Catherine Colonna to diplomats: “You have all my confidence”

The new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Catherine Colonna, assured the diplomats on Saturday of all her “confidence” at a time when the Quai d’Orsay is going through a crisis, during the handover of power with her predecessor Jean-Yves Le Drian, warmly praised by his teams.

“Let’s all get to work together”

In a brief speech, Ms Colonna, former ambassador to London, addressed the diplomats: “My message is clear. We need each and every one of you. You can count on me to never forget or who I am or where I’m from, you have my full trust,” she said.

Ms. Colonna, a career diplomat renowned for her professionalism, arrives in a ministry plagued by unease due to a reform providing for the end of the prestigious diplomatic corps by 2023. A call for a strike has been launched for the 2 June by six unions and a group of 400 young diplomats.

“Let’s all get to work together,” she told her teams in a speech where she did not mention the international crises.

She assured that she would carry out her mission with “humility, determination and conviction”, and expressed all her “recognition” and her “deep esteem” for her predecessor Jean-Yves Le Drian, in office for ten years, five years at La Défense and five years at the Quai d’Orsay. “You have been a very great minister,” she told him.

The emotion of Jean-Yves Le Drian

The latter, moved, spoke of the crises he had faced, the war in Ukraine, Brexit, the jihadist threat, and a world “in the process of brutalization”.

“It is with great emotion that I am about to leave this beautiful house,” he said, very warmly and applauded for a long time by the staff present at the handover.

In his farewell speech, Mr. Le Drian allowed himself the luxury of sending a scathing message to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, defeated in the legislative elections on Saturday. This defeat “suits me very well”, declared Mr. Le Drian, castigating the “cynicism”, the “brutality” and the “incompetence” at the origin of a masterful diplomatic quarrel between Paris and Canberra.

Mr. Morrison had broken last September a gigantic contract for the sale of French submarines preferring them Anglo-American submarines with nuclear propulsion.

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