BRITISH AMBASSADOR John Buck and French counterpart, Patrick Gautrat, celebrated the centenary of the Entente Cordiale between France and Britain recently.
Despite recent disagreements over Iraq, the two nations have succeeded in maintaining reasonably warm relations since Edward VII made a state visit to France in 1904, making a huge impression on the French people. Today, 100 years on, the Entente has developed into a rich and diverse diplomatic and cultural relationship well beyond its political origins and the point was made by both ambassadors that “there is a lot more that unites us than divides us.”
Ambassador Buck said, at a cocktail party in the Water Museum, that the relationship was important for both countries, given “our key roles in the European Union, the United Nations Security Council and NATO.”
The French ambassador said: “Basically, we are very close and the French Prime Minister Mr. Jacques Chirac was in the UK a couple of weeks ago for a very successful visit. We have a lot of links, of course we differ on certain issues, but Iraq is now behind us and we have the same goals.”
Ambassador Gautrat added that with regards to Europe there were many points on which the two countries agreed. “It is not a diplomatic answer but a truthful one when I say that relations between us are basically good,” he underlined.
Ambassador Buck added: “It seems to me that relations between France and Britain are close geographically, there are a myriad links between the two countries, not just between governments, but in business, tourism and sports. It is probably as close a relationship that we have with France than we have with any other country.”