Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my pleasure this evening to host you on the occasion of Francophonie Week. This auspicious event, which is normally held every year, provides an opportunity for French speakers around the world to celebrate the reach of the French language, with its nearly 300 million speakers worldwide, in all its diversity.
Known and recognized for both its richness and attention to detail, the French language has always inspired artists, playwrights, poets, and novelists. The Francophonie is also Edith Piaf, Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, Inna Modja, and millions of others, spread over 106 countries and territories.
Our decision to join the Francophonie represents an appreciation of the Organisation not only because it inspires hopes and dreams but also because it as an ideal forum for dialogue and exchange. As an Observer Member, we are working with the Organisation and with our partners on projects to expand the French influence. I am convinced that our ability to consolidate our francophone identity will allow us to strengthen our connections and create new knowledge.
I can mention for example, the cooperation between the Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) and TV5 Monde, which will offer a wide variety of online resources covering different areas of the learning and teaching of the French language. And I cannot but pay tribute to the research centres and teaching institutes in Malta, including the Alliance Francaise de Malte, the Association of French Teachers and the University of Malta, who have and continue to play a leading role in increasing enrolment of students in French-language program offerings.
In parallel to a focus on education, Malta is currently working on furthering cooperation with members of the Organisation on the diplomatic front. More and more, we are reaffirming the need for alliances in our extended family. Through its work in the United Nations, the Paris Agreement, and the International Maritime Organisation, amongst others, Malta will ensure that our Observer Status will be a benefit to all Francophonie Member States across different platforms. This goes to show that Malta, despite being one of the smaller states in the Organisation, intends to be an active participant.
This year should also mark Malta’s first participation at a Francophonie Summit as an Observer Member. Let me take this opportunity to thank the Government of Tunisia for hosting the upcoming 18th Francophonie Summit in Djerba. The theme chosen for the Summit, ‘Connectivity in diversity: the digital vector of development and solidarity in the Francophone space’, is a continuation and strengthening of a long-term commitment by the Francophonie, which has contributed greatly to closing the gap on the digital divide, particularly on the African continent.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Francophonie Week must also be an opportunity to implement innovative projects with French speaking countries. I am particularly pleased that we have with us acclaimed French film director Caroline Vignal, whose presence is an indication of our determination to use the Francophonie as a platform for Maltese institutions and entities to collaborate with partners in industries such as the cinematic arts.
I invite you to join with me in celebrating Francophonie Week, and I thank you for your contributions to the growth and extension of the francophone community.