Adonis Diaries

Archive for August 10th, 2010

“French diplomats” by Frank Renault

This book on French diplomacy and ambassadors is of 350 pages.

France has currently 160 embassies, 27 multilateral representations, 98 consular posts, and 154 cooperative services and cultural actions in the 192 recognized States around the world.

France is just behind the USA in official representations, but has a small Foreign Affairs ministry of only 16,000 jobs:  5,700 are employed directly by the ministry. The education ministry employs over one million public servants and the Justice four times more than the Foreign Affairs ministry. The budget of the Foreign Affairs ministry is around 5 billion Euros, including the 2.6 billions in public aids administered by the ministry. The French Foreign Affairs ministry has been undergoing modernization in the last ten years (read severe budget cuts).

For example, Ambassadors are vehemently encouraged to seek private donations and private industry sponsors to celebrating the 14th of July French Revolution.  There are two parties during that National celebration; lunch for around 300 of the local celebrities and politicians of the State and the evening celebration for the French expatriates.  Well, money lacks for the evening event and the common French have to eat home before converging to the ambassador’s residence for any fireworks.

Maybe the European Union would designate a single yearly National Day and save on the expenses for each State performing their private arrogant colonial expansionist remembrance.

For example, in order to make ends meet out of the cuts in salaries, ambassadors and employees at embassies acquire imaginative embezzlement mentality. The ambassador invites faked guests to his luncheons and dinner parties; furniture and work of arts are replicated by master artisans and the original are sold. Many diplomates used their diplomatic valises to moving hard drugs and secret documents spying for other governments.

The famous porcelain vases made in Seve are highest on the list of  the most common “displaced” of pieces (French diplomacy invented the verb “adirer” to mean displaced and not accounted for).  In France, there is this department that stocks items to be distributed to various ministries and called “Mobilier national” or National Furniture; its records show that it received 93,000 pieces from the factory in Seve;  the Mobilier inventoried only 20,000 in 2007.  One out of five rare pieces decorating French embassies are declared adirer.  A high level diplomat counseled a new recruit: “If you discover the young secretary steeling than most probably she is the ambassador mistress.”

Most ambassadors empty the wine cave and do not leave a single bottle to their successors, who have to reply on their “representation expense account” to replenish the cave.

In 2008, Foreign Affairs ministry instituted a crisis center to come to aid the two million French citizens established in foreign lands.  It had become evident that crisis and catastrophes are increasing dramatically from volcano eruptions, earthquakes, civil wars, airplane crashes and kidnapping for ransom.

The prime Minister appoints an ambassador for each major catastrophes to be the main coordinator with the government; for example during the earthquake in Haiti or a plane crash boarded mostly by French citizens or the repatriation of French expatriates from disaster plagued countries.  Thus, when you hear your government ordering you not to visit certain countries, you must comprehend that the government is unhappy to pay the expenses of securing boats and planes to bring you home.

The budget of the current Foreign Affairs ministry is about 5 billion Euros, and half of it is earmarked for obligatory foreign aids that the ministry is in charge of distributing.  Thus, if a few of these aids are delayed then, most probably, the ministry is experiencing serious urgent small cash liquidity problems.

Bernard Kouchner is trying to concentrate the French cultural centers overseas in order to cut expenses; and after several foiled attempts because of the aversion of the French diplomats of losing power, Kouchner ended up with only a name “French Institute“, though he preferred “Institute of Victor Hugo” to emulating the German “Goethe Institute“, Spanish “Cervantes Institute“, the Chinese “Confucius Institute” and the “British Council“.

Cultural centers are the “soft power” or diplomacy of influence of the developed States.  France has 144 cultural centers, 1,007 French Alliances, 461 French high schools, 154 cooperative services, and 27 institutes for research  overseas.

In “The Ambassadors”,  Roger Peyrefitte wrote: “We are the last of the Feudal Medieval classes of knights and lords:  We enjoy vast privileges in exemptions, immunity, and franchises and we lead the life style of the most favored citizens all around the world.” If given choices overseas, diplomats would select the location with the highest “residency remuneration“:  This extra money is considered as money saved in the bank and can be used to invest in their Real Estates properties in France.  Category A of diplomats can expect remunerations reaching over 20,000 Euro per month.

For example, the ambassador to Salvador pockets around 18, 400 Euro, next ranks Lebanon around 18, 200, then the ambassador to Iran 17, 700 Euro.  Ambassadors to European States receive less than 10,000 Euro.

An ambassador reported that: “If an ambassador does not dispose of enough means (read financial resources) his level of anxiety cannot be compared to the common people. He feels that he is lacking the clear mind to function properly and represent his nation accordingly.” (more on successive updates)


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