Opening ceremony of France-Atlanta 2012

On Thursday, October 25, about 350 guests gathered at the Melia Hotel, Midtown Atlanta, for the opening ceremony of France-Atlanta 2012. Among the many guests of honor, French Ambassador Francois Delattre, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Consul General Denis Barbet and Georgia Tech President "Bud" Peterson share their views on the impact of France-Atlanta on their country, state and city. Hundreds of France-Atlanta partners from both sides of the Atlantic got to meet one another and celebrate the beginning of this two-week program.


Message of Mr. François Delattre, Ambassador of France

Honorable Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia,
Honorable Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta,
Dr. Bud Peterson, President of Georgia Institute of Technology,
Dear members of the Consular Corps,
French Consul General Denis Barbet,
Distinguished guests,
Dear Friends, chers amis,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is once again a great honor and an enormous pleasure for my team and for me to be here in Atlanta with you this evening to officially open France-Atlanta 2012, which is already in its third edition. I cannot overstate how much France-Atlanta is an innovative instrument and a unifying example for imaginative French-American cooperation.

Through my faithful participation in this annual event, I wish to demonstrate my enthusiastic support for the success of this wonderful initiative.

I would like to congratulate all of you here, American and French, academics, scientists, cultural and humanitarian partners, for your commitment and contributions to the organization of the next few weeks of debates, exchanges, meetings, and cultural events.

As you may know, your hard work has not gone unnoticed here in Georgia. I want to acknowledge the official recognition granted to "France-Atlanta" with the 2012 "Governor’s International Awards" in the International Education Program category, which was awarded on October 4. This award recognizes the success of partnerships in the field of higher education and scientific research between French and American entities from Georgia, like the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University.

It is also a great encouragement for developing this close and fruitful cooperation.

In this regard, I’m very pleased that the ground-breaking of the Institut Lafayette took place two weeks ago in Metz, in the Lorraine region.
The Lafayette Institute will open in 2014. It will be a platform of technology transfer, aimed at the marketing of innovative products, and will welcome French and American students and researchers.-The Lorraine region is located in the heart of Europe and invests in innovations in partnership with the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Ladies and gentlemen, the partnerships between France and Georgia, between Lorraine and Georgia, as well as between Atlanta and Toulouse are very good examples of what we can achieve between our two countries.

In this respect, I have good news tonight : French-American relations have never been closer than they are today, as illustrated by President Hollande’s very successful visit to the United States in May, just three days after taking office.

On the diplomatic and security front, France and the United States are each other’s closest allies in the fight against terrorism, and our two countries are in the forefront of international efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state. Washington and Paris are also working closely together to solve the tragic situation in Syria, where Bashar al-Assad must go – the sooner, the better.

The economic partnership between France and the United States is also growing stronger every year. France is one of the top five foreign investors in the United States, where 3,000 French companies provide more than 650,000 jobs. Airbus’s major investment in Mobile, Alabama, will create many American jobs and is a good illustration of this trend.

Conversely, the United States is the number-one foreign investor in France, and American investment in France has increased by more than 40% over the past two years. Overall, France is one of the top five destinations worldwide for foreign direct investment.

Georgia is a key and growing player in this respect. According to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, France is the third-largest foreign investor in Georgia and has 400 facilities that provide jobs to more than 20,000 employees.

The very successful joint venture between Delta and Air France-KLM is a very good illustration of this. Four direct flights, amounting to 1,000 seats daily, connect Atlanta and Paris, which serve as two complementary and efficient hubs.

Here I want to recognize ?Air France/KLM Vice President Bernard Anquez and thank him for his commitment to this exemplary partnership between Delta and Air France/KLM.-Furthermore, in July 2011, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and representatives from the Paris Region Economic Development (Hubstart Paris) and Aéroports de Paris signed a Memorandum of Understanding to identify areas for synergistic collaboration within their respective airport areas, which will certainly result in job growth and more investments and trade between Paris and Atlanta.

Innovation is no doubt one of Georgia’s trademarks, and innovation is also France’s number 1, number 2 and number three priority (…).

And this unprecedented investment in innovation goes hand in hand with a booming entrepreneurship in France (…). Promoting innovation in all areas is at the top of my agenda as Ambassador; and by presenting an exceptional scientific, business, cultural and humanitarian program centered on innovation, “France-Atlanta 2012” complies right to this agenda.

I would like to conclude by sincerely thanking once more all those who made “France-Atlanta 2012” possible, with a very special word of gratitude to Governor Nathan Deal, Mayor Kasim Reed, and the President of the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Bud Peterson.

And my warmest thanks to each and everyone of you.

Vive les Etats-Unis!
Vive la France!
Vive la Géorgie !
Vive Atlanta !

JPEG Message of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal

Welcome to France-Atlanta, a three-week exploration and celebration of the partnership between France and the United States. And for those of you not from around here, welcome to the state of Georgia—I guarantee you are going to enjoy yourselves while you’re here.

Thank you to our hosts, French Consul General Denis Barbet and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and to Master of Ceremony Heather Kircher for introducing me this evening.

Let me also recognize the others from Georgia and from France that will be speaking tonight:
• Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who despite our differences in party, regularly works alongside me for the benefit of Georgians
• Dr. Bud Peterson, president of the renowned Georgia Institute of Technology, and
• The Honorable François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the U.S.

Georgia and France already have strong relations:
• Atlanta is home to the French American Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise Rhône-Alpes.
• Three Georgia cities—Augusta, Macon and Atlanta—have sister-city agreements with French counterparts.
• In 2011, Georgia increased its exports to France to $483M and had $1.6B worth of imports from this country.
• Fifty-two Georgia companies operate in France, and 357 French facilities operate in our state, employing 15,000 Georgians.

And since being initiated in 2010 by the Consulate General of France in Atlanta and the Georgia Institute of Technology, France-Atlanta has only served to further that relationship—which it continues to do by providing an environment for us to meet, discuss and grow. Just two of the positive outcomes we saw at last year’s series include:
• An MOU signed between Paris airports and the City of Atlanta to develop the two airport zones, and
• A scientific cooperation between Georgia Tech and CNRS.

As governor of the hosting state, I am proud to see such collaboration and cooperation between our two countries—More specifically, between France and the southeastern U.S., including Atlanta. Let’s keep it up and see more powerful outcomes come out of this year’s France-Atlanta!

JPEG Message of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

Good evening.

I am pleased to be here today to open France-Atlanta 2012 with His Excellency Francois Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States; Denis Barbet, Consul General of France in Atlanta; Gov. Nathan Deal and Dr. Bud Peterson, President of Georgia Tech.

We in Atlanta are also privileged to have many other distinguished visitors from France including delegates from our sister city, Toulouse, and representations from across Atlanta and the State of Georgia.

Our nation’s connection with France stretches back long before the founding of our own country. In fact, two of our founding fathers – Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson – had a special affection for France. Thomas Jefferson himself once said: "Every man has two countries: his own and France."

With our city’s close relationship with the French consulate general here, working with the Ambassador and other French representatives and businesspeople and having taken several trips to France myself as Mayor of the City of Atlanta … I understand Jefferson’s sentiment.

Indeed, throughout history, the United States and France have been intrinsically tied … to the benefit of both of our nations. And over the past few years, the growing relationship ... in truth, a real partnership … between France and Atlanta has borne great results.

After signing a memorandum of understand last year, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and the airports serving Paris have exchanged best practices and have been working together so global companies can see the benefit of the connection between our two cities.

Our trips to Paris have enabled us to take advantage of their experiences with transportation and general connectivity.

And the partnerships and synergies developed through the Georgia Tech Lorraine campus in Metz, France, is simply too numerous to begin mentioning here.

We are so glad to welcome all of you – from the scientists to the researchers to the government officials to the business leaders to the artists from both of our countries – who are here together for the next two weeks to discuss the latest innovations in their respective fields.

The panel discussions, presentations, seminars, symposia, lectures and workshops across Atlanta promise to inspire, motivate and stir new ideas, developments and partnerships between our city and France.

Our first two France-Atlanta events brought together almost 3,500 participants each year and breathed new life into the ongoing relationship between France and the Southeastern region of the United States.

As everyone here knows, we cherish the strong ties between the nation of France and the city of Atlanta, which over the years has generated numerous cultural, scientific and business ventures. We knew we had to make this an annual event.

What new opportunities this year’s event will bring to both our city and to France? I suppose we will begin to find out today and over the next two weeks.

Again, thank you all for being here in Atlanta and becoming a part of a new wave of enlightenment and empowerment.

JPEG Message of Consul General Denis Barbet

Honorable Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia
Honorable Kasim Reed, Mayor of Atlanta
President Peterson of Georgia Tech
Monsieur l’Ambassadeur
Dear Members of the Consular Corps,
Dear guests,
Dear friends, chers amis,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Mesdames et Messieurs,

It is a tremendous pleasure and a great honor for me to welcome you here this evening for what is my first, since taking over my responsibilities, opening ceremony of France-Atlanta.

This evening, we launch the 3rd edition of this multidisciplinary initiative that is the fruit of long and patient months of work between French and Americans ; The shared will to work together and establish solid partnerships centered on innovative projects between the two sides of the Atlantic is truly the foundation of the successful formula that makes up France-Atlanta. A formula which was recognized, earlier this month, with the prestigious Governor’s International Award in the Education Category.

Last year, the Consulate General of France in Atlanta and the Georgia Institute of Technology co-presented 15 French American scientific, business, cultural and humanitarian events, in cooperation with many other Georgian institutions and with the support of all the French associations in Atlanta. As in 2010, this series of events attracted high profile participants, and a large audience of almost 3500 people.

The Consulate general of France in Atlanta and Georgia Tech are happy to co-present this year a program that is just as diverse and innovative as ever. From October 25 to November 10, 2012, Atlanta will enjoy :

- Two scientific symposia : one will be dedicated to robotics and optoelectronics and will conclude with the implementation of new industrial partnerships with the Lafayette Institute and the Georgia Tech Lorraine – CNRS Unité Mixte Internationale. The other symposium will unite high level doctors and scientists from the Toulouse CHU and Emory Medical School with the objective of consolidating collaborations between Emory University, Georgia Tech and the Great Toulouse Hospital.

- Three business workshops will enable French and American experts and businessmen to discuss business opportunities in the nuclear industry after last year’s Fukushima disaster, to discuss the latest developments regarding water management and to promote Sustainable Development in the Airport Areas International Seminar. In fact, the second edition of the sustainable airport areas will take place with elected officials from the Paris Region, representatives from Hubstart Paris and Paris Airport together with representatives from the City of Atlanta, Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and Invest Atlanta.

Five cultural events will be organized in the disciplines of dance with performances by Pierre Rigal, photography with Pierre Gonnord, music with 2 jazz concerts with Raphaël Imbert, cinema with the Bronze Lens Film Festival, and theatre with a tour of the local Theatre du Rêve in local high schools.

Finally, four humanitarian events will take place putting the focus on overcoming Urban Poverty and raising awareness among young people about international humanitarian issues. I would like to illustrate here the spirit of partnership and exchange that exists in France-Atlanta with this cross initiative to have volunteers participate in the construction of a house destined for a family in need. On September 28, American volunteers completed a similiar initiative in Thionville (in the French region of Lorraine). 40 French volunteers will show this same gesture of solidarity here in Atlanta on November 3.

This program would not have been possible without the full support of the American authorities and the involvement of our American partners in Georgia. I would like to thank, in particular, Governor Nathan Deal as well as the Mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, for their support in favor of the France-Atlanta initiative. I’d like to give a special thanks to President Peterson for his personal involvement as well as his entire team for their professionalism and great availability.

I would also like to thank the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Rialto Center for the Arts, the Savannah College of Art and Design, Emory University, the Bronze Lens Film Festival, Care, the Carter Center, Habitat for Humanity, Peace Corps, for helping us organize particular events in the framework of France-Atlanta.

I am also very grateful to the French and the French American communities in Atlanta: Alliance Française, Association Ensemble, Atlanta-Accueil, Atlanta-Toulouse Sister Cities Committee, Ecole du Samedi, Entreprise Rhône Alpes International, the French-American Chamber of Commerce, the French Society, the French Heritage Society, the French Senior Trade Advisors Association, Théâtre du Rêve and Ubifrance.

I would like to add my warm thanks to the personnel of the Consulate General for their dedication and professionalism. Please allow me to also render homage to our colleagues who left Atlanta this summer, beginning with my predecessor Pascal Le Deunff, who was at the origin of this superb initiative in Atlanta.

Finally, I cannot conclude without expressing my deepest appreciation and gratitude to the sponsors of France-Atlanta 2012, without which, such an event could not be organized.

I wish to acknowledge, first and foremost, the the Honorable Anne Cox Chambers, the successful joint venture Delta-Air France KLM, the Coca-Cola Company, Banta Immigration Law, Aramark Refreshment Service and finally, of course, the hotel Melia Atlanta, who has welcomed us for this evening’s ceremony in this fantastic setting that showcases Atlanta.

Thank you for your presence and your amiable attention./.


Credit photos @Robert Combier -

Last modified on 07/07/2016

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