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French President François Hollande

French President to visit the Philippines this month

French President François Hollande
French President François Hollande

MANILA, Philippines – The President of the French Republic, François Hollande, will visit the Philippines from February 26 to 27 on the invitation of President Benigno S. Aquino III, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced.
Accompanied by a delegation of over one hundred officials, celebrities and media people, the State Visit is a first by an incumbent President of France to the country since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1947.
President Aquino and President Hollande will discuss various facets of a bilateral relationship that has gained momentum in recent years. They will also exchange views on pressing regional and global issues, including terrorism, which has recently manifested itself in France in the Charlie Hebdo killing spree that claimed the lives of 20 people in the heart of Paris.
Upon arrival, President Hollande will motor straight to Luneta Park to lay a wreath in honor of Jose Rizal. The Philippines’ national hero was inspired by the ideals of the French revolution in 1789 – liberty, equality and fraternity. Rizal wrote the first chapters of El Filibusterismo in Paris.
Aside from shared democratic values, increased economic partnership will be a common objective. France is the Philippines’ 2nd largest trading partner in the European Union (EU) with two-way trade amounting to US$2.39 billion in October 2014. This represented an increase of 24% from the same period of the year before.
President Hollande will use the occasion of his State visit to the Philippines to drum up support for action on climate change.France is hosting the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties or COP21 in Paris in December 2015. It is estimated that about 40,000 stakeholders will attend COP21.
President Hollande’s visit reciprocates President Aquino’s first official visit to France in September 2014. In 1986, France was the first country to recognize the government of President Corazon Aquino under another Socialist President – François Mitterand.
France is the fifth largest economy in the world, and second largest EU economy after Germany. It is a major global investor and a leader in the Francophone world composed of some 40 countries in Africa, Europe and the Americas.France is one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.