Forty heads of state and government meet in Switzerland for the 13th Summit of French-Speaking Communities

Bern, Press release, 18.10.2010

A few days before the opening of the 13th Summit of French-Speaking Communities (22-24 October 2010) the Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), Micheline Calmy-Rey, has reiterated the importance of the event that Switzerland is about to host. Seventy countries will be represented in Montreux, around forty by their heads of state and government. Micheline Calmy-Rey also reiterated that Switzerland’s wish was to introduce new ideas in both the programmes and the topics discussed to make this summit into a political meeting.

On Monday Micheline Calmy-Rey addressed the media with the following words “The French-speaking communities are an important sphere of influence. They represent a third of the countries in the UN. As promoters of democracy, human rights and development, the French-speaking communities are a platform for discussion where the issues that concern and involve us all can be addressed.” 

The head of the Swiss diplomatic service also spoke of the importance of the Montreux summit meeting for Switzerland, emphasising that it is the whole of Switzerland and not only the French-speaking part that is a member of the International Organisation of La Francophonie (OIF). “As a multicultural, quadrilingual federation, Switzerland feels at ease among the French-speaking community, which comprises some 870 million people on five continents” she said. The summit will give Switzerland a high level of visibility and enable it to demonstrate its policy of welcoming conferences and international organisations. 

“In a world where networks overlap, our position is a great advantage”, the Federal Councillor added. She also revealed the names of some of the heads of state and government who will be coming to Montreux, including in particular the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. 

Micheline Calmy-Rey also underlined Switzerland’s wish to encourage the heads of state and government in Montreux to draw up a final declaration setting out in clear terms a commitment to the future of the French-speaking community. The Declaration of Montreux will be published on Sunday. 

Since 2010 is also the 40th anniversary of the Niamey Agreement, on which the institution of the “La Francophonie” is based, Switzerland wanted the heads of state and government to reflect on the “challenges and visions of the future for the French-speaking communities”. Three topics in particular will be on the agenda for discussion: the role of the French-speaking communities in international relations and in global governance, the French-speaking communities and sustainable development and finally the French language and education in a global world. 

Switzerland is counting on social interaction to get the population involved in this meeting. Several secondary events are planned, as Johannes Matyassy, Director General of the 13th Summit of French-Speaking Communities, announced to the media. These will include a concert of French songs on Wednesday 20 October, the Francophonie Village where several countries within the OIF will be presenting their cultural specialities in stands surrounding a Swiss chalet. As far as funding is concerned, Johannes Matyassy said that expenditure will remain within the initial budget of Fr. 30 million granted by the Swiss parliament and that some Fr. 1 million will be provided through sponsorship by various private companies. 

Meanwhile, Ambassador Jean-François Paroz, Head of Organisation for the 13th Summit of French-Speaking Communities, gave some practical examples of the logistical challenges involved in organising such a meeting. There will be 1400 delegates, some 600 journalists, 1300 staff (including those working in the hotels within the secure area), nearly 1000 organisers, and several hundred police officers and firemen who all have to be accredited for the summit.

For further information please contact:
Information FDFA, tel: 031 322 31 53


Further information:

Website of the 13th Summit of French-Speaking Commities


Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47
E-Mail: info@eda.admin.ch


Publisher:

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs