While his president was in Deauville, France, arguing in favor of initiatives to support the political and economic future of Egypt and Tunisia, François Delattre, the French ambassador to the U.S., was making the same case on behalf of the “Arab Spring” at the Georgia Institute of Technology on May 26.
Mr. Delattre made his first official visit to Atlanta May 26-27 to speak at a forum organized by the European Union Center of Excellence at Georgia Tech and with members of the Alliance Française.
He also met with U.S. veterans who had fought in France during World War II and presented France’s highest cultural award to Michael Shapiro, the director of the High Museum of Art.
Meanwhile in Deauville, the leaders of G8 members Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States approved $20 billion-plus in political and economic aid to Egypt and Tunisia.
In an official declaration, the G8 leaders said that they viewed the recent political developments in Egypt and Tunisia as important as the transformations that occurred in Central and Eastern Europe with the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“France and the United States have shared values,” Mr. Delattre said in his speech at Georgia Tech titled ‘French-American Relations and Ethics in International Affairs.’
“We are shoulder to shoulder in our support of freedom, human rights and democracy,” he added, referring to the collaboration between Eleanor Roosevelt and the French jurist René Cassin, among others, to pen the Declaration of Human Rights following World War II.
As proof of his assertion that “French-American relations have never been tighter than they are today,” Mr. Delattre pointed to their joint efforts to fight terrorism and contain Iran.
He underscored that the two countries also were in agreement in their support of entrepreneurship and start-up companies in Egypt and Tunisia.
But he added that the U.S. and France are not allied on all issues. He mentioned France’s opposition to the death penalty and its efforts to raise the contributions of all countries for development aid to 0.7 percent of gross domestic products.
Mr. Delattre also called for “creative ways” of raising funds for development aid, saying that he favored a financial transaction tax that would divert 5 cents for every transaction as a means of raising $30 billion annually to combat global poverty.
In a wide-ranging question-and-answer session with students following his speech, he voiced his support for global initiatives to prevent global warming and for African nations to have a seat at the United Nation’s Security Council.
He also defended the euro saying that the current European debt crises will result in better coordination of the fiscal and social policies of its member nations.
He said it was premature for Turkey to join the EU, but that they should continue along a path of “strategic cooperation.”
He said that France would remain consistent in its support of nuclear energy, which provides 80 percent of the country’s electricity, in contrast to the recent decision of Germany to abandon nuclear power.
He also called the users of social media “objective allies of democracies,” forcing diplomats today to be more open “to everybody’s minds and convictions,” in contrast to the more nationalistic and balance-of-power preoccupations of their forebears.
To learn more about the EU Center of Excellence at Georgia Tech, go here.