President of Senegal

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 26 January 1988

I should first like to pay tribute to the Council of Europe which is offering us this welcome opportunity to highlight the very necessary co-operation between North and South to which the Third World is profoundly attached. Indeed, the initiative to launch this campaign in favour of the promotion of relations between the countries of the North and those of the South deserves the support and encouragement of all those countries devoted to international peace which, if it is to be lasting, presupposes a fruitful dialogue between cultures and civilisations, particularly between those which are complementary such as the civilisations of Europe and Africa. These two continents with age-old civilisations nurtured by the same ideals of tolerance and the acceptance of difference have succeeded over the centuries in forging solid bonds of cultural co-operation based on reciprocal and constant exchanges and a clear awareness of their role in the search for effective solutions to the imbalances characterising the contemporary world.

In the face of the international economic crisis which has beset us all for more than a decade, economic problems are at the heart of the concerns of every nation and at the centre of North-South relations, particularly those between our two continents. In that context, Africa’s critical economic situation is of unprecedented gravity and calls for special attention on the part of the developed countries. In view of the strangulation of our continent by the debt and the fall in the price of raw materials, Europe, with its wisdom and its references to human rights, has an outstanding role to play on behalf of the introduction of more balanced economic relations between North and South.

However, these economic relations must not overshadow the cultural links which are so important for an understanding between the peoples of the world in which all nations live in a state of interdependence which should be mutually enriching. The promotion of North- South relations is, when all is said and done, a task in the service of international solidarity to which our peoples remain profoundly attached despite their natural and necessary differences.

That is why I am optimistic about the future of North-South co-operation, for whose consolidation we must all, in the industrialised and developing countries alike, contribute the fruit of our intelligence, strength of will and the effectiveness of our experience. The introduction of that dialogue, in the name of the new humanism, naturally presupposes the existence of conditions for genuine communication between all the continents and all the nations based on an acceptance of difference, and therefore on reciprocal tolerance. Hence the essential role of culture in North-South relations.

Therefore, we must endeavour to develop our co-operation yet further in the sector of cultural industries and communication. To my mind, that will be essential for the future and indeed might provide for a solution to present economic relations. That is why our countries must concentrate collectively on three basic aims: the quality of cultural creation, the vigour of the cultural industries, and the development of broadcasting resources so that the South can talk to the North which is already addressing it.

As a major economic and sociological phenomenon, a moral and political phenomenon, the cultural industries sector, backed by the unprecedented development of communication technologies, represents both a hope and a source of disquiet for humankind. For its part, Senegal will continue to make its contribution to this major dialogue between cultures and civilisations, a source of peace in the world and active solidarity between all nations. These are the major objectives of the North-South promotion campaign which we shall do our utmost to support.