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French minister optimistic on PH-France future

France is optimistic about the continued momentum of its strengthened bilateral relations with the Philippines in various areas following the three-day visit to Manila of its minister for development.

French Minister of State for Development, Francophonie, and International Partnerships Chrysoula Zacharopoulou said she looks forward to deepening the cooperation in the upcoming years between the two countries after she met with various Philippine officials to work on the priority agenda of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron.

Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Minister of State for Development, Francophonie and International Partnerships of France, delivers a message during the inauguration of The Plastic Flamingo facility, a social enterprise based in the Philippines that collects and transforms plastic waste into a range of sustainable construction materials at Muntinlupa, Metro Manila on August 1, 2023. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)

“I leave the Philippines confident about the future of our cooperation and our relationship,” Zacharopoulou said, as she met reporters at the French Residence in Makati City on Tuesday.

The French minister visited Manila to pursue several areas of cooperation, such as food security, defense, health, and climate, as agreed by the two presidents during their past interactions.

Zacharopoulou revealed that France would contribute 200,000 euros or P12 million to provide meals to school children as well as work with the country to attain sustainable agriculture. These are part of the French commitment to the Philippines to achieve food security.

On defense, France would stand by the Philippines in upholding the rules-based order as well as the freedom of navigation and overflight amid threatening activities in the Indo-Pacific.

The Philippines is among the countries included in France’s Indo-Pacific strategy.

Zacharopoulou reiterated Macron’s recent pronouncement that his government’s strategy consists “first and foremost in defending, through partnerships, the independence and sovereignty of all the States in the region that are prepared to work with us.”

“What we want to do together is to help you preserve your space, protect you from climate change, and better predict it. France wants to bring very concrete solutions and cooperations,” the French minister said.

“This goes through multilateralism, the respect of international law, and the protection of public goods, especially environment and biodiversity when global warming threatens more and more lives and systems,” she added.

During her stay from July 30 to August 1, Zacharopoulou met several government officials, including Foreign Affairs Usec. Carlos Sorreta, Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, Environment Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga and Health Secretary Ted Herbosa.

With Diokno, she discussed France’s move to increase its cooperation in the area of development; while with Loyzaga, she proved France’s commitment to addressing climate concerns.

Zacharopoulou also followed up on its health and biodiversity cooperation with Manila.

“Our will is to be a long-term partner of the country as well as of ASEAN, whose role is central in the region,” she said.

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