems almost devoid of any seal, respect for culture, of which you have broadened the normative base, is the guarantee of a universal quality living-together.
And so you have understood, among the first, the importance of an innovative approach to heritage by working for the Convention on the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. All of France, in its plurality, is particularly grateful to you.
Universality does not go without diversity: we also owe you the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which enshrines the specific nature of cultural activities, goods and services as they are bearers of identity, that is, values and meaning. This construction constitutes an instrument of international solidarity capable of fostering the development of cultural policies in developing countries.
On behalf of my country, but also, I think I can say, of each one of us here, I want to thank you very warmly for your commitment and your determination in favour of the universal, that is to say at the service of everyone.
Allow me also, Mr Director-General, to greet on this occasion your successor, who is also the first woman elected to head UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova.
Dear Irina Bokova, I would like to express to you all France’s friendship and support for the progress, everywhere in the world, of this “new humanism of the twenty-first century” which you are calling for and which will be, I also express the wish and am certain of it, your way of walking in the footsteps of your so effective and so remarkable predecessor.
Thank you for your attention.