Your Excellency, dear Alexandre Orlov, Mr President of the Organizing Committee for the Crossed Year France – Russia, dear Louis Schweitzer [to be confirmed], Friday 17 September, 6.30 p.m., Residence of the Ambassador of Russia Mr Commissioner, dear Cyrille Boulay, Dear friends,

Let me begin by paying tribute to the exemplary hospitality of our host. Mr Ambassador, on the eve of the European Heritage Days, you have kindly opened the doors of your Residence to us on the occasion of this exhibition. The Hotel d'Estrées provided him with a setting that was all the more suitable since he was the almost exact contemporary of the first visit of a Russian sovereign to Paris.

As I am with you this evening, I still have in mind the very last room of the magnificent exhibition "Holy Russia" at the Louvre, which ended precisely on a portrait of Peter the Great, leaving visitors waiting for a sequel: here we are. The figure of Tsar Peter, the initiator of the great turning towards the West, invites us to return to the material signs of a «westernisation» which has been so much debated in Russian cultural history: slavophiles against westernists, Turgenev facing Dostoyevsky. But what is also mentioned here are three centuries of friendship between France and Russia.

We have the opportunity today to discover or rediscover a more private dimension of what binds us. When we talk about intensity of our cultural relationshipthe memory of the Franco-Russian Alliance and the figure of Nicholas II, the francophonie of the great Russian families, or the trace of the French imperial adventure in the mirror of Tolstoy or at the Hermitage, in the Patriotic War Heroes Gallery. Beyond the diagonal of the palaces that goes from Versailles to Tsarskoye Selo, it is also a story made of objects - that circulate, that come to populate the interiors, a history that is part of a certain daily life. The engravings and porcelains, the goldsmiths' pieces, the magnifying glass and the snuffboxes, the emblematic malachite reminiscent of the Winter Palace make us feel something of the nostalgia of those Fabergé years where we often had, from Paris to Saint Petersburg, the same way to scenography the intimate. So it is also in the interior that the history of our relationship is played out, in the depths.


I would like to take this opportunity to meet with you to discuss Undeniable success of the 2010 France–Russia Year. The nearly one and a half million visitors who have attended the events organized in this context since the launch of the France-Russia Year last January are already there to illustrate it.

Last February, I had the great pleasure of opening with my Russian counterpart the exhibition “Picasso – Moscow” at the Pushkin Museum, which has since had a similar success to the exhibition “Holy Russia” at the Louvre. The Year France - Russia is also, it should be remembered, the Transmusicales of Rennes in Russia, Russian in the spotlight at Expolangues and Russian literature at the Book Fair; it is also, at this very moment, a creation of Angelin Preljocaj at the Bolshoi, or the Paris Opera Ballet in Novosibirsk. Soon, between Moscow and St. Petersburg, the exhibition “Napoleon and the Louvre”, Les Arts Florissants, the “Nuits électriques” of the Centre Pompidou… On the French side, it is currently «Paris/ Moscow/ Photographs», the Russian cinema at the Forum of Images, and soon the treasures of the Tretiakov gallery at the Museum of Romantic Life, without forgetting, in the field of live entertainment, the Bolshoi Ballet with Preljocaj in Lyon and the Cirque Nikouline in Strasbourg. Rarely has a season been so prolific in terms of programming.

This is of course a sign of the exceptional mobilization of all those who have worked and whom I would like to salute. It is also, I believe, a sign of the intensity of our relationship, marked decidedly by an ancient and persistent desire to know the other better. You could say even before its closing that the Year France – Russia has already clearly succeeded, in its cultural programming, in achieving its objectives, which were to focus on creation, major events open to a wide audience, and events especially dedicated to youth.

To conclude, I would like to mention a few projects that are supported by our mutual desire for cooperation:

- I am particularly pleased that we will soon be able to work with the City of Paris on the construction of the monument which will pay tribute to the Russian expeditionary corps which came to France during the Great War.

- In a completely different field, I would also like to remind you that I am supporting the project of a Franco-Russian film academy, led by Pavel Lounguine, whose prefiguration and negotiations are under way. In the meantime, I can only rejoice at the development of collateral co-productions in the field of cinema, which reflects this dynamic that we want to fully support.


In closing, I would like to commend the very fine work of Cyrille Boulay, curator of the exhibition, and Alexandra Kalinine for her scenography - as well as the great generosity of all the private people who agreed to lend their works for the occasion.

Thank you.