The National, Wednesday July 17th, 2013
FRANCE is a South Pacific neighbour and its presence in Papua New Guinea is growing with French companies operating here, Ambassador Alain Waquet says.
Waquet was speaking during Bastille Day celebrations on Sunday at Port Moresby’s Lamana Hotel.
The event was attended by PNG officials, members of the diplomatic corps, French citizens and friends.
Waquet, who will be leaving after completing his four-year term, expressed sadness.
“My wife Virginie and I are happy to return home to our children and grandchildren but sad because after four years in Port Moresby, we must confess that our home was also here,” he said.
Waquet said France was in PNG almost since the country’s independence and reminded those who attended that geographically it was closer to PNG than was thought.
“Not a lot of people realise that France is a close neighbour of PNG. France has three territories in the South Pacific – New Caledonia, French Polynesia (Tahiti) and Wallis and Futuna – and more than 550,000 French citizens are living in the South Pacific region,” he said.
“France has maintained a harmonious and friendly relationship with PNG.”
With a forecast of an economic boom in PNG, Waquet said he hoped that good relationship would be nurtured further.
“We truly hope that we will develop this special relationship further.
“Now that PNG is on the way to achieving a brighter future for itself, France is present in this country through an embassy, through the Alliance Française and some companies, as well as a member state of European Union,” he said.
Waquet thanked the French companies operating in PNG for sponsoring the celebration.
He said other companies in the fishing and construction industries were considering possible operation in PNG.