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September 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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The French goverment is fully supporting Fiji's move towards democracy, says Jules Irrmann, the new Deputy Head of Mission to the French Embassy in Suva.

Irrmann, who arrived into the country last month, in his first media briefing on Thursday said Fiji needs to be encouraged to stay on the path towards democracy.

“Our role is also to encourage and facilitate the interaction between the French territories and their regional partners, and I intend to do my best in assisting our Ambassador Gilles Montagnier and his team to do so."

"I  am very happy that the New Caledonian Government decided to invite Fiji to be Chief Guest at the 3rd Foire du Pacifique (Pacific Fair) in Noumea (4-7 October)," he said.

Jules also acknowledged the contribution of the media in the development of Pacific Island Countries (PIC).

"Its very important to maintain good relations with all stakeholders in the region and the media plays an important role in development  in terms of passing over information to the grassroot level people."

"The French government has a lot of policies in place to help the Pacific to grow and develop and will be ready to assist further in future."

"We have many projects across the Pacific and are trying to equip people with knowledge and training. Currently there are 60 projects in the Pacific with the major ones being the solar energy project at the University of the South Pacific  and the protection of coral reef barriers."

"We are also heavily involved with youth projects and 35 students from the Wallis and Futuna are doing their internship with well known Fiji hardware company Vinod Patel."

"The French goverment works closely with Fiji, Tonga, Nauru, Kiribati and Tuvalu and assists in as many projects possible."

"I also want to stress the importance of cultural immersion which includes work being carried out through the Alliance Française de Suva with the constant support of the Embassy.

“Learning each others languages is an important part of regional integration and I was very pleased to learn that through the Alliance Française, the University of the South Pacific and our other partners, there are some 600 people
currently learning currently French in Fiji”, he stated.

Irrmann, who has worked at the French Embassy in Tokyo for the last 7 years spent the last 4 years heading the Embassy’s Communication and Domestic Policy Section.

He replaces Mrs. Jacqueline Lorelle, who has since returned to France. He will be in Fiji for the next 3 with his wife and two children.

By Reginald Chandar

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