France, one of a number of European countries to recognize Liberia’s independence earlier, has assured the George Weah Administration of mutual bilateral cooperation that will be accompanied by budgetary support and maintenance to youth employment.
President Weah in his inaugural address on January 22 this year, showered praises on France and Europe in general for making him to succeed in his football journey.
As a soccer legend, he played in France and Italy, with an outstanding record in Europe, thus making him the world’s best player in 1995.
France is also the first country to have extended an invitation to him after his taking over as President of Liberia. During the visit, the French Government gave its first grant of €10 million Euros to the Weah Administration.
In a speech delivered on Bastille Day on July 14 at the French Embassy in Monrovia, Ambassador Terence Wills said: “We are on track to increase our bilateral cooperation with budget support and support to youth employment.”
Even though France is not in a close bilateral relationship with Liberia similar to that of the United States and China, Ambassador Wills said Liberia is not equally well known in France, “but Weah is an exception.”
He disclosed that in 2020, his country will dedicate a mutual cultural season in Africa and France, and expressed the hope that Liberia will take part in the event.
He recalled a movie about an African fighter, which Amb. Wills said is very attractive, because it shows a mixture of African cultures of modernity and tradition which, according to him, may draw critics’ attentions as being symbolically alluding to South Africa or Rwanda.
Wills said, “It could be Liberia, which has the same mixed cultures.
“Liberia just needs to show more of its talents abroad. We need a travel guide on Liberia, on Monrovia, the coastal towns and the rainforest. Let us write this guide together, not only with my diplomatic colleagues’ inputs, because our writing is so complex, and therefore, it would not sell well,” Ambassador Wills said.
The turnout of resident diplomats and Liberian government officials at the Bastille ceremony impressed Ambassador Wills. He said it was a sign of support to France for the World Cup, which the country eventually won yesterday.
Ambassador Wills continued, “Many of the players on the French team are Africans whose grandparents are said to come from Cameroon, Congo, Mali, Angola, Guinea, Senegal and so forth.”
In recent years, France has given citizenship to lots of black Africans for their roles played in its behalf.
Mamoudou Gassama (alas Spiderman), a Malian, was given citizenship this year for saving a child from fire in a two-story building in France. Lassana Bathily, also a Malian, was given citizenship in 2015 when he played a heroic role in the terrorist attack on Paris.
Also in 2017, 28 former soldiers who fought under the French flag in the 1914 Indochina wars and against Algeria’s fight for independence in the 1950s and 1960s were granted French citizenship.
Bastille Day came in 1789 when the French people felt tired of their king, Louis XVI, besieged his main fortress in Paris (La Bastille), and overthrew his regime.
The French Revolution spread across Europe and the army knocked down all the armies of the kings at the time.
Foreign Minister Gbehzohngar R. Findley, who represented the Liberian Government, recalled that Liberia and France have had more than 16 decades of relations since it recognized Liberia’s independence in 1852.
Findley acknowledged that France has been instrumental in identifying with Liberia as records of the Paris Club financial aid and the establishment of the United Nations Mission Ebola Response can attest.
He also recalled that a lot of French businesses are in the country, providing services and trading; something he said helps Liberians get jobs and revenue in taxes.