France Bans Cultural Collaborations With Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso

Innoventia Africa – France has banned cultural collaborations with Niger, Mali, and Burkina Faso, according to a directive from the General Directorate of Cultural Affairs (DRAC), French media reported on Thursday.

The directive impacts all subsidized cultural institutions and requires the immediate suspension of all ongoing cooperation projects with institutions or individuals from these three West African countries.  This includes the cessation of financial support. 

According to the message dispatched by DRAC “on instructions from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs” to the cultural structures, French daily Le Monde reported that France will no longer issue visas for nationals of these three countries, until further notice.

The decision has raised concerns as it could disrupt events like the upcoming 40th Francophonies Festival scheduled to commence on Sept. 20, 2023.

The ban on cultural collaborations coincides with strained diplomatic relations between France and the three West African nations, all of which are former French colonies.
Recent military coups in these countries have led to increased hostilities toward France, resulting in severed diplomatic ties and a closer alignment with Russia.

Notably, in Niger, coup leaders have already severed ties with France and have demanded the withdrawal of the French ambassador and troops from the West African nation.

The situation remains fluid, and the implications of France’s decision on cultural exchanges and international relations in the region are yet to fully unfold.

“France’s philosophy towards artists living in countries with which it is in conflict has always been to continue to invite them, without ever breaking off the dialogue,” Bruno Lobé, vice president of the National Syndicate for Artistic and Cultural Enterprises union (SYNDEAC)was quoted by LeMonde as saying.

Lobé  said: “These artists are already prevented from working by their own governments. If we add another layer of hardship, it will be a real catastrophe, not only for their survival but also for France’s image.”

By Felix Tih

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