Enhancing individual staff capacities and competencies through language and cultural diplomacy is a fundamental platform to further augmenting the deployment of Fiji’s foreign services.
This is evident through a recent cooperation between Fiji and France that culminated into a French Language training cohort currently undertaken by staff of Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
This initiative is organised in recognition of the Ministry’s important role as Fiji’s window to the world, in advancing Fiji’s interests through deepened engagements as well as inculcating greater understanding and appreciation of cultural exchanges.
The 12 weeks training facilitated by the French Embassy in Fiji will enable 11 participants to develop French basic conversational skills. This will not only enhance Fiji’s relations with more French speaking countries and territories but also enable the participants to excel in their diplomatic aspirations.
The training cohort for MFA is in a way an expansion of the existing French Education Program coordinated with the Fiji Ministry of Education. The program empowers the Fijian students in developing French language skills, thereby unlocking career opportunities for them in the global arena and in sports diplomacy with France being the professional rugby destination for Fijian players.
French Ambassador to Fiji, H.E Jean-François Fitou said the timely facilitation and convening of this training marks another milestone achievement in broadening Fiji and France cooperation. It also signifies the great friendship and longstanding collaboration between Fiji-France, since the establishment of the two countries diplomatic relations in 1970.
He said such trainings promote cultural diversity and it’s a gateway to boost socioeconomic engagements between Fiji and France. The French Embassy in Fiji is also determined to formalise its bilateral engagements with Fiji through signing of a partnership agreement.
Speaking at the official opening of the training, Fiji’s Roving Ambassador (a.i), Mr Amena Yauvoli conveyed MFA’s sincere appreciation to Ambassador Fitou and the French Embassy for their assistance in setting up the training cohort.
He stated that the cooperation has great potential to grow in mutual areas of development priorities between the two nations in the future. As such, the partnership seeks to provide further training opportunities in Noumea, New Caledonia, along with possible secondments of young Fijian diplomats in Paris at the French Republic’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A
mbassador Fitou impressed on the significance of French language in strengthening Fiji’s relations with France and other French territories in the Pacific such as New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Wallis and Futuna. Fiji Ministry of Foreign Affairs also expressed its appreciation to the French language trainer, Ms Alexandrine Boufflers for her commitment in conducting this training.
She has a distinguished career in French teaching throughout her diplomatic posting in the United States, Romania and as French Professor at the University of Pristina in Kosovo. Very recently in Greece, she was Head of the French School of Thessalonique in Greece and currently she is also working on her PHD in Linguistics.
It is generally known that French is spoken by around 300 million people in the world and is the official language of 28 countries. There are 88 member states of the International Organisations of Francophonie. French is also one of the two official languages of the International Olympic Committee and one of the six official languages of the United Nations.