Prais­ing French cre­ativ­ity

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

In a coun­try which loves con­tro­versy, the ed­i­tors of Les Echos agree at least on three points: with­out com­pet­i­tive­ness, there is no growth; with­out growth, there are not enough jobs; French busi­nesses are cur­rently not com­pet­i­tive enough. So we have to carry out in-depth re­forms, plot a course, do so fairly, with­out be­liev­ing we can change out­dated rules and habits in just two years. It is to this task in the gen­eral in­ter­est that those who gov­ern, or as­pire to gov­ern, must de­vote them­selves.

Nev­er­the­less, the dif­fi­cul­ties en­coun­tered and the ef­forts needed to over­come them do not make France a na­tion in de­cline. The world’s fifth-largest econ­omy, a per­ma­nent mem­ber of the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, a global diplo­matic, mil­i­tary and tech­no­log­i­cal power, in de­cline? A coun­try which this year won the Fields Medal in math­e­mat­ics and the Nobel prizes in eco­nomics and lit­er­a­ture, in de­cline? Come on!

French-bash­ers would prob­a­bly re­tort that th­ese hon­ours are just a happy co­in­ci­dence. I dis­agree: they re­flect France’s in­flu­ence and dis­tinc­tive­ness.

As head of our diplo­macy, the num­ber of kilo­me­tres I’ve trav­elled since 2012 equates to go­ing once round the world ev­ery month. I note that our coun­try is still ex­pected to speak out and is lis­tened to ev­ery­where.

To say this is to dis­play nei­ther blind­ness nor ar­ro­gance. It is to recog­nise a fact which the French them­selves some­times lose sight of, and fight “Franco-pes­simism”, that strange ten­dency to run our­selves down and not have enough self­be­lief.

Here is a brief list – an in­com­plete one, for that mat­ter – of what many coun­tries envy us: our de­mo­graph­ics; our in­fra­struc­ture; our higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions; a skilled and pro­duc­tive work­force; our ma­jor com­pa­nies and lead­ing brands; sta­ble in­sti­tu­tions and a com­pe­tent ad­min­is­tra­tion; a suc­cess­ful health sys­tem; a mag­nif­i­cent his­tory, lan­guage and cul­tural of­fer; and a her­itage and a life­style that ap­peal far beyond our bor­ders. While all th­ese strengths do not can­cel out our short­com­ings, they are con­sid­er­able.

If I had to choose a term to sum up our coun­try, it would be “cre­ativ­ity”. The cre­ativ­ity of our re­searchers, en­gi­neers, stu­dents and artists. The cre­ativ­ity of our ar­ti­sans, traders, teach­ers and farm­ers. The cre­ativ­ity of our en­trepreneurs, man­u­fac­tur­ers and SMEs, who com­bine the ex­port­ing in­stinct with “made in France” ex­per­tise. Cre­ativ­ity that en­com­passes ev­ery sec­tor and ranges from gas­tron­omy to green tech­nol­ogy, from aero­space to medicine. This cre­ativ­ity is France’s real hall­mark.

“Cre­ative France”: those two words are un­der­stood in just about ev­ery coun­try in the world. They are the best pos­si­ble banner for a France that wants to and can get back on its feet, unite and look to the fu­ture.

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