This September 63 presidents and prime-ministers will meet in Bucharest for the XI Sommet de la Francophonie; it is considered the biggest international event in years. Never mind that few ruthless dictators will walk around in the free world un-bothered by anyone; never mind that we cannot actually afford the costs of such an event, never mind that the garbage is all over in Bucharest and that Romania has many priorities at the moment. It has been decided though in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that this sommet in Bucharest is crucial for Romania’s aspirations to become a big player in global politics and, if not possible, at least in regional politics.
The institutional francophony was born in 1970 at Niamey (Niger), having the clear purpose of a ‘Commonwealth à la française’, uniting countries with a common history, former French and Belgian colonies. More countries have joined the multilateral alliance, departing from initial tutee of France and Belgium. Initially, being a francophone simple meant a language connection, as the French Ambassador to Bucharest said to the press few days ago, nothing more. The cultural dimension is also not strong enough in many of the OIF (Organisation International de la Francophonie), but obviously this organization has gathered and is reaching towards an increasingly political dimension, perhaps as an alternative voice to the English global dominance in politics, economy, culture, and trends, whatever.
As for Romania, long time we thought that we are the younger sister of France and that Bucharest is the ‘little Paris’; in the beginning of XXth century young people of wealthy families went to study in France and French was spoken in Bucharest almost as a second language. Things have changed dramatically though ever since: Bucharest is no longer a resemblance of the ‘little Paris’, young people are going everywhere, but mostly in the United States and UK where the best universities are and where people do take research seriously and on the streets of Romania almost anyone speaks excellent English.
I understand very well that the stakes for this reunion in Bucharest are very high, and that Romania wants to play a bigger role in the EU from now on, eventually securing the French support in this way; the history has taught us though that you cannot count on a French support for sure. They change their mind often and they look after their own interest, like anybody else surely. I am not also sure that there is a vision for the future here, or only some megalomaniac aspirations; the reunion is clearly designed as a counter-balance to the loud Presidential support of ‘axa London-Washington –Bucharest’ in foreign politics. In my view, this huge costly extravagance (2,521 millions RON)is proving one more time that we have no consistency in Romanian foreign policy. We should have learned by now that you cannot jump boat all the time, and for a change one should stick with the first. So, to put it bluntly, I wonder whether this reunion has more to do with Francophony or with cacophony (this connection Francophony –cacophony has been made by Craig Turp, the editor of Bucharest in your pocket; more on http://www.inyourpocket.com/romania/bucharest/en/)
All things considered, I like French because they are the only one opposing the Americans most often than not; I like the French accent in English, I love French movies, I am fond of French Romanians like Ionesco, I love Paris and I always enjoy a charming French kiss. (photo from http://www.ilosaarirock.fi/1999/rokkikuvat_la/089_french_kiss.jpg)