France has announced that New Caledonian Armed Forces will be expanded in a significant overhaul that Vanuatu will feel the effects of, as they will also enhance a forward presence in civil security to train, equip and enable Vanuatu to respond on time, right here.

The statement was made by the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, during his official speech on his visit in Vanuatu last week.

“We have contributed to building the University of Vanuatu, which must be a first step in an even more ambitious project. What we want to support now is, in a way, a Pacific education program, which would expand to the entire Indo-Pacific.

“Students in the region must be able to enhance their university course with an experience abroad, and be able to grasp every opportunity that this common area offers.

“That is why France wants to create, with you and all the governments that will join in this initiative, first of all, an Oceanian programme for student mobility,” said the President.

He stated that in order to preserve complete sovereignty, France also seeks to promote cross-cultural, intellectual, and scientific contacts. He said that the nation should be proud of the students, scientists, researchers, and business people who support the State institutions, without which wealth and fulfilment would be impossible.

“The second thing that we want to make progress in, and we support the government of New Caledonia for this, is a trade agreement that will help strengthen commercial ties and integration in the region,” President said.

However, the programme would allow exchanges and exchange years between students of the region and would involve French universities in New Caledonia and French Polynesia, those in Vanuatu, and those in all the States in the region that would like to join the initiative.

The French Agency for Development (AFD) will re-engage in the Pacific and commit €200 billion (US$220 billion) to the region, five times more than in the previous period and much more than France has ever done.

AFD is a group funds that supports and accelerates the transition to a fairer and more sustainable world, focusing on climate, biodiversity, peace, education, urban development, health and governance.

“We are also going to open a presence of the AFD here, and we are going to re-engage through direct financing of the infrastructure you need.

“France will cover the costs of rebuilding the hospital in Melsisi, destroyed by a cyclone. As you will have understood: this solidarity investment, this change in philosophy, is one we will apply here, in Oceania, and hand-in-hand with you,” said President Macron.

The President added the third principle of this re-engage commitment is the climate. Because climate vulnerability exists throughout the Indo-Pacific region, and notably in Oceania, the climate is a foundational element of France strategy.

“It is central to our Indo-Pacific strategy, and it is exactly what we have decided to do in New Caledonia. It is also what I will do in Papua New Guinea (PNG), to preserve biodiversity,” the President said.

The president said the Paris Agenda for Peoples and the Planet for peace is clearly the new basis of the renovation of global consensus and global order in which they are going to apply the philosophy in Vanuatu, most tangibly, as they re-engage.

“But, there too, in a very tangible way, we are going to work alongside you (Vanuatu), by investing in research resources, and means for action.

“What we want to do together here is help you preserve your area and protect you from climate change, and better anticipate it. First, through our military presence to protect the maritime area.

“Next, through our joint action in the climate field. Together, we defended greater protection of the high seas with the BBNJ Treaty. Together, we are committed through a dialogue on which we will make progress today, and through very tangible action,” he said.

The president claimed that France will take action to set up new protected areas, make progress to fight plastic pollution as he knows how much Vanuatu in particular is on the front line in this fight.

However, what Vanuatu and France want together is a legally binding treaty that will allow them to end plastic pollution by 2040, as the President conveyed that they will fight for it and will fight together when France hosts the 2025 United Nations Ocean Conference, which French will jointly be chairing with Costa Rica.

“Together, we will make historic decisions to protect the natural areas that are as yet preserved from exploitation, starting with, and I thank you for this, the deep seabed. France is committed to banning deep seabed mining, and I know that here too, I can count on you by our sides on this matter,” Mr. Macron said.

“On all these points, from reforming the international financial architecture, to biodiversity of the high seas, the deep seabed, and the fight against plastic.”

All of this will form what the President is launching together with the Prime Minister, which is a call to the international community, or the “Ifira Call”.

This Ifira Call is a commitment made together to drive the strength of this climate pillar, which is central to Oceanians and Indo-Pacific strategy.

When President Macron arrived at the Prime Minister’s office, PM Kalsakau greeted him in French, which really touched him.

“I think that it is essential and it will allow us to make progress. I will conclude, Prime Minister, by saying that, within these exchanges, there is the strength of Francophonie.

“Earlier, you showed me a sign of friendship by welcoming me in French, and I know how dedicated you have been recently, particularly with our Alliance Française, and that really touches me. I want to thank you for that.

“Your cousin, the great chief who welcomed me with a customary message, did so in a deeply moving French, this man whose father welcomed General de Gaulle 57 years ago,” the President revealed during his official speech.

He added this tie is not just one of the past: it is one of the future as he wishes to take this moment, while talking about regional exchanges, to tell Vanuatu how powerful his presence is, that everyone is all here together in this format.

“France is one, indivisible and pluralist. And you know, this France that may seem so distant to you, several thousand kilometers from here, was built on two things: The French State, which subjected not tribes but dukes and other powers that competed with that of the king, through its military presence and tax system; and language,” President Macron said.

“I am delighted to be with you today in Port Vila, happy to be here in Vanuatu, 57 years after General de Gaulle, happy to come here and acknowledge a difficult past, but open a chapter for the future that is ambitious, strong, and proactive, and do it with them.

“A France that stands tall in its diversity, and which is united in its full sovereignty, and which wants to address the challenges of today and tomorrow with you: challenges in the fields of geopolitics, the climate, culture, science, creation, and education, with respect, ambition and generosity,” he said.