WINDHOEK – France will continue to strengthen economic relations with Namibia, despite the ongoing fiscal woes besieging the eurozone, the domestic economic struggle in France, as well as the changes in that county’s politics, said Jean-Louis Zoel the French ambassador to Namibia.
The eurozone faces severe threats of fiscal stability that, along with ongoing measures to contain the risks, place a serious strain on European countries.
France, like with other countries in continental Europe, is battling to restore confidence in its public finances and coupled with a high unemployment rate the country’s leading industries are on the brink of collapse.
In May, the majority of French people voted into power a leftwing government, led by President Francois Hollande, the first Socialist party president to lead France in almost 20 years, replacing the rightwing government of former president Nicolas Sarkozy.
However, Africa and particularly Namibia will remain a priority of French foreign policy, despite heightened financial and economic tensions and the political shift in France, said the French ambassador.
“Relations between France and Namibia are excellent and will remain so, since it is the common wish of the two presidents [President Hifikepunye Pohamba and Hollande] to keep them that way and when possible to strengthen them, especially in the economic field,” said Zoel during the French National Day celebration in Windhoek on Monday.
“These relations are held between heads of state and governments and not between parties, therefore no political shift in France could affect our ties,” explained Zoel.
France’s flagship carmaker Peugeot announced last week that it was going to retrench 8 000 workers in France alone. Peugeot’s decision is in direct contrast to Hollande’s pledge to working class voters during the elections to curb the country’s highest unemployment rate in 12 years, boost the declining industrial sectors and his vow not to introduce agonising belt-tightening fiscal measures similar to those that saw an eruption of massive demonstrations in Italy, Spain and Greece.
“As for the present, there are many challenges facing France, the member states of the European Union, especially the eurozone, with a possible dramatic impact not only for Europe, but also indirectly for much of the rest of the world, including Namibia,” said Zoel.
Even though much still needs to be done and the crisis is not over, European leaders have “reaffirmed, showed and proved their resolute commitment to ensure the stability of the eurozone” during the June 29 meeting, said the French ambassador.