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Must-see in Ukraine > Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of France in Ukraine Jacques FAURE: “I MEET COSSACK IVAN SIRKO ALMOST EVERY DAY…”

Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of France in Ukraine
Jacques FAURE:

I MEET COSSACK IVAN SIRKO
ALMOST EVERY DAY…”

                   

Marriage of the French King Henri 1 Kapeting and the daughter of Kiev Prince Yaroslav the Wise Anna in 1048 became one of the brightest periods in relations between France and Ukraine. “Wonderful girl, rumour about your righteousness has reached our ears and we are happy to hear that you fulfill your royal duties with praiseworthy persistence and sharp mind in this very Christian state” that`s what the Pope Nikolay 2 wrote to the young Anna of Rus the Queen of France, giving credit for Anna`s role, her awareness and competence, brought from Kievan Rus the powerful European state of that time.

In 2006, almost a century later, a bronze three-meters-high monument to the queen was set near the Cathedral, built by Anna in the French city Senlis.

We unintentionally start to find parallels: they say that at time of Stalin`s tyranny there was an attempt to destroy St. Sophia`s Cathedral in Kiev, but the Ambassador of France in the USSR threatened to break off diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union as a gesture of protest against the plans of destruction, motivating it by the fact that the Cathedral was built by the father of the French Queen Yaroslav the Wise.

Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of France in Ukraine
Jacques Faure

Another symbolic parallel: at present time the French Embassy is located near St. Sophia`s Cathedral. Let`s turn over other common pages in the history of our two countries together with the Head of the Diplomatic Mission the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of French Republic in Ukraine Jacques FAURE.

Mr. Ambassador! History of Ukraine — ardently keeps the fact that Ukrainian Cossacks, headed by the Cossack foreman Ivan Sirko, together with the famous Dartanyan and his company of royal musketeers assaulted the town of Dunkerque, liberating it from Spanish conquerors. 100 years later after the real battles, those events were immortalized in world literature and history by Alexander Duma. There is another interesting fact: while Ukrainians carried out their military peacemaking mission on your Motherland, the Governmental newspaper “Gazette de France” was issued there. Starting from 1649, its each issue contained a special column “News from Ukraine”, which described events in Ukraine in detail. Pay attention: events not from Little Russia, a part of the territory of Russia, but from Ukraine.Can we take this public recognition of the Hetman`s Ukraine by “Gazette de France” as relaying of the position of the King`s court of France?

Imagine that the character of Ivan Sirko with another his contemporary Pilyp Orlyk have moved from pages of Alexander Duma`s works to the official site of the Embassy of France in Ukraine. I can say that I meet Cossack Sirko almost every day, since I have the book “Taras Bulba” by Nikolay Gogol in my residence. Reproduction of the painting “Zaporozhye Cossacks are writing a letter to the Turkish Sultan” by Repin is on the cover of this book. As known, the character of Sirko appears there as well, and the painting itself is rather symbolic and expressive, illustrating how Ukrainian Cossacks refuse to obey the authority of the Turkish Sultan.

There is another interesting historic character Grigoriy Orlyk. He served directly to French king Ludovic 15 and played a substantial role in coming to the throne of Polish king Stanislav in 1733. Grigor was not just a military man, but a diplomat at the same time my colleague, I can say. So in France Grigor Orlyk played the indispensible role of the plenipotentiary of the Ukrainian people, its representative. In other words, in French court, he was the figure, who personally informed the king about situation in Ukraine, about that aspiration for freedom, that your Cossacks expressed. So, it seems quite natural that a column, dedicated to news from Ukraine, was placed in “Gazette de France” in 1649. Its appearance is definitely connected with presence of representatives of Ukrainian Cossacks in France.

Talking about awareness about Ukraine, I would like to remind about the story of Charles 12, written by Voltaire. The book is classic of world literature and it is the story about Charles` life and military journeys, one of which, near Poltava turned out unsuccessful for him. I would like to remind one of Voltaire`s thoughts about this: “Ukraine always and above all strived to be free”.

Mr. Ambassador, it took you only half a year of work in Ukraine to get into the top “five” of the rating of foreign Ambassadors, established by our mass media. We congratulate you on such recognition and wonder what you think about it.

The results of the rating research, which I even wasn’t aware of, naturally became pleasant for me. But in many aspects we owe such results to the fact that at that period during the second half of 2008 my country headed the Council of Prime Ministers of the European Union. First of all, I would like to remind about this fact. But first a few words from the sphere of so-called historic recollections.

The wide known aspirations for reformation of the current EU institutions, which were expressed by France and other countries of the European Union, were reflected in the project of constitutional treaty. Unfortunately, in 2005 it wasn`t approved by citizens of France and the Netherlands. Meanwhile, I should remind that the project of the agreement stipulated cancellation of system of alternate six- months- long presidency of member-countries in the EU and establishment of permanent presidency for two and a half year period instead of that. Since implementation of such scheme turned out to be impossible, the Lisbon Agreement was suggested as the way of overcoming the crisis situation. The document stipulates getting back to the problem of reformation of the US institutions, but only after it is ratified by the member-countries.

In this situation presidency of France during the second half of 2008 appeared very active and significant in many aspects. In such format of international activity our president Nikolas Sarkozy one more time proved not only the importance that our country had got in the EU, but the scale that the EU might get in solving of vital problems in case all its members kept to general principle bases and had common position. The world had the best opportunity to get prove of that by the example of the two problems, which we faced in the second half of the last year.

One of them was the Caucasus war between Russia and Georgia. It should be mentioned that it was French presidency in the EU and all actions of the European Unian enabled to stop military actions at that time. Besides, due to efficient presidency in the European Union and its importance in international events in general, they managed to adopt a common plan of Moscow and Tbilisi, which consisted of the six famous points and accumulated means of settling the situation in it. Now the EU with the interested parties traces implementation of clauses of this document and notices that there are still certain difficulties in realization of two of them. First of all, it concerns the problem of withdrawal of Russian forces from all the occupied territories. Besides, as known, the EU rejects recognition of the status of the self-proclaimed Republics of Southern Ossetia and Obhasia by Russia and insists on necessity of sticking to one of the main principles of international law, which has been recognized by the world community, but was broken during Russian Georgian conflict the principle of respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty of independent states.

The second category of problems, in solving of which the EU demonstrated high activity during French presidency, concerns the word financial-economic crisis. Nikolas Sarkozy did his best to bring the UE member-countries to one coordinated position in resisting the crisis and to start common speculations on the new financial – economic model of the world, which would prevent from repeating the speculative practices, which cause the present terrible crisis, on the level of “The Group of Eight” and “The Group of Twenty”.

In spring of 2008 President Nicolas Sarkozy for the first time made statements about broadening of the “Group of Eight” and stated that it should follow the way of transformation. He wanted G8 to become G13. As a matter of fact, life corrected Sarkozy`s plans and the “Group of Eight” was quickly transformed into “the Group of Twenty”. Do you think this idea proves its value now, during the battle with world crisis?

President Sarkozy`s initiative on coordination of efforts in world scale for fighting the consequences of financial-economic crisis was directly embodied during the first meeting of the leaders of the countries of the “Group of Twenty” in Washington in November 2008. In particular, the agreement on the four principles, which should direct functioning of the world community in the present economic conditions, was reached. The first of them concerns coordinated efforts, directed at renewal of economic growth. The second rejection of steps of protectionist character. The third one improvement of management of the system of international finance. And, finally, the fourth principle common work on developing of new mechanisms of world management.

For today it can be stated that much has been achieved in realization of the first two principles. Besides, all the countries have adopted rather ambitious national plans on renewal of economic activity and economic growth. All these together have brought benefit. It is also evident that the work, started last year, has got a new impulse in London, where a new meeting of the “Group of Twenty” was held in April of the last year.

I would like to pay attention that President of France is inclined to solve specific problems that the world faces today. He doesn`t try to hind behind certain political or economic ideology. Nikolas Sarkozy often repeats that the world has changed and we also should change and adjust to it.

How do you see the role of France in connection with that and due to the fact that the European Unian is one of the biggest contributors in the sphere of development support?

During its presidency in the EU, France has made great effort to provide countries of Southern Europe with such help in the framework of the famous EU project the Union for Mediterranean region; countries of Western Europe in the framework of European policy of neighborhood. As to Ukraine, the year before last at the last Summit of the European Union in Paris, it was decided that the new agreement, being negotiated between the EU and Ukraine now, should become the agreement about association.

So, summarizing the answer about my getting into the top five of the rating, I would like emphasize once again: I was warmly welcomed in Ukraine starting from the first months of my work here due to consecutive implementation of a number of important initiatives of France during its presidency in the European Unian, participator of which on local level I became. And I`m grateful not only to representatives of Ukrainian authority for that. I felt great sympathy for my country from ordinary Ukrainians very quickly. And I`m sincerely grateful to them for that.

It is known that Nikolas Sarkozy sympathizes for Ukraine. How did it influence bilateral relations between our two countries?

This sympathy of our president has developed for a long period from the time when he represented one of the most powerful political parties and was the Ministry of foreign affairs in one of the Governments of the President Jack Chirac. He had many meeting with his Ukrainian colleagues and became a supporter of Ukrainian development.

Nikolas Sarkozy`s sympathy has made its positive influence. For example, after election of Sarkozy the President of France in 2007, a meeting with President Yushchenko in October of the same year became one of his first international contacts. It was then that there appeared the idea of finishing all preparation works for conclusion of a treaty between Ukraine and the European Union. It was supposed to become continuation of the agreement on partnership and cooperation, which was valid from 1997 to 2007. I think such aspiration for helping Ukraine, such sympathy for your country keep inspiring French politics as to Ukraine.

I know exactly that France and its leaders consider Ukraine an important partner, which we are inclined to support on its way to the European Union. At the same time, this desire to help that France permanently realizes from its part, includes certain demands for its partner. And that is civilized world practice in relationship between partners. That`s why we call upon its people and leaders to take suggestions that are offered by the EU seriously and carefully. In our opinion, only due to methodical, gradual practical work Ukraine will better satisfy its demands, aimed at approaching the European Union. Simply speaking, success of such convergence depends mostly on Ukrainians.

Not so long ago intensification of strategic partnership between Ukraine and France on the basis of the whole complex of common programs planned in 2005 was announced. What programs exactly are we talking about and what is the dynamics of their realization?

Despite the current financial-economic crisis, it is pleasant to state that French companies penetrate into Ukrainian market more actively. In fact, it became a kind of message we send them from the Embassy: now the moment is favorable to come here, because when Ukrainian economics is back on the way of its growth, those, who make certain efforts today, will make substantial and quick profit. Such message gives concrete results. We have numerous evidences of that in Kiev and in different regions of Ukraine. For example, at the serious exhibition “Interagro”, which was held recently, French companies were represented in unprecedented amount. There were much more of them that in the previous years. A little later over 20 of our enterprises came to Donetsk to participate in the seminar on municipal services. Over some time, another representative delegation from France took part in the specialized seminar on matters of preparing for EURO 2012, which also took place in Donetsk.

So we can state that Ukraine and France are in the zone of further activation of bilateral contacts and gradual realization of the ideas that were mutually initiated during official visits and business meetings.

France is in the top ten of the biggest investors of Ukraine. How do you estimate, in particular, the state of our relations in the sphere of institutional cooperation?

The investment result may satisfy us, but at the same time we strive to improve it. My contacts in regions of Ukraine give real hope that with renewal of economic activity the projects, suggested or realized by French companies in Ukraine, might be successfully fulfilled.

In particular, in investment cooperation I`d like to single out two aspects. First of all, there is really active partnership with Ukrainian colleagues in the spheres of investment and legal procedure, agricultural sector and agricultural policy in general. Such cooperation has long history and has quite concrete results. They were reached, in particular, due to presence of French technical advisers in Ukrainian Ministries of Justice and Agricultural Policy. We have intention to increase these efforts, since it is evident that such common work is fruitful and useful for both countries.

The second aspect probably has a bit generalized character, but it is directly connected with further perspectives of broadening of French investments in Ukraine. Let me explain. Everything Ukraine can do to make general climate of doing business here more clear and stable – any decision in this direction, will certainly even better stimulate French investors to work on Ukrainian market.

France determined its help to our country in adjusting Ukrainian legislation to the EU standards as the main priority and, fist of all, translated its anti-corruption laws into Ukrainian. Should this first step of the French side in this direction taken as expressive evidence of the fact that corruption is the main constraint of successful development of democratic society in Ukraine and consequently on the way of our country to the European Union?

When it concerns investment presence of France in Ukraine, fighting corruption really becomes one of the main directions of our experts` work. We even held a special seminar on this occasion in Kiev. This sphere will keep remaining the subject of advanced exploration and mutual work with the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. Since if we do not manage to fight corruption, it may become a serious obstacle on the way of formation of genuinely democratic society in Ukraine and prevent from approaching the EU. In fact, this warning may concern any country, where anti-corruption models are tried to be implemented.

After mentioning that, I can`t help adding such extremely important aspect of formation of any democratic society: necessity of honest and clear conduction of any election campaigns. During the last 4-5 years, despite internal political confrontations, Ukraine has proved its ability to hold election campaigns in accordance with generally accepted world standards. I would like to express my sincere wish for Ukraine to remain an example of honest and clear election procedures. Since it concerns not just internal state and health of the democratic system, that Ukraine is trying to build, but also the foreign policy effect that your country makes in the European Union, its foreign image.

The traditional “French Spring” has been held in Ukraine for several years. Why spring, but not summer or autumn, for example?

First of all, we together can be glad that the “French Spring” has become a good tradition. Because it was started as one-time spring cultural-creative event. But the success of the first “French Spring” in Kiev inspired us to continue this experience. During the following years we fixed growing interest of Ukrainian people for our culture festivals. They started to be held not only in the capital, but also in many regions of Ukraine. Widening of geography of “French Spring” became another pleasant opportunity for me and my colleagues from the Embassy to visit Ukrainian towns and villages. I can assure you that such visits are very sincere and warm; they often become the beginning of useful and fruitful mutual contacts.

At the same time, the festival is a great opportunity for French artists to come to Ukraine, get acquainted with their local colleagues and become witnesses of Ukrainian modern art and culture development. I think in this way one can get the solution of one of the main tasks of modern European policy in the sphere of technical cooperation and culture: sticking to the necessary principle of diversification of cultural-art process within the framework of the new expanded Europe, in particular.

In this regard I recall the recent visit of one of the outstanding specialists in the sphere of linguistics of France Mr. Claude Hagege to Ukraine. During his lecture at Kiev National Shevchenko University he raised the question of necessity of linguistic diversity in the modern world. According to his thesis, linguistic diversity I would also add: cultural diversity as well encourages broadening of knowledge and reflections about cultural heritage of certain nations, promotes due respect for cultural traditions of these nations. In my opinion, all this is one of the fundamental bases of our life activity in all-European scale.

Activity of French Embassy, concerning cultural exchange between our countries has noticeably intensified lately. This is extremely pleasant. What French and Ukrainian organization does the Embassy cooperate with directly, realizing its culturogical projects?

The cultural visiting card of the Embassy is the French Cultural Center, which organizes and conducts most cultural events. In regions of the country the Embassy bases its activity on the network “Alliance Française” that works in nine cities of Ukraine Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa, Lvov, Zaporozhye, Lugansk, Rovno, Sevastopol and Simferopol. There are French Cultural Centers, which perform the same functions, in Kharkov and Donetsk.

Demand for cultural and linguistic product has been increasing lately. The increasing number of those, who want to attend courses of French in regions, is the evidence of that. Last year their number increased by 35% in comparison to the year before. In Kiev 3 thousand people learn French at the courses under the French Cultural Center, which has rich program of cultural events for the whole year: a week of frankofonia, the French Spring, cinema festivals, exhibitions, conferences.

Such activity became possible due to support and partnership, established with state institutions in Ukraine (Ministries of Culture and Foreign Affairs, universities, theaters and Philarmonic societies), and also due to private sponsors large French and other companies. This intensive activity enables us to attract more attention to culture and art events, ensure their success The French Spring is one of the best examples of that and also attract new partners, the number and interest of whom keep growing every day.

They say that the French have been showing more interest for their backwoods, where there are mountains, forests and fields, not built up with high-rise hotels, lately. What do you think the restless traveler Jules Verne would say about it today?

Jules Verne was a forerunner of ecological movement. In most of his adventure novels he speaks up for nature protection and harmonious use of nature resources. Isn`t “20 Thousand league under water” the best description of all those treasures that ocean keeps? In his “Travel to the center of the Earth” Jules Verne describes a lost continent and relations of nature and humanity, which sometimes have destroying effects. Jules Verne is a writer – predictor not just because he set rockets off to the Moon, but also because of his comprehension that nature reserves are not endless, although nothing pointed to that at that distant time.

The French get more interested in “green tourism”, because they start to understand short duration of these things. France is one of the most developed countries in renewing of electric resources and it is among the countries, striving for ratification of the Kyoto Protocol. The Embassy of France is aware of the existing ecological problems in Ukraine and carries out active work at their solution together with Ukrainian colleagues. Of course, much still has to be done by Ukraine, in particular, in the sphere of utilization of waste products and water purification, but sometimes it is given as an example. Soon we will be visited by producer Koline Serreau with his film “Local approaches to global damage”, which shows a business manager from Poltava region and his experience in solving the problem, connected with fertilizers.

How popular are Jules Verne and Antoine de Saint Exupery, whose “moral heroes” became examples not for one generation of earthmen in present-day France? Can tourists visit memorable places, connected with the names of these outstanding French writers?

There is a place in France, where all outstanding figures have been gathered together. It is the Pantheon in Paris. Men and a woman, who really existed, are buried there: Victor Hugo, Jean Moulin, Marie Curie, and, closer to our time, Albert Camus. The state and the school are supposed to prevent them from being neglected. As far as I know, there have been no memorable places of moral heroes, such as Little Prince or Captain Nemo before, but we have many museums, founded in places of life or work of the writers, whom you mentioned, where you can still feel their presence and better understand their literary works. You will find many houses and other buildings, similar to Bulgakov`s House in Kiev, all over France. There are also many memorable or memorial territories outdoors, for example, like Ronsevo in Pyrenees or in Breton, the forest of Broselianda of King Arthur. But the Mill of Alphonse Daudet in Provence must be the most picturesque of them.

Do French children like fairytales? And how popular among kids is, for example, Cinderella from Charles Pero`s fairytale? Is there any park or entertainment center for children, connected with the name of this author of fairytales In France, which could be also visited by children from other countries?

Children remain children everywhere. Fairytales were written to bring symbolically illustrated important periods of human life to people`s minds and hearts. Charles Pero, just like the Green brothers gathered and noted folk stories in a genius way, enabling their preservation and transfer to future generations. I don`t know if Cinderella is still popular in France (even if this character was given a second wind, converting the original fairytale character to animated one), but it is quite evident that new generations of children find new characters for themselves, which better correspond to their lifestyle and modern entertainments. Harry Potter, for example, is one of new transformations.

I know that there is an entertainment park, devoted to characters from fairytales in Holland. In France there is the Park of the Gaul, the comics’ hero Asterix, well-known to many people. There is also a unique park in France Euro Disneyland the place, where one immerges into the world of childhood. It is visited by very many tourists every year.

Media Center of “Prime Excursion Bureau”

May 2010