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Dr. Charles Wessner Made Officer of the French Order of Merit

Publié le September 18, 2012
Speech by Ambassador François Delattre.
French Residence, September 14 2012.

Cher Dr. Charles Wessner,
Chère Madame Wessner,
Cher Alexandre,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s a great pleasure and a true privilege to welcome you tonight to the French Residence as we have gathered here this evening to honor Dr. Charles Wessner, Director of the Program on Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the National Academy of Science. Dr. Wessner is a close and long-time friend of France and he is recognized nationally and internationally for his exceptional expertise on innovation policy.

I would like to extend a warm welcome to Dr. Wessner’s family and friends who have joined us tonight to express their support and admiration. May I recognize William Colglazier, Science and Technology Adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Honorable Jacques Gansler, Ambassador Plaisted and Ambassador Wolff.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The National Order of Merit was created by then – President Charles de Gaulle in 1963 to reward outstanding services rendered to France on the basis of personal merit. It is one of France’s highest distinctions, and the rank of Officer that you are awarded highlights your truly exceptional merits, both in their own right and with regard to France.

It would take too long for me to list them here, obviously, so I will group them into two broad categories: expertise on innovation policy and contributions to international cooperation.

In terms of expertise - and achievements - your very distinguished career speaks for itself. You have served in multiple capacities, starting with the executive branch of the U.S. Government, at the Treasury and later at the Department of Commerce. In between, you held several key positions at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris for nearly 11 years.

In 1994, you went on to share your knowledge at the National Academy of Science, where you have published many authoritative reports on innovation policy, the latest being, - and I quote : “Rising to the Challenge: US Innovation Policy for the Global Economy.”

This title is emblematic of the second characteristic I mentioned earlier: your dedication to international cooperation. The emphasis you put on international comparative analyses and your so many travels around the world definitely qualify you as “citoyen du Monde”, a global citizen.

From France’s perspective, your help has been invaluable in establishing and promoting links between our two countries. At a time when the French-American relationship was strained, back in 2003, you organized a major conference in Paris, attended by our then-Minister of Industry, Nicole Fontaine.

Our government authorities and entrepreneurs have benefited greatly from your analyses. We are very grateful to you for graciously hosting our delegations when they come to Washington, as we are for your participation in key meetings in Paris.

And thanks to you to a large extend, innovation has become France’s number one, number two and number three priority (…)

Your links to France go way back, of course, starting with your undergraduate exchange studies at Sciences Po, your 11-year stint in the City of Light, and most importantly, of course, your wife, Madame Wessner, one of our compatriots, to whom I would also like to pay tribute tonight.

So this evening, France expresses its esteem and its admiration by honoring a leading expert in a field key to both our nations’ competitiveness, a person with great professional and human qualities, who has built many bridges between our two countries. France wishes to recognize a true Francophile and, very simply put, to thank a friend. It is, therefore, with great pleasure that I will bestow upon you the insignia of Officer of the National Order of Merit.

«Dr. Charles Wessner, au nom du Président de la République, nous vous faisons Officier de l’Ordre National du Mérite»

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