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Relations between Belarus and France: Big report from Bordeaux

France is one of the largest countries in Europe. We have been developing positive engagement for recent years. The Honorary Consulate of Belarus was opened in New Aquitaine, also known as Bordeaux, a major region of France, on 29 September.

When you hear the name of Bordeaux, you imagine vineyards. This region plays an important role not only in French winemaking but in winemaking all over the world.

Andrei Shevchenko, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Belarus to Bordeaux (France):
Interest in the Republic of Belarus is increasing because we work actively on it: we’ve been organizing an excellent golf tournament in the city for three years already. The interest from business people is quite big and promising. I’m happy to represent Belarus in our gorgeous region of Bordeaux and to help our friends, partners and new people that are interested in entering the Belarusian market in every way. It can touch diplomatic, economic and cultural levels.

Official standing of the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Belarus gives more possibilities for establishing partnership in all kinds of spheres –  from culture to sport and economy.

Plus, honorary consulates help our compatriots.

Pavel Latushko, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belarus to the French Republic:
The city of Bordeaux, Aquitaine region, is very important for us because it takes the third place according to the level of gross domestic product in France. That’s why the potential for developing partnership relations in machine-building, agriculture and scientific and educational spheres is great. We hope to use it in developing relations with this country.

After the ceremony our diplomats went for the meeting held in a town-hall. As the cortege with virtuosic motorcyclists tears along the streets of the capital of Bordeaux, we must underline that New Aquitaine is one of the richest regions in France.

Didier Cazabonne, deputy mayor of Bordeaux:
First of all, Bordeaux is wine. But not only wine. Today we have startups in different spheres, especially in aerospace sphere. I think we can help each other. We’ve already made a start.
Our commercial and industrial chamber is very active. I guess, your honorary consul will help it to explore possibilities for expanding trade relations. Few are aware that we’ve survived an industrial boom. We have developed woodworking industry, that’s why specialists on the level of cities could cooperate actively.
Unfortunately, I don’t know Belarus with its strengths and weaknesses very well yet. But when we hear the name of Belarus here, everybody knows that it’s a positive and friendly country!

Meanwhile the representatives of Belarusian light industry visited the fashion week in Paris for the first time. Today they don’t take part, they came just to take a closer look. But based on their observations, Belarusian fabrics in showrooms have a chance to get to French designers.

Paris celebrates 300 million visitors of Eifel Tower this week. This iron lady is a real magnet for tourists. But the romantic silhouette of the most popular sight in the world will acquire a protective outline very soon. Today you can get to the bottom of the tower only after personal search. The construction of a bulletproof glass wall around the main symbol of Paris will be started literally in a week.

However, both tourists and Parisians don’t mind it.

Residents of Paris:
As for me, I fell myself more comfortable and in greater safety. 

I’m very happy to be there. Yes, the control is tight but it’s for our sake.

People in France agree that there were mental changes after terror attacks. Even the market of private security increased. Hardly had Paris won the right to host the Olympic Games 2024 when security measures began to be discussed. Macron advocated not only for increasing the defense budget but also for creating the common army of the European Union and for reforms in the euro region and for increasing the degree of integration in Europe.

Dominique David, the head of the French center on integration in Europe, counselor to the president of the French Institute of International Studies:
As a Frenchman I think that these plans and proposals of our president are fantastic. But these negotiations will take very much time because there are some countries like Ireland, Malta etc. that are far from the center of Europe. It will be difficult even with Angela Merkel’s support. The government of Germany is going to work with its inner matters till the end of the year. It also takes time. By the way, if Mrs. Merkel won’t manage to make an internal agreement and to create a governing coalition, then Germany is threatened by elections.

Yvan Blot, writer, political analyst, personal adviser of ex-President of France Nicolas Sarkozy:
I think that in Germany, as in France and other West European countries, there is a big increasing problem between opposition and establishment. One part of the population becomes richer while the other part suffers from mass migration. And people that feel the influence of these problem vote for the parties that are called populistic more often. I think, it doesn’t cut across Eastern Europe because you don’t have such a split between the ruling elite and people.

Meanwhile, Macron’s party lost senatorial elections. Will the young president hold his falling credibility rates down? It’s not the best moment to search for support in such great plans from the EU colleagues.

Senator di Borgo explains why the tension in relations between Europe and Russia can be a trump card for Belarus. He visited the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Minsk this summer and he is going to come here again.

Yves Pozzo di Borgo, senator of the Parliament of France:
It was my first visit to Belarus. Your country is very beautiful. And Minsk is a very clean city, the same can’t be said about Paris. You can be proud of your open, kind and pure people. That’s why I consider Belarus as Eastern Switzerland. You have a great potential in tourism and you should develop this sphere.
The only thing I regret is that I spent little time in your land. I bought so many souvenirs. I had to buy a suitcase to take it all. You come to a store in Paris and everything you see is from China. Everything you have in Belarus is unique – textile, glass, and food products.

Cristophe Lejon became the head of the inter-parliamentary group of friendship France- Belarus. It’s especially symbolical for the deputy because his family union is also Belarussian-French: his wife is a designer from Brest.

Christophe Lejeune, president of the Interparliamentary group of friendship France-Belarus:
The future of relations between our countries is my main mission! Moreover, it’s the story of my family now. I guess you already know that my wife is Belarusian, she is from Brest, and the language our children speak in my house is not French. And this symbolic appointment of me as a head of the Group of Friendship, where friendship is a key word for me! As a head of the group I’m going to focus on increasing tourist traffic between our countries and cities and finding common grounds between our enterprises and businessmen.
From my point of view, cooperation in agricultural area must become efficient. Your dairy products, cheese, milk… Oh, I tasted fantastic meat in Belarus – it was beef! It was incredible! So, we have something to work on together – both deputies and business partners.

Our countryman Ossip Zadkine created here in his times. This man from Vitebsk is as famous in Paris as Marc Chagall.

Today the sculptor’s favorite yard inspires residents of Paris and tourists. The was a full-house at the opening of his exhibition.

Noëlle Chabert, head of the Zadkine museum in Paris:
Even though Zadkine came to France in 1928, he spoke with Russian accent and loved accepting guests from his motherland till his dying day. They could spend many time talking and drinking tea in this garden. I think that the atmosphere of this hose and of this yard was exactly the thing that reminds him of his motherland, as Zadkine said. Now 20,000 tourists visit his museum annually. Trust me, it’s a very big amount.

New Belarusian names will be opened at the legendary Paris autumn saloon, where 8 Belarusian artists will take part for the first time.  So, Belarus is expected to show facets of cooperation.

Relations between Belarus and France: Big report from Bordeaux