CHIRAC SOUNDS ALARM OVER ONE-LANGUAGE CULTURE

CHIRAC SOUNDS ALARM OVER ONE-LANGUAGE CULTURE

HANOI, NOV 14 (REUTERS) – FRENCH PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC SAID ON FRIDAY THAT THE WORLD COULD END UP SPEAKING AND THINKING THE SAME WAY UNLESS NATIONS FIGHT TO PRESERVE THEIR LINGUISTIC AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY, ESPECIALLY ON THE INTERNET.
"OUR JOINT COMBAT WILL ALLOW US TO AVERT THE RISK OF A WORLD WHERE SPEECH, THOUGHT AND CREATIVITY COMES FROM THE SAME MOULD," HE TOLD THE OPENING CEREMONY OF A FRANCOPHONE SUMMIT IN HANOI.
"THIS RISK OF UNIFORMISATION AND IMPOVERISHMENT EXISTS," HE SAID. "WE SHOULD NOTE, WITHOUT BEING DEFEATIST, JUST HOW MUCH THIS RISK IS AGGRAVATED BY THE PREPONDERANCE OF JUST ONE LANGUAGE IN MODERN MEANS OF COMMUNICATION."
HE WAS SPEAKING TO LEADERS AND REPRESENTATIVES OF THE 47 MEMBER AND TWO OBSERVER COUNTRIES OF LA FRANCOPHONIE, A LOOSE ASSOCIATION OF STATES "WHICH HAVE THE FRENCH LANGUAGE IN COMMON".
HOWEVER, OF THE ROUGHLY 450 MILLION PEOPLE EMBRACED BY LA FRANCOPHONIE, ONLY ABOUT 160 MILLION USE FRENCH AS THEIR FIRST OR SECOND LANGUAGE.
THAT PUTS FRENCH IN NINTH PLACE IN TERMS OF NUMBER OF SPEAKERS, WITH CHINESE, ENGLISH, HINDI AND SPANISH THE MOST
POPULAR.
WARMING TO A FAVOURITE THEME, CHIRAC SAID LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY ON THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY SHOULD BE BOTH DEFENDED AND IMPOSED.
"FRANCOPHONE TEXT, SOUND AND IMAGES MUST BE MASSIVELY PRESENT THERE," HE SAID, ANNOUNCING THAT FRANCE WOULD PUT 20 MILLION FRANCS ($3.45 MILLION) INTO A SPECIAL FUND CREATED BY FRANCO#PHONE NATION MINISTERS EARLIER THIS YEAR TO MEET THAT OBJECTIVE.
THE "WEB" IS OFFICIALLY KNOWN IN FRANCE BY THE FRENCH NAME "TOILE". BUT MANY, AND POSSIBLY MOST LOCAL COMPUTER ENTHUSIASTS, NONETHELESS CALL IT "LE WEB".
CHIRAC SAID FRANCE WOULD NOT REDUCE ITS FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO LA FRANCOPHONIE PROGRAMMES, BUT INSTEAD RAISE THEM BY 42 MILLION FRANCS ($7.25 MILLION) OVER THE NEXT TWO YEARS. FRENCH OFFICIALS SAID LATER THE FIGURE REPRESENTED A RISE OF 17 PERCENT.
TURNING TO LA FRANCOPHONIE’S PLAN TO APPOINT ITS FIRST-EVER SECRETARY GENERAL, CHIRAC SAID THAT FROM NOW ON THE CLUB WOULD HAVE "ONE VOICE AND ONE FACE".
HOWEVER, HE SAID DIVERSITY WAS THE GROUP’S FORCE, AND SO ITS MEMBERS SHOULD NOT INTERFERE IN EACH OTHERS’ AFFAIRS OR MORALISE.
"NO ONE HAS THE MONOPOLY ON GOOD GOVERNANCE, NOR THE IMMUTABLE RECIPE FOR REAL DEMOCRACY," HE SAID. "BUT THE UNANIMOUS ASPIRATION OF PEOPLE TO SEE HUMAN LIBERTY AND DIGNITY RESPECTED CANNOT BE IGNORED."
HE SAID THAT IN THE CASE OF A CRISIS HITTING ONE OR SEVERAL MEMBER COUNTRIES, THE SECRETARY GENERAL WOULD INTERVENE AT THE REQUEST OF THE PARTIES CONCERNED, WITH THE SOLE INTENTION OF HELPING RE-ESTABLISH PEACE AND BRINGING HELP TO THE PEOPLE.
IF NECESSARY, THIS WOULD BE DONE IN CONSULTATION WITH THE UNITED NATIONS AND REGIONAL ORGANISATIONS, HE SAID.

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