Related topics

Summit Ends With Call For Solidarity

September 4, 1987

QUEBEC (AP) _ The second summit of French-speaking countries ended Friday with a call for solidarity and a denial by Canada and France that they were rivals for leadership among the francophone nations.

The diverse group of 37 nations agreed to meet again in Dakar, Senegal, in March 1989.

Abdou Diouf, president of the West African nation, said he hoped for victory in February 1988 elections so he can play host to the next session.

In his closing speech, host Prime Minister Brian Mulroney acknowledged ″disparities and imbalances″ among the countries from five continents, from France and Belgium to Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Vietnam, with 134 million French speakers.

But he said La Francophonie, first assembled in Paris last year, had evolved already into ″a major forum of political and economic coordination and cooperation.″

″Canada’s ultimate hope is that it would be able to play the same role eventually in La Francophonie as we’ve been able to play over the years in the Commonwealth,″ he said.

Press comment was mixed about the unsensational summit, and columnist Jeffrey Simpson of the Toronto Globe and Mail said the ″bizarre assortment of leaders″ from ″a dog’s breakfast of countries″ found little in common.

The group did agree several development projects, the wealthy nations pledged more than $50 million in aid to the poor, and participants backed resolutions calling for an international peace conference on the Middle East and continued economic and political pressure on South Africa to end apartheid.

Many observers saw the $8 million conference as a rivalry between France and bilingual Canada in vying for influence with developing francophone nations.

But French President Francois Mitterrand told a closing news conference that his country took ″its rightful role″ of leadership because it originated the French language and culture.

Although lacking the unifying force of the British political system, the Francophonie organization is referred to as the French Commonwealth and the parallel grew when summit nations agreed to stage the first Francophone Games in 1989, probably in Morocco.

There was one less country Friday because the president of Burundi, Jean- Baptiste Bagaza, slipped out of Quebec City Thursday and flew to Nairobi via Paris after he was deposed by the army in his central African republic.

The 800-strong news media contingent, kept out of the closed-door talks and prevented from covering the leaders’ voyage on the St. Lawrence River in an icebreaker Thursday afternoon, concentrated their questions on possible rivalry between France and Canada in the francophone movement.

″There is no rivalry. We compliment each other,″ French Foreign Minister Jean-Bernard Raimond said after Canada had announced $13 million in new aid to French-speaking Africa.

But French officials later stressed they would put $33.6 million into projects authorized by the summit in the next year.

Earlier, when Canada announced it was canceling $247 million in debts owed by seven African francophone countries, the French put the gesture in context by pointing out that French-speaking Africa owes Paris $3.6 billion.

France provides 25 percent of aid to developing countries in Africa, compared to 3 percent from Canada, French officials said.

Although Canada was the lone dissenter in an opening day resolution calling for Palestinian self-determination, Mulroney succeeded in smoothly bringing together leaders from countries ranging from Mali to Monaco.

The Francophone Summit only became possible when Mulroney worked out a compromise with the 82-percent French province of Quebec, allowing it to take part as an equal partner on issues of provincial jurisdiction.

Mulroney also found a formula ths year for bringing Quebec into the Canadian Constitution as a ″distinct society″ within the federation.

Update hourly