By Roy Mabasa
French Ambassador to the Philippines Nicolas Galey has underscored the “very busy” bilateral relations between Manila and Paris as the two countries widen its cooperation in areas such as defense, economic, academic, cultural, and tourism.
In his remarks at the French National Day celebration on Saturday, Galey noted that in the past several months alone, the Philippines and France had engaged in political consultation, joint committee discussion on defense, and academic cooperation.
In the next half of 2018, Galey is expecting more activities as the two sides sit down on the negotiating table for the joint economic committees and the bilateral meeting on tourism.
Citing the Philippines as one of its strong partners in the region, the French envoy also acknowledged the country’s decisive role in the success of the COP 21 climate change agreement signed in Paris in 2015.
“Obviously such a success could only be reached only because governments, but also NGOs (nongovernment organizations) and the private sector reunite the importance and the gravity of the climate challenge,” he said.
The top French diplomat in Manila assured their Asian partners, including the Philippines, of their commitment to promoting and defending common values in the Pacific region based on cooperation, international law and the protection of the environment.
Since France strongly believes in multilateralism, Galey said Paris is hosting an international peace forum on November 11 to coincide with the centennial commemoration of the end of World War 1.
In March, French and Filipino experts met for the first time at the joint committees on defense panel and discussed possible cooperation that could lead to procurement of military capabilities.
Although the meeting comprised a high-level delegation, Galey said the defense cooperation between the two countries is not intense and is like a “young baby.”
“A country like the Philippines with so many islands and so many waters to control and preserve needs a navy or ships. In this field, we have a lot to propose. Maybe we have a specific kind of offer because we are not selling equipment, we are selling capabilities,” Galey told the Manila Bulletin in a recent interview.