Vietnamese Vice State President Nguyen Thi Doan was speaking at the opening of the 13th Francophone Summit in Montreux , Switzerland, on October 23.

As many as 70 heads of state and government from the Francophone Community member nations, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Swiss President Doris Leuthard and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and more than 2,000 delegates attended the event.

With its peace-loving tradition, Vietnam would continue to make positive, constructive and responsible contributions to the harmonious development of the Francophone Community, Ms Doan said.

The state vice president stressed that the current context is posing many new challenges to the international community such as food and energy insecurity, adverse impacts of climate change and especially the economic and financial crisis – the worst in the past 70 years.

Therefore, Ms Doan urged the Francophone Community to play a more active part in dealing with these challenges, firstly in preventing and settling conflicts.

The Francophone Community needs to pay due attention to the development interests of its member states, especially poor and developing countries, which want to receive more favourable conditions in terms of economy and trade, transfer of technologies and assistance in fulfilling the UN Millennium Development Goals, she added.

The 13th summit takes place while the International Organisation of Francophone (OIF) is celebrating its 40th founding anniversary and 10 years of implementing the Bamaco declaration on democracy and human rights.

Themed “Challenges and future vision for the Francophone Community,” the summit is discussing a wide range of issues, including international relations and the Francophone Community’s current position, challenges to sustainable development, food security and climate change, and the teaching of French in the world.

In her speech delivered at the opening, Swiss President Doris Leuthard said the member nations are coping with global challenges such as energy security, climate change, imbalanced biodiversity, poverty and security.

Leuthard, who is also new President of the Francophone Community, also emphasised the diversity in terms of culture and language within the OIF, saying this is a valuable asset no any international organisation possesses.

The Francophone Summit is organised every two years, with the first held in France in 1986. Vietnam hosted the 7th Francophone Summit in 1997, during which former UN Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Gali was elected as the first Secretary General of the Francophone Community.

The Francophone Community now has 56 member nations and territories, along with 14 observer states. More than 200 million people speak French in the world. In Vietnam, there are 470,000 persons using French.

Radio Voice Of Vietnam / Vietnam+ - October 24, 2010