International Relations, Culture and Politics
Gérald Arboit - France and Cultural Diplomacy in the Mediterranean 133
Gérald Arboit France and Cultural Diplomacy in the Mediterranean On 4–5 November 2008, while the meeting of the foreign af fairs min- isters of the member countries of the ‘Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean’ was drawing to a close, the Etats-généraux culturels médi- terranéens (Mediterranean Cultural Forum or MCF) were getting under way in the same location. For the first time since the launch of the Euro- Mediterranean partnership, the cultural constituent appeared to be linked to the political dialogue between the Mediterranean’s northern and south- ern shores. Better, the apparent continuity between the two events led one to believe that a more pro-active approach in the development of cultural cooperation was to be seriously endorsed by partners on each side of the Mediterranean. The most important aspect to this was that it took up and developed further a French initiative launched by President Jacques Chirac in Barcelona on 28 November 2005 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. Reasserting from the start of his first mandate (1995–2002) his intentions to follow an Arab policy, with strong Gaullist overtones,1 Chirac knew the extent to which cultural action is based on ‘une certaine idée de la France’ and is a powerful tool to demonstrate and enhance France’s power on the international stage. President Chirac was determined to give clear doctrinal direction to France’s foreign cultural action and he intended to use the Mediterranean as his privileged arena of inf...
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