BANQUET IN HONOUR OF PRESIENT
CHARLES DE GAULLE
Mr. President, Madame de Gaulle,
Historians, in reciting the events of the Twentieth Century, will recognize among the leaders of our time a few men whose energy, resolution and deep understanding of events have caused them to control and direct the very destiny of mankind. We and all Ethiopians are proud and honoured to have in Our presence tonight such a leader. This evening, as Ethiopia salutes one of the great men of this century and one of the great spokesmen of French culture and civilization of any century. Our esteemed and honoured friend, President Charles de Gaulle. We extend to you Mr. President, and to Madame de Gaulle, Our heartfelt greetings, and We reaffirm the warm admiration which the magnificent accomplishments of your inimitable and glorious career so justly merit.
The world well remembers the valiant and ultimately successful struggle which you led to the restoration of France’s birthright of freedom and independence. The epic resistance of the French people to foreign domination and the saga of their heroism and sacrifice in the cause of their historic liberties constitute a glorious chapter in the rich pages of French history. In subsequent years, the strength, the foresight and purpose which you have brought to the French Government have surmounted immense obstacles and opposition to retain and add new dignity to the splendid name of France. The position which France has assumed in world affairs in the recent past under Your Excellency’s far-sighted leadership has heartened all those who are committed to the principles of national independence and self-determination. The nations of Africa are among the most ardent proponents of these great doctrines which were enshrined first in the Charter of the United Nations Organization and later again in the Charter of our own Organization of African Unity. The past decade has been the time of the great unleashing of the long-restrained energies and genius of this vast continent. As the result of long and diligent efforts, the independence of most of our brethren here has been accomplished. In the course of the struggles which have been waged the values of nation-hood and of national and cultural pride firmly imbedded in African soil.
Comrades In Struggle
France and Ethiopia today stand fast in friendship and understanding, and there are good and sufficient reasons why this should be so. Our wartime experiences constitute one such reason. We too have suffered the pains of struggle. Our people have earned through blood and tears the deep satisfaction gained with the restoration of a cherished and ancient independence. A contingent of the Free French Forces participated successfully during the struggle to liberate our country. Our nation has been tested and tempered with the cruel knowledge of experience and has emerged wiser and stronger for what she has undergone.
France and Ethiopia are convinced that the fundamental problems of our world such as Vietnam can only receive a collective solution resulting from the expression and the contribution of all nations.
The origin of relations between Ethiopia and France goes back far beyond the years of the great struggle against the invader. The relations between our two countries date from the beginning of the seventeenth century. It is true that at that time, the means of communication between Ethiopia and France did not facilitate the establishment of continuous relations.
Nevertheless, as from 1843, a Treaty of Friendship and of Commerce concluded between King Sahle-Selassie and your official representative, acting in the name of Louis-Philippe, King of France, was signed at Angolala.
This treaty – preceded by half a century of other similar treaties – was the inauguration of the policy of co-operation of contemporary Ethiopia.
Ethiopia’s first modern link with the outside world, the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railroad, was developed and constructed with French support. The continuing co-operation of our two countries in the successful joint administration of this critical transportation route bears witness to their capacities to work together fruitfully and has been indispensable to the nation’s burgeoning development. The achievements of French culture were of immense significance in creating the basis for modem Ethiopian education. French scholars have brought their keen intellects to the study of our own ancient culture. French teachers have brought knowledge of the beauties of the French language and the glories of French civilization to the enquiring minds of generations of Ethiopian students.
Today, as Ethiopia moves ever more quickly forward into the technical and industrial civilization of our times, French co-operation and assistance will be more than ever necessary in accelerating and supporting Our nation’s achievements. The conclusion of a technical and cultural assistance agreement between our two countries assures Us that this assistance will be forthcoming.
In reciting these evidences of friendship We are reminded with pleasure of the generosity and candour of the French people which We everywhere observed on the occasion of Our memorable reception in France during Our visits. We are pleased now to be able to demonstrate to you, Mr. President, and through you to the French people, the depth and the sincerity of the friendship which Ethiopia holds for those who come in peace and with understanding. We are proud to have this occasion to explain to you something of the glories, the traditions and the culture of Our unique and ancient land and people.
We believe that through the exchange of views that will take place new ground will be laid whereon our peoples shall move onward arm in arm to the accomplishment in mutual sympathy of great new tasks.
In the spirit of comradeship which warms this evening, We ask all assembled here to raise your glasses and join with Us in this toast.
To the French culture and civilization; to the history of friendship and understanding between the French and Ethiopian peoples; to the leadership and heroism of an outstanding statesman of our time, President Charles de Gaulle and to Madame de Gaulle.
Aug. 27, 1966.
Selected Speeches of His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie – page 144 –