29 January 2013

Cameroon: Both Leaders Seek Reinforced Cooperation

François Hollande and Paul Biya are meeting in the French territory today for the first time.

Relations between Cameroon and France enter a new phase today after the high level Summit at the Elysée Palace between Presidents Paul Biya and François Hollande. After an initial meeting in Kinshasa on the sidelines of the Francophonie last year, the two Statesmen will be meeting today for more detailed and in depth discussions on a wide range of subjects of mutual interest. Bilateral relations between Cameroon and France are obviously a subject of primary concern in meetings of this nature. The long history of relations between the two countries is expected to be given added impetus. At the economic level, the position of France as the first investor in Cameroon will see actions geared towards additional momentum after the Summit today. A President with the huge credentials of political savvy, an apostle of peace and stability is obviously a highly priced guest at the Elysée. The views of the wise man from the central triangle of Africa on all burning issues within and beyond the continent will be highly valued by French authorities. Cameroon's much vaunted diplomacy of peace and its oft-quoted reputation of political stability are highly priced exportable commodities. Any foreign leader meeting the Cameroon President will listen carefully to the words of wisdom.

Waxing Stronger

Shortly after the meeting between the two leaders, the media present at the Elysée will be anxious to get the highlights of the discussions. The format of the "briefing" has not yet been made public but the press corps within the Elysée Palace during the meeting (expected to be in camera) will leave nothing to chance in their quest to pick some scoops. The Elysée tête-à-tête comes ahead of a Cameroon - France economic forum slated for tomorrow. With the theme pegged on a durable economic partnership, the meeting between President Paul Biya and the French business community known by its acronym MEDEF, is expected to facilitate and encourage further French investments in Cameroon. The political and diplomatic relations between the two countries are old, solid and waxing stronger. Said to be rich and diversified thanks to a legal framework, the relations have seen numerous contacts at a high level. Within the last five years, there have been twenty one bilateral meetings. In the same period, we have witnessed seven Summits between the Heads of State of the two countries.

Rich Tradition

Cameroon diplomacy has been effective in general and particularly in its relations with France. Between July 26 and 28, 2006, President Paul Biya was invited for an official visit to France. The intensification of economic cooperation and the re-enforcement of political and military cooperation featured prominently on the agenda of the meeting. In February 15 and 16, 2007, President Paul Biya participated in the France-Africa Summit in Cannes. Another friendly and working visit was in October 2007. He addressed the 34th General Conference of UNESCO and had a tête-à-tête with President Nicolas Sarkozy. An official visit came up from July 21 to 31, 2009 with yet another tête-à-tête at the Elysée Palace with the French President. It was also during this important visit that the President travelled to Bordeaux and later granted numerous audiences to French businessmen.

In June 2010, he actively took part in the 25th France-Africa Summit in Nice. In the same year, July 14, 2010, President Paul Biya participated in the French national day festivities in Paris. On this occasion he pronounced the toast on behalf of invited African Heads of State.

In all these visits and summits, Cameroon diplomacy took the front seat placing the nation in the international hall of fame and fetching much needed foreign investments. Top French officials have also visited Cameroon a number of times within this period. During the Africa 21 Conference in Yaounde, for instance, more than seven top French officials including Jean Louis Borloo, Michel Rocard, Michel Roussin and Alain Joyandant amongst others were in attendance. In June/July, 2011, Henri De Raincourt was in Yaounde to sign the second generation of the C2D of over CFA 213 billion francs. From October 22 to 24, 2012, General Toutous Jean Jacques was in Cameroon. Although this list is not exhaustive, it must be stressed that the French guests have always been received in audience by President Paul Biya. All the visits by both partners, strive to reinforce and improve political and economic relations between the two countries. The tête-à-tête between Presidents Paul Biya and François Hollande today is therefore a continuation of a solid tradition to consistently intensify and strengthen bilateral relations between Cameroon and France.

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