Ladies and Gentlemen, Cultural Advisors, Directors, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

I wanted to bring you together today because I am fully aware – by
my experience of course, but also more generally – of the importance
essential to so-called cultural diplomacy.
I find this expression very eloquent and profoundly correct. Because in
I have always struggled to separate diplomacy from culture and culture from
diplomacy. “Cedant arma togae” said CICERO – in Latin grammar…
I think we need to translate: “Let the arms yield to the toga”. “The toga”, meaning
eloquence, meaning diplomacy, meaning culture and humanism that
these two human activities have deeply, radically in common.
For me, culture is a natural and consubstantial support of diplomacy. I do not
can’t conceive of diplomacy without this input, because culture not only offers
a space of sublimation, symbolization and a treasure of refined formulations that
to overcome a false simplicity always tempted to be only the
mask of brutality. Culture is also an extraordinary melting pot of encounters.
It is a reserve of affinities that must always be abundant, because it is on this asset
the most fruitful exchanges in all fields. It is not
So not a mere supplement of soul, it is the soul itself of diplomacy.
It is both one of its conditions and its outcome. That is why your
role of spreading the culture of your country is essential for us. Because it is not a question of
not just to grow into a kind of blind accumulation of
knowledge. It’s about meeting you, getting into your
values, those that are borne by your language, by your artists, by your heritage,
by your creation. And thus “cultivated”, we will always be better able to
understanding you in all aspects of life, in all areas of our
exchanges, even those that seem the furthest from cultural issues.
The issue is not just the economic one of the diffusion of industries
a country’s cultural heritage. The challenge is no longer just today, in the
the prestige that cultural dynamism can confer. The challenge lies in
today in “intercultural”, that is, in our ability to take
take into account the differences in the way things are viewed and thus to defuse – better
that in the past, I believe, at least I hope – disputes that can sometimes
arise within humanity itself.

In most cases, misunderstandings, ignorance, a form of
the Other are at the basis of conflicts that oppose the men. The plan
of a cultural diplomacy is, in my view, not only a
extraordinary openness to the diversity of human societies and their
creations, an opportunity for discovery and enrichment
exceptional compared to the nationalist era in which cultures
against each other. But this project of a diplomacy
is the very heart of a globalization with a human face, and all
just a successful globalization, a globalization that it is
the pain» to paraphrase the tasty expression of Valéry
LARBAUD who spoke, him, «of literature that it is the pain»...
Yes, without culture, our tight world would be one of promiscuity and
not from the proximity. It is the culture that gives its quality to a food
now globalized. The “cultural advisor” is not a
ambassador, he is more than ever at the very heart of the
diplomacy in a world like ours. Today, the connection is
a disarming simplicity. What matters is no longer the possibility of
contacts or their multiplication, but that is their quality, and that quality is
human, that is, it is above all of culture.
Since I became head of this department, I have been committed to strengthening the
dialogue with many of your countries – regardless of their size or
political weight – with many of my counterparts, ambassadors,
artists, as well as representatives of cultural institutes – that you
Many are chairing – at the meeting of the
Foreign Cultural Institutes in Paris (FICEP), here in September
I have travelled, unfortunately too fast, many countries, from the
China, Brazil, Tunisia, Syria, Jordan, Arabia
or Kazakhstan, but also Germany, Italy, Spain and the
Switzerland; and next week I’m going back to China for
Shanghai World Expo.
This demand for intercultural dialogue, which is a necessity, and well
sure also a joy, it is our responsibility to give it shape in
projects that provide an opportunity for real and lasting meetings.
I think of the great cultural seasons, to which my ministry
regularly supports the Season of Turkey in France, in
Russia, which reinvigorates our relations, but also to
the CHOPIN Year that we celebrate with our Polish friends, for
which I have a very special thought, and tomorrow the Year LISZT. I
think of the bicentenary of Latin American independence, as well as
Fifty years of African independence, which we will
commemorate throughout the year, which will be an important time to
reunions and exchanges, so much we have to receive from the culture
his painting, his music and his cinema, which I wish
ever more present in our rooms and that I am delighted to see,
this year, in the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival.

Cultural meetings are also, precisely, festivals
international (such as the Indian festival «Namaste France» or the
«French-Chinese crosses»), but also the book fairs, the
exhibitions, shows and major retrospectives
cinematographic events, which are privileged moments to welcome
the Other.
Of course, one-off events are not enough, and I am still
very careful to develop deep cooperation with our partners,
particularly in this economically complex area of
where several co-production agreements will be launched or
discussed, but also in the area of training – I am thinking in particular of
very beautiful project of City of Culture of Tunis –, and in that of
museums: in this regard, I welcome the pace at which the
wonderful project of the Louvre ABOU DABI, but also the quality of
new partnerships recently established with Syria or with
Italy, where our two countries joined forces to rebuild together
the magnificent Church of Santa Maria del Suffragio de l'Aquila.
You also know how much I value the dialogue between
two shores of the Mediterranean, which should form this new Mare
Nostrum» of the twenty-first century that we wish. That is why
the success of the project of the Museum of Civilization of the
Europe and the Mediterranean (MUCEM) in Marseille, but also in
Audiovisual initiatives supported by the Standing Conference of
the Mediterranean audiovisual industry, COPEAM, and in particular
Mediterranean television channel project.
Culture is also a matter of symbols. I am thinking, for example, of
donation of books from the Bibliothèque nationale de France to the Bibliotheca
Alexandrina, the largest ever granted, which will help make
this mythical place a unique place of meeting and francophonie. I think
also at this very emotional time that was my participation in the twentieth
anniversary of German reunification on 3 October in Berlin.
A matter of symbols, but also of solidarity. I want to mention here
Haiti, this country of abundant culture, this country whose culture is the soul and
I want to say, the leaven of the future. My ministry is already fully
mobilized alongside the Haitian authorities to revive the
creation. But I want to go further, with all the goodwill that
will join ours. I decided to launch a restoration project
the «Ciné Théâtre Triomphe» which, in the heart of Port-au-Prince destroyed,
could become the prestigious place it was in the seventies,
a national reference cultural institution and
open to the world and welcoming other cultures. This
project, which is at hand if we know how to mobilize, I will talk about it
to my European colleagues at our next meeting on May 10,
and I express the wish of a surge of solidarity in favor of Haiti, its culture and
of his people.
In a world where borders – at least material – tend to
fade, I am also very attentive to the need to bring out
convergent solutions to the major cultural issues to which we
are all facing.

I am thinking in particular of the digitization of cultural heritage, which
is one of today’s great challenges. As you know, I have
obtained under the Grand Emprunt, no less than 750 million
I hope to promote access for everyone to the
works of our shared heritage and advance what I call
“culture for everyone”. To carry out this project, the
is indispensable. I am pleased that this issue is
became one of the major issues discussed in the Council of Ministers
of the European Union, notably with the aim of
EUROPEANA, the European digital library project. I
wishes it to be so in other forums, and I support
fully the project of the Director-General of UNESCO, my friend
Irina Bokova, to organize an international conference on this
The digital challenge is also the fight against content piracy
on the Internet and the development of a diversified legal and
Credible responses have, as you know, begun to be
brought to France; but we are also very attentive to what
done elsewhere. Because this challenge of creation in the digital age, we must
Together: at the European level, first – where the idea of a rate
VAT reduction for cultural goods and services begins to make its
path – but also, of course, outside the Union.
At a time when, through the creation of an Agency, France is
new ambition for its external cultural action, which I share
with my friend Bernard KOUCHNER, I intend to contribute to this opening
on other cultures, in the diversity that constitutes our
greater wealth.
I want to assure you that you will always find in me an interlocutor
committed, willing to carry out concrete cooperation projects, and
welcome creation in all its forms. You will always find
I am a fierce defender of this “cultural diplomacy” I was talking about
that makes us all strong and founds our community of
Thank you.