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20 March 2012 - International Francophonie Day

Statement by the Spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs
(Paris, 20 March 2012)

The International Francophonie Day is celebrated every March 20 to mark the signature of the 1970 Niamey convention.

For 2012, Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie selected the theme “Le Français est une chance” or “French is an opportunity.” “We offer this opportunity as a pledge of friendship and unity to all those—an ever-growing number—who choose to learn French in order to open themselves up to the world,” said Abou Diouf, the organization’s Secretary General, on the occasion of this year’s celebration.

Ten key words have been chosen with our French-speaking partners (Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec and the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie) focusing on private, personal expression. Ame, autrement, caractère, chez, confier, histoire, naturel, penchant, songe and transports are all taken from the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose tricentennial is being celebrated this year.

In France, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs is joining with the Ministry of Culture and Communication and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport to celebrate French-language week.

Abroad, the network of Cultural Services, the 132 Instituts Français and 445 Alliances Françaises, and the 480 French schools and high schools are taking part in this event.

There are an estimated 220 million French-speakers, 60% of whom are younger than 30, which says something about the language’s contemporary, universal aspect. But beyond the French language, which is its cornerstone, La Francophonie is a political and economic organization comprising 56 member states and governments and 19 observers that share these common values: solidarity with regard to development and respect for cultural diversity, the rule of law, peace and democracy.

Learn more on Francophonie.

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