President George M. Weah, has underscored the importance of Liberia’s relations with the Republic of France, stating that recent years have been seen “our engagements heightened, even at summit level.”
The President recalled that after the new nation of Liberia was born in 1847, France was one of the first major countries, in 1852, to recognize our independence.
“We are therefore very proud of the cordial ties of friendship which have existed between Liberia and France for almost 170 years now,” the President noted Friday, June 11, 2021, in remarks at programs marking the laying of the foundation stone of the Alliance Française Institute in Monrovia by him and France’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, His Excellency Jean-Yves Le Drian.
Recounting France’s recent development engagement with Liberia, President Weah recounted that in 2012, under the auspices of the Paris Club, France signed a debt relief agreement in favor of Liberia.
The next year, for the first time, a Liberian contingent marched alongside French forces on the Champs-Ēlysées in celebration of Bastille Day in 2013, President Weah further recalled, adding: “Today, even as we speak, a contingent of soldiers of the Armed Forces of Liberia is engaged alongside French troops in an endeavor to restore peace in Mali”.
President Weah said: “In 2015, Liberia participated in the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference in Paris. And in response to the deadly Ebola outbreak which recently occurred in Liberia, France was the co-sponsor of the UN Resolution which established the United Nations Mission Ebola Response.
The President acknowledged that France mobilized and joined other partners of the international community in order to actively tackle the Ebola virus in Liberia, and even now, France continues to support projects which contribute to the recovery of the Liberian health system.
He extoled the Republic of France for always demonstrating its friendship and support for Liberia.
According to the Liberian Chief Executive, the French government also assisted the Liberian National Police in the form of equipment and training, and plays an important role in peace and security in the sub-region, especially in combating the rise of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
“I was inaugurated as President of Liberia in January, 2018. The following month, I made a significant and historic first international visit outside of Africa to Paris, France,” Dr. Weah further recalled. “Today we are witnesses to the presence of the French Europe and Foreign Minister on our soil as a sign of reciprocity from that visit.”
He commended efforts of the French Embassy accredited to Monrovia, together with French companies and non-governmental organizations, who are eager to develop and sustain a new relationship with Liberia.
“In this regard, my Government is pleased to note that French investment interest in Liberia has grown rapidly and in an encouraging manner,” the President asserted, adding that these investments are making significant contributions to Liberia’s economic recovery, especially as they create jobs and present new opportunities for employment.
He said: “I am informed that the French Business Club is already active in Monrovia, and provides helpful advice to new French investors in Liberia. French NGO’s, such as MSF-France, Action Contre la Faim, and Medicin Du Monde, for example, are already playing a useful role. Their work in Liberia speaks to the cordiality of friendship that Liberia and France continue to enjoy.”
The President said he was confident that while remaining confident, and given the diversity and strength of our relationship, Liberia and France will continue to engage and explore wide-ranging areas of increased cooperation.
He assured the visiting French Foreign Minister that Liberia remains committed to “our shared values; including the advancement of democracy, global peace and security, international prosperity, and the promotion of gender equality, among others.”
And, like France, he said, “we will remain steadfast in championing the cause of humanity, and advocating for social justice and the exercise of inalienable rights without precondition”.
He also recounted the recent successful initiation of collaboration between the French financial development institution PROPARCO (Promotion et Participation pour la Coopération Économique) and ECOBANK Liberia, which has resulted in the first French-backed bank guarantee to a Liberian bank in the tune of Ten Million United States Dollars.
This is a significant development which is very welcoming, because it has the potential to give a major boost to the Liberian private sector in its efforts to secure funding from financial institutions, President Weah said.
The French Europe and Foreign Affairs Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian pledged France support to Liberia.
“Mr. President, Liberia is being discussed and placed as a priority Country to receive support from the Government and people of France,” Minister Le Drian said.