Friday, May 31, 2024
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Brunei Town

Celebrating decades of friendship

James Kon

Brunei and France are long-standing friends whose bilateral political relations date back to the beginning of the Sultanate’s independence, lauded French Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Bernard Regnauld-Fabre in his remarks at the French National Day celebration at the Rizqun International Hotel yesterday.

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Pengiran Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha attended as the guest of honour, who later joined a cake-cutting with the ambassador to mark the occasion.

Fabre said, “Diplomatic relations (between Brunei Darussalam and France) were established in 1984, and the French Embassy was opened in 1986 with a resident ambassador in Bandar Seri Begawan. I am the 11th resident ambassador to Brunei. Meanwhile, the Sultanate opened its embassy in Paris in 1991. France has shown a strong interest in the establishment and development of dynamic and diversified economic relations. In the energy sector, Elf-Aquitaine, which later became Total and now Total Energies, signed major oil and gas exploration and production contracts.”

He also noted that another flagship of French industry established in Brunei for many years is Thales, which holds a pre-eminent position in the field of radar coverage of Berakas airport.

For the last 30 years, he said, “Our countries have been associated in the joint creation and development of what has become one of the most important banks in Brunei, Baiduri Bank, and has long had an identity influenced by its Franco-Bruneian birth.”

Minister of Transport and Infocommunications Pengiran Shamhary bin Pengiran Dato Paduka Haji Mustapha and French Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam Bernard Regnauld-Fabre during the cake-cutting. PHOTO: JAMES KON

In the field of defence, he said, “Relations are long-standing, fruitful and promising. MBDA has been delivering Exocet and Mistral missiles to the Royal Brunei Navy for over 30 years.

Armoured vehicles are operating at the Royal Brunei Land Forces. France has actively participated in the training of the cadets at the Defence Military Academy in the maritime field.”

The ambassador also mentioned two relays of influence and cooperation that are of particular importance for France in Brunei – The Alliance Française, chaired by Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Laila Diraja Dato Seri Setia Haji Hazair, former Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports, which just celebrated its 35th anniversary, and the French Bruneian Business Association (FBBA), which has been in existence for over 20 years and brings over 70 French, Bruneian, Malaysian and Singaporean business leaders together.”

On political and diplomatic relations, Fabre said, “Our countries have cultivated relations at the highest level for decades and I think I can safely say that His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, met with all French presidents for over 40 years, in bilateral or multilateral settings. “Last May, a delegation of four French senators, led by the Chairman of the Southeast Asia Committee, was in Bandar Seri Begawan for bilateral consultations. “