The French Ambassador, Nicolas Galey, addressed the Members of Board of Management Quaid e Azam house, Institute of Nation Building.
The Ambassador said that French and Pakistani relations are of special significance. France was the first Non-Muslim nation to establish diplomatic relations with Pakistan.
After the recent increases in tension, the Ambassador expressed that opinion was shifting and business sector should take advantage of these improving relations. A watershed moment showcasing this improvement was President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif cordial meeting in New York.
The Ambassador also talked about the aid that France had given to Pakistan in the wake of the devastating floods that ravaged Pakistan a few weeks ago. The Ambassador stated that France was interested in tapping into Pakistan’s dairy and milk market.
He explained that both France and Pakistan had agriculture dominant economies and Pakistan could reap many benefits from France’s agricultural production techniques and research. He also mentioned that the French Universities’ would be interested in attracting more Pakistani students to their educational institutions.
Some concrete steps such as a group of 5 top university representatives would arrive in Pakistan in early November to scout what Pakistani students need to find it attractive to come to France.
He said that while France was part of European Union and like other states, it also independently follows relationship. He added that it was especially relevant in present times because Pakistan was in discussion with EU representatives about continuing the JSP+ trade agreement.
The JSP+, a lucrative agreement that allowed Pakistani businesses to export to any EU country without any tariff charges, between Pakistan and EU would expire in 2023, and its renewal or lack thereof would have a significant impact on EU nations’ ability to help Pakistani business industries to grow.
In response to a question on Islamophobia, the Ambassador replied that xenophobia and racism existed in all countries; many French representatives ask for specific examples of xenophobia and receive vague answers.
He stated that the unfortunate notion that France is Islamophobic must not be treated as a given fact, that France has the largest minority consists of Muslims and it cannot afford to have such sentiments; however, regarding hijab etc it was a social and cultural matter which shall get resolved.
Replying to another question on Russo-Ukraine conflict and its possible escalation that Russia being pushed aggressively, by making allies with its neighboring states? The Ambassador replied that the chances of a nuclear showdown were minimal and added that Ukraine was a candidate for EU and not NATO, a fact that Russian forces had been aware of and agreed to.
However, Russia had a long history of being aggressive against Ukraine and it was Russia that broke the UN peace pact by invading Ukraine.
The Envoy was welcomed by the Grand Nephew of Quaid e Azam Liaquat Merchant who explained to him about the Museum and formation of Institute of Nation Building at Quaide Azam House Museum.
Ikram Sehgal, Vice Chairman of Quaide Azam House Museum Institute of Nation Building concluded the meeting by expressing his thanks to the Ambassador. The French Consul General Designate Alexis Chahtahtinsky accompanied the Ambassador, who took round of the Museum afterwards.