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Laurent Fabius Holds Reception for Hillary Clinton in Paris

Publié le July 9, 2014
Foreign Minister Speaks on Mrs. Clinton’s Work as U.S. Secretary of State
Paris, July 7, 2014

My dear Hillary, I wanted to tell you how extremely pleased we are to have you here at the Ministry, which is familiar to you. You’ve come here to present your book, and I’m sure it will be a very great success. It’s been a pleasure for me – along with our friends present and a number of predecessors you worked with too – to welcome you for this really friendly discussion, because – even though this will embarrass you – you’re both an altogether remarkable woman and a friend of Europe and France.

A remarkable woman; there’s no need to go on about this at length. What’s always struck me is that you don’t often take for yourself the posts you’ve held and the positions you’ve adopted, you take them so that women genuinely have an increasingly important role in global society. That’s really something extremely important. I was also always struck, during the too short a time I worked with you, by what in plain French is called “leadership”. What’s more, there is no word to translate this into excellent French, but it’s true to say that this leadership is very impressive both due to your skills and because you have a natural authority which means that when you speak, everyone listens, and very often everyone follows.

I wanted to congratulate you on that. In one bit of your book, which I’ve read, I saw in particular that the major issues you wanted to get involved in include the climate. I really would be delighted if you were to continue this. As you know, here in Paris next year we’re going to be welcoming the global climate conference and we need every form of support, especially yours.

What also strikes me, aside from this leadership, is your friendship for Europe and France. When you talk about the relations between Europe and the United States, I remember, Hillary, what I think is a charming song. I believe you learned this song when you were a girl scout.
“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, the other is gold.” I think that’s nice, and you add: “for America, our alliance with Europe is worth more than gold”.

It says everything, and I think this approach to things is the one we like. So let’s adopt it and forget about the famous French saying: “Qui aime bien châtie bien” [“Spare the rod and spoil the child”].

I want to end these few words by telling you that I was very impressed by what you say about your international experience and you describe extremely well the balance between idealism and realism experienced by those who have exercised the responsibility of foreign minister. To quote you: “There are times when we do have to make difficult compromises. Our challenge is to be clear-eyed about the world as it is while never losing sight of the world as we want it to become. That’s why I don’t mind that I’ve been called both an idealist and a realist. I prefer being considered an idealistic realist”. I think that’s exactly how many foreign ministers – at any rate it’s the case for me – see their action in the international sphere.

Those are the reasons, chère Hillary, working constantly with President Obama and our friend John Kerry, that I’m extremely pleased to welcome you this evening. I know a few years ago that there was a cover – I believe it was for Time magazine – with two boxes accompanying your photo: a “love her” box and another, different box. Here, there’s only the first box.

And we know that the best is yet to come. So, welcome, we’re pleased to be with you./.


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