After four years as France’s consul general for the Southeast, René Serge Marty is to become his country’s economic counselor to East Africa, leaving behind a city that has gone from “multicultural” to “international” during his time here.

“When I arrived in Atlanta, I saw a multicultural city. Now as I am leaving, I see an international city,” Mr. Marty told GlobalAtlanta in a farewell interview held at his residence last week.

Mr. Marty, who has acted as French economic commissioner and consul general in Atlanta since October 2001, arrived as French-American relations were becoming increasingly tense and the consulate’s economic mission was on the verge of closing down.

“I arrived during a very different period,” Mr. Marty said. “At times it was difficult to manage the ups and downs here.” He also noticed that while Atlanta had growing and vibrant ethnic communities, it lacked a clear vision to develop as a global cultural and commercial center.

Now he was proud to say that not only Atlanta had changed for the better, but so had his consulate. With a renewed vigor, his office is expecting six new trade representatives to arrive in August and is more involved than ever in strengthening French-American relations in the Southeast.

Mr. Marty attributed some of the consulate’s turnaround to Jean-David Levitte, France’s ambassador to the U.S., who has become increasingly enthusiastic about the Southeast, visiting Atlanta three times and Charlotte, N.C., and Montgomery, Ala., once.

He also cited Mayor Shirley Franklin and Craig Lesser, commissioner for the Georgia Department of Economic Development, as being extremely helpful and important to him during his time as consul general.

From his post in Nairobi, Kenya, where he will cover France’s economic mission to Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda, Mr. Marty would like to maintain ties with some of the prominent Atlanta institutions with which he has become familiar during his time here. He specifically mentioned the Carter Center, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CARE, Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology during his interview with GlobalAtlanta.

“Atlanta is the focal point in the world for non-governmental bodies, especially in the areas of health and development,” he said.

While the city’s institutions may be world renowned, Atlanta would not be an international city if it had not also developed its cultural personality at the same time, he said.

“You can’t be an international city if you don’t have cultural importance in the world,” he said, specifically commending Atlanta’s efforts to nurture its African-American roots, with activities such as the National Black Arts Festival, which is currently underway. He also cited the development of different international groups, such as the Hispanic and European communities as an asset to the city’s growth.

During his time in Atlanta, Mr. Marty has overseen French contributions to the city, which include a partnership between Atlanta’s High Museum and Paris’ Louvre, which is to bring hundreds of masterpieces from the French museum to Atlanta starting in 2006. He also hosted a convention for North America’s French-American Chambers of Commerce in April, helped organize the World Convention of Teachers of French in Atlanta in 2004 and maintained Francophonie as an annual celebration of French language and culture in Atlanta.

He has worked closely with French economic development offices, such as the Entreprise Rhône-Alpes International (ERAI), during the past four years.

Mr. Marty, who worked as director of foreign trade for France’s Aquitaine region prior to coming to Atlanta and has worked for the French government in Montreal and the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, will leave Atlanta on August 13.

Phillipe Ardanaz, deputy director of financial affairs at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to begin as consul general in Atlanta on September 1.

For more information, contact Natacha Constable at (404) 495-1682.