Fondation Jacques Chirac draws the best

President Macron ad-libed for half an hour on the theme of peace in the Middle East and communication between people. Omar Abi Azar, Marc Ladreit de Lacharrière, Claude Chirac, Alain Juppé, Christine Albanel, Rakel Dink with the interpreter and Michel Camdessus

As usual, Emmanuel Macron was fifteen minutes late, but then he is the President of the Republic and everyone got up to applaud him when he entered the théâtre Levi- Strauss at Musée du Quai Branly. The occasion was the Prize giving ceremony for President Chirac’s foundation to two Middle Eastern associations who work for peace, one in Turkey and one in Lebanon.

Mrs Rakel Dink and her associate receiving the Prize for prevention of conflicts

As Jacques and Bernardette Chirac could not attend for health reasons, their daughter Claude  Chirac introduced the ceremony and she was incredibly impressive on her sexy high heel suede boots. She started out thanking President Macron for his humanism and went on to describe the 1.5 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon (a quarter of the population of the country) and  introduced the work of Omar Abi Azar, a 34 year old actor and theatre director, who created Collectif Zoukak, a company that teaches drama and acting in refugee camps. The members of the theater company were themselves born in war time Lebanon and found that acting was the best way to collect the fragments of their own torn history. They were awarded the Cultural Prize for Peace cofunded by Fondation Culture et Diversité.

The Chirac Prize for prevention of conflicts was awarded to a Turkish foundation created by the widow of Hrant Dink, a journalist assassinated eight years ago. She devotes her time preventing hatred between Turks, Armenians and Aziri people, organises exchanges between the civil societies of minorities in Turkey. Another speaker, Doctor Gentilini talked about the Cotonou agreements signed by President Chirac  concerning the danger of fake medicine. 10 % of medicine in the world are counterfeit and up to 70% in Central Africa. They concern aids, paludism and tuberculosis medicine. One of the young members of the Fondation Chirac, Quentin Duteil, is a doctor specializing in this subject. I was by chance sitting next to Doctor Philippe Dauzet, who runs CHMP, a quality control lab in Clermont Ferrand. It was fascinating to discuss the issue with him.

Claude Chirac was celebrated by every speaker

Former Prime minister Alain Juppé made everyone cry when he mentioned President Chirac and President Macron spent a long time addressing personal words to each laureate. He also mentioned that Louvre Abu Dhabi, which was recently inaugurated, had been initiated by President Chirac and saluted the great care and dignity that Claude Chirac gives to her ailing parents. He talked about Lebanon, whose Prime minister Saad Hariri recently transited in Paris between Saudi Arabia and Beyrouth. And his very special boyish charm was used extensively into making everyone feel that he was their intimate friend. He is impressive in that he seems very natural and was conversing as if we were ten (and not four hundred) in the room.

Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, former minister of culture and Marie Hélène Bérard, treasurer of the Chirac foundation

The assembly was very brilliant with former ministers Védrine, Raffarin, Toubon, Debré, Albanel, Breton,  Donnedieu de Vabres, Baroin…. The actual minister of Justice, Nicole Belloubet, and the minister of environment Nicolas Hulot. Publicity king Jacques Séguéla, Line Renaud,  photographer Yann Arthus Bertrand, Maryvonne Pinault were present with  many ambassadors including Catherine Colonna ambassador to OECD.

Hubert Védrine, former Foreign secretary

For a very official ceremony, there was an incredible degree of intimacy and of friendship due to Jacques Chirac’s personnality. Many members of the public had worked with him including the President of the Museum, Stéphane Martin and Christine Albanel who represented the Orange foundation. Every year, when Jacques and Bernadette Chirac  attended, the ceremony was fun and very « sympathique ».  This year again, Emmanuel Macron kept a level of generosity and affection. I felt blessed to have been invited by the treasurer of the Chirac Foundation Marie Hélène Bérard !

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