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French-language summit boasts high numbers

Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has stressed the importance of a summit of French-speaking nations to be held on the shores of Lake Geneva next weekend.

She said the meeting in Montreux – bringing together 70 countries representing 870 million people worldwide – was an excellent opportunity for networking and debates on current issues, including global governance, sustainable development, food security and climate change.

Calmy-Rey praised the Francophonie summit as “a space to promote human rights, democracy and development”.

She also underlined that the three-day event, which is preceded by ministerial meetings, was significant for the whole of Switzerland, a multilingual country with a German-speaking majority.

“The French culture is always part of the Swiss identity and the summit is a chance to consider the French tradition of our country,” Calmy-Rey said at a news conference in Bern on Monday.

Parliament approved a budget of SFr30 million ($31 million) for the event and about 5,000 troops have been deployed to guarantee security.

Switzerland will chair the International Organisation of Francophonie (IOF) over the next two years. The IOF is based in Paris and has four permanent representations, including one in Geneva. There are about 200 million French speakers around the world.

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