The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By An­gel­ica O'Donoghue-Holder

On Wed­nes­day, Saint Lu­cia of­fi­cially wel­comed Philippe Ar­danaz as the new French Am­bas­sador to the OECS mem­ber states and Bar­ba­dos with res­i­dency here in Saint Lu­cia. He re­vealed, he was on is­land since the be­gin­ning of Oc­to­ber, how­ever he pre­sented his cre­den­tials to the Gover­nor Gen­eral Dame Pear­lette Louisy before he met with members of the me­dia ear­lier on Wed­nes­day.

The am­bas­sador who pre­vi­ously held diplo­matic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in Hon­duras, said he was elated with his new po­si­tion as the “French em­bassy is the only Euro­pean coun­try to have a full em­bassy here in Saint Lu­cia.”

Though he has been on is­land for less than two months, Philippe said there are four main ar­eas he would like to fo­cus on in the is­landLan­guage, Se­cu­rity, Ed­u­ca­tion and Busi­ness. “Busi­ness and in­vest­ment is a pri­or­ity for me,” the am­bas­sador said.

“Be­tween Mar­tinique and Saint Lu­cia it is less than twenty miles, but when you see the fig­ures, you will see we do not trade goods and ser­vices or in­vest a lot, and I think we need to im­prove that," he con­tin­ued, “When I see the prod­ucts in the su­per­mar­kets from so far away they are far more ex­pen­sive than in Mar­tinique.”

When asked, what are his views on the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion's plans for devel­op­ment, the am­bas­sador said, “I think this is a very busi­ness ori­ented gov­ern­ment, at least that is what the prime min­is­ter said, and that is good. It will forge op­por­tu­ni­ties to in­vest in Saint Lu­cia and to cre­ate jobs.”

“This is some­thing I want to be in­volved with, once we could see there are very good and friendly con­di­tions to in­vest here, my job is to tell the French firms, come to Saint Lu­cia, in­vest in Saint Lu­cia,” Philippe added.

Devel­op­ing the lan­guage bar­rier be­tween the French and English is also some­thing the am­bas­sador plans on con­cen­trat­ing on. He com­mented, “there are a num­ber of ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties Saint Lu­cians can take ad­van­tage off once they have at least a B2 level in French.” The newly ap­pointed am­bas­sador ex­plained that ac­cess to grad­u­ate stud­ies at French Univer­si­ties in Paris, are far more eco­nom­i­cal to lo­cal stu­dents once they can speak French. “In France we have a num­ber of high level univer­si­ties and they are for free, it is paid by the tax pay­ers, and it makes a huge dif­fer­ence than if you have to pay so much at Amer­i­can univer­si­ties or even at The Univer­sity of the West Indies,” he said. “So once you study French at least a B2 level, you can ac­cess the univer­si­ties in France,” he said en­cour­ag­ingly.

In an­swer to re­porter's query about his coun­try's in­volve­ment in the IMPACS mat­ter , the am­bas­sador said “I read about that and I know the files are not closed, they are open, but they are in the same sit­u­a­tion since 2011 and noth­ing has been done. How­ever I am not aware that we (my of­fice) was of­fer­ing some form of help in this re­gard.”

He promised to have more to say on the burn­ing is­sue, “Once I see the EU del­e­ga­tion in Bar­ba­dos I will have some­thing to re­port on.”

Philippe Ar­danaz, Am­bas­sador in the Em­bassy of France to the OECS and Bar­ba­dos will of­fi­cially re­side here in Saint Lu­cia and hopes to en­gage the public more in his plans for the is­land.

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